Image for post
Image for post
Actress Thandie Newton

Why The Exclusivity of #TimesUp Will Do More Harm Than Good

White pain is the only pain that matters

Westworld actress, Thandie Newton is seizing the opportunity during her press tour for the HBO hit series to express exactly how she feels about Time’s Up.

It’s the movement that was founded on the heels of #MeToo with the purpose of battling the predatory climate in Hollywood, that fueled the audacity of sexual misconduct without consequences.

Newton’s emotional gripe stems from the painful exclusion from the movement, which comprises of a core group of elite White actresses that include the usual suspects (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, and Jessica Chastain), who were at the helm during the initiation phase due to their noteworthy status, which in Hollywood automatically bequeaths you entry, whether it’s earned or not.

The English-born actress crisply delivers her assessment of why despite her past references to her own personal horror story with Australian director John Duigan, during the filming of Flirting, back in the early nineties, the founding members of Time’s Up didn’t feel the need to extend an invitation to a fellow ally, who is basically a trailblazer when it comes to publicly shaming predators in the name of solidarity.

“I wasn’t hot enough.” “I wasn’t mainstream enough and I wasn’t going to be at the Oscars this year, even though I am having a kind of renaissance in my career.”

Italian actress Asia Argento who boldly shared her own harrowing tale of sexual harassment to the dismay of her countrymen who’ve since mocked and demeaned her brave choice to speak up — obviously read Newton’s very frank interview and tweeted her supportive response.

Interestingly enough, the Queen Bee of Time’s Up, actress Jessica Chastain also reached out to Newton via Twitter in an effort to save the reputation and dignity of the movement. But unfortunately her attempts came off as desperate and almost accusatory as she tries in vain to absolve the guilt of being appropriately called out.

I clearly remember reading about Newton’s account of her relationship with Duigan and how the lasting effects of being a sixteen-year-old ingenue, under the spell of a much older man, who used his position and power to exploit her, left her in an emotional tumultuous state, long after the cameras stopped rolling.

I also recall how impressed and moved I was by her openness and willingness to expose something that nobody wanted to talk about, out of fear and loyalty to an industry that was built on the principle of abuse for the sake of guaranteed stardom.

Even as an outsider looking in, it was assumed from my perspective that the rumors of actresses “sleeping their way to the top” was funneled by the male army of recruiters, who traditionally tested the limits of up and coming starlets, as a way to gauge “how far they would go” to see their name in lights.

When Harvey Weinstein was finally banished for eternity with the assistance of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement which she founded and almost lost to actress Alyssa Milano, his disgraceful exit birthed the Weinstein effect — and subsequently began the phase which saw tons of powerful men succumbing to the consequences of the allegations levied against them.

As awards season 2018 began to take shape, there was the need to establish these organizations as crusades for all victims of abuse, regardless of privilege. This desire was demonstrated during the Golden Globes, when the women of Hollywood made the decision to dress in all-black attire, as a way to show support for those who’ve suffered in silence and the ones who continue to do so.

This celebrated act of solidarity and defiance against a woefully polluted industry may have been inspired by good intentions, but most of us weren’t convinced that the setting against the backdrop of a glitzy affair, would provide the sobering effect for an issue that spans far beyond the red carpet with designer-clad attendees — clamoring for attention.

Both Rose McGowan, who spent most of her career highlighting Harvey Weinstein’s worst kept secret, and Argento, didn’t have anything good to say about Time’s Up “all-black fashion protest.”

McGowan pointed out the blatant insincerity that could potentially cripple the objectives of the movement, while Argento expressed her frustration at being snubbed by the women of Time’s Up, who not only failed to extend an invite to the Globes, but also didn’t have the decency to include her in the illustrious list of actresses who signed the open letter.

There’s no doubt that Time’s Up is suffering from the disease of mandated exclusiveness, that was dictated by the actions of those who felt entitled enough to center their pain and personal goals above all others.

It’s no secret that White women, especially those in high places, have a tendency to assume that their testimonies deserve a platform worthy of their sacrifice. This is evident through this ongoing process of settling into an era that is advancing the progression of women in ways that are absolutely revolutionary, and the hijacking of the event by celebrities who are unfairly selective and weirdly ambiguous about their objectives.

Despite the outspokenness of Black actresses like Newton and actress Gabrielle Union, who both didn’t allow fame and fortune to silence their sanity and the warrior spirit that can’t be defeated, the conversation consistently revolves around White women in Hollywood who were abused ingenues, and are now being compensated accordingly, for years of imprisonment.

The actresses who were allegedly blacklisted by Weinstein are now returning to the spotlight with the blessing of their peers. McGowan is headed to E! for her limited series, Citizen Rose, Mira Sorvino has booked a lead role on an upcoming CBS show about military lawyers and Annabella Sciorra has joined the cast of Netflix’s hit show — Luke Cage.

But as these women enjoy the resurrection of their careers, as proof of how Time’s Up is systematically exacting revenge against the once-mighty, and untouchable perpetrators, who are vanishing under the glare of media, there’s a sense of falsehood that soaks up the mission statement that can’t be scrubbed clean from the stain of elitism and White womanhood.

Chastain’s comeback for Newton’s earnest confession about the hurt stemming from her rejection based on her waning viability, echoes how White women very often refuse to acknowledge their privilege — even when it’s staring them right in the face.

If the Oscar-nominated actress really wanted to reach out to Newton with genuine affection — she could’ve done so privately — and maybe she ended up doing exactly that — but her tweet seemed to be self-motivated and more for the benefit of damage control— in a quest to seamlessly avoid unwanted controversy.

Clearly the founding members of Time’s Up are already defensive based on the unrelenting critiques that keep swirling, and the noise will not die down for as long as the growing evidence of disproportionate distribution of assistance and astute recognition continues to overwhelm.

This practiced exclusivity by organizations that perpetuate the commitment to an agenda that encompasses justice for all victims regardless of their stations in life is heading towards a reality that will do more harm than good in the long run.

The message thus far is rooted in the never-ending anthem of how White pain is the only pain that matters, and the graph of activity definitely illustrates this commonly-held belief.

And it’s not just the fact that White women are more likely to be comforted when the hard times hit, it’s also the tendency for White Hollywood to look out for its own at the expense of other vital players who have more than earned their right to claim a seat at the table

It will be interesting to witness how Time’s Up will accommodate its future trajectory in the midst of burgeoning chaos that won’t be curtailed with well-meaning tweets — over-used hashtags or stagey imagery that distract from the crux of the infection.

If there’s ever a chance of marked improvement the healing needs to begin with re-affirming and re-assessing why it’s Time to give Up and re-route the power back to the people who it need it restored after tragic expenditure.

Inclusivity is the only way forward.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store