Harassment in Entertainment

So in the Schwahn case (producer of One Tree Hill), one of the articles I read said: “many of us were told, during filming, that coming forward to talk about this culture would result in our show being canceled and hundreds of lovely, qualified, hard-working, and talented people losing their jobs.”

Well, judging from what happened to House of Cards, isn’t that true?

More interesting to me, imagine you are a co-star in a breakout role in a show such as the Cosby show. The show is written, produced, and stars its namesake. He is a creepy harasser (but not a rapist that you know of). What could you do?

Recognize that one show ending doesn’t mean the people working on that show will have to live in a van by the river.

Entertainment is a large industry. One show getting canceled might suck for the people working on it, but there are 20 other shows hiring. Plus a lot of that work is episodic (no pun intended) anyway - they knew they’d be looking for a new job in the near future anyway.

Are you suggesting it’s unethical for a woman to blow the whistle under those circumstances?

This goes back to the heart of just about every “how not to get raped” discussion. Instead of teaching girls self defense, teach boys how not to rape.

In this case, instead of telling female actors/employees “if someone harrasses you and you say anything, you’ll shut down the whole production and hundreds of people will be out of work” why not say to the males (or really, everyone), “if you make any unwanted sexual advancement towards anyway one else…”. In other words, assuming everything is on the up and up in a given, lets not blame the victim. If a production gets shut down, the out of work crew can sue the person that caused it for lost wages.

What’s interesting in the OPs example is that, so far as I know, House Of Cards is the first example that I know of where anything major happened to an active TV show because of sexual abuse allegations. One Tree Hill started almost 15 years ago.

Ya know what, scratch all this. I thought this was all some pretty forward thinking, but when I went to One Tree Hill’s wiki page to get the production dates, I see Mark Schwahn has allegations of (sexual) harassment by two female writters, 18 actresses and at least 5 male actors. I put “sexual” in parentheses because it would appear that not all the harassment was sexual in nature. It seems that it ranged from showing off nude pictures of his girlfriend to actual groping, but some of it was psychological and emotional manipulation. The wiki page doesn’t expand on it, but I’m guessing it wasn’t sexual, it just sounds like they all banded together and released a group statement (just now).

A very high percentage of boys learn this, and do not rape. Unfortunately, the remaining small percentage is sufficient to create substantial problems.

Probably no teaching on any subject anywhere is 100% effective.

Just a driveby tidbit: in 2014 Cartoon Networkfired the creator and lead voice actor of one of their shows, which had only been around one season, due to sexual assault allegations. The show (Clarence) is still on today, with a different actor seamlessly slipping in to the lead voice and the rest of the creative team taking over the show.

Fortunately for the team, the whole thing was do-able due to the fact that the show is animated.

Just thought I’d share.

This is hostage-taking.

It’s akin to a pedophile telling the victim not to tell his parents or he’ll hurt them.

Do The Right Thing? Or sell-out your integrity for the Almighty dollar.

I think we know which one is more frequently done.

Yeah, this is similar to the problem young college girls have in reporting assault or rape, they are made to feel guilty about “ruining” the guys life.

Which brings up the framing I have heard in business setting regarding firing - a poor performing employee getting fired is not really getting fired by the company, they are firing themselves by their actions.

So, these situations need to be framed differently for everyone involved - it is not the reporting that gets the show shut down, it is the violation by the star/producer that gets the show shut down.

Maybe contracts for stars/producers/directors (ones in power roles) need to have clauses that stipulate that if they do the bad thing, they are personally financially responsible for paying everybody who gets fired / loses money if the show shuts down / movie doesn’t get released?

No. I’m not certain what gave you that idea, but I personally believe that she has an ethical obligation to report it, so others do not have to continue to suffer, if anything.

I think I must have phrased my question wrong. I am in no way blaming the victims, or saying they are ruining people’s lives. I think that anyone who rapes anyone deserves what comes their way.

However, I think you have come the closest to what I was interested in with your last paragraph: how to make it so that doing the right thing does not wind up punishing the victim. That’s the part I find really bad in this scenario, it is like Velocity said above: hostage taking.

That’s a pretty loose definition of hostage taking. It’s psychological manipulation (maybe bordering on abuse, some of those kids were probably too young to know better). You could even call it blackmailing, threatening (their livelihood) or push it to extortion/coercion. But I don’t see anyone being held hostage in this situation.

The only way for long term improvement is for innocent people to suffer in the short term. If a murderer goes to jail then their family has to suffer but that is better than letting murderers walk the streets. If people report harassers and sex creeps then those people will eventually be afraid to act out and it will make a safer environment for everyone. That is worth the price of people being out of work for a few months.


Thats is a stupid cliche and should be buried. Every boy above 5 is taught not to rape. Every boy and girl is taught not to steal. Yet we still have thieves and pickpockets. You are not supposed to hit others, yet we still have physical altercations. No one suggests for those perpetrators that the cause is that they were not taught to do those things. Rapists, thieves, criminals, in general, know that what they are doing is wrong, they act that way due to many reasons, but a deficiency in training of societies laws is not one of them.

As to guilt-tripping well that is real. Actions have consequences. There is no right or wrong answer. You have to weigh up the logical results of your actions. If you complain about your show runner, at best you will cause inconvenience to lots of innocent people at worst see the show cancelled, which could well hurt you financially. If you keep quiet (if the victim) you might have to endure further oppressive actions, or (if someone in the know) enable people to get hurt. You will also probably cause other people to be victimised as he goes scot free.

Where does the balance fall? Well, in my opinion, it falls clearly on the side of speaking up, people should not be permitted to harasse/assualt others or be in a position to do so.

I have however never been (yet) in a position where I have had to choose between being abused and losing my job and possibly going hungary. Easy to say that “of course I would report him” when its a theoretical. Not necessarily when it hits.

Someone on my Facebook feed pointed out that we might lose a lot of artists (actors, musicians, comedians).

I pointed out that it wasn’t like there isn’t a surplus of actors, musicians and comedians looking for work. The loss of one means opportunity for another.

If this were rocking the world of high end highly trained neurosurgeons (and I’m sure there are problems there, doctors have always been notorious), we might want to balance keeping our mouths shut with letting an asshole save lives. But Netflix will replace House of Cards with another show. Movies will get produced without Harvey Weinstein. And no one is going to die because Louis CK has been blackballed (although, of all, his apology sounded the most like an apology - and less like an asshole forming words).

Are they? We send boys such mixed signals. Most of the men I know that I’ve had this conversation with have admitted that they were not taught how not to rape. They weren’t taught that no means no - they were told if you continue to push, she might give. That nice girls say no, but mean yes. That a girl who is drunk is probably having a good time. Several of them, upon reaching some feminist awareness of the issue, have gone back to old one night stands to apologize if they pushed too hard. Now, I’m old - I’m 50 and my friends are 50 - so its possible what was happening back in the mid 1980s and early 1990s when we were young and stupid is no longer happening. But too much on my facebook feed tells me otherwise. Heck, too often threads around here tell me otherwise - there are enough rape apologists here to pretty much convince me we don’t teach boys not to rape.

I have exactly zero interest in reading anything that starts with rolling your eyes at my post so, yeah.
If you want to read my post entire post and discuss it, I’ll be happy to do that. But if you’re just going to start with that, I’m out.