Face Off: “#TimesUp” movement meaningless without substantial action behind desired change

Six years ago, KONY 2012 seemed to be so important. But now, not many people even spare a passing thought to what seemed like the most pressing human rights issue in the world less than a decade ago. Fewer still could tell you what the fervent outrage resulted in, which, was not much. So, it becomes only logical to question the effectiveness of the “#TimesUp” movement.

This year’s Golden Globes were largely dominated by a push against Hollywood’s sexual assault problem and from a larger perspective, the entire nation’s problem with sexual assault. With revelations about the inappropriate behavior of important people such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, it would have been callous not to address the situation and for many, this was the first time they felt comfortable blaming their own industry for enabling abusive men for decades.

The problem with this whole event lies not with the individual voice devoting an acceptance speech to the cause, not to the women who have been surrounded by these men—some their entire professional lives—crying out “me too” and “times up,” but rather with the systemic way in which Hollywood still ignores problems in the name of flashy alliances and hollow progress.

For instance, the same night Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. DeMille Award and uttered the words “their time is up” regarding abusers, James Franco received an award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture–Musical or Comedy, despite having been accused by multiple women of sexual assault. Franco accepted the award even while wearing a “Times Up” pin. Additionally, Justin Timberlake tweeted out a post with the caption “#whywewearblack,” even though he is starring in Woody Allen’s latest film, and Allen has been accused of child molestation. 

For many people at the ceremony, it was a night to bite their tongue and disingenuously pretend they care about an issue they have either contributed to or remained silent about for years. 

Slacktivism is rampant in our society. You can like a Facebook page and feel accomplished, but it’s not just the average citizen avoiding hard work by putting a bandage on a broken bone. Many celebrities are comfortable with “#TimesUp,” but don’t make the conscientious effort that such a change will take.

Admittedly, this is a different time than when Woody Allen was first accused of abuse in 2014, but the movement is not coming from Hollywood. The change is coming from people like Tarana Burke, the Harlem activist who started the “#MeToo” movement a decade ago, and the many other ordinary women and men who have spoken out against sexual assault for years. With people like Burke and others outside of Hollywood, it’s easier to be comforted by Winfrey’s quote from her acceptance speech when she said, “a new day is on the horizon!”