Later today, hundreds of celebrities will attend the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Interviewers at red carpet pre-show – notorious for interrogating female artists, though not male ones, about what they’re wearing instead of their work – are about to get a major wake-up call. Unlike previous years, the main conversation in Hollywood isn’t likely to center on arthouse films or designer dresses. Instead, many will be talking about sexual harassment and the growing movement for accountability and change.
Even better, this is more than just talk; it’s action. Just last week, a coalition of more than 300 entertainment industry leaders, including Shonda Rhimes, Eva Longoria, and America Ferrera, announced TIME’S UP, a far-reaching new anti-harassment campaign to shift power imbalances in Hollywood and fight sexual harassment in workplaces nationwide. TIME’S UP includes a new legal defense fund, created by actresses and powerhouse attorneys including Tina Tchen, which will be administered by us here at the National Women’s Law Center and will connect individuals facing sexual harassment to much-needed legal representation and other resources and will subsidize that help for some.
To raise awareness of this initiative and the broader movement to end sexual harassment and assault, several celebrities, including Mary J. Blige and Reese Witherspoon, are planning to wear all-black as a visual protest against the culture of sexual harassment and abuse in their industry and too many others. The plan has been noted in the press but, unsurprisingly, some entertainment reporters seem more concerned about which black dresses people will wear instead of why they are wearing them.
Clearly, some reporters are already missing the point of the all-black protest. So to help them out, we came up with some quick do’s and don’ts for doing better on the red carpet this year.
- DO ask protest participants why they are wearing black, not just who designed their outfit.
- DON’T ask people why they aren’t wearing black. This kind of protest isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
- DO ask men what they’re doing to combat sexual harassment and abuse in their industry and everywhere else. DON’T just ask women their thoughts on sexual harassment and abuse. This problem affects everyone, and it shouldn’t fall solely to women to think about it or solve it.
- DO talk about symptoms of systemic injustice in the entertainment industry, like the fact that there are no women directors nominated for Golden Globes this year.
- DON’T ask people intrusive personal questions, especially related to whether or not they’ve experienced sexual harassment or assault. Survivors should be the ones to decide if, when, how, and to whom they tell their stories.
- DO make a habit to ask all artists, regardless of gender, substantive questions about their work.
- DON’T feed the harmful idea that women in Hollywood exist primarily to be looked at, or that their only value is in how they look instead of the art they create.
- DO give viewers enough credit to assume they can handle important cultural conversations among their favorite celebrities.
- DON’T assume you have to sacrifice entertainment value in order to ask artists important questions. These conversations are inherently interesting, as evidenced by the staying power of the #MeToo media moment.