OK, Hollywood…Point Made. Now Let’s Move on To a Solution…


It wasn’t like there was no warning regarding the issue. Prior to the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards, which were handed out on Sunday, there was a well-done demonstration by the ladies who make up Hollywood – actresses (whom I prefer to call actors, but regardless), directors, writers, technical staff, etc. – regarding the ongoing issue of sexual inequality, sexual harassment and sexual assault. The ladies involved in making the statement all chose to wear black dresses – not sure of the symbolism, but effective, as everyone from Oprah Winfrey to the newest clipboard carrier on set came dressed in their finest black gowns.

What came next had me saying, “OK, Hollywood. You’ve made your point. Now let’s move on and work on the issue…”

Globes host Seth Meyers, a tremendously funny guy, popped a couple of jabs at two of the culprits, former Hollywood honcho Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey, whose actions brought on the “black dress” protest and the new “Time’s Up” stance to fight such actions. He even poked Winfrey, seated center stage as the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment,” by noting he had chastised Orange Foolius in 2011. From that act, where Meyers said that Orange Foolius had no shot at the Presidency, Meyers proclaimed to Winfrey, “You will never be President! Never!” with the obvious implication.


Meyers had the right touch with his opening monologue. He recognized the issues that Hollywood and, fuck, the entire world is facing with the conduct between men and women, and moved on, knowing his monologue wasn’t going to solve the issue. If only others – those who won the Golden Globes statuette – would have taken the same approach.

Time and time again, women who won the prestigious award handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association opened their statements by thanking those who helped them reach their level of success. Various parents, teachers, acting coaches, managers, all got their moment in the sun, as is normal with these situations. Then the winners would, almost to a woman, go off on their specific rant about the situations of the last year and how women “weren’t afraid to speak out now.”

Now, let’s set this straight from the start. That they took the moment to make a statement about ANYTHING that they wanted wasn’t the problem. These speeches – whether at the Golden Globes, the Emmys, the Tonys or the Grammys – are always infused with commentary on the social condition. There were many who spoke about how Hollywood, with those in Washington D. C. lacking the ability, clarity or state to be able to discuss ANY issue regarding morality in this country (look at who the GOP nominated and tell me they have ANY moral base today), was now taking up the mantle of a moral stance with this issue. No, that didn’t happen, it was just another instance where Hollywood’s elite used their platform to promote a social or political agenda.


Having said this, the repeated instances of women marching to the stage for their awards and the continued brow-beating of the male gender reached a point where it wasn’t commentary, but it was male-bashing. Close to the end Elizabeth Moss, who is an outstanding actress who won the award for Best Actress in a Television Drama for her work on The Handmaid’s Tale, stepped up and delivered a statement where she paraphrased the woman who wrote the book, Margaret Atwood (“We no longer live in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. We no longer live in the gaps between the stories. We are the story in print, and we are writing the story ourselves.”). Lo and behold, it comes out afterwards that Moss is allegedly a member of the “Church” of Scientology (which is also allegedly a church), itself beset with multiple complaints of subjugation of women, blockage of investigation of and disavowal of sexual assault.

Then came Winfrey’s speech in front of the gathered throng and those watching around the world. First off, let’s make this perfectly clear: Winfrey could buy Barack Obama’s former speechwriters and still have enough left over to take over a decent sized country. So, the factor that she came out with an outstanding speech shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. But it was the continuance of the bashing of the male race – not any suggestions for moving forward, not mentioning that both sides are necessary to discuss the situation – that was left out of Winfrey’s magical words.


(And for those that are touting “Oprah 2020,” pump the brakes. The replacement for an egomaniacal billionaire who wants to be a dictator is NOT another billionaire who wants to be a savior to the masses.)

By the time the end of the more than three-hour awards ceremony had reached its conclusion, I had about reached the end of my rope regarding the constant stream of male-bashing. OK, ladies, you made your point. While it didn’t totally ruin the program, it certainly put a damper on things as male actors had to walk out on stage, sheepishly with their tail between their legs and an “I’m sorry” look on their face, after yet another evisceration of their entire gender by one of their female contemporaries.

(And I am not even going to start in on actor Natalie Portman’s snide-ass comment about “five MEN” (her emphasis) being nominated for Best Director…for fuck’s sake, let’s take care of one issue at a time.)

Almost a year ago, I wrote about how difficult it is for women in any arena of business, media or Hollywood. I accepted the commentary from ladies like sports broadcaster Erin Andrews and singers Kesha and Lady Gaga regarding their incidences of assault by men either in the industry or, in Andrews’ case, a Peeping Tom who took advantage of her. I stated then that I wondered how women could put up with such behavior from the other gender of the species.


The answer, however, is not to swing the pendulum 180 degrees to the other side. All men are not slathering sex fiends and all women are not saintly ingenues. The answer is that there’s a middle ground that must be found and, once that turf has been discovered, then there can be discussion on the issue. It isn’t to villainize people who might be a part of the solution to the problem – yes, men who haven’t committed these acts along with women – as it seemed it was on Sunday night.

This is just the start of Awards season and we probably haven’t seen the end of the protests. One of the biggest songs of the year is “Praying” from Kesha, an emotional soul-ripper penned in response to her accusations of sexual assault by her former producer; she’s up for Best Solo Pop Performance at this year’s Grammys for the song (the show is January 28). There will be more protests of the type seen on Sunday at the Academy Awards in March and probably also at the Emmys. But before more of entertainment’s elite ladies start sharpening their pens into swords for this fight, perhaps they should look for solutions instead of chastising those not responsible. Remember Rose McGowan, the actor whose statements regarding Weinstein started the #MeToo movement? She perhaps said it best…where were Winfrey or Meryl Streep when Weinstein was assaulting her? The answer is they weren’t believing her account.


The Democrats Continue to Eat Their Own


The situation regarding sexual assault and misconduct has once again demonstrated that there are tremendous differences between the two political parties that supposedly lead this country. When faced with allegations of dalliances and even criminal conduct, the Republican Party stall, deny and castigate those who have made the allegations against their “sainted” representatives. The Democratic Party, however, devolves into a pack of hyenas that eat their own rather than accept the standards as they SHOULD be set.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look, shall we?

We won’t go all the way back to the Bill Clinton debacle from the mid-1990s – his relationship with Monica Lewinsky was consensual and other allegations were either adjudicated to a settlement or thrown out of court altogether. But we will go back to this summer, when noted Hollywood producer and magnate Harvey Weinstein’s heinous accusations first started to emerge. Actresses – ranging from bit players to accomplished women such as Oscar winner Lupita Nyoug’o, Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey and Lauren Holly (of Picket Fences fame) – and other movie personnel began to recount their experiences with Weinstein, which ranged from attempted forced kissing to out-and-out rape. In another era, this probably would have been swept under the rug (as the old Hollywood machine used to do). Today, however, it is a different story.

Whether it was simply because of the voluminous amounts of credible information regarding Weinstein (or perhaps it was the acts of another legend in Hollywood, comedian Bill Cosby, and his decades of sexual assault), this time these women’s intimate details regarding a very painful situation sparked something. Instead of using his power and stature to deflect these allegations, Weinstein was immediately cast from the production company that he founded, ejected from the Director’s Guild of America, and was stripped of all voting rights with the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences (the people behind the Academy Awards), among other things. About the only thing he had left at the end was money (nobody’s gone after that…yet) because his reputation and his place in the hierarchy of Tinseltown were thoroughly destroyed.


Since that time, the sexual assault and misconduct rage has swept through society. Actor Kevin Spacey, who used the allegations against him as a rather crude way to admit to the world that he was gay, lost his role on the HBO series House of Cards and was completely REMOVED from a film that was already in the can. Ben Affleck, magician David Blaine, comedian Louis C. K., Richard Dreyfus and Dustin Hoffman have faced allegations across the board. The news media saw Today host Matt Lauer and MSNBC host Mark Halpern lost their jobs (and, in Lauer’s case, a divorce is expected) and let’s not forget about former Fox News honcho Roger Ailes or Bill O’Reilly.

To think that politics would be excluded was foolhardy. In 2016, Orange Foolius was accused by 16 women of different sexually explicit (and unwanted) encounters after the cretin vividly described what he did to women in the Access Hollywood tape. Instead of vilifying this asshole, the GOP – after weakly attempting to step away from him – warmly embraced the scumbag and pushed him to the Presidency rather than toss him out on his ass. It has all set up for what occurred on Thursday and, perhaps, what will occur next week.

In Alabama next week, the election to see who will take over the seat vacated by the Keebler Elf…errr, I mean, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III…will take place. In a state where the electorate is 65/35 Republican to Democrat, this should have been a slam dunk for the GOP. Then they went and nominated a child molester in Roy Moore…


There’s a reason that there isn’t an “alleged” in front of “child molester.” Moore has all but said he trolled for teenage girls as a District Attorney in his early 30s. He has admitted that he “courted” his wife when she was but a teenager. He was banned from an Alabama mall because of his creepy pursuit of teenage girls. And he has all but said, “Fuck you, try and stop me,” to the world when the information from EIGHT WOMEN about his sexual assault and misconduct emerged. After initially trying to step away, Republican scum has now embraced him…why? Because they need his vote in a Senate that they desperately need to keep control of.

(And this isn’t even getting into his prior conduct of disavowing FEDERAL LAW, his two removals from the Alabama Supreme Court, or his commentary on blacks and gays. Let’s just say it…hey Republicans, real winner you picked there.)

The Democrats in power in Washington have also had their travails in deciding what to do with their representatives and their peccadillos. Earlier this week, when accused of sexual assault by staff members and others, Michigan’s John Conyers, the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, chose to not run for his seat in 2018 and immediately resigned. Of more significance, however, was the decision by Minnesota Senator Al Franken on Thursday.

Two weeks previous, former Hooters waitress/television “hostess” Leeann Tweeden announced she had been “sexually assaulted” by Franken, apparently while rehearsing a skit the two were to perform at a USO show overseas. As Tweeden alleges, Franken – like a nebbish joke writer – tried to see how far he could get around the bases with her. He allegedly “forced his tongue in her mouth” and groped her beyond the boundaries of the skit. (We’re not going to touch the photo of Franken allegedly groping Tweeden over her flak jacket because it isn’t clear if he is even touching her nor her pictures of smacking a guitarist on the ass during the same USO tour.)


Franken, while partially admitting to the situation but also saying that “he remembered it differently,” volunteered to be a part of a Senate investigation into his conduct. Then another accusation emerged from a woman who said he touched her ass during a photo opportunity at the Minnesota State Fair; another woman said he “touched her back” inappropriately…the numbers began to grow, to the point they were rivaling Moore.

For some reason, the Democratic Party felt it was important to force out one of their strongest and most well-respected members on simply the grounds of an accusation. Rather than wait until a Senate committee had reached any decision on Franken’s conduct, a group of Democratic Senators – led significantly by Kristen Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California, among others – decided that he had to depart. Franken, after two weeks of browbeating on the subject, decided it was “appropriate” to do so.

So, Democrats, what has this “moral high ground” brought about? All the “moral high ground” gives you is a bit better sleep at night. The other side can still fuck over the country with their “low road” approach, seat a pedophile and allow a person who did the SAME GODDAMN THING that Franken was accused of stay in the WH. If you actually think that Moore won’t be seated and Orange Foolius will suddenly have an epiphany and resign because he mistreated women, then you’re living in Fantasyland.

And why will this happen? The GOP isn’t going to care one iota about what “the people” think regarding the issue. Should Moore win next week (and I think he will, despite what many are saying), he’ll be welcomed in by the scumbags of the GOP (because they need his vote) and by Orange Foolius at the top, who continues to sneer at his accusers. All the Democrats have done is shoot themselves in the foot by disposing of a flawed yet powerful voice in the Senate and all their indignation will be met with absolutely nothing from their opposition.

Let’s be honest here. It is high time that women have been heard from, especially on this issue. For far too long men in power have used that position to demean at the minimum and physically assault and mentally torture at the maximum females that are subordinate to them. But the rules must be the same and the punishments also must be equal. If you’re going to excoriate people like Conyers and Franken, then the GOP doesn’t get to play by different rules and have their pedophiles and serial abusers stay in their seats.

You can be guaranteed that this will come back to bite the Democratic Party. In ejecting both Conyers and Franken, they are trying to assume the “moral high ground” on the issue of sexual assault. But when the opposition has neither morals nor the care about being viewed in such a manner – which the Republican Party sacrificed when they put up a thrice-married, narcissistic, racist, xenophobic serial philanderer who lacks the basic couth to act like a human let alone as a world leader as the party’s standard bearer – you’re only hurting yourself and weakening your cause instead of improving it.

Where Do We Draw the Line? All Things Are NOT the Same

The events of the last month or so – hell, if you want to be serious, it’s dating back to the 1990s – have opened the door of Pandora’s Box. Whether it is in the world of relations between men or women or even something as small as what constitutes a joke, it seems we want to eradicate the impropriety, even the ability to laugh at ourselves. If it delves into a needle of a person’s appearance, a stereotype, or a myriad of other situations, it seems as though it has become verboten. This has caused me to wonder a few things:  just where do we draw the line? And that led to my second thought:  all situations are not the same.

A couple of months ago, I saw one of my favorite films of all time. Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles was on AMC (and unedited at that!) and I laughed my ass off all the way through it. The performances were priceless in the film, from Cleavon Little’s streetwise (and black) Sheriff Bob to Gene Wilder’s drunken Waco Kid, there wasn’t a dull moment in the film about a black man assigned to be a sheriff for a racist town. There was also a litany of jokes about Mexicans, Indians, blacks, Jews, and a host of others that would be considered “inappropriate” today.


Imagine my surprise when I heard Brooks discuss the issue in an interview soon after. In an interview with the BBC, Brooks commented that he could probably have done Young Frankenstein, but Blazing Saddles could never have been made. “Never ‘Blazing Saddles,’ because we have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy,” Brooks stated to the BBC. But Brooks’ groundbreaking and legendary comedy isn’t the only piece that might be “wrong” to watch today.

AMC was also the home of another cinematic classic I viewed recently. The original M*A*S*H, with Donald Sutherland as Hawkeye Pierce and Elliott Gould as Trapper John McIntyre, depicted the Korean War with all its warts. It is arguable that there were enough things to twist the panties of today’s sensitive souls, with just the name of one of the characters (‘Spearchucker’ Jones), the usage of drugs and treatment of women by…well, virtually everyone…to get outrage going.


You think this was just something from the 70s? Another favorite film of mine is Doctor Detroit, a middling 80s comedy starring Dan Aykroyd as a nebbish college professor who, when plied with alcohol, drugs, and sex by a bevy of beauties (that included his future wife Donna Dixon), becomes a chiropractor/crime lord (and the women’s pimp) to not only save them but his college. In the 90s, it was Ace Ventura:  Pet Detective, the story of an inept detective chasing a transgendered (and very sexual, if you’re to believe one scene) former football player. The 21st century hasn’t changed this brand of comedy, or did you miss the Harold & Kumar series?

The movie industry in 2017 has been ravaged by the accusations of some of the most powerful men in Hollywood and the long-rumored “casting couch.” This trend caught one of the most powerful men in Tinseltown, Harvey Weinstein, who was alleged to have attempted to use his position as a “make or break” player in the movie business to have sexual relations (sometimes even forced) with women looking for their big break. Add in other alleged situations such as actor Kevin Spacey, director Brett Ratner and hip hop legend Russell Simmons, and now actor Jeffrey Tambor and it all is coming to a head.

This same year the same accusations have rocked the media and political professions, some proven, some “paid off.” Former Fox News president the late Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, now Charlie Rose…all have been alleged to have committed some form of harassment of women. In politics it dates back even further to the peccadillos of John Kennedy and Bill Clinton. For it to come around to today’s incidences, with both Al Franken and Roy Moore being castigated for their actions, isn’t surprising. And remember, more than a dozen women – and a rape allegation of a 13-year old – are awaiting the person who sits in the most powerful seat in the land (remember right after “grabbed them by the pussy” on the Access Hollywood bus?) To this day, he has never answered for those transgressions.


I am reminded of when I was back in my radio days. At that time, the biggest name in the game was (and arguably still is) Howard Stern. Stern’s programs routinely featured (and still does) in-depth discussion of sexual actions, women’s anatomy, the derision of the handicapped, and basically set the format for “morning show” radio (the “morning crew” days). As someone who worked in those days, the different “morning show” crews were constantly trying to gain the edge over each other with who could put up the sleaziest, sexiest, most outrageous morning show, making the most fun of the most people that are in existence. And you know what? The audiences LAUGHED ALL THE GODDAMN WAY with them. (And if you want a look at what it was like for a woman in the music business, check out Lita Ford’s autobiography Living Like a Runaway for all the gory details.)

I do realize that this is a new age, a new era, but it is beginning to get a bit out of hand. Can anyone reading this tell me what they did 20 years ago? How about 30? Do you remember every interaction you’ve ever had with the opposite sex (or, in some cases, with the same sex)? Were they all innocent engagements with absolutely nothing memorable about them? Then ask yourself this:  is there a possibility that someone else you were with that they remember the situation completely different than you do?

There needs to be some lines set out. In a court of law, there are differing degrees of murder – first degree, second degree, manslaughter, all the way down to legally allowing a person to kill another human being (self-defense, or “Stand Your Ground”). Sexual assault and harassment can go in the same ways as there are differing standards that could be set.

To compare the pedophilic acts of Moore to Franken’s nobody comedy writer dream of getting to lock lips with a Hooters waitress who made it (and acting like a 15-year old virgin in the process of rehearsing it) is completely asinine. The actions of both men are a FORM of sexual assault. But to hold Franken up as “the same” as Moore – who allegedly fiddled with some 14-year-old child and cruised malls to score teenage girls as a 30-plus year-old man (and a District Attorney at that) – is outright lunacy.


And just what should be the punishment for these actions? In the case of those in Hollywood, their careers have been destroyed, their reputations in tatters, while the women haven’t emerged any better for telling their stories. Franken may very well lose his seat in the U. S. Senate, while Moore should never be seated if elected next month. Is it worth destroying someone’s very existence for something that happened when they were at a completely different stage in their lives?

I don’t pretend to know the answers and, after reviewing everything, I myself am cloudier on the issue than when I started. But if we’re looking for saints in our politics, we’re going to have very empty chambers to decide the laws. If we’re looking for saints in business, comedy, entertainment, and the news, then there’s going to be a very bland life ahead for our progeny. Brooks said it best in that BBC interview when he said, “It’s okay not to hurt feelings of various tribes and groups. However, it’s not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering into the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”

We still have to find how far those risks can go, in comedy and other arenas in life, and, if they were violated long ago, what the appropriate punishments should be.