Rock this town
Entertainment | Hollywood will never be the same after a year of upheaval
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 12/29/17, 10:00 am
Since Muse started publishing on May 19, tragedy, scandal, and shocking revelations have turned the arts and entertainment world upside down. The upheaval has triggered cultural changes, some of which hopefully will improve protections for women and children in society. Here are the year’s top five arts and entertainment stories.
House of cards
Harvey Weinstein’s exposure as a habitual sexual abuser and the domino effect it started in entertainment, business, and politics tops the list of the year’s biggest Muse stories, as well as the year’s biggest news stories overall, according to an Associated Press poll of news editors and directors. The dam of accusations broke in part because journalists at the The New York Times and The New Yorker shifted their paradigm for reporting on sexual misconduct. They broke the tradition of waiting for a police report to back up allegations of rape and abuse before reporting them, and they validated the brave women who defied stigma and told their stories on the record. (Taylor Swift’s court testimony earlier in the year about a radio DJ groping her probably encouraged more women not to be ashamed to come forward.)
One group of sexual abuse victims still remains largely unheard: Children who endured abuse by Hollywood pedophiles. A documentary on rampant child sexual abuse in Hollywood has yet to gain widespread distribution. So far, accusations against director Bryan Singer, which have floated through Hollywood for years, remain relegated to bottom-of-the-page mentions in articles about other alleged perpetrators. One man, Michael Egan, who tried to bring a case against Singer for abusing him as a teen, wound up discredited and pleaded guilty to fraud on unrelated charges. Egan’s former lawyer recently filed suit on behalf of another client who says Singer raped him when he was 17. Singer’s lawyer has already begun a full-court PR press against the accuser, Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, and his attorney, Jeffrey Herman. So far, Singer appears made of Teflon when it comes to child abuse charges. The media would do well to dig deeper in 2018 into claims of sexual misconduct against children in Hollywood, whether or not they involve Singer.
Concert-goers used to ask questions such as, “What will I wear?” “Can I take in a bag?” and “Where did I put my tickets?” But now another more frightening question looms: “What do I do if there’s a violent attack?” An Islamic State (ISIS) bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, and the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas this year brought home the new dangers of enjoying live entertainment. Security experts and law enforcement are researching new ways to protect concert attendees and putting more effort into advance safety planning. The good news? Music lovers aren’t bowing to the threat. “We don’t anticipate that you’re going to see fewer concerts,” Chris Robinette, CEO of the security firm Prevent Advisors, told Variety in October. “Entertainment and concerts and these experiences that define our lives are things we’re trying to preserve and protect. This is a known risk that we need to mitigate, and it’s going to be challenging.”
Trump versus the media
The mainstream news media have struggled since day one to cover the very unconventional Trump administration, and their missteps have ranged from comical to cringe-worthy. A former contributor accused Fox News of catering to the White House, while CNN tangled with a pro-Trump Reddit user and had its credibility marred by a Project Veritas investigation. (That was before Project Veritas tangled with The Washington Post and lost credibility of its own.) Satirizing Trump has proved a challenge for comics, too, this year. Stephen Colbert ruffled feathers with a rough Trump-Putin joke, and Kathy Griffin pretty much ended her career with an image none of us are likely to forget soon.
Gone but not forgotten
The entertainment world said goodbye to a host of world-class entertainers this year. Here are the Muse memorials to all of the notable departed in the second half of this year:
- June: Adam West, Glenne Headly, and Gregg Allman
- July: Chester Bennington, Martin Landau, and George Romero
- September: Malcolm Young, Mel Tillis, Della Reese, David Cassidy, Troy Gentry, and Walter Becker
- October: Robert Guillaume, Gord Downie, and Tom Petty
- December: Jim Nabors
I’m looking forward to Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series and the feature-length movie about the Apostle Paul next year. I’m also crossing my fingers a Downton Abbey movie gets made, and I’m probably going to check out the Justin Timberlake Super Bowl halftime show, just out of curiosity.