In conversation after conversation with Academy members this week, everything keeps coming back to one word. Well, one word besides grotesque and embarrassing. It’s enablement.
Remember the #MeToo movement? It wasn’t just the rapists and harassers, we all proclaimed, it was the enablers—everyone around them, who saw objectively wrong behavior and did nothing. That all changed in 2017, we declared. No more rewarding bad actors or turning a blind eye. Except it wasn’t true, of course. The obvious abusers were purged, but enablement thrives in this town, and enablement just bit the motion picture Academy in the ass.
So let’s not start at Sunday’s Oscars debasement, where a movie star who has been coddled for more than 30 years decided he could hijack the show and attack a fellow performer, then pretend nothing happened, and receive hugs from his peers, and make it all better with a speech that invoked his co-stars and family to justify the behavior—and generate a standing ovation from many of the enablers (er, attendees) in the audience.