The demeaning of actresses is an industry problem, not just the fault of individual men

Has it occurred to anyone that 'the Weinstein treatment' of actresses and other women in any employer's orbit might be related to the 'pornographization' of movies in our era? Well, it's occurred to me. 

Acting has for centuries had a reputation as being disreputable. But acting in past centuries had a Christian eye sharply fixed on it, in ways that we would probably consider absurd (the prohibition on female roles being played by actual females, for a start). But all that changed, and there was a long time when acting could lead on to greater prestige, in politics or diplomacy, for instance. Shirley Temple became U. S. ambassador to Ghana and, during the fall of Communism in Europe, Czechoslovakia. (And even she, in an interview with Larry King on his show in October 1988, claimed without rancor that both she and her mother were imposed on sexually by the top men of MGM.)

But something has happened in my lifetime -- the past half-century, let's say -- that is surely unsavoury. Women have become more than merely attractive or sexy actresses; they have been required to act in ways (witness Blue Is The Warmest Color as Exhibit A, not that I have seen it nor ever would) that mimic pornographic prostration, or even become indistinguishable from it.

It wasn't that way when Grace Kelly was in films -- when she was rightly allowed to be a lady on screen, such that a prince of Monaco could see her, fall in love, and invite her to join him in as consort in his realm. In her day, acting was seen as a reputable profession, not as a gauzy form of visual prostitution. 

The selling of women in the lowest moral terms is degrading to the women in film. It is also degrading to our civilization.

Dame Maggie Smith said, in March 2017: 'I think they are so brave, the young actresses of today. They seem to have to strip off every second. I can’t imagine how they cope with it today, I really don’t. They are required to do the most extraordinary things'. Extraordinary is a lady-like word for the many un-lady-like things actresses are 'required' to do. And they ARE required, since there is only one Hollywood, and if you don't please the right people at the right time, you may find yourself cast out of your vocation for ever. The fact that several of the more famous and established actors have insisted on unadvertised body doubles is neither here nor there.

Julia Roberts agrees that nudity should not be part of an actress's job description. ''I wouldn’t do nudity in films," she once said. 'To act with my clothes on is a performance. To act with my clothes off is a documentary.’

Indeed. But more than that, it is to elevate prurience above any other motive for watching a film or following a narrative. 

It is past time that a woman of freedom should be able to say 'no, I won't mimic the accessibility of a whore, just for the privilege of being an actress'.