Francisco Maldonado | Columnist Misunderstood #MeToo

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In response to Eric Goldin’s column, “Theater in the #MeToo Era” (Nov. 2):

Author claim: “No matter how difficult it may have been to play this horrible individual, Ralph Fiennes did it. This performance helped people realize how truly evil the Nazis were, and it made the modern audience understand how their actions caused some of the most suffering in the history of the world. But what if Fiennes had been too skittish to play the role?”

Refute: It is a hasty generalization to assume any movie in its entirety (much less a Steven Spielberg movie) would be a failure because of an underperforming actor. Although an exceptional acting performance can increase the critical rating of a movie, such as in the case of Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight Rises,” it takes several factors to make a movie underperform and be called “dreck.” According to Tim Dirks, a film historian, factors such as lack of promotion, competition, production problems and even word of mouth can make a movie fail. Most of the critics on one of the biggest critic sites, “Rotten Tomatoes,” praise the other aspects of “Schindler’s List” and mention Fiennes’ performance sparingly. Although a great and iconic acting performance, this reflects only one part of the entire movie. Spielberg created the masterpiece that is “Schindler’s List,” not Ralph Fiennes.

Author claim: “A great play or film can be ruined if actors are scared of being authentic.”

Refute: A huge and essential part of the “MeToo” movement, and in sexual assault itself, is consent. A sexual act between consenting adults is harmless. A sexual act without consent is a tragedy. When actors agree to take part in scenes involving sexual acts, it is done so at will. The simple fact of wanting to be there already prepares them for what is to come. However, there are still some factors that could take place to make either party uncomfortable. And that’s why there are preventive measures put in place to make actors feel at ease. The “Me Too” movement has not deteriorated acting. It has helped not only all actors feel comfortable, but it has also helped actors perfect the quality of their characters. 

In an article by Naomi Gordon, Julie Ann Emery was quoted as saying, “The sex scenes and nudity in ‘Catch-22’ were handled better than on any other set I have ever been on. And I think that is owed entirely to the #MeToo movement and awareness being raised.” She goes on to mention that the studio took measures to ensure that the actors felt comfortable and could perform to the best of their ability. The measures that took place were the shutdown of the set to only essential personnel, an appropriate ratio of men to women, and a choreographer. She also praised her male directors George Clooney and Grant Heslov. 

She later states, “The scene became much more interesting because the physical aspects were handled well and we were comfortable.” While this was in fact a love scene, if the same measures are applied to sexual assault scenes, then the outcome is the same. 

April Wolfe writes in her article about how actors cope with rape scenes, and that the use of choreographers is essential. 

This is the true cause of “Me Too.” It is not a movement to make men feel inferior or self-conscious. The movement isn’t even anti-men whatsoever. It’s about awareness of sexual assault and its victims. Because with awareness comes prevention, and with prevention comes ease of mind and freedom, which are necessary for actors to truly portray a character to their full potential. 

A young acting student feeling self-conscious during a scene of sexual assault is hardly representative of an entire movement destroying an industry.

Francisco Maldonado

Antelope Valley

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