Time's Up and Industry Feminism

Curator's Note

On January 1, 2018 women in Hollywood responded to a letter from Alianza Nacional de Campesinas and announced Time’s up on the male-dominated workplace. Many of the actresses who signed the letter took advantage of the Golden Globes and red carpet interviews a week later to announce the initiatives.

Time’s Up builds on previous award season campaigns. Since 2015 actors and Hollywood elites have effectively used the events to raise awareness of structural inequities in the industry with hashtag campaigns such as #OscarsSoWhite and sexism in entertainment journalism with #AskHerMore. The Access red carpet interview with Ashley Judd and Salma Hayek, demonstrates how journalists have responded by asking more substantive questions even if the sign-off, “thanks girls,” signals that there is still room to improve interviews.

For Judd and Hayek the Time’s Up movement is a “beacon of hope,” but not all women feel this movement will change the industry. Spring Duvall points out, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have critics, notably Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, and Rose McGowan. McGowan, herself one of Weinstein’s alleged victims, has been a particularly vocal figure in the public reckoning, but has criticized the Time’s Up movement as “Hollywood fakery.”

It is too soon to assess Time’s Up’s ability to effect change in the industry, but documents such as the January 1st letter offer an example of industrial self-theorizing that differs from much of what John Caldwell identifies in Production Cultures. Industry workers theorize their practices to explain choices and justify decisions, but as Caldwell notes, unlike film and communication theory, production theories are seldom systematic, detailed or comprehensive. I argue that this kind of disjointed, rather than holistic, theorizing suits the nature of the contemporary media industries which are structurally fragmented. Individuals frequently succeed within a fragmented workplace structure by developing industry-specific strategies and learning insider languages. Rather than focusing on the differences between industry workers, Time’s Up has chosen to highlight the similarities across craft and class lines, consistently advocating for journalists to pay attention to workers below the line and to those in precarious positions in other industries. If this movement can succeed in transforming the culture it will be because organizers and advocates can take this comprehensive theoretical approach and use it to transform industry structures, practices, and languages.


Although I criticize #TimesUp in today's publication, I think you're definitely right, it's too soon to see whether or not #TimesUp can create and sustain change. Although the pessimist in me doubts it. Good work here.

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