Despite generating so much conversation, it comes as a surprise that #MeToo hasn’t impacted viewership much. A survey by Morning Consult suggests that allegations of sexual harassment against artists or producers seem to influence public’s viewership habit very little. Frequent television watchers, or those who watch five or more shows per week, admitted that the presence of men accused of sexual harassment in television shows would not have much impact on their viewership.
Of the 20 actors surveyed, allegations against only two — Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. — drove more people to say their viewership habits would change as a result of #MeToo. https://t.co/cTKfdqvQPE pic.twitter.com/TuGh14sueG
— Joanna Piacenza (@jpiacenza) May 29, 2018
The only exception to this was the subgroup which consisted of frequent moviegoers, or those who go to the theatre at least once a month and rent a film at home once a month, who said that such allegations did influence their choices.
One subgroup that entertainment officials should be mindful of: Frequent movie-watchers, or people who go to the theater *and* stream a film from home once a month 🙋.
That group is loads more likely to say their viewership will change. https://t.co/cTKfdqvQPE pic.twitter.com/aXkhx8RFou
— Joanna Piacenza (@jpiacenza) May 29, 2018
Of the 20 entertainers listed in this poll, allegations against only two men — Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. — seemed to stir a strong negative response from the survey pool.
This survey raises a lot of questions on how we have perceived the effects of #MeToo till now. It also gives us a reality check on the commonplace apathy towards survivors of sexual harassment. But does this mean that the battle is already lost?
Forgive and Forget
Either the audience has already forgiven these entertainers, or it wasn’t concerned about allegations against them in the first place. There is no denying the fact that common public is extremely forgiving of celebrities. While social media may seem harsh to these men, the reality that lies beyond Twitter is a proof of people’s short attention span, and their willingness to ignore the predatory behaviour.
Apparently, most of the offences cited against these men are not serious enough to influence media viewership.
Why else would people not have any problem watching content created by or featuring men like Casey Affleck, Dustin Hoffman, Danny Masterson or T.J. Miller?
We also cannot overlook the short attention span most people have developed courtesy social media. While this medium has been a major part of the drive against sexual harassment, it has also cursed most of its users with an ability to get over a piece of information in mere seconds. So, while there may be an outrage against a celebrity today, people will forget about it by tomorrow, and move on to the next trending topic.
Another plausible explanation is lack of awareness. There is a fat chance that despite intense media coverage and a massive social media movement, #MeToo is yet to stir empathy among the general public.
For most of them, these allegations are either publicity stunts or false allegations. Some may even roll their eyes and call them just Page 3 blabber.
Does this mean that #MeToo Movement is a failure? Or that it hasn’t managed to create the desired impact on common people? Should we worry that this report will do nothing more than emboldening sexual predators in Hollywood? Or would it discourage the Hollywood fraternity which has stuck by women and encouraged the practice of boycotting sexual predators?
Perhaps all it means is that we need to have more patience and be more persistent than ever. We can only achieve the results we want by creating more noise and initiating a more impactful dialogue with people. It is essential that men who commit sexual offences suffer the consequences of their actions. But it is also essential that people come to side with #MeToo on their own. And not just out of fear of backlash.
As for the result of this survey, it should not dampen our spirits, but further strengthen our resolve to create a society free of sexual harassment.
Photo Credit: CBC
Also Read : Is a #MeToo in Bollywood Possible Without Taking Names?
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.