Actress Sharon Stone, known best for her seductive role in “Basic Instinct,” rebuffed the excesses of the #MeToo movement in a recent interview. She said she’s been a victim of sexual harassment throughout her career — and she’s made several intelligent distinctions about where this movement has gone and how she’s seen colleagues receive merciless treatment as a result.
Speaking with comedian and podcaster Marc Maron on his “WTF” podcast, Stone (shown above left) defended James Franco, her recent “The Disaster Artist” co-star, against accusations of sexual misconduct.
“I’m appalled by this thing about him that is happening,” she said, referencing how a Franco girlfriend is now calling him the bad guy. “I worked with him, I know him — he’s the loveliest, kindest, sweetest, elegant, nicest man. He’s a kind friend, lovely professional. I’m absolutely appalled by this.”
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When allegations of Franco’s alleged misconduct spread during Hollywood’s award season, industry elitists almost immediately shunned him. Vanity Fair even “digitally” removed him from the cover of its Hollywood issue.
Despite winning a Golden Globe for his role in “The Disaster Artist,” by the time the Oscars came around, the allegations and ostracizing of Franco had reached full peak; it is widely believed to be why he was denied an Oscar nomination.
Stone criticized what’s happened to Franco and said she sees it as a conviction “without due process.”
“I don’t feel like these trials without due process are entirely appropriate. I feel that it’s appropriate that people have to take responsibility for [their] actions, but I do feel that some due process is in order,” said Stone. “There’s a range of activities. And you can’t charge somebody with a felony over a misdemeanor. And [there are] some points where there has to be a balance here and it has to be heard in a rational format, so this isn’t just black and white.”
Stone agreed with sentiments previously — and controversially — expressed by actor Matt Damon, believing there is “a spectrum” of bad behavior that is sometimes incredibly awkward and dumb, but not malicious.
“It can’t be that every man who doesn’t know what he’s doing in life is a criminal,” she said.
“A lot of people are just stupid,” she told Moran. “I can say because I’ve been single a lot of my life that a lot of men are just incredibly stupid. You go out with them and they bring you home and you go in for a goodnight kiss and they take your hand and put it on their penis,” said Stone bluntly. “I don’t think they are trying to sexually harass me. They are just incredibly stupid and awkward. Like, really?” she went on. “That’s your move? Please don’t ever call me again — you’re just too stupid to date. I don’t think I should ruin your whole life over that, but I just think you’re incredibly stupid.”
A Twitter mob of accusers and #MeToo victims ripped into Stone with ferocity.
Actress Rose McGowan, a Harvey Weinstein accuser, slammed Stone in a tweet for defending Franco and tagged Violet Paley, one of his accusers.
Sharon Stone should go hangout with Catherine Deneuve. They can be misogynistic victim shamers together. I stand with @VioletPaley I heard about James Franco for years. Kill your darlings, gain your soul. Creeps.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) March 15, 2018
McGowan continued in another tweet to tell Stone, “We are appalled by you, Sharon Stone. #RoseArmy.”
From @VioletPaley ‘Thank you. I fucking cried when I read that. I wasn’t his girlfriend yet. I was his mentee. And now the biggest headline when you look up James Franco is Sharon Stone is “appalled” by Violet Paley’ We are appalled by you, Sharon Stone. #RoseArmy
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) March 15, 2018
Paley responded she was not Franco’s “girlfriend” and that he misled her into thinking he was going to “mentor” her.
hey @sharonstone, you don't know shit about what happened. I was no James' girlfriend when he offered to invite me to set to mentor me. I had never touched his penis. I was misguided into believing i was coming to observe set. you can delete "activist" from your twitter bio
— Violet Paley (@VioletPaley) March 14, 2018
Sarah Tither-Kaplan, another one of Franco’s accusers, tweeted to Stone to tell her that she was “victim-blaming.”
Hi @sharonstone there are many more women who are terrified to come forward because of people like you making baseless, misguided, and victim-blaming statements like the one you did. They speak to me daily wondering when they will get justice. You used to be a hero of mine. https://t.co/qpOSyJJPnG
— Sarah Tither-Kaplan? (@sarahtk) March 14, 2018
Actor Matt Damon saw a similar mob go after his comments about the #MeToo movement.
In an interview last December, he applauded the “totally necessary” #MeToo movement for its “watershed moment.” But when he warned against painting men with a broad brush in general — that’s when he kicked the beehive.
“I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior, right? And we’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between … patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation,” he told ABC.
“Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?” Damon said. “You know, we see somebody like Al Franken. I personally would have preferred if they had an ethics committee investigation, you know what I mean? It’s like, at what point — you know, we’re so energized to kind of get retribution, I think.”
While his comments were inartful, they made the point that we can’t condemn every single awkward male-female situation or compare it to the monstrous behavior of Harvey Weinstein.
Minnie Driver, a former girlfriend of Damon, attacked the actor’s comments on Twitter for being “utterly tone-deaf” and she said they were “systemically part of the problem.” Later, there was even a petition to have Damon’s upcoming cameo in “Ocean’s 8” removed for his comments.
Legendary “Monty Python” comedian and director Terry Gilliam (shown above right) also took on the #MeToo “mob rule” in an interview on Friday with the AFP. The director said he believes Weinstein is a “monster” but that the #MeToo movement is starting to become “silly” in terms of how “people are being described in ridiculous terms, as if there is no real humanity left anymore.”
“He [Damon] came out and said all men are not rapists, and he got beaten to death. Come on, this is crazy!” said Gilliam.
Gilliam accused the leaders of the movement of hypocrisy — saying they’re playing victim when some of them willingly benefited in their careers from letting people like Weinstein harass them.
“I think some people did very well out of meeting with Harvey, and others didn’t. The ones who did knew what they were doing. These are adults; we are talking about adults with a lot of ambition,” said Gilliam. “Harvey opened the door for a few people. A night with Harvey — that’s the price you pay.”
Gilliam also defended Damon, whom he directed in “The Brothers Grimm.” “I feel sorry for someone like Matt Damon, who is a decent human being. He came out and said all men are not rapists, and he got beaten to death. Come on, this is crazy!”
The director said he believes #MeToo is dumbing down the entire conversation.
“It’s crazy how simplified things are becoming. There is no intelligence anymore, and people seem to be frightened to say what they really think. Now I am told even by my wife to keep my head a bit low,” said Gilliam.
“It’s like when mob rule takes over — the mob is out there,” he continued. “They are carrying their torches and they are going to burn down Frankenstein’s castle.”
No one is immune from this “mob rule.” Last Sunday, singer and new “American Idol” co-host Katy Perry got a taste of the angry mob when she planted a kiss on a contestant out of the blue.
When 19-year-old contestant Benjamin Glaze admitted to Perry he had never been kissed in his life, Perry lit up and welcomed him to give her a kiss. When he approached her, he went in and kissed her cheek politely. She teased that he didn’t really kiss her. So when he tried again, Perry turned her head to surprise him with a kiss on the lips. Glaze was stunned and fell over.
“Well, that’s a first!” he exclaimed. “That’s going up on the fridge.”
After the audition, he bragged to his family that Perry had kissed him — and they gave him kudos. But it turns out, according to The New York Times, that the initially consensual kiss with the pop star was “unwanted” and made him feel “a tad bit uncomfortable.”
“I wanted to save [my first kiss] for my first relationship,” Glaze said. “I wanted it to be special.”
“Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no,” he said. “I know a lot of guys would be like, ‘Heck yeah!’ But for me, I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately. I wanted my first kiss to be special.”
The New York Times story inflamed a #MeToo media army to attack Katy Perry for allegedly taking advantage of the young contestant. Headlines read, “Katy Perry’s Kiss and the Regressive Sexual Politics of American Idol” and “Katy Perry owes #MeToo an apology.”
Glaze responded to the media firestorm on his Instagram account by saying he wasn’t having a #MeToo moment, despite the media’s characterization: “I am not complaining about the kiss from Katy Perry at all.”
Not so long ago, TV audiences were delighted when “Family Feud” host Richard Dawson, aka “The Kissing Bandit,” would wish every female contestant good luck with a kiss. Now, in 2018, Katy Perry is a villain of the #MeToo movement for an innocent peck that the “victim” didn’t really mind that much.
Gilliam is right — there is a mob rule within the #MeToo movement, and as history has shown, the individual is usually rational but the mob can be dangerously simplistic in its thinking. As with many well-intentioned modern feminist battles, #MeToo movement’s original concept is getting lost in silliness as the bandwagon army refuses to listen to distinctions in the arguments about male-female relations.
Instead, the mob bullies with thousands of angry tweets and unwisely picks their battles.
The movement is dumbing down the effectiveness of its message by tying — as Sharon Stone put it — “incredibly stupid and awkward” moments with the acts of Harvey Weinstein.
Let’s hope the #MeToo movement corrects course and learns to stay away from silly battles that lessen its work.
Heather Hunter is a talk-radio show producer based in the Washington, D.C., area.
(photo credit, homepage images: Sharon Stone Cannes, CC BY-SA 3.0, by Georges Biard / Terry Gilliam, CC BY-SA 2.5, by Rita Molnár; photo credit, article images: Sharon Stone, CC BY 2.0, by Siebbi / Terry Gilliam, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Colin Knowles)