#MeToo: Do we boycott the Transparent series now?

Jeffrey Tambor has been accused by actress Trace Lysette of sexual misconduct on the set of the very successful Transparent TV series, as well as making inappropriate comments off the set. The alleged incident on the set reportedly happened during the show’s second season — it has now completed four seasons.

It’s the second allegation faced by the TV star, who has picked up two Emmy Awards for his portrayal of a MtF trans person.

Reports The Hollywood Reporter: “The first accuser, Van Barnes, is a trans woman who worked as Tambor’s personal assistant, and whose allegations have led to an internal investigation by Amazon Studios.”

In light of the accusations, Tambor has withdrawn from the series, leaving Amazon and the show’s producer to mull a fifth season without Tambor.

Tambor is one of so many celebrities and others being accused of sexual misconduct these days as more and more woman speak out about alleged abuse by men in positions of power. The outpouring started with the Harvey Weinstein revelations, and we can expect plenty more before all is said — if not done. So far, none of the people accused in the #MeToo deluge is facing criminal charges, though authorities are investigating some cases and may file charges.

So, here are a few questions for my readers:

I have viewed the first season of Transparent so far, and had planned to watch the following three (now that I have an Amazon Prime subscription). But given the news about Tambor and the hostile vibes being sent his way in the media and social media by his accusers and their supporters, I’m wondering if I should watch the rest of the series — or boycott it?

What would his accusers and their supporters want me to do? Would they argue that I should separate the man’s personal life from his art, and go ahead and watch the series? Or would they say I shouldn’t watch anything he was involved with, even if it means boycotting their own productions?

I suspect they would choose the first option: watch the show. But if they do choose that option, then why not bring him back for a fifth season — after getting a promise he will behave himself — perhaps even working his indiscretions into the script?

It seems to be me it would be hypocritical to tell us to watch the first four seasons, and then write him out of the script because they see him as someone who is just too disreputable to be in the series.

And, after all, his indiscretions happened in the second season. If I watch him in that season, I am watching a man who allegedly sexually harassed two women.

I use the Tambor case as an example. Obviously, this can be applied to many of the actors facing allegations of sexual misconduct. Do we boycott every show and movie they have appeared in, as if they are some sort of vile stain on humanity who must not be seen — and, thus, supported — in any public setting? Or do we separate their personal lives from their public works?

What say you?

And I’ll throw something else out there . . .

What if somebody invented an app that could read people’s thoughts? Consider all of the above when you answer that question.

— Jillian

Photo: Jeffrey Tambor. (Credit: Wikipedia)

11 thoughts on “#MeToo: Do we boycott the Transparent series now?

  1. The singer is not the song, nor the dancer the dance. Or in this case, the reverse. He already has been paid for his work, so you doubly accomplish nothing. This is above and beyond the important point that “accusations” on twitter and the like are only so much puffs of air (well, electrons), and not facts, much less proof of malfeasance.

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    1. Good points. I am inclined to agree.

      But what if we were talking about artistic works created by the likes of Charles Manson or Clifford Olson or Paul Bernardo (or Adolf Hitler) before or after they committed their horrendous crimes? Would you feel comfortable viewing their works? Would you pay the price of admission?

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      1. Interesting discussion point. Once one hits that level of evil, likely not. Frankly, don’t want to know what Hitler would produce as artwork. Could be a matter of degree, or perhaps that evil at a certain level is fundamentally different, actually evil, not just bad.

        Thinking further, your analogy isn’t quite correct. It’s not a question of boycotting whatever actor you mentioned (frankly, I rarely know who actors are), but boycotting the entire TV show, including the contributions (and livelihoods) of numerous people. If Hitler had painted one room in an apartment building, would one throw out onto the street everyone who lived in the entire building to tear it down to feel virtuous? There is a lot of virtue signalling going on in the condemnations – not enough to condemn a certain act, but must do so with certain phrasing, and with no nuances or discussion allowed. (OMG, we’re on the internet and having a reasoned discussion! How unusual.) Even allowing that I wouldn’t go see a play by Hitler, the fact that he enjoyed Wagner doesn’t mean I’d boycott Wagner (as some people insist on doing).

        Further, only certain acts or people are considered beyond the pale. This is frequently determined by the political biases of the person judging. Communism killed far more people than Fascism (by an order of magnitude), but there was a huge outcry that prevented re-release of Mein Kampf; whereas you can buy Das Kapital anywhere.

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      2. I understand about the “contributions and livelihoods of numerous people.” A colleague mentioned the same thing when we discussed this. But there is still the fact that the leading actor is regarded now as some sort of villain by people on the set — who waited two years to go public — who were willing to sacrifice those livelihoods and the series itself to expose this guy. So, if we watch the series now, we may feel we are watching a real-life abuser — which leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

        I mean, other actors and on-air journalists being accused of sex crimes are being dumped by their networks. Take Charlie Rose, for example. PBS pulled his show, and CBS dumped him — so that you can’t see him anymore. And you can be sure they won’t be airing re-runs of his shows.

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      3. Jillian, you inadvertently raise another point. An uncomfortable, politically incorrect point. The other actors/personnel waited 2 years to come forward. How many of those are still employed by the show? Or had they already moved on: were will to keep silent because they were getting money, but that they aren’t are suddenly brave about “coming forward?” (Some are, some aren’t.)

        I’m also thinking of cases involving bigger names, like Weinstein. I have more sympathy for, say, a script assistant who was harassed than an A-list actress. If anything is going to get done, it’s because celebrities are now complaining, but they really have little to complain about. If you are a script assistant, you have a miserable job – low pay, long hours, lots of stress – and then you get harassed; it’s a lose-lose situation. On the other hand, an A-list actress got a career that pays millions of dollars per film. For that kind of career, I’d let Weinstein grope me. They elected to pay a certain price to get what they wanted, and now are whining (no pun intended) about it. Yes, one can said they should have been moved ahead on their talent, but we are talking Hollywood, where talent is rare and largely irrelevant.

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      4. It certainly sounds like Weinstein was the worst of the lot, and he will probably go to jail. But Tambor’s alleged acts pale by comparison — yet the show’s writer and others still felt it was worth exposing him on social media even if it meant putting themselves out of work.

        The whole affair makes me sick, and I choose to just disassociate myself from the whole lot of them. Hence, I won’t be watching that series again.

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      5. Since I rarely watch TV, the concept of boycotting a show is near-meaningless to me personally. I’m not sure I would boycott a show because of the actions of one or more of the actors in private life, if I otherwise liked the show.

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  2. This was inevitable. Something that must be supported because of its social importance collides with demands to boycott a component part of it. What’s a social conscience to do? It was easy when it was Spacey and run-of-the-mill films and TV shows, or Weinstein and A.N.Other film. But now a clash of the diametrically opposed. It’s a rerun of religion vv homosexuality – both ask for tolerance but clash over tolerance of each other’s position. The knee-jerk outraged need to think through their calls for retribution before, as Pehr puts it above, the whole structure is torn down for the sake of one room. Or to put it the old-fashioned way, cutting of your nose to spite your face.

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