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Monday, February 12, 2018

Against the hysteria of #MeToo movement

Por Feco

The #MeToo movement has encouraged a powerful crusade against sexism and sexual harassment all over the world. Nevertheless, dissenting voices have also emerged, such as that of Michael Haneke, famous Austrian moviemaker. He follows the line of a French collective, made up of a hundred artists and intellectuals, who created a manifesto opposed to the climate of sexual "puritanism" that the Weinstein case would have unleashed.

Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, double winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, believes that the #MeToo movement, which over the past few months has managed to unite thousands of women who have once been harassed to denounce the sexual abuse they suffered, has become a "witch hunt" that generates a new "puritanism" that harms creation. "I am worried about this new puritanism, impregnated with hatred towards men, that comes to us in the wake of the #MeToo movement," said the film director, author of films such as La pianista (2001) or Funny Games (1997), in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Kurier this week.

"As an artist, you begin to be confronted with the fear of this crusade against any form of eroticism," Haneke said. According to him, "Oshima's “''El imperio de los sentidos”, one of the most profound films about sexuality, could not be filmed today." Anyway, he was smart enough to not sound out of tune: "Of course, any form of rape or sexual abuse must be sanctioned”. However, later on, he expressed that “this hysteria and the sentences without trial that we attend today seem disgusting to me”.

For the director of La cinta blanca (Palme d'Or, 2009) or Amour (Palme d'Or and an Oscar in 2012), who has not been yet the object of any accusation, "every barrage of criticism generated by these revelations, even at the Internet forums of serious newspapers, poisons the ambience of society". Haneke believes that this "witch-hunt" environment makes it increasingly difficult to debate such an important issue".

The #MeToo movement, which Haneke refers to, began at the beginning of last October, after the first headlines about the Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein being dismissed from his company after the publication by The New Yorker and The New York Times, of a series of sexual harassment accusations, supposedly committed during decades and silenced via checkbook. The testimonies of famous artists against Weinstein - Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino, Angelina Jolie or Gwyneth Paltrow - unleashed a huge earthquake in the United States that has been felt all over the West and has been cascading down a rosary of powerful men, demigods in their respective guilds. An earthquake that has encouraged hundreds of thousands of anonymous women to break the silence and share their own cases of abuse.

One cannot help by being in a sort of agreement with the renowned director. If it is true that women all over the world have the right to denounce such a nasty behavior and put fear behind themselves, for good, it is still necessary to approach this issue in a more serious way. The world urges a more practical strategy.