Have Hollywood’s Sex Scandal Affected Film Studies?

By Dan Genaro

Jambar Contributor

As various employees of the film industry begin to reveal their stories of sexual harassment, the many accusations that have been brought to the attention of the media have affected moviegoers, film students and film professors at Youngstown State University.

English professor Stephanie Tingley teaches Intro to Film and Movies about Movies at YSU.

In her Intro to Film class, Tingley teaches the origins of film and touches upon Alfred Hitchcock’s tendency to cast thin, blonde women in his movies. The other class focuses on moviemaking as a business as well as an artform.

“As an appearance-based industry, there is a long history of ‘casting couch’ stories and allegations, particularly for young women and others starting out in the business,” Tingley said. “Ultimately, I think the sexual harassment/assault in the news and in any business/industry comes down to powerful [people] usually men, who exploit the powerless.”

Tingley said those who condone the harassment are also in the wrong along with the accused.

“Others are culpable if they cover up or look the other way,” Tingley said.

Freshman criminal justice major, Vincent Garayua, said the scandals diminished his respect for the accused actors.

“People who wait to share their story for so long are either genuinely scared, which I understand, or they want attention, which is very annoying and I don’t respect that,” Garayua said.

Garayua is in an Intro to Film class and will not let the bad reputation of actors stop him from watching good movies.

“I will continue to watch these actors if the movies they star in seem good,” Garayua said.

Instructor of communications Arthur Byrd Jr. teaches the History of Motion Picture at YSU and said these scandals are comparable to the communist Red Scare in Hollywood when many writers and directors were blacklisted.

“It reminds me of history repeating itself with the Red Scare,” Byrd said. “There’s a lot of hearsay and a lot of names being thrown around.”

Byrd said Jeremy Piven, actor in the television series “Entourage,” was accused by someone, claimed he did not do it and passed a polygraph test proving his innocence.

“Is he still okay? Or is his reputation smeared because his name was mentioned?” Byrd said.

Before becoming an instructor at YSU, Byrd directed short films. He said he always took caution when meeting with actresses by making sure the meeting took place in a public space or with someone else in the room, because anything like these sex scandals can easily happen.

As for his classes, Byrd said his syllabus, curriculum and movies he shows will not change because of the sexual harassment scandals.

“It’s about the films. They are still movies,” Byrd said. “These allegations are very interesting and will probably go on for a long time. It is history repeating itself when a scandal like this happens.”