Jimmy Kimmel has an important task Sunday when he hosts the 90th annual Academy Awards. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, this year’s Oscars show is unlike any before it and should be highly uncomfortable for some Hollywood studio executives and stars.
Kimmel has been unafraid to take on President Trump and Republicans on his ABC-TV late-night talk show. He has battled with them over health-care, the GOP tax cuts, the president’s personal conduct and many other issues.
The Academy Awards show is one of the biggest television platforms of the year, seen in countries around the world. Some of the celebrities who have either been accused of sexual misconduct or accused an actor or studio executive of such misconduct are expected to be among those attending.
Now many are wondering whether Kimmel will take on filmmaker Harvey Weinstein and others accused of sexual misconduct, along with the toxic culture that has failed to stop such behavior.
I certainly hope that Kimmel rises to the occasion and puts politics aside and addresses the #MeToo movement in a manner that is honest, frank and evenly balanced.
In this current climate of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” Americans need to hear a thoughtful response and a long overdue conversation. What Americans don’t need is the weaponization of a problem that many have experienced either personally or through a friend or family member.
Much like when Kimmel brought his newborn onto his show to humanize the effects of repealing ObamaCare, he owes it to the American public to humanize the victims of a corrupt culture predicated on power and vulnerability.
Sunday is not the time for cheap jokes in front of a supportive crowd aimed solely at President Trump. Sunday is a rare opportunity for Kimmel to take supporters from both parties to task for turning a blind eye to sexual misconduct out of convenience or a sense of self-preservation.
Kimmel should remind Americans that by refusing to hold everyone who has engaged in sexual misconduct accountable – regardless of fame, fortune, or position of power – we become complicit in their very deeds.
Kimmel should also say that by defending the indefensible we cheapen ourselves and turn our back on our own morality. And most importantly, he should note that by staying silent we fail to live up to the basic standards of decency that we should all expect to easily clear.
This isn’t an issue of Democrats versus Republicans or left versus right. This is a question of right versus wrong. The right thing for Jimmy Kimmel to do – for his reputation, his family, Hollywood and the American people – is to hold everyone’s feet to the fire. Make those who have engaged in sexual misconduct feel uncomfortable, make them feel shame, make them wish they weren’t there.
Maybe then those who have engaged in sexual misconduct will have a small window into how their victims felt – not under the guise of politics, but under the social understanding of human decency.