As did just about anyone who has actually been on a movie set, I knew that Arnold Schwarzenegger's implicit excuse that the film sets on which he groped unwilling women were "rowdy" (and hence allowed that sort of behavior) was complete bullshit.
Sexual harassment happens just about everywhere, true--offices, locker rooms, the Army. And it happens in studios and on sets, too.
But it isn't condoned. Some powerful people get away with harassment when they can. And the most powerful man on the set (always Arnold Schwarzenegger when he's been on a set for the past decade or more) can get away with it to the same degree as the CEO or the highest-producing salesman in other environments. People are afraid to object not because of the "rowdy" environment, but because they might as well shoot themselves in the foot. It's a Hobson's choice: Risk crippling your career, or endure the humiliation?
Sherry Lansing, head of Paramount, probably gets herself into trouble in the following L.A. Times story. It isn't smart for her to speak out against one of the biggest action stars in the industry. My guess is that her board of directors isn't happy about it. Her action is a measure of how full of shit Arnold's "rowdy movie sets" claim is:
Film Sets Loose, but Barbarian Behavior Rare, Insiders Say
Schwarzenegger's defense against women's accusations invokes the anything-goes myth.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger found himself facing accusations that he had touched women's bodies without their consent, he apologized, saying he had been on "rowdy movie sets."
But his explanation set off a furor in Hollywood on Thursday, where a wide variety of filmmakers, executives and crew members disputed his implication that this sort of behavior is common.
"Grabbing someone's boobs or pinching their ass is absolutely not the way people behave on a movie set," said Sherry Lansing, chairwoman of Paramount Pictures. "Women work alongside men and are treated with the utmost respect. Moviemaking is a very gender-blind business. No one tolerates that kind of behavior."
Schwarzenegger's defense evoked a long-held myth about Hollywood: Anything goes on a movie set. Industry veterans admit there's some truth to that image — but only up to a point.
"Affairs happen all the time among the cast, among the crew and among the townspeople with the cast and crew, but it's always consensual," said Rob Harris, a publicist with numerous major movie credits ("The Perfect Storm," "Gladiator"). "Stars often act playfully and often act petulantly, but when it comes to sexually groping, I've never, ever seen that."