Cute. Comical. Slapstick funny. These are just some of the tricks Hollywood abuses and exploits to mask the sexual harassment of women and appeal to the male gaze. And since men control the beat, tenor and tune of the industry, women’s roles are as thin now as they were then. This is the beauty of checking out old flicks—they help us unmask the new tricks of the trade.
Check out this scene from Which Way is Up, a flick seen by many modern bloggers as kids on cable way back in the day, since the film debuted in 1977. It was on regular rotation on the movie channels in the early ‘80s, and probably never registered as sexual harassment—a term that genuinely came into the American lexicon via the Senate’s confirmation hearing of Uncle Tom. Anita Hill stuck her neck out, but the nation’s leaders failed to go the distance, which is unsurprising given the tacit harassment of women in pop culture. The sitting president could not even bring himself to correctly pronounce the word harassment, as most Americans do, instead rebuffing something more akin to “harris-mint”.