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Kelly Clarkson kept the mood light, apart from a tearful opening calling for change after the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, as host of the 2018 Billboard Music Awards.
But it was Janet Jackson, who, after delivering a timely rendition of her ‘80s hit, “Nasty,” took the greatest stand of the night in support of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. (Jackson also performed “Throb” and threw in choreography and music from her hit “If.”)
Accepting the Icon Award from Bruno Mars, Jackson said, in part, “I believe that for all of our challenges, we live at a glorious moment for history. It’s a moment when at long last, women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart and mind. This is also a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh. My prayer is that weary of such noise, we turn back to the source of all calmness — that source is God. Everything we lack, God has in abundance: compassion, sensitivity, patience and a boundless love.”
The Billboard Music Awards is merely the latest awards show to touch on the #MeToo movement of women coming forward to claim they were sexually harassed or assaulted, a wave that included allegations leveled against powerful figures in the entertainment industry, beginning with Harvey Weinstein, who was alleged to have engaged in decades of inappropriate behavior in October exposés in The New York Times and the New Yorker.
The Golden Globes was the first high-profile, televised awards show to address the issue, coming just days after a number of powerful Hollywood women launched the Time’s Up initiative to combat systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace.
Time’s Up pins and an all-black dress code dominated the Globes red carpet as a number of prominent women in Hollywood attended the show with female activists as their guests. Host Seth Meyers skewered Weinstein and Kevin Spacey in his monologue, which he joked was being watched like a dog being shot into outer space. The women who took the stage that night also offered empowering messages of equality.
Days later, the Screen Actors Guild Awards served as a celebration of women, with first-ever host Kristen Bell and an all-female roster of presenters. On the SAG Awards red carpet, the all-black palette of the Golden Globes gave way to a brightly colored assortment of dresses and fewer stars sporting Time’s Up pins.
A week after that, the Grammys featured women and men wearing or carrying white roses in support of those who experienced sexual harassment or assault. Still, the music awards ceremony was widely criticized for its lack of female nominees and winners, and Recording Academy president Neil Portnow sparked additional backlash when he said backstage that women should “step up” to have a greater presence at future Grammys.
The Time’s Up message featured heavily in speeches at the BAFTA Awards in London, and the Independent Spirit Awards and Oscars also devoted time to the issue of alleged sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry.
At the Oscars, the Film Academy honored the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements with a segment introduced by three of Weinstein’s most prominent accusers: Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek and Annabella Sciorra. The Academy also highlighted diverse, groundbreaking filmmakers in a segment praising inclusivity.
The #MeToo movement hasn’t had as much of an impact on the music industry as it has on film and TV, where a number of high-profile individuals have been accused of misconduct and been quickly disgraced and oftentimes fired. Yet a number of individuals with ties to the recording industry have been accused, including former music-video director Brett Ratner, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and former record-label executive Charlie Walk.
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