So many “Me Too” stories are out there but one of the most interesting to me and one of the most telling involves the actor, Jeffery Tambor, a very good actor and the star of Amazon’s show Transparent. Of which I am a fan.
Tambor is alleged to have sexually harassed actors on the set and even gotten physical. Without a doubt, descriptions of his behavior on many occasions make clear it was wildly inappropriate.
On top of that, it seems he was not a very nice person, with charges of verbal abuse and over-the-top anger. He, himself, told reporters that he was “mean” and “difficult” on the set.
“All these decades, we’ve been conditioned to think that stinging verbal abuse, yelling, profanity, humiliation, is just a thing that happens in certain workplaces, Hollywood sets especially,” wrote Matt Zoler Seitz in Vulture.
But you know what? It’s not.
That kind of behavior is traumatizing and most of all–unnecessary. It may be even MORE common in Hollywood than sexual abuse. But they are both part and parcel of the privilege that comes with being affluent white male achievers. How many years did Tambor’s behavior go on without anything being done about it, simply because he was a star.
Worse were the interviews in which his male costars from Arrested Development sprang to his defense against those charges and didn’t allow women stars to speak by talking over and interrupting him?
Tambor denied the charges for a bit ….
and then was forced to capitulate as the weight of testimony grew.
And so, he’s been ousted from Transparent, an excellent show in which he was excellent playing Maura, a closeted transgender woman with a wife and family just coming into her own. This last season, the fourth, was his last and we just watched it. It was difficult to see him on screen without also seeing the cloud of his behavior.
Even so, he was excellent.
He is a really good actor who is just not a good person.
And those things count. No matter what those in power say or do.
They’ve said Transparent will have one more season, sans Tambor. I’m not sure how that will go, since he was the series’ pivot point.
The series was notable for me in that there wasn’t a single likeable character. Not one. And yet, it was a masterful piece of entertainment and Tambor played a super-difficult role with sensitivity and skill. I thought he was great in it. Here’s what I wrote about it two years ago in a post called Trans-selfish.
As the first series tackling the transgender topic in such a personal and direct way, it was groundbreaking. For that alone, Tambor should have had more respect. But the real point is how easy it is to disrespect women in Hollywood and in business. How men who have power and privilege can get away with all kinds of abusive behavior.
Over the past year the curtain’s gone up on this behavior in a big way. Tambor is one of many men who have been called out –and paid consequences–for terrible behavior.
I wish I could say that things will change but the evidence isn’t there.
All sorts of comebacks are being planned for those whose bad behavior has been outed. Should people be punished forever for their mistakes? I don’t know. I just know that nothing will change until the power structure changes.
It’s going to take more than even these awful stories for these privileged men to loosen their grip on power and control.
This is still going to be a battle women fight on an ongoing basis, I’m sad to say.