LGBT actors facing disaster following re-introduction of Hollywood ‘morality clause’
A new morality clause could result in LGBT+ actors being shoved back into the closet, a report has said.
Since allegations of Harvey Weinstein raping and sexually assaulting scores of women have come to light, film studios have lost millions in paying disgraced actors wages and damages, leading to some studios exploring the reintroduction of a morality clause.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, in the past, morality clauses have protected filmmakers and studios doling out damages to actors “if the talent engages in conduct that results in adverse publicity or notoriety or risks bringing the talent into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule”.
And in an attempt to rewrite parts or omit disgraced actors like Kevin Spacey from the films in question altogether, Hollywood studios are debating the reintroduction of a morality clause, says The Advocate.
The measures, which prevents a studio from having to pay losses to an actor who is accused of sexual wrongdoing, leaves LGBT+ actors open to vulnerability as they could be forced to get back into the closet.
Originally implemented in 1921, the law may have been introduced to protect Hollywood’s reputation in the wake of stars who had committed crimes of abuse, rape or even murder, but it soon resulted in a management of an actor’s personal life.
“The studio bosses believed that in return for fat contracts their stars were under contract to appear — if not actually to be — ‘moral.’ If homosexuality was immoral in the mind of the general public, gay and lesbian actors needed to convince the public that they were straight, even to the extent of concocting pap for the media about their personal lives,” wrote historians Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons.
“The clause cited examples like public drunkenness, arrests, et cetera but I knew that it would include homosexuality,” de Rossi wrote.
“The wording of the contract was vague, and I was unsure what would constitute a breach of the contract and how ‘morality‘ was defined. The whole thing made me sick.”
Star of Fantastic Beasts and Perks of Being a Wallflower Ezra Miller recently spoke out about the fact that even outside of contractual obligations, queer stars are still warned to stay in the closet for fear that it will harm their career.
“I was told by a lot of people I’d made a mistake,” Miller told Shortlist.
“Folks in the industry, folks outside the industry. People I’ve never spoken to. They said there’s a reason so many gay, queer, gender-fluid people in Hollywood conceal their sexual identity, or their gender identity in their public image. I was told I had done a ‘silly’ thing in… thwarting my own potential to be a leading man.”
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“I was given a lot of stern talking-tos,” he added.
It appears that the US might need its LGBT+ role models more than ever.
The Trump administration recently refused to sign the Americas declaration in support of same-sex marriage.