Terry Gilliam is totally wrong

Gilliam is one of the members of the Monty Python troupe, not as well known as the other five because he was rarely seen in the TV series and films. His main role was providing the animations that provided the transitions between sketches and scenes. After the Python era ended, he went on to become a successful director. In a recent interview, he gave his opinion on the recent exposes of predatory sexual behavior in the entertainment industry and said some appalling things, among other things comparing the #MeToo movement to mob rule.

Hollywood director Terry Gilliam said Friday that the #MeToo movement has morphed into “mob rule”, claiming that while some women suffered, others used Harvey Weinstein to further their careers.

“It is a world of victims. I think some people did very well out of meeting with Harvey and others didn’t. The ones who did knew what they were doing. These are adults, we are talking about adults with a lot of ambition.

“Harvey opened the door for a few people, a night with Harvey — that’s the price you pay,” said the maker of “Brazil” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

But Gilliam said the truth was that abuse of power has “always happened. I don’t think Hollywood will change, power always takes advantage, it always does and always has.

“It’s how you deal with power — people have got to take responsibility for their own selves.”

While he lamented that the 1960s generation did not get full equality for women and went on to describe Weinstein as a “monster” and said that there were others like him, his general response was a shrug, that this situation had always existed and he seemed to suggest that as long as both parties were adults and aware of the transactional nature of the relationship, i.e. exchanging sex for career advancement, then that is acceptable.

This is, of course, completely nuts. I am all in favor of consenting adults being allowed to behave in ways they choose. But the compact phrase ‘consenting adults’ contains a whole lot of implicit assumptions about other conditions that should exist. One is that there be no power differential significant enough to influence consent. Another is that the parties are in full command of their faculties and are not drunk or stoned or otherwise in a state of cognitive impairment that prevents them making a rational decision.

The abuses committed by Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly and the huge number of other people are wrong precisely because those conditions were not met.


  1. Jean says

    Well, not only is he wrong but he may actually be an active part of the problem according to tweets from Ellen Barkin.

  2. says

    There speaks yet another man, who I would bet has happily taken advantage of such power, and is bemoaning the fact that people don’t keep their mouth shut about such abuse these days.

  3. lanir says

    This is gibbering nonsense. At heart this is such a simple issue.

    You can’t chastise a victim into taking responsibility for being attacked. You can’t clear their attacker by blaming the victim instead. It’s especially egregious to insist that there was or should have been foreknowledge of the attack. And then to presume that by ignoring or lacking said foreknowledge the victim used some esoteric method to consent to being attacked without actually consenting. It’s just verbal sleight of hand used in a disgusting way.

    Responsibility and culpability for actions and their consequences belongs with the person performing the action. I’m not always happy to confront that when I make mistakes but that doesn’t stop it from being true.

  4. smrnda says

    On the inevitability of the abuse of power -- I’d like to think that we’ve made some progress in eliminating people being coerced for sex in exchange for employment and other forms of coercion. Sexual harassment wasn’t really understood to be a problem until pretty recently, along with marital rape and a list of other abuses. Professors having sex with their students was once shrugged off with ‘but they are over 18’ and though it still happens, it’s certainly no longer as acceptable to other faculty.

    With ‘the price you pay’ -- Terry should note the double standard as I don’t think that’s a price most men in entertainment are expected to pay.

  5. Steve Cameron says

    As much as I’m a fan of many of his films, I soured on him a few years ago when he was filming The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus close to where I live. I know a lot of the local film crew, and reports were that he was quick to anger and generally cranky on set. Not that uncommon a quality in directors, but Gilliam was apparently among the worst many of the crew had worked with. It’s hard to square that behavior with such lovely films as Time Bandits and the The Fisher King, but not so hard to square with these recent comments.

  6. Matthew Currie says

    I like Gilliam’s movies and all, but I’m not that surprised that he’s not such a nice person. What I am a bit surprised at is that he seems so unable or reluctant to do some serious thinking.

    Specifically, I think he makes a common mistake here, of confusing the way the system works with the way the world works, and he ought to know better. Even if things have been a certain way for millennia and all over the world, that does not make them inherent in the way of the world. Of course there are ways in which the world works that we must just work around, and some may well include gender. Men and women are put together a bit differently, and some allowance for this is reasonable and necessary. But there is no reason in the way the world works that justifies harassment, humiliation, discrimination and rape. The fact that people who wish to get ahead in the system know it’s unfair, and sometimes hold their noses and dive in, is no excuse for its being that way. Shame on Gilliam for being so shallow.

  7. John Morales says


    Me, given the information at hand, I think Gilliam is fatalistically stating how he thinks it is, not endorsing how it is.

    And yes, he says some of the victims were “victims”, in as much as they found it transactional. I doubt he’s wrong there.

    (Is he wrong about how it is?)

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