- - Tuesday, November 18, 2014


When Ethel Merman belted out Irving Berlin’s song, “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” in the 1954 film version of “Annie Get Your Gun,” it resonated with people. It’s the long-standing impression we’ve had about the entertainment world: glitzy, glamorous and powerful.

There was another description others likely believed was true: untouchable. Mighty entertainers lived a charmed life, and did as they pleased. Lowly common folk kept silent and did as they were told, or else.

That’s no longer the case. Some god-like public entertainers are losing their mythical status. Three recent examples, in three different countries, clearly indicate the tide is beginning to turn.

The United Kingdom’s Jimmy Savile was a legendary performer who hosted BBC television shows (“Top of the Pops,” “Jim’ll Fix It”). He was friends with Margaret Thatcher. He raised more than $60 million for charity before his death in October 2011.

In spite of all this, there were decades-old allegations of child abuse. They occasionally bubbled to the surface, but never went much further than that.

It was the 2012 ITV special, “Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile,” that blew the lid on this case. Up to 10 women, including one underaged victim, claimed to have been raped or sexually assaulted by the late entertainer.

An astonishing 450 alleged sex abuse victims quickly came forward. 82 percent of the victims were female, and 80 percent were “children or young people.” According to a March 2013 report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Metropolitan Police “considered 214 allegations to be crimes that were capable of being recorded against Savile at the time of their commission.”

Canada’s Jian Ghomeshi has become the modern-day equivalent of Mr. Savile. The former musician was a prominent TV and radio host. His most successful show, “Q,” was broadcast on CBC Radio One and over 170 Public Radio International stations. Mr. Ghomeshi’s career came crashing down like a meteor in October. The CBC fired him after claiming they’d viewed “graphic evidence that Jian had caused physical injury to a woman.” The radio personality revealed his penchant for rough sex on his Facebook page — reportedly due to an impending smear campaign from an ex-girlfriend. He also sued his former employer for $55 million (CDN).

There was more to this tale. Various women, including actress Lucy DeCouture, described accounts of alleged sexual abuse — including repeated punching to the head and body. To date, 11 women and one man have approached the media with similar stories.

Mr. Ghomeshi, once the darling of Canada’s left, has been abandoned by former friends and colleagues. His public relations organization, Navigator, dumped him as a client because he “lied to the firm,” as well as his publicist, Rock-it Promotions. The radio host has seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.

These allegations mirror those faced by Bill Cosby. The well-known comedian and TV star has been dogged by several allegations of rape and sexual harassment. Except for a 2006 out of court settlement, the public has doubted many of these stories.

This all recently changed. Comedian Hannibal Buress did a skit about Mr. Cosby’s rape allegations that was videotaped. It encouraged Barbara Bowman, an artist, to speak out about her long-standing allegations that the entertainer drugged and raped her during the 1980s.

It’s led to a huge firestorm of controversy and bad publicity for Mr. Cosby. Queen Latifah and David Letterman recently canceled TV interviews with him. As The New York Post’s Laura Italiano put it, “He’s gone from America’s dad — to national disgrace.”

In fairness, these allegations haven’t been tested in courts of law. Yet the fact that these (mostly) women are telling their stories is a good thing. The element of fear plays a massive role in preventing women from speaking out, as well as the potential threats of blackmail and loss of work. The truth needs to be revealed, however.

Some people still can’t believe powerful entertainers could be capable of such activities. The whole world is their oyster, so why would they need to rape and sexually abuse others? Alas, there are deep, dark secrets in the world of entertainment, more than we ever originally thought. This behavior has evidently been tolerated by senior executives for far too long. It needs to stop.

Let’s hope the collapse of god-like public entertainers helps normalize the world’s entertainment industry. At the very least, it will ensure this type of behavior is never tolerated or excused again.

Michael Taube is a contributor to The Washington Times.



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