Oliver, host of a weekly show on HBO that analyses and satirises the news, discussed Hoffman's statement while moderating a panel to mark the 20th anniversary of the film Wag the Dog, starring Hoffman. The alleged incident took place during the filming of the movie, Death of a Salesman, in 1985.
Hoffman responded to the story, saying, "I have the utmost respect for women and feel bad that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation".
Oliver raised Hoffman's statement that it was "not reflective of who I am".
As Hoffman whined about feeling blindsided and continued to insist that the behavior in question - if it happened at all - wasn't "reflective of who [he is] today", Oliver refused to let him squirm away from the hard truth. It sheds necessary light on how many women's complaints are simply brushed aside by responses that don't center the victim's grievance and only focus on the accused person's character. "Thank you for believing women", one yelled to Oliver. Though Tootsie went on to fuel the conversation around women's rights and sexual autonomy in the early '80s, it seems that Hoffman was left untouched by what could possibly be one of his most culturally significant films. "That was 40 years ago", Hoffman. About halfway through the hour-long talk, Oliver brought up the issue to Hoffman, saying he found the actor's statements about the matter wanting. "It doesn't seem self-reflective in the way that the incident demands". A response should be a honest apology, not a lengthy re-contextualization of events that inadvertently removes blame away from yourself. But they were sexual in terms of the humour of it. "I don't love that response either", Oliver said. The easy way is not to bring anything up.
"It's not for me to say", says Oliver. "No one stands up to powerful men". I don't know if it makes them thoughtful. "It's going to be very interesting - you're either going to see more honesty or more [male] celebrities withdrawing and not doing press at all", he said. It's a civic responsibility of men to confront the person who was accused, instead of letting the accusation fester on its own. However, no representative of Hoffman was immediately available for comment on this exchange. "There's a key word...in the quote...and that is if I did anything that was out of sorts or if I embarrassed her, I apologize". "There's no point in her lying".
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"Oh, Dustin", Oliver said disapprovingly, putting his head in his hand.
Oliver's exasperation has a point.
"I'm totally against any sexual harassment in any way, shape or form". The actress stated that at the time, she was attracted to Hoffman and was conflicted on coming forward with her story. Despite the allegations made by Hunter and another woman, the actor had recently taken the podium at two Oscar-season events, the Governors Awards in Los Angeles and Gotham Awards in NY, with barely a ripple.
Hoffman, in the interview, played down the question. Hoffman replied. "From a few things you've read you've made an incredible assumption about me. So it feels like a cop-out to say, 'Well, this isn't me.' Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?" "Is this enough?" is actually asking oneself, "Have I shown enough support?" as well as "Is there something else I can do apart from listening to the accuser?"
But despite a small chorus of Oliver criticism, Hoffman's responses were widely pilloried, certainly on tactical grounds, as he alternately squirmed and sought to cite a history of treating women respectfully. It might be only five questions, but thinking about them will ensure that people are held accountable for their actions and survivors of abuse are supported.
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