Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic", "Ocean's 11") fears that a #MeToo backlash could hit, resulting in men hiring fewer women.
Sitting down with the Daily Beast, Soderbergh discussed his past relationship with Harvey Weinstein, which goes all the way back to 1989 when Weinstein's company Miramax purchased Soderbergh's independent film "Sex, Lies and Videotape." Soderbergh says he knew of Weinstein's professional misconduct as a bully, but had little interaction beyond that, considering that Miramax only purchased his already-completed films.
It’ll be interesting to see where the new equilibrium ends up, and whether or not this will expand beyond gender-driven harassment into a more general discussion about people who are assholes. Because there are plenty around. After this takes a shape that seems like it’s going to settle in, I’d love to see a discussion just about abusive behavior in general that has nothing to do with sexual harassment, but just bad behavior.
My experience with Miramax in those early days was that they bought two films of mine when they were finished. So obviously I knew Harvey and knew of his professional personality, which was volatile. Anthony Minghella described him to me once by saying, "He’s like a bull. If he’s running alongside you, it can be very exhilarating. When he’s running at you, it can be terrifying." That was, I thought, a pretty good description.
Some might be quick to throw the "but you knew" accusation at Soderbergh, but as he states, and as his professional career has shown, he focuses heavily on filmmaking, spending little time in the Hollywood "cool kids" circles. The same could not be said for Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Matt Damon and the many other celebrities caught up in Weinstein's web.
"I’ve never participated in the sort of social part of the business," said Soderbergh. "I’m very work-oriented, so I’m not going out a lot, I’m not talking to people, I’m not trafficking in the kinds of conversations in which this subject would come up. So when these things started dropping, I was, like a lot of people I’m sure, pretty stunned at the breadth and the depth of what was being described."
While Soderbergh fully supports #MeToo and an end to the bad behavior, he fears that a backlash could result in men hiring fewer women.
"My fear is that, men being men, going forward, as opposed to changing their behavior, they’re just going to stop hiring women," he said.
However, Soderbergh feels that competition will root that problem out because companies that do not hire the best people always suffer as a result.
"That’ll be a bad play," he said. "If you become a company that, for instance, decides — tacitly or explicitly — to hire fewer women because you don’t want any problems, you’re going to get beat by other companies who do continue to hire women, because they’re going to have a better result."
Never to shy away from experimentation, Soderbergh's latest project, "Mosaic," can be watched via a free iOS and Android app. It can be viewed in full on HBO.