Set to premiere next year the new documentary by Oprah Winfrey about the dark side of the entertainment industry was recently announced by Apple TV +. According to the press release, the yet-untitled documentary is produced by Kirky Dick and Amy Ziering, with Oprah being Winfrey. It was already featured in the 2020 Sundance Film Festival list. The festival has now confirmed that the premiere will happen in January.
The details of the documentary are not yet public but some publications have claimed that the main subject of the documentary will be Drew Dixon a former music executive. Amidst the Metoo movement, Drew Dixon accused Russel Simmons, a music mogul of sexually assaulting her in 1995.
Sundance has described the film as brilliant, elaborating that it does an outstanding job at describing the former hip-hop executive’s journey as she grapples with the idea of making her voice heard and publicly calling out someone as powerful and well-established within the same industry as Russel Simmons. The documentary tackles topics like race, gender, intersectionality, and the toll sexual abuse take on survivors and on society at large.
The MeToo Movement
The Metoo movement although now less active, shifted the whole industry. It became a worldwide phenomenon of actresses and is come cases actors speaking about the overwhelming abuse of power by their superiors that they used to get sexual favors and often turned violent with them. Social Media had a lot to do with the success of this movement and its impact. Some of the victims of previous abuse used social media to speak out and make their voices heard and overall it has since changed the general workplace dynamic across all industries.
In the digital age, the word spread around faster. This is part of the reason why the marketing industry has been relying so heavily on it. We’ve got industries all across the board using these technologies and opportunities to spread the information. Affiliate links are now one of the most popular marketing techniques that are used by cosmetics companies, fashion companies, and even the entertainment industry.
The most notable of these are the taboo companies that offer slightly less “moral products”. For example, one of the top online casino Canada has to offer relies completely on its affiliate marketers to bring in new customers. This is masked through the spreading of information that most people want to find about gambling, thus leading to a pipeline towards the specific casino that has hired the influencer.
The impact of that the digital world has manifested again through the MeToo movement that mostly took off through social media and digital content.
Russell Simmons accusations
The documentary by Oprah Winfrey, while focusing mostly on this one particular case, will likely tell the story similar to many others. We will probably have to wait a little longer to find out more details about the film but we do know the details of the original story that the film will follow.
This all started back in 2017, through an interview with the New York Times, where three women, Dixon, Tina Baker, and Toni Salli shared their stories of three separate incidents in which Simmons allegedly raper them. Simmons to this day denies everything described in these statements and says that the “horrific accusations” have shocked him to the core and all of his relationships have been consensual.
If the names of the directors sound familiar to you, it’s because Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are known for their critically-acclaimed documentaries on sexual assault on college campuses. While this topic is a little different because it involved a power dynamic sometimes absent for the incident that occurs at college campuses the two seem to be well equipped to tell this story right.
The Industry Pattern
While the movement covered the entirety of the entertainment industry, the Music industry did stand out. Just last October the British Musician’s Union revealed that almost half of its members have experienced sexual harassment at work with as much as 85% not reporting it. So these patterns are not exclusive to the US by any means.
The music industry and the movie industry both stand out as places where sexual assaults and harassment happen at a very high rate. Whether or not this documentary will do a good job of telling the story is unclear. We do not know how much involvement was coming from Dixie’s part or whether the focus will be this particular story of will the film just start off with this example to explore more universal topics as mentioned in the description available at the moment.
Oprah has been actively getting involved in the movie-making and is apparently working on a series with Prince Harry himself that will tackle mental health. A topic that has been widely popular in recent years as well. These series will also be released on Apple TV+ in 2020.
Many videos and articles have already been made about this topic so it will be interesting to see if something with this high of production value will bring something unique to the conversations around the movement and the general attitudes towards sexual assault cases in the workplace.
It has already peaked interest of a lot of people so the film will probably be a commercial success but it will be interesting to hear the opinions and the reviews from the professional movie critics after the Sundance to see if this movie is managed to deliver and has the potential to change something in the society and its approach to such cases.