The History and Evolution of Hollywood’s “Casting Couch”

Throughout the history of Hollywood the “casting couch” has been a reality and a mentality that has taken the innocence of many stars and been one of the scandalous parts of the industry that no one wants to talk about. The history and evolution of it have changed behind the scenes for the most part and have become rumors that throughout the last several decades have finally come to light. One major problem with this mentality is that the casting couch is basically trading sexual favors so that stars can get the parts they want. A lot of times this has been seen to happen to women, who have throughout the history of the industry been seen as far more vulnerable and have therefore been taken advantage of on a more regular basis. However, young boys have been forced to suffer through such degrading moments as well, leading to a wide assortment of problems later on in life.

Anyone that bothers to argue for an upside to the casting couch mentality is at this time possibly one of the most misguided people on the planet.

There were those that refused to comply with the casting couch mentality.

One good example is Maureen O’Hara, who stated that:

“I don’t let the producer and director kiss me every morning or let them paw me.”

Those women that decided to keep their self-respect and dignity were unfortunately blacklisted a time or two, or were ruined entirely when they wouldn’t comply with what producers, directors, or anyone in charge wanted from them. While there were plenty of women that would do just about anything to get famous, the idea of just giving oneself over to the whims and desires of another for the chance to act in a film seem abhorrent to many people. It might be a career they’re fighting for, but the chance to keep their dignity and pride intact seems like it would be a better option than doing something that they would regret with someone that barely cares about them. Being blacklisted for not complying however is both craven and cowardly, but many of those in positions of authority have gotten away with it for years.

The casting couch has been a part of Hollywood culture for over a century now.

Yes, it is still going on even after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and if people believe it’s not then the world has suddenly gone naive. The casting couch experience is something that has been prevalent for much longer than Weinstein, but has been utilized by a wide number of people that have felt it was their right to solicit sexual favors from men and women that were attempting to start their acting career. The lure of becoming a big star has for a long time been something that many people would gladly do anything for, though when the reality hits them some people tend to wake up and walk away, while others bow their head and do what they’re asked to do and either try to forget it or hold onto it until much later when little can be done to confront their assailants. If people would look at this from a different point of view they would likely see that the casting couch is just another term for sexual assault.

In fact it’s been labeled as assault by more than one person.

The casting couch is quite honestly little more than sexual harassment that leads into assault, or vice versa. Some actors, musicians, and other individuals in the industry have taken to sharing their accounts following the Weinstein scandal. Susan Sarandon relayed a tale in which she stated:

 “I just went into a room and a guy practically threw me on the desk. It was my early days in New York and it was really disgusting. It wasn’t like I gave it a second thought. It was so badly    done.”

And of course at this time a lot of people are well aware of the scandal that went on with Corey Haim and Corey Feldman when they were younger and becoming popular. It was stated that they were taken to parties with adults, drugged up, and then ‘passed around’. While the denials have flown fast and thick when it comes to covering these kinds of things up the Weinstein scandal blew everything wide open when it finally came out. The casting couch predates the scandal but once it happened that Weinstein got called out the entirety of Hollywood started chiming in and the history and the evolution of the casting couch was subjected to public scrutiny once again.

What used to be a dirty secret that had been relegated to rumor and something that was easily denied was laid bare once again, and for those people that have had to endure their time spent on the ‘casting couch’ it’s fair to say that it’s their time to be heard.

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