Here’s how #MeToo has affected what people watch on TV

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Moya Lothian-McLean
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A new survey has found only two out of 20 actors have seen their audience popularity suffer as a result of sexual misconduct claims. 

The current wave of reckoning the #MeToo movement ushered in started with celebrities. And while the fallout from high-profile women pulling back the curtain on abuse in Hollywood has kick-started similar crusades, spearheaded by distinctly non-famous people around the world, there’s still an ongoing fight in the entertainment industries. As more male stars find themselves on the receiving end of accusations of harassment – Morgan Freeman being the latest – it stands to reason that viewing habits will change as our formerly favourite films become unpleasant reminders of those who managed to get away with abusive behaviour for far too long. 

Or so you’d think. 

A new study by Morning Consult has analysed how sexual misconduct allegations have affected the viewership habits of 20 popular male entertainers and the answer is: not much. Only charges leveled at two actors, Kevin Spacey – who was accused of regularly preying on young men throughout his career  – and Louis CK – who admitted multiple incidents of sexual misconduct against women – were enough to make the US audiences surveyed seriously rethink settling down in front of one of their projects. 

Comedian Louis CK who admitted to sexual misconduct last year 

46% of respondents to the study said the claims made against Spacey – which included making sexual advances upon a child – would impact their decision to watch something if he appeared in it, with 36% saying his presence made them less likely to view a film or television series. Similarly, 40% people questioned in the research said they were likely to engage with entertainment if Louis CK starred, with 38% reporting that this was a direct result of his actions. 

Breaking down the results by category – TV-watchers, Movie-Watchers, Men and Women – the survey also found that women are more mindful of accusations of sexual offences when deciding what to entertain themselves with. However, even then there was still hardly an impact with 36% of women acknowledging that sexual harassment charges against 2017 Best Actor winner Casey Affleck would not factor into their decision to watch a film he was in. 

The same percentage of women also said they had no qualms about switching on a project featuring Jeffrey Tambor, who was recently fired from Amazon series Transparent for allegedly harassing his assistant and found himself further in hot water this week when it emerged he’d verbally abused Arrested Development co-star Jessica Walter on-set.

Despite those within #MeToo calling for the boycott of art produced by men accused of sexual misconduct, such as the #MuteRKelly campaign, it seems yet to have made a significant dent within audiences.

“People forget, forgive, or don’t even know [about sexual assault allegations],“ said PR guru Susan M Tellem, commenting on the study.  Perhaps viewers should remember they’re not the ones who can dole out absolution.

Images: Getty