We didn’t really need another reason to love John Oliver, but he’s giving us one anyway. The comedian and host of Last Week Tonight was moderating a panel discussion after an anniversary screening of Dustin Hoffman’s 1997 comedy Wag the Dog in New York City last week—but the discussion quickly turned to the allegations of Hoffman’s sexual misconduct.
Hoffman is one of an increasing number of Hollywood stars who has been accused of sexual harassment following the Harvey Weinstein exposé. In an essay published by The Hollywood Reporter, writer Anna Graham Hunter alleges that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate sexual comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of Death of a Salesman in 1985.
The video of the panel discussion, published by The Washington Post, begins with Hoffman explaining that he was instructed not to “get into a dispute” and “lengthen the argument” following Graham Hunter’s story. Instead he says he was advised to simply apologize. Hoffman responded to Graham Hunter’s essay saying, “I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.” At the panel, Hoffman tried to reiterate this statement, particularly the portion where he says anything I might have done, which isn’t really an admission of guilt. He also highlighted the portion of the statement that says It is not reflective of who I am as a defence against the allegations—but Oliver was not having it.
“It’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off because it is reflective of who you were if it happened—and you’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen—then there was a period in time for a while when you were creeping around women,” says Oliver. “So it feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Oh this isn’t me.'”
Later in the video Hoffman starts to describe the vibe on the Salesman set in a way that is eerily similar to the idea of “locker room talk.”
“Everyone was saying it to each other, it’s a family,” says Hoffman, explaining that the cast and crew would come to work and make sexual jokes. “But that’s 40 years ago”
“I’ve got to say, I don’t love that response either,” says Oliver. And get ready, because this is where it really gets good. Hoffman, visibly frustrated, fires back saying, “What response do you want?”
That’s when Oliver explains that while it’s not really for him to dictate how people should respond to these allegations, Hoffman’s response is dismissive and “doesn’t feel self-reflective in a way that it seems like the incident demands.”
And instead of taking that as a cue to pause and reflect, Hoffman then goes on to say that “there is a point in [Graham Hunter] not bringing this up for 40 years.” Cue audible groans from both Oliver and the audience. (It is well-documented that victims of sexual harassment and assault can take years to come forward, and some never do at all.)
Hoffman went on to explain from his perspective what happened on that night, arguing that at the time, it was “nothing” but now it is being reframed to make it seem like he is a predator. He also notes that he does not recall meeting Graham Hunter.
“I don’t even hear the same thing in the story you just told as I think you do,” says Oliver, outlining how Hoffman’s account sounded more like a woman who was upset about how Hoffman touched her and then later apologized for being upset.
“I guess the thing that you said that is interesting to me is: the things that we do between takes,” says Oliver, as multiple audience members can be heard saying “Yes!” in the background. “I think it is the things that we do between takes that is a cultural shift that needs to happen. What can seem completely fine or normal to a certain group of people can have victims on the other end of it.”
The audience broke out into applause at Oliver’s statement, and TBH, we’re applauding too.
As the allegations against predatory and problematic men in Hollywood, and other industries, continue to come to light, Oliver’s response and refusal to excuse Hoffman’s behaviour is a refreshing and much-needed take. So to the men of Hollywood, take note. This is how it’s done.
John Oliver did what most men have not done in Hollywood last night—he grilled Dustin Hoffman about his sexual harassment allegations in publichttps://t.co/eHLJ8Oqwzv
— Ira Madison III (@ira) December 5, 2017
Sexual Assault Response: How A Poet “Fixed” Louis C.K.’s Statement
How to Craft a Sexual Assault Statement
From Dustin Hoffman to George Takei: An Ever-Expanding List of Post-Weinstein Accusations
These Are the Worst Hollywood Reactions to the Harvey Weinstein Allegations