Jess Scully

Check your privilege, Jon Snow

Approx Reading Time-10With actor Kit Harrington speaking out against sexism (that is, sexism against himself), you forget the industry you work in, Jon Snow.

 

Like many actors and actresses before him, Kit Harrington is having a bit of trouble with being pigeonholed.

Daniel Radcliffe finds himself struggling to be anything but Harry Potter no matter how many ridiculously different roles he takes; it’s been 13 years since the final episode but Sarah Michelle Gellar is still being referred to as “Buffy”, and Johnny Depp surely has to be sick of playing dark, creepy Tim Burton characters by now. Surely.

Trying to shy away from his morose, brooding character of Jon Snow from HBO’s Game of Thrones series, old mate Kitty Cat (can I call him that? Actually I don’t care, it’s a thing now) has taken the liberty to be a voice of reason about a massive issue in Hollywood which has plagued the entertainment industry for decades.

It’s called sexism.

Or at least that’s what he set out to do, and I’m sure the masses of women would have sat up, ears perked, and listened to what he had to say – had he not decided to turn around a serious issue for women, and make it all about men.

In an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine, Harrington performed a little rendition of What About Me?, but, let’s face it, Shannon Noll and Moving Pictures are about the only two whose mouths you want those words to come out of. Harrington goes on to explain that he’s felt objectified in photo shoots for media obligations within Game of Thrones: “In photo shoots when I’m asked to strip, I’ve felt the sexism.” That is something, and no person should be made to feel like an object when fulfilling the duties of their job. But let’s zoom out for a moment. Kit Harrington works on Game of Thrones.

When Daisy Ridley’s Rey gets replaced by Darth Vader (who doesn’t even feature in The Force Awakens) in new Star Wars merchandise, and Scarlett Johansson gets booted off her bike and replaced with Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr in new The Avengers toys, there is a much bigger issue in regards to sexism than Jon Snow having a cry that he feels like a piece of meat.

The same show in which his co-stars are calling out for equality, because they were contractually obliged to get nude on screen. Emilia Clarke who plays Daenerys “Yaaas Khaleesi” Targaryen has been very vocal about the inequality in regards to nudity on the show, with scenes where she and many other A-tier actresses on the show have shown all in the name of entertainment, while their male counterparts are given alternatives, like decent camera angles that don’t show any skin whatsoever. (And also let’s not get started about all the up and coming actresses who are spread out like it’s washing day in minor roles.)

There is definitely sexism in Hollywood, Kit. But you being uncomfortable about being objectified doesn’t help the plight of the women in the industry. You’ve merely had a taste.

Harrington continued, ”I like to think of myself as more than a head of hair or a set of looks. It’s demeaning. Yes, in some ways you could argue I’ve been employed for a look I have.” Harrington is the exception to the rule in this case of men being hired because they have a particular look; men in Hollywood don’t face the same kind of scrutiny women face. In the industry in which Harrington works, in a 37 year old Maggie Gyllenhaal was told she was too old to play a love interest to a 55 male actor’s character. The very same industry wherein Jennifer Lawrence was paid substantially less than her two male co-stars in American Hustle.

When Daisy Ridley’s Rey gets replaced by Darth Vader (who doesn’t even feature in The Force Awakens) in new Star Wars merchandise, and Scarlett Johansson gets booted off her bike and replaced with Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr in new The Avengers toys, there is a much bigger issue in regards to sexism than Jon Snow having a cry that he feels like a piece of meat. Cry me a river, Kit Harrington. Women in television and cinema are not only struggling to be paid equally, they’re also being restricted in their roles – and heaven forbid if they put on a bit of weight or change their hair too much.

There’s a trend on the Internet where certain types of people will take someone else’s suffering and make it about them even though they’ve only encountered a minute aspect of the overall issue. The #BlackLivesMatter movement gets hijacked each and every time the hashtag is used. #YesAllWomen is counteracted with #NotAllMen as if women didn’t already know that it’s just a small minority of males that make them unsafe. This is not news to women.

Men can be victims of all types of discrimination but to say that men are victims of sexism in the entertainment industry is laughable at best. Men cannot be victims of sexism in Hollywood because they hold the power and set the discourse of society within that industry.

Every month there is a movie about some meathead in an action movie with a storyline written by another man that is completely similar to every other action film. And yet there was an uproar about the idea of an all-female Ghostbusters remake. My eyes roll back so far that I give myself a migraine.

When it comes to sexism, Ygritte the Wildling was, almost, completely right: you know (next to) nothing, Jon Snow.

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