Director Michael Haneke has said that he is disturbed how the #MeToo movement has caused a ‘new puritanism’ in the world of the arts.
The Oscar-winning helmsman behind films like Amour and Funny Games, added that he considered it ‘a witch hunt’, and that it should be ‘left in the middle ages’.
“This new puritanism coloured by a hatred of men, arriving on the heels of the #MeToo movement, worries me,” he said during an interview with Austrian paper Kurier, which was later reproduced by Deadline.
“As artists, we’re starting to be fearful since we’re faced with this crusade against any form of eroticism.
“This hysterical pre-judgment which is spreading now, I find absolutely disgusting. And I don’t want to know how many of these accusations related to incidents 20 or 30 years ago are primarily statements that have little to do with sexual assault.
“This has nothing to do with the fact that every sexual assault and all violence – whether against women or men – should be condemned and punished. But the witch hunt should be left in the Middle Ages.
“Suspected actors are cut out of movies and TV series in order not to lose [audiences]. Where are we living? In the new Middle Ages?”
Haneke is most likely referring to the case of Kevin Spacey, who was both cut from Ridley Scott’s movie All The Money In The World, and then sacked from House of Cards, following dozens of allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
“The blind rage that’s not based on facts and the prejudices that destroy the lives of people whose crime has not been proved in numerous cases,” he added. “People are simply assassinated in the media, ruining lives and careers.
“Any shi*storm that even comes out on the forums of serious online news outlets after such ‘revelations’ poisons the social climate. And this makes every argument on this very important subject even more difficult. The malignancy that hits you on the internet often stifles you.”
Others in Europe have echoed Haneke’s sentiments.
Catherine Deneuve was the prominent figure among 100 women who signed an open letter the the Le Monde newspaper in January, expressing concern over the #MeToo movement.
In it, she and the other signatories defended men’s rights to ‘seduce women’.
“Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss,” it said.
“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or clumsily, is not – and nor is men being gentlemanly a chauvinist attack.”
“As women we do not recognise ourselves in this feminism, which beyond denouncing the abuse of power, takes on a hatred of men and of sexuality.”