Of all the reports of sexual harassment that have oozed out of Hollywood over the last few weeks, this one stings the most.
Kater Gordon, who wrote on the hit AMC series Mad Men, has accused the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, of telling her that ‘she owed it him to let him see her naked,’ as reported on Thursday by The Information. According to Gordon, Weiner’s behaviour left her so shaken that she hasn’t worked in television since.
This story cuts particularly deep because Mad Men was such an effective skewering of workplace sexism and harassment. While Jon Hamm’s gradually disintegrating advertising genius took centre stage, the show’s heart arguably lay in Elisabeth Moss’s Peggy Olson, who rose from being Draper’s secretary and typist to a respected copywriter with her own office.
Along the way, she has to deal with an endless parade of sexually entitled men who see her as just a piece of meat to be used for their own pleasure. Sadly, if this story pans out, it looks as if Matthew Weiner can join them.
Responding to the allegation, Weiner’s team issued the following statement:
“Mr. Weiner spent eight to ten hours a day writing dialogue aloud with Miss Gordon, who started on Mad Men as his writers assistant. He does not remember saying this comment nor does it reflect a comment he would say to any colleague.”
But Gordon is adamant, explaining that the incident not only left her unable to feel comfortable working in television, but has inspired her to create a nonprofit organization called Modern Alliance, whose goal is to change perceptions around sexual harassment. If even a fraction of the current stories we’re hearing turn out to be true (and frankly, they all sound credible to me), then she has her work cut out for her.
In the meantime, re-watching Mad Men is going to leave a slightly bad taste in the mouth from now on.