Watch The Heated Moment John Oliver Confronted Dustin Hoffman About Alleged Sexual Assault Of Teen Girl

John Oliver dustin Hoffman video sexual assault teen girl

THANK YOU.

On Monday December 4, 2017, a crowd gathered at Manhattan's 92nd Street Y to hear Last Week Tonight host John Oliver interview Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal, and director Barry Levinson on the 20th anniversary of the film Wag the Dog at an event sponsored by the Tribeca Institute. 

At first, the talk was interesting, if unremarkable. After all, if you're interested in movies, hearing some of the greats talk "inside baseball" can be truly meaningful. However, given that the film being discussed specifically deals with inappropriate sexual behavior on the part of a powerful man, Oliver felt he couldn't allow the proverbial elephant in the room to remain unaddressed.

And so he decided it was time to ask Dustin Hoffman directly about the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by a woman named Anna Graham Hunter, who was 17 at thetime of the alleged assault.

"This is something we're going to have to talk about," Oliver said, "because It's hanging in the air."


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In an essay Hunter published in the Hollywood Reporter In November of 2017, she wrote:

"This is a story I've told so often I'm sometimes surprised when someone I know hasn't heard it. It begins, 'Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed me when I was 17.' Then I give the details: When I was a senior in high school in New York City, interning as a production assistant on the set of the Death of a Salesman TV film, he asked me to give him a foot massage my first day on set; I did. He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my ass, he talked about sex to me and in front of me. One morning I went to his dressing room to take his breakfast order; he looked at me and grinned, taking his time. Then he said, 'I'll have a hard-boiled egg … and a soft-boiled clitoris.' His entourage burst out laughing. I left, speechless. Then I went to the bathroom and cried."

It was clear that Hoffman wasn't prepared to talk about this issue, which frankly, is a little mind-boggling. If you are a prominent figure who has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct not only by Graham Hunter, but also by actresses Katharine Ross and Meryl Streep, as well as by playwriter turned producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, who claims that Hoffman made an inappropriate advance on her in a pitch meeting, it seems a bit naive to think you can coast by on a non-apology and hope that's the end of it. 

Hoffman launched into an explanation of the motivation behind his apology, namely that he was advised by his agent and publicity manager to apologize rather than risk increasing conflict in the public eye, and then expressed his frustration that the statement public left out what he referred to "a key word."

"I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation," Hoffman said at the time. "I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am."

Speaking to Oliver this week Hoffman said, "But there's a key a word that's left out in the quote, you know, as it goes around the world at a clip. And that is 'if'... to, you know, that was out of sorts while I advised her, I apologize. And the word 'if' was important. Now it just says, he apologizes."

John Oliver was having none of it, and I personally want to smooch him for it.

As Hoffman whined about feeling blindsided and continued to insist that the behavior in question — if it happened at all — wasn't "reflective of who [he is] today," Oliver refused to let him squirm away from the difficult truth.

"It's that part of it, and I'm not the moral officer of anything, it's just, 'It’s ‘not reflective of who I am'... it’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off,” Oliver said. “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 a creeper around women. So it feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Well, this isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”

Hoffman made it clear that no, he does not understand, and he believes it is wrong for people to simply choose to believe his accuser. He feels that he is being found guilty without a trial, as it were, and in so doing he completely misses the fact that this sort of talk implies that any time a woman steps forward to make an accusation against a powerful man, she must be lying and that the reason must obviously be that she merely "wants something."


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Just when you thought it couldn't get any more disheartening than Hoffman's unflinchingly blissful ignorance, producer Jane Rosenthal, for reasons one can only imagine, chose to speak up on Hoffman's behalf.

"You also have the way men and women worked together [in the past]; you are in a situation where ‘that was then, this is now and what difference is all this going to make? … This conversation doesn’t do any good. We have a platform here. How are we moving [the issue] forward?"

“We’re about to watch a movie where sexual harassment is an under-plot," Oliver explained, "and there’s an elephant in the room because this conversation is not being had." 

Rosenthal's answer? "It wasn’t produced by Weinstein Co. or Miramax, so you don’t have a really big conversation. Kevin Spacey wasn’t starring in it. Let’s look at real sexual criminal predators.”

Wow.

You want to expect more from a woman, but then, this is a woman who has managed to make an extremely successful career for herself in Hollywood despite the boys club of it all. It's clear that the compromises she has had to make along the way are ones that she has internalized. 

Some people in the crowd didn't appreciate what John Oliver was trying to do, and one point a voice in the crowd can be heard saying "move on!" Others, however, were exceptionally thankful, such as the woman who called out, "Thank you for believing women!"  

Through it all, Oliver wouldn't budge, and neither would Hoffman, who continued to beseech Oliver to keep an open mind, he told the same tired story he's been telling since November about how he knows how hard it is to be a woman because of Tootsie.

And he denied and denied and denied.

Oliver wouldn't let him off the hook. In talking about his decision to broach this tough subject he said: 

“I can’t leave certain things unaddressed. The easy way is not to bring anything up. Unfortunately that leaves me at home later at night hating myself. ‘Why the … didn’t I say something? No one stands up to powerful men.'" 

In a climate where rape culture is finally being included in the news cycle, few have been bold enough to actually tackle these issues so head on and discuss where we go from here.

Bravo to John Oliver for carrying a light. 


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr

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