This year Cannes might feel a little bit different for some of you. In the age of #TimesUp and #MeToo, being a Croisette creep has become un peu dépassé, so, sorry sex pests, you’re going to have to keep your paws to yourself.
As someone who has had to put up with the odd grim sleazeball over the years, I’m living in hope that the message has percolated through the thicker skulls of the industry. I’m intrigued to see just how the events of the past year will play out.
Agency groups are certainly trying to keep their teams in check, with some, like The & Partnership ditching their parties entirely in a bid to have a more productive week. It’s not shockingly new. Every year, LBB Cannes newbies (and oldies) get my ‘have fun but don’t be a fucking idiot’ lecture – is this not standard practice everywhere?
There is a bid to echo the women of Hollywood’s red carpets and the Cannes Film Festival, with #WomenCannes calling on women and men to wear black at this year’s festival. I’ll be interested to see what the take up is – I imagine it depends how hot it is. If temperatures are as high as they were last year – around the 37°c – I can’t personally guarantee that comfort won’t trump principals. On the other hand, black does hide the sweat patches a bit better… look, I’ll make up my mind when I pack.
Diversity and gender are everywhere in the speaker schedule, both at the Palais and on the Fringe – and this year, following the high profile sackings and the truth bombs going off everywhere, hopefully these panels and talks will be a bit more substantial and honest and bit less platitudinous.
Does the atmosphere surrounding this year’s festival mean that it will be less fun? I guess if your idea of fun is sexual harassment and treating other people like shit, then... yeah... I suppose it might be? For everyone else who is cool with treating other human beings as human beings, it should be business as usual.
But when it comes to navigating Cannes and unwanted encounters, Pitch magazine’s Sherry Collins has her own piece of advice, printed in bold type on the back of the latest issue. “We are black creative women heading to Cannes, please do not ask us how much for the night #assumenothing.” It’s disgusting that in 2018 this is still something that needs to be said. But it does. It's literally been spelled out in black and white now and there's just no excuse.
As for general cavorting, as long as it’s consensual and your partner(s) hasn’t (haven’t) been banging back the rose or narcotic of choice and you’re not their boss or client – you’re all adults and capable of making your own decisions. Don’t take advantage and don’t be a creep or a predator, look out for each other.
If its aggressive, unwanted and making the person on the receiving end feel uncomfortable, it’s not flirting. And if it’s one of your gang that’s crossing the line, grow up and call them out on it. And, on the other hand, if you spot someone who looks like they need an out from an uncomfortable situation, it’s the easiest thing to swoop in and pretend they’re a long-lost friend. (On that note, people who walk insensibly drunk people home and make sure they get back to their digs in one piece - you are the real Grand Prix winners of Cannes.)
And finally: if all of the above falls on deaf ears and you just simply can’t help calling some prostitutes to party in your penthouse suite… maybe don’t put it on your work credit card?