“I was warned from the beginning. The stories were everywhere. To deny that is to create an environment for it to happen again.” – Jessica Chastain
“I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask. It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.” – Ashley Judd
“There is no excuse for sexual harassment or sexual assault – no matter who you are and no matter what profession.” – Leonardo DiCaprio
“The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported. The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes.” – Meryl Streep
“We’re at a point in time when women need to send a clear message that this is over. This way of treating women ends now.” – Gwyneth Paltrow
“We shouldn’t wait until there are any more stories like this.” – Benedict Cumberbatch
You’ve probably come across some of these statements (which keep on coming) over the past few days, since The New York Times published an exposé, result of a long and rigorous investigation, holding big-time Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein accountable for having sexually harassed and silenced numerous women for decades.
In the course of one week, actresses Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Asia Argento and Angelina Jolie added their names to the now long list of victims who’ve come forward to report the businessman’s “disgusting” and “indefensible” behavior. A freshly disclosed, shocking revelation that has rapidly spiraled into a huge bombshell for the entire entertainment industry.
To understand why this story is making so many headlines, it’s first important to get a good notion of what Weinstein’s status and level of influence is (was) in Hollywood.
At 65, Harvey Weinstein has built a prosperous career by serving as executive producer on various prominent movies such as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Chicago, The King’s Speech, and Silver Linings Playbook. Co-founder of Miramax and later The Weinstein Company, he made a name for himself throughout the years as one of the most well-known, most influential producers in show business, associated with countless major industry awards.
This brings us to why the Times story is such a big deal. By having used his influence and power to pressure women into sexual activities, Weinstein has become an impactful symbol of the cancer that Hollywood (and lots of other professional environments) has been infected with for too long. The simple fact that he used to be such a publicly celebrated figure is what makes the circumstances so astounding and thought-provoking.
Besides, Weinstein’s fame and numerous connections are pushing more and more members of the industry to take a stand on the matter and share their opinion on how something so monumental has managed to be kept secret for such a long time. A shakeup that, in this day and age, is deemed crucial.
Women dont report sexual abuse bc there’s usually 0 support & 100% backlash. Not today. THANKYOU to those who speak out. I stand behind you💖
— om (@oliviamunn) October 7, 2017
Weinstein. It’s about time this came to light and he is getting is just deserts. Heard rumours over the years but this is awful. Bye Bully!
— Ewan McGregor (@mcgregor_ewan) October 11, 2017
The woman who chose to speak about their experience of harassment by Harvey Weinstein deserve our awe. It’s not fun or easy. It’s brave.
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) October 5, 2017
What many hope the overtly exposed Weinstein scandal will generate is a continuous awareness and zero tolerance for such misconducts evidently still occurring in the industry and concealed by fear of either being blackmailed or facing damaging commercial repercussions.
Consequently, this may just be the beginning of a critical change in show business, as possibly confirmed by the recent firing of Honest Trailer creator Andy Signore and the resurfacing of Ben Affleck’s past disturbing behavior, following several allegations of sexual abuse against women who came forward after observing the potentially game-changing aftermath of the Weinstein reports.
What’s more, while we’ll have to wait to see how the current outcry will affect Affleck’s career, Weinstein’s and Signore’s companies have both explicitly expressed that they want nothing to do with such individuals. Although we can question the real reason behind their terminations (exposure more than claims?) and why co-workers who knew about the affair never spoke up, the burning pressure coming from investigative journalism and A-listers will in all probability force many more to follow the same path.