by Joe Clancy ’18
One of Hollywood’s leading directors and prominent stars, Harvey Weinstein, was exposed in a New York Times article for his alleged abuse of women. Weinstein is co-founder of the film company Miramax, which has brought the public a number of prolific movie hits such as Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction, and The English Patient.
Weinstein started Miramax with his brothers in the 1970’s. It began with great success allowing Weinstein to make himself a very powerful and influential individual in the Hollywood scene. Not only was Weinstein powerful in Hollywood, but he also had a great deal of influence in the realm of politics and American society because of the generous donations he made over the years.
Weinstein used his power and influential standing to abuse and exploit women who were aspiring actresses. Weinstein would make unwanted advances on these women and in some cases forcibly engaged with them. There have been dozens of women that have now spoken up about some of his lewd behaviors. Three women have now come forward with claims that Weinstein raped them.
Weinstein’s actions have been called an “open secret” in Hollywood life. For years some were assumed that Weinstein just had a lot of partners and he was generally assertive in his actions. After all, Weinstein was married twice and was well respected and an accomplished individual, so he did not necessarily fit the stereotype of a predator. Jokes were often made about his advances, including remarks from Seth MacFarlane at the Oscars in 2013 and references on the hit TV show 30 Rock.
In 2015 the New York Police Department followed up on some accusations about Weinstein raping a woman. They sent the woman back to Weinstein wearing a wire which recorded Weinstein admitting that his actions were wrong. However, the district attorney threw out the charges based on lack of evidence. The New York Times and NBC followed the story but did not follow up with it.
Over the last week, both The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed the abuse. Weinstein denied the allegations and gave a bizarre defense of his actions, citing workplace culture of the past and his activism. Those who associate with Weinstein have completely distanced themselves from him. Weinstein was released from the Weinstein Company and his wife has announced she is leaving him.
There have been numerous high-profile individuals that have come forward in light of the scandal with their experiences or condemning the acts. Famous actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale, and Gwyneth Paltrow have all come forward with their accounts of Weinstein’s advances and uncomfortable encounters. Other stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon, and even Terry Crews have come forward with similar experiences. President Trump, Hillary Clinton, and other high ranking individuals have also been vocal about their outrage toward Weinstein.
News networks, political pundits, and late night talk shows have all expressed the importance of speaking up when abuse happens. The story has brought the topic of workplace exploitation and abuse into the public discourse.