On Oct. 14, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to dismiss Harvey Weinstein as a member, the second time ever this judgment has been evoked. This follows a league of blows against the producer, including separation from his wife, still-mounting legal troubles and the revilement of almost all film executives and actors. All of this and more is certainly deserved given the over two dozen allegations of sexual assault, misconduct or rape against him.
Within their statement for his expulsion, the Academy wrote their intention with this decision is in part to “send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.” While this statement is certainly distinct in message, its tone and implications almost seem to reflect that of the Weinstein Company’s statement upon firing their co-founder. Most importantly, both seem to imply that these allegations come as a shock to the groups.
Unfortunately for victims everywhere, this is obviously and provably false. Allegations against Weinstein have been around for decades, most times being discredited or paid off and silenced. Repeatedly, Weinstein would invite women, often at the start of their careers, to the same hotel in attempts to coerce them into massages and sex. Multiple times among these, Weinstein would employ the aid of subordinates. Contracts for employees within his namesake company even included a ban on the reporting of reputation-harming events, likely for this very reason. As for the Academy’s statement, the continued membership of similarly-outed people like Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby call into question the validity of their goal.
The idea that Weinstein Company executives (including Harvey’s brother) and the Academy were ignorant of this rampant abuse of power would be laughable if it were not representative of a problem so depressing. One of the many ways in which Hollywood operates is through the abuse of those in desperate want of jobs. There are more qualified people than there are stars in the Walk of Fame, so if one of them will offer other services, seedy people like Weinstein will take advantage.
One of the most dizzying aspects of the case is how long, and with how many victims, the abuse went on for. Even the apex sexual predator could not lurk for decades without being caught, surely. The real reason Weinstein was able to have as outrageous a record as he did was the complicit nature of his peers within the film industry. Make no mistake, the uncovering of Harvey Weinstein is not a win for victims or those who come forward. If it were, Weinstein would have been outed years ago. Instead, those in power around Weinstein protected him from his own self for self-motivated gains. “Willful ignorance and shameful complicity,” as the Academy put it, is the name of the game in Hollywood. Harvey Weinstein’s fatal misstep (professionally, not morally) was (unfortunately) not his disgusting behavior and actions, but rather losing the protection of those around him for one reason or another.
As much as these different groups and people will continue to distance themselves from the likes of Harvey Weinstein, there will be still more people doing the same and worse. As much as news sources will continue to tout the same disheveled portrait of him to give credence to the idea that monsters can be caught, nothing will really change. Abusers will still exist in the industry, their peers will still cover them up and victims will still feel helpless standing up to it all. Until the industry starts putting safety above personal gains, that’s show business!
Peter Fenteany is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.