Looking into the recent sexual misconduct commited by Hollywoods elite.
Sexual assault allegations against powerful men seem to have taken over the news cycle. Though a break from the now regularly filled President Trump updates, this alternative isn’t exactly better. Or is it? For those of you feeling out of the loop on why sexual assault seems to be on the front page of every news outlet, magazine, newspaper or talk show, let’s get you caught up.
Harvey Weinstein was the owner of the powerful production and distribution company named after himself, The Weinstein Company. He is a credited producer of over 328 movies some of which include Pulp Fiction, the Scream franchise, Good Will Hunting and countless other notable successes. He was arguably one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. That is, until October 5. Along with being a powerful Hollywood gatekeeper, Weinstein was also a renowned creep and womanizer. On October 5 2017, the New York Times published a damning article listing evidence – complete with statements from victims and employees – that Harvey Weinstein had been sexually harassing and abusing women in the industry for over thirty years. And it didn’t end there. Just days later, another explosive article was released in the New Yorker by Ronan Farrow. Farrow is not only an investigative journalist, but the son of another Hollywood alleged abuser Woody Allen, who at the moment appears untouched by the Weinstein fallout. Farrow’s article widened the scope of Weinstein’s abuses confirming this was more than just a rumour. These articles and the victims who confirmed their claims, enabled even more victims to come forward corroborating that the stories about Weinstein were in fact credible. What was perhaps worse about these allegations, if anything could be, is that it didn’t come as a surprise to many working in Hollywood. It would seem that Weinstein’s reputation as a probable sexual predator was heralded by various media outlets and celebrities as “Hollywood’s worst kept secret”. So then the question is, what made these articles exposing this supposedly already identified criminal so revolutionary? It’s aftermath. Aftermath that is still ongoing. Even six weeks since the NYT released the story, we’re still talking about him.
Since October 5, there have been dozens upon dozens of allegations released not only against powerful men in Hollywood but across all industries. It’s this almost continuous stream of names of new abusers and voices of victims that has maintained exposure in the mainstream news cycle, preventing it from being swept under the rug. With the addition of every perpetrator or victim’s name, the scope of the problem gets bigger and it is still being uncovered. Perhaps the scope of the problem is what has finally led to consequences; that the sheer volume of people affected can no longer be ignored. Perpetrators like Weinstein could no longer hide behind their hush money or artistic acclaim, initiating a definite change in sexual misconduct allegation narratives. With Weinstein kicked out of the Academy of Motion Pictures (The Oscars club) and fired from his own company, tangible consequences can be seen by the public and by the victims. While they are still just a slap on the hand in terms of his crimes, they hit him where it hurts: wallet and reputation. And so the consequential Post-Weinstein Era is born, the latest historical marker in the industry’s chronology.
I would define this era as beginning October 5, and includes any sexual assault allegation that has come forth since then against powerful and affluent men of any industry. Beginning from this date, there has been real and tangible consequences for perpetrators. This list includes, but is not limited to, Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), Brett Ratner (Producer of Prison Break), Andrew Kreisberg (Executive Producer of all DC comics TV Shows) and I argue most notably, comedian Louis C.K.
I say that Louis C.K. is one of the most notable names to come out Post-Weinstein for several reasons. Next to Spacey, his is probably the most recognizable and mainstream name listed. Furthermore, Louis C.K.’s comedy and claim to fame is popular for various reasons, but a notable aspect is that he has criticized the exact system that hid his own indiscretions. He called out in jokes and mocked mercilessly the same type of people that he has since been revealed to be. Louis C.K. betrayed the trust of his audience as not only a sexual predator, but also as a hypocrite. This comes as a big shock to many of his co-workers and female comedians that he supported and championed. Louis C.K. seemed to many a more progressive Hollywood man in that he actively sought to hire women in his projects and supported them in the industry overall. For those reasons alone this revelation has then carried an enormous fallout. C.K.’s articulate apology is keenly aware, more than any other statement of apology or article, of just how ingrained this problem is in the system.
“At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly. I have been remorseful of my actions. ”
Despite how authentic and aware an apology, the betrayal felt by fans and collaborators of C.K. is likely beyond reconciliation. Audiences may now look back on his work and feel disgusted to know the crude and mocking judgments made by Louis C.K. in the name of comedy may have been much closer to him personally than once believed. For viewers, it was the assumed distance between the comic and the topic that had made it okay to laugh about. Now, not so much. Louis’s particular tendency for masturbation jokes makes the revelation of his masturbating in front of young female comics eerily familiar, not to mention disturbing to think of where the inspiration for his jokes might have come from.
There is too much to cover in this Post-Weinstein Era than can be sufficiently said in one opinion piece. My genuine feeling is that, if change were to ever happen, the time is now. As a young women preparing to enter the workforce, I feel nothing but appreciation for the women who have long stayed silent to stay employed, yet finally came forward. Because of them, I hopefully won’t have to. And as far as Louis C.K. and the likes of Harvey Weinstein are concerned, I pity the talented men and women whose past work or future work in Hollywood is now jeopardized by the reputation of a few hidden criminals. There is solace in knowing that without them in business, there is opportunity for others opening up. With one less ogre-like gatekeeper at a time, Hollywood can start to drain the f**king swamp.