By Daniel Donnelly ‘19
Harvey Weinstein, an American film producer and film studio executive has fallen from grace as victims have come out and accused him of sexual harassment and rape. The Co-Founder of The Weinstein Company and Miramax was fired as sexual harassment reports escalated. Diane Sawyer”, (ABC) interview with Ashley Judd and other victims revealed abhorrent predator behavior by Weinstein and left us surprised by the silence of those who were aware of his behavior. Over the years, many now famous actresses auditioned for parts in movies produced by Weinstein. In his position of power, he coerced and exploited actresses who were starting out in their careers. In the midst of this criminality, were his business associates aware of his actions and why did they remain silent?
According to Catherine MacKininon of The New Yorker, Weinstein made movies showcasing the three dimensional aspects of women and used these roles as a way to exploit the women who wanted the roles. According to the women who have come out, Weinstein made it a habit of harassment that at times lead to physical force and coercion.
The situation is even more culpable when you realize how many people were aware of Weinstein’s behavior but did not protect the victims. In an interview with the New York Times , Erik Petersen reported that director Quentin Tarantino admitted knowing about some of Weinstein’s incidents. “I knew he did a couple of these things.” Tarantino, director of “Pulp Fiction,” “Deathproof” and and “Reservior Dogs” all produced by the Weinstein company, generalized about his knowledge and provided no specific details. Yet he advised his associates not to just give out statements, suggesting they take responsibility and be specific. Shockingly Tarantino told the New York Times that, “What was previously accepted is now untenable to anyone of a certain consciousness.” However, the Sexual Harassment law has been in place since the passage of Title VII in 1964 that protected workers from sexual discrimination. What’s most scary is his assumption that it was previously accepted and Tarantino’s position of affluence.
It goes on and on. In an interview with Good Morning America, Matt Damon revealed that he and Ben Affleck knew that Gwyneth Paltrow was sexually harassed by Weinstein. The actress accused Weinstein of making advances when she was set to star in the film “Emma”, according to reporter Cole Delbyck of HuffPost. Yet Damon never breached the subject with Paltrow, and assumed she had it under control. According to Damon, he claimed that apart from the Paltrow incident he had no further knowledge of Weinstein’s behavior. Damon goes on to say that anyone who spent a short time in Weinstein’s company would realize that he was a bully and intimidating. Although Damon recognized Weinstein was a womanizer, he believe it wasn’t his “business” to get involved.
Interestingly, several journalists over the past decade tried to break this story and were stopped, according to Maureen Callahan of The New York Post. She writes that Sharon Waxman tried to break the story in 2004 but actors Russel Crowe and Matt Damon called the New York Times defending Weinstein and the story died. Callahan also notes that Rebecca Traister was covering a pre-election party in 2000 when Weinstein had a violent confrontation with a reporter, throwing him down a flight of stairs. However, nothing was reported. Weinstein apparently wielded so much power that one word from him could shut things down.
Many former Weinstein Company employees insist that they didn’t know about his exploits. Dana Goodyear reported in The New Yorker that Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg commented on Facebook about his own complicity and disdain for those who knew about the behavior. Rosenberg posted,”You know who you are. You know that you knew. And do you know how I know that you knew? Because I was there with you. And because everybody-f-knew.”
Hollywood is late in disclosing what they knew while victims remained unprotected game. Will we hear more on the negligence of complicity from favorite forums like Saturday Night Live? Will we hear about this at the Academy Awards or will Hollywood simply sweep it under the rug? The Hollywood notion by Tarantino that these activities were once acceptable is alarming. Do we only protect those in our immediate circle? One anonymous source told Dana Goodyear of the New York Times, “those who knew, if they knew you, would protect you” implying that if those in the know didn’t know you, you were left unaware. Ask yourself . . . what good is it if you gain the world and neglect your neighbor? Our best chapter will always be to look out for one another beyond the boundaries of our small circles.