A moment of reckoning for Hollywood
Entertainment Dark side of how movie biz treats women comes to light
If in a movie, Harvey Weinstein would probably cut the scenes of sexual harassment that have been described against him. They’re too cliché.
The hotel room seductions, the massage requests, the coercive suggestions. They are, as the Los Angeles Times editorial board called them, “classics of the genre.” The encounters depict a Hollywood culture immediately recognizable, one where power-broker sleaziness is an accepted and acknowledged part of the business.
Hollywood now finds itself in a crisis, not just because one of its most prominent moguls has been disgraced and fired from the company he co-founded, but because the allegations against him describe a dark underbelly of the movie business that has largely eluded scrutiny. It’s a moment of reckoning for a Hollywood that has faced increasing scrutiny over its treatment of women, from pay equality to fair employment opportunity behind the camera.
Weinstein’s ouster may have been a long time coming, with allegations going back to 1990 — he has yet to respond to any specific allegations but, on Thursday, did apologize for the pain he’s caused. But by apparently bringing down such a pivotal figure, many see a watershed moment for the industry.
“There is a tectonic shift going on with people having the courage to say, ‘No more,’” said Melissa Silverstein, the founder and publisher of Women and Hollywood, an influential blog that advocates gender equality in Hollywood. “The climate about the conversation in gender in Hollywood has clearly shifted in recent years.”
“There’s no going back anymore,” added Silverstein.
The movie business has found it increasingly difficult to shy away from questions about how it treats women. Studies have shown year after year how few female directors are hired for major productions. Just four per cent of the top movies at the box office in 2016 were directed by women, according to the University of California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.
A pay gap, too, has been brought to the forefront by vocal stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone. The best-paid stars, the majority of the executive jobs and most of the filmmakers remain overwhelmingly male in Hollywood.
Such a male-dominated culture could have contributed to the conditions that allowed the alleged incidents involving Weinstein to occur — and to remain quiet.
“It’s been an open secret,” said Greta Gerwig, who makes her directorial debut in the upcoming Lady Bird. “It just makes me really sad and it makes me really depressed but not surprised. What can you say? I really admire Ashley Judd. It’s scary to do.”
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Weinstein reached settlements with at least eight women over sexual harassment allegations. Judd also described an incident two decades ago in which she said Weinstein invited her to his hotel room, greeted her wearing a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or if she would watch him shower.
Patricia Arquette, Lena Dunham, Mark Ruffalo, Brie Larson, Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow, Julianne Moore and many others have voiced their support for the women involved. But others
men in hollywood need to change
the allegations against harvey Weinstein go back to 1990.