Hollywood is still reeling from the multiple (and still emerging) accusations directed at the co-founder of Miramax and The Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein, alleging dozens of cases of gross sexual misconduct, ranging from propositioning to the rape of numerous women over the course of several decades. The New York Times published the first story on October 5th, alleging that Weinstein had paid off a number of accusers over the years, regularly using his Hollywood sway to pressure, coerce, bribe, or otherwise compel women into participating inappropriate sexual acts.
Many in Hollywood were quick to condemn his actions, with numerous suggestions that the existence such behavior from Weinstein was an open secret in Hollywood, while those closest to him insisted they had no idea this dark side of Harvey even existed. On October 10th, The New Yorker published their own piece levying an additional 13 accusations against Weinstein, and, of course, more public figures, Hollywood, political, or otherwise, continued to come out against the fallen mogul.
By this time, Weinstein had already been removed from the board of TWC, who said in a statement that the decision was made “in light of new information about misconduct.” The only problem is that none of this was new information. Sure, this was the first time the stories had been compiled and published, but Weinstein’s conduct has been described as an open secret within the industry. Peter Biskind, former editor for Premiere magazine, wrote a book called Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, in which he chronicled the notoriously aggressive and bullying behavior from Weinstein. Biskind told Vanity Fair that Weinstein even tried to stop the book from coming out, first telling him nobody would read it, then offering him a deal to write an unrelated book to be published by Miramax. While the book didn’t explicitly cover sexual misconduct of the same nature as the recent revelations, Biskind says it was a known factor and a number of rumors were swirling, but it was outside the scope of the particular book he was writing at the time.
While his victims were silenced through various legal and intimidation tactics, many others were also aware but didn’t speak up over the potential threat to their own career, as Biskind said: “People were afraid to say anything about him other than ‘Thank you, thank you, Harvey’ at the Academy Awards.” Harvey had become famous for his star-making potential, with Miramax and TWC productions bringing in a total of 81 Academy Award wins and 341 additional nominations. By staying silent on Harvey’s decades of malicious behavior and continuing to work with him regardless, much of Hollywood made a deal with the devil, and that’s a mark they need to bear for years to come, and the reason Harvey’s name needs to remain in the credits of every movie he’s ever touched.
In an effort to escape this PR nightmare as cleanly as possible, The Weinstein Company has made moves to disassociate from Harvey Weinstein. His name has already been removed from Artemis Fowl, and Deadline reports that TWC has been making calls to producers and TV networks to inform them that Harvey’s name is to be scrubbed for all future productions such as Project Runway, Six, Scream, the upcoming Waco miniseries and numerous others. While on the surface this might appear to be a form of punishment, it’s just more of the same cover-up the company has been doing on behalf of Weinstein for decades.
According to TMZ, Harvey Weinstein’s employment contract included a clause with very specific wording about what would happen if he “treated someone improperly in violation of the company’s Code of Conduct,” specifying that so long as he reimbursed The Weinstein Company for the cost of any settlements or other associated expenses, he could not be punished for any such violation. So, not only was it an “open secret” that he behaved this way for years, mistreating dozens of women, but it was also well within his legal right to continue doing so indefinitely as long as he continued to pay off his victims.
This essentially amounts to collusion on the part of Weinstein, TWC, and any other actors, directors, and producers that were aware of his conduct where the understood cost of continued success is the safety and well-being of women in Hollywood. By removing his name from these projects, they’re not destroying his legacy (that’s already been accomplished), they’re trying to wash their hands of a legacy they enabled.
At the end of the day, even if Harvey contests the removal of his name from these movies, the ultimate crediting decision likely rests with the Producers Guild of America, who will likely side with TWC since they’re also looking to remove Weinstein from their own ranks, with those in power mostly following the same practices that covered up – and therefore enabled – the action of Harvey Weinstein in the past. Fortunately, the bombshell reporting that brought his misdeeds to light has illuminated systemic issue in Hollywood, making an “open secret” an open wound.
Fortunately, not all action is simply an attempt to avoid association, as The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled Weinstein along with a statement appropriately accepting a share of blame: “We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also 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.”
Weinstein was just the start, and more power players with histories of similar behavior have been exposed in the last week, and while Hollywood can be applauded for excising the cancer that is Weinstein and anyone else who has mistreated women in the film industry, the remaining scar is something that should remain as a mark of shame on the entire industry for letting the problem exist for this long, or for allowing it to even happen in the first place.
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