Last Thursday, The New York Times released an article uncovering three decades worth of civil suits brought against one of Hollywoods most powerful and successful men, Harvey Weinstein.
The number of allegations of sexual harassment and assault has rapidly increased over the past few days to at least 27 accusers, with actresses such as Angelie Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow also stepping forward with stories of their own. The hidden settlements themselves were no longer a topic of discussion, because now that his behavior has been publicized, victims were willing to break the silence on their own traumatic incidents with Weinstein.
However, the true horror in all of this is not just what he did, but rather what the media failed to do. Weinstein got away with sexual assault for years, not because his actions were unknown, but because his actions were blatantly ignored.
Weinsteins behavior was no secret to the Hollywood industry. In fact, according to the New Yorker, 16 current and former executives admitted to knowing about Weinsteins behavior toward women, saying that practically everyone in Hollywood knew about it.
Weve seen this scenario happen all too often throughout history. Men in powerful positions get away with countless heinous acts due to their high positions in various industries that could ruin the lives of anyone who dared to speak against them.
Weinstein possessed complete power and control over not only the actors and actresses, but also the majority of mass media as well. For more than three decades, he had the power to launch careers, to create Hollywood stardom and to endorse others to the latest and greatest positions in the Hollywood industry. However, with as much control as he had to help their careers, he was also able to destroy them just as easily.
As a reporter from HuffPost said, [Weinstein] bought journalists, threatened journalists … they do whatever they have to do.
This pressure on victims and those aware of his actions to stay quiet not only came from Weinstein himself, but from everyone in his company as well. According to Michael Hirschorn, who was then an editor at New York magazine, Weinsteins authority at his company influenced his top lawyers and agents to bombard anyone who dared to write a word on the topic of his crimes with ruthless threats and, at times, even personal calls from Weinstein himself.
After the report from The New York Times was released, rather than accepting responsibility, Weinstein attempted to deviate allegations by blaming the Times for wrongful reporting and immediately threatening lawsuits against them.
Though the Weinstein case was long overdue, the magnitude of this story is bringing a much-needed discussion to the industry. Hopefully its finally clear that no spotlight is so bright that it can overpower basic human morals and justice.