The entertainment industry is predicated on one thing: joy.
It’s a ragged bucket drummer beating his heart out, perched upon a curb in the corner of a city square or the sparkling nebula of television and movieland where a star is born. Entertainers, no matter where they’re found, bring us an escape from drudgery. It is a profession that occasionally produces an icon.
But what is an icon?
It is a symbol of veneration. And if one is lucky enough to achieve the title, they will soon find that it is a concession to the public. Nevertheless, we must ask the question: what goes on behind the velvet curtain after a riveting performance and after the charming interviews and the autographs? What must one sacrifice to reach these heights?
Some might imagine the answer is a lot of craft honing and time. However, in some cases, a different sacrifice is demanded: the body. On Feb. 24, American film producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of third-degree rape and sexual assault.
Weinstein began making his marks in the industry alongside his brother, Bob Weinstein, and Corky Burger, producing rock concerts in Buffalo, New York throughout the 1970s. From there, Harvey and Bob co-founded Miramax Films, which also owned the label for Dimension films, allowing the brothers to also produce and release independent projects. Finally, The Weinstein Company was founded in 2005, further establishing Harvey’s image as the mighty mogul.
His eminence summoned an entourage of pop culture’s finest. Among the many were presidents, politicians, singers, actors and billionaires. With this power, he manipulated, extorted, abused and raped numerous aspiring actresses and entertainers. Actors, directors and producers have known for decades the levels of abuse and predation, but the hierarchical power of the industry constantly forced voices into submission. One call from Harvey and your career would be done.
Those closest to Harvey Weinstein, such as Bob Weinstein, had always perceived his actions as “misbehaviors” and “mistakenly” labeled him a sex addict. This in itself sparked some controversy.
This is not a time to hide behind labels and disorders. Harvey Weinstein was fully responsible for his actions.
Six women testified in court against Weinstein giving graphic detail of his perverse sexual demands, physical coercion and demented manipulation tactics. His behaviors were animalistic. These charges rested upon two women’s complaints from jury accounts in 2006 and 2013. The two women were a production assistant and a former actress.
There are now 90 women and counting who have spoken up about his abuse. Weinstein obsessively hired enablers, silencers and spies to silence his victims. He was so preoccupied covering up his secrets that one can wonder how he managed his encumbering business responsibilities.
Some brave journalists worthy of praise and recognition are Pulitzer Prize-winning Times investigative reporters and authors of “She Said,” Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. Another is Ronan Farrow, whose life was literally put in jeopardy when he found himself being stalked by Weinstein’s lackeys during his investigative activities.
Weinstein’s family, which now includes two ex-wives and five children (four daughters and a 6-year-old son), must carry the weight of his actions. He will face up to 29 years behind bars; however, he was acquitted on two accounts of predatory sexual assault. He is still to face charges in Los Angeles. This has been recognized as a “watershed moment” for women coming forward about their experiences with sexual assault in their careers. Now is a time for justice and remolding of toxic patterns in exploitative industries across the world.