Harvey Weinstein is a scumbag. Weinstein held himself up as a champion of women and liberal causes but it turns out he was no better than other men who abused their power.
The past 1-2 years, we heard of stories involving Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, and the late Roger Ailes. Cosby was accused of assaulting over 30 women. O’Reilly settled with women for sexually harassing them and he was accused of physically abusing his ex-wife. Ailes, who himself had sexually harassed female, employees, was partly responsible for creating the type of environment at Fox News that allowed O’Reilly to flourish as a harasser.
But Weinstein’s story sounds worse than all three.
The scandal involving Weinstein, the co-founder of Weinstein Company and the part owner of Miramax, once again reminds us of how prevalent sexual harassment and sexual assault are in our society. We are also reminded that both these problems are allowed to persist in Hollywood, the film industry at large, related media industries, and beyond.
This leads to a greater discussion about abuse of power and the amount of shame held by those who are subject to this abuse. The victims include women and men.
The news about Weinstein came on the heels of news that Joss Wheden was a serial philanderer. The former’s story is thus made even worse in part because he used feminism as cover.
Harvey Weinstein Reminds Us That Hollywood Has a Scumbag Problem
The New York Times conducted an investigation into long-standing accusations of sexual harassment against television and film executive Harvey Weinstein. During that investigation, NYT journalists conducted interviews with numerous people with knowledge of the incidents and reviewed documents that corroborated the stories.
Rowan Farrow added a report of his own for The New Yorker after a 10-month investigation.
Of course more reports followed.
According to the evidence, Mr. Weinstein had been sexually harassing and abusing women for at least three decades. There had long been whispers of Weinstein’s misconduct and in inner circle at least suspected he was guilty.
Among the women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or more included:
- Actress Ashley Judd, who shared her account without naming names in an interview with Variety magazine;
- Emily Nestor, a temporary employee who was a law student at the time of her account;
- Lauren O’Connor, a former Weinstein Company executive;
- Rose McGowan, an actress who was working on the film Scream at the time;
- Laura Madden, a former employee;
- Zelda Perkins, a former London assistant at Miramax who was 25 years old when she confronted Weinstein about his inappropriate behavior;
- Actress Asia Argento;
- Actress Gwyneth Paltrow;
- Actress and philanthropist Angelina Jolie;
- Lucia Evans; and
- Ambra Battilana Guitierrez, and Italian model and aspiring actress.
Of course, there are more, and some are still afraid to come forward.
The Types of Accusations Made Against Weinstein
Harvey took the concept of the casting couch to an all-new low.
The accounts from the women were very similar: Weinstein often called young women who were in their early to mid-20’s to meet him alone at his hotel room. Once the women met with him, he would ask for a massage, initiate them, ask the women to watch him bath, or he would disrobe. Other women were sexually assaulted in hotels or in public spaces after Weinstein isolated them.
Judd said that Weinstein would do a lot of “coercive bargaining”; it was hard for women to say no to him because he would badger the women he had propositioned. The women who were assaulted felt utterly powerless to stop him. They also felt guilt, shame, and feared reprisals if they share their experiences.
Some of the worst accounts came from Evans and Argento. Both were sexually assaulted. Evans said that she was forced to give Weinstein oral sex and Argento said she was raped in a hotel room.
In Battilana Guitierrez’s case, an investigation by the NYPD did not end with an indictment although there was enough witness testimony and the Sex Crimes Unit did a thorough investigation. While the case was being processed, her sexual history was brought up and questioned.
Ben Affleck Has a Scummy History of His Own
Shortly after news of Weinstein hit, Ben Affleck took to Twitter to say that he was appalled that Weinstein did what he did. However, Affleck was soon called out by Rose McGowan, who said he knew of allegations against Weinstein for many years. McGowan also went after Matt Damon, a close friend of Affleck’s, who worked with him on “Good Will Hunting.”
There was also news that Affleck did something himself. On Twitter, Hillarie Burton, an actress who was first seen on MTV as a reporter, shared a link to a video on Vimeo. The clip in question came from an MTV special from the past decade. If you pay close attention, there was a clip from where Burton claimed that Affleck once touched her breast when she was on TRL in 2003.
Affleck soon apologized for that incident but the damage was done.
Men in Show Business Also Have to Deal with Scumbags
Every now and then, there are whispers about children being molested by Hollywood execs, directors, or actors. One sexual predator who has gotten away with his deeds is Roman Polanski, who has been praised by other directors and actors regardless. One former victim is Corey Feldman, who felt powerless at the time.
There are also grown men who have been propositioned and molested. Two of these men were James Van Der Beek and Terry Crews, who recently came forward with their stories.
Crews said he was groped in front of his wife.
George H.W. Bush Is a Scumbag, Too
Last week, we learned of an allegation against George H.W. Bush.
In an Instagram post that has since been deleted, actress Heather Lind said that the 41st president touched her inappropriately. She said while taking a picture in 2014 for the AMC show Turn: Washington’s Spies, he groped her behind twice. Lind said that Bush told her a dirty joke before he touched her the second time. Even worse, Barbara Bush knew what was happening and rolled her eyes like it had happened numerous times.
Bush’s spokesman, Jim McGrath, issued a statement that did nothing to help matters. From Reuters:
Bush’s spokesman Jim McGrath, issued a statement in response to Lind’s post that sought to explain the former president’s behavior as an attempt to make light of social awkwardness posed by his own physical disability during photo sessions.
Confined to a wheelchair, as Bush has been for about the past five years, “his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he take pictures,” McGrath said.
“To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke – and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate,” McGrath wrote. “To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.”
There is absolutely no excuse for this type of behavior. Who the hell thinks that grabbing a someone’s bottom unsolicited is appropriate? This was especially bad because his wife was there and he was at an event with other past presidents (and his son).
That would not make a stranger feel at ease. I know I would have slapped him across his face and knocked him out of that wheelchair.
That said …
There Is One Burning Question
The question that persists this: Just how was Weinstein able to get away with harassing women for so long? How could any of these predators get away with this for so long?
In Weinstein’s case:
- He was powerful. And since Weinstein had a lot of power and had advanced the careers of many women, it would have been costly for them to go public with the information.
- Also, many of the women involved signed nondisclosure agreements. Either it was in the contract or as part of the settlements. (The women who reached settlements with Weinstein each received between $80,000 and $150,000.)
- In addition, Weinstein may have been helped by law enforcement.
- There were others who worked with and for him who acquiesced and were thus complicit.
- There was a level of shame.
In cases involving children and men, much of the same factors are at play. They also have to deal with adults who refuse to believe them (or do anything about the abuse). Men are especially mocked when they are victims of abuse.
And in many of these cases, money might be the leading factor. Some people are willing to let scumbags get away with murder because it they don’t, the gravy train ends. It’s a sad state of affairs, but greed is the leading cause of discord in this world.