By Brian Harris, Staff Writer
What do Kate Beckinsale, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd all have in common? They’re all actresses, they’re all incredibly talented, and they’ve all accused film industry giant Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.
Of course, they are only a few of the potential victims accusing Weinstein; Newsweek is currently reporting the number at a daunting twenty-eight women.
Twenty-eight women (and counting) potentially abused by one of the most powerful men in the film industry. But, let’s back up a minute, who is Harvey Weinstein?
Well, he’s probably one of the most famous (now infamous) film producers in American history. Harvey Weinstein was the man who could make or break anyone’s career in Hollywood.
Starting in the film industry around the late 1970’s, Weinstein has had a hand in some of Hollywood’s most iconic films, such as Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, and Gangs of New York.
Between his recent endeavors with The Weinstein Company and his previous gig as co-founder of Miramax, if you wanted to make it big, Harvey Weinstein was a man you wanted on your side in Hollywood. With that in mind, unfortunately these recent monstrous allegations become a little clearer.
“[These allegations are] typical of the dark side of the film industry,” says Creative Writing and Digital Filmmaking Professor Morgan J. Peters, “[it] didn’t start with him and it’s not gonna end with him.” Peters, who has had a lengthy career throughout the arts, sees the allegations as stemming from a place in the film industry people don’t like to think about.
Namely, that it all stems back to the idea of Weinstein’s immense power over others, this kind of harassment is practically symptomatic of being able to make or break careers with one phone call argues Peters, “The power factor is what does it.” And unfortunately, that appears to be the case.
Since The New York Times broke the story last week, Weinstein’s life has plummeted into a seemingly more than warranted downward spiral. In the span of around one week, his second wife of ten years Georgina Chapman (with whom he has had two children) has left him, he’s been promptly forced out of The Weinstein Company which he helped to co-found, and has had everyone under the sun, including his own brother and co-founder of Miramax Bob Weinstein turn against him.
Speaking of Bob, he is stuck desperately trying to salvage the “Weinstein” brand; a move that seems ridiculous considering Variety’s recent report of the bleak outlook board members feel for all of Weinstein’s former companies.
And finally, let’s talk about the real story at the center of all this, the allegations.
Assistants, aspiring actresses, reporters, and celebrities galore have come out against Weinstein, with each story even more disturbing than the last. Maybe the largest of them all is actress Rose McGowan’s accusation of rape, sharing her story as recently as this past Thursday according to CNN. The New Yorker reports three other rape accusations: Lucia Evans, a “former” aspiring actress, actress Asia Argento, and one more anonymous source.
The stories of sexual harassment from the victims are downright disturbing; take Ambra Battilana Gutierrez for example, who as reported by Newsweek was grabbed by the breast by Weinstein who then later attempted to convince her to watch him shower. Or Lauren Sivan, a Fox News reporter who, HuffPost, reports was forced to watch Weinstein masturbate in the middle of a closed restaurant.
Granted, at the moment these are accusations, not proven in court, but the evidence sure seems to be mounting up. Harvey’s bizarre initial statement following the story had no mention of denial regarding the harassment, although in response to McGowan’s claims of rape a Weinstein representative is quoted as saying “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein” Entertainment Weekly reports.
Whether you see this as a one-time affair or as Professor Peters says part of the “dark side of the film industry” (one that hopefully can be eradicated that is) is up to you to decide for the moment.
One thing is for certain though, Harvey Weinstein’s illustrious career has come to a disgraceful end.