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The Weinstein Effect

Sarah Nicholson, Contributing Writer

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With great power, comes great responsibility, and Harvey Weinstein never got the memo.

In the month since the New York Times first broke the article about Weinstein’s lengthy and repugnant history of sexual assault, an ever-widening ripple effect is extending into the heart of the entertainment industry. His fall from the ivory tower of Hollywood has been a rallying cry to those who have been silenced by decades of powerful men, who never deserved the influence they attained.

Hollywood has long had a history of scandal, abuse, and casting couch narcissism. If online comments are anything to be believed these were thought to be dead practices, but that is woefully not the case. Twitter has become a confessional, over the course of the last month under the hashtag “#MeToo,” where men and women all over the world have shared their stories of assault in solidarity, hoping to make those who write off these actions as isolated and inconsequential, very aware of the pain and damage done by people who think they have a right to another person’s body.

But why do I care?

Well, besides being a woman, heck, a human being with a sense of autonomy, I also have aspirations to write in entertainment circles one day, and the idea that this could have been me or any one of the people I know with similar aspirations, pisses me off. You spend your life working for your dreams only to have these unscrupulous vipers lying in wait to mess with you, feed off of you, like talent parasites that who corrupt the dreams for sport. So yeah, it ticks me off, and I’ll stand behind the women who are brave enough to call them out, without a court system willing to back them. Because we are not talking about one or two women, we’re talking dozens of victims just for Weinstein alone, not to mention the multiple accounts for all the others. My outrage, though, is not limited to their assault of these women; I’m angry on a professional level too.

As more and more of these predators are revealed, more and more projects are getting killed. Kevin Spacey, alone, who has been accused of molesting 14-year-old boys, was a mainstay in the Netflix series House of Cards. Now because of his scandal, the show is being delayed as companies scramble to rewrite shows to exclude his character. Louis C.K., who has outright admitted that the stories about him masturbating in front of women are true, has been cut from several shows, and projects that he was working on have been terminated.

While I applaud the companies for having the common sense to cut these men out, it makes me sad to see so much hard work being destroyed as a result. There were hundreds of people involved in all of these projects, people who haven’t done anything wrong, people who may have thought they were finally getting a break in an extremely competitive industry. Now, they have to start again because men who had been fortunate enough to attain greatness couldn’t be better human beings.

It’s the most selfish kind of waste, but as men who never considered what their actions would do to the women and men they attacked, I can’t be surprised that they would have no consideration for anyone else either.

The upheaval is unsettling, nauseating even, but I take a little hope from this, for the industry that I would like to work with one day. In the past, stories like this were buried almost as soon as the ink dried on papers that would end up lining the bottom of garbage cans, and the victims were silenced by shame and money. Today, thanks to scale of the fallout, thanks to the women who have been brave enough to challenge a system that puts a statue of limitation on victims and somehow finds living victims less deserving than the dead ones, these men will not be allowed to crawl back from this. Perhaps they will apologize; perhaps they will make amends if that’s even possible. But they will never rise the same, and that gives me hope for the other young men and women who manage to claw their way into the entertainment arena. They may not have to look over their shoulder or doubt the intentions of those who dangle their dreams in front of them like bait.

When I was getting ready to write this piece I was discussing it with a friend. I told him I didn’t know exactly what to say, and he said that he understood, but then he said that they could be innocent and that they should just apologize. I was shocked because I thought, how can an apology fix this kind of damage? Turns out, my friend hadn’t read the articles. He thought that these women who were accusing Weinstein had been groped, at most, and that it was an isolated incident. It occurred to me then that some of the comments I’d seen online sounded similar in assumption, that maybe people weren’t reading past the headlines. Because of this, I’m including a link here to the original New York Times article that broke the story about Weinstein on October 5th, as well as a recent article that lists most of the other men that have been accused in the fall out. I encourage everyone, men and women, to join the conversation. These men operated for as long as they did because they cultivated cultures of silence around them. Let’s see if we can do better.

Original Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/us/harvey-weinstein-harassment-allegations.html

List of the Accused: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/10/us/men-accused-sexual-misconduct-weinstein.html

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The Weinstein Effect