During a 1998 appearance on The David Letterman Show, when playfully asked by David if someone had coerced her into coming to the show, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, smiling, responds “Do you count Harvey Weinstein as a coercer?”
Paltrow continues, “I do all my movies for Harvey Weinstein, that’s Miramax for all of you, and I’m lucky to do them there but he will coerce you to do a thing or two.”
A video from 2005 emerged filmed at the red carpet event for Comedy Central’s Roast of Pamela Anderson where actress Courtney Love is asked by reporter Natasha Leggero if she has advice for young women trying to make it in Hollywood. Courtney Love initially hesitates, fearing that her answer could earn her a lawsuit for libel, but then responds, “If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party at The Four Seasons, don’t go!”
In a 2012 episode of the canceled NBC sitcom, 30 Rock, Jane Krakowski, who plays aspiring actress Jenna Maroney, tells a friend, “I’m not afraid of show business, I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions…out of five.”
Later in 2013, comedian and filmmaker Seth Macfarlane had the honor of hosting the Academy Awards. After reading off the names of the five actresses who were nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Macfarlane joked by saying, “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.”
Several articles had been published years ago discussing Weinstein’s ‘casting couch’ reputation. A 2010 article titled “Harvey’s Girls” in Pajiba, Courtney Enlow wrote, “Every few years, Harvey picks a new girl as his pet.” In a 2015 Gawker article, Jordan Sargent wrote that “rumors of the powerful producer leveraging his industry power for sexual satisfaction—consensual or otherwise—have tended to remain unaired, confined to hushed conversation and seedier gossip-blog comment threads.”
Finally, the whole situation blew wide open when the New York Times published a story on October 5th, 2017 accusing Weinstein of three decades of sexual harassment and assault whereby eight legal settlements were paid to female actresses and employees of Mirimax and Weinstein Company. Five days later, NBC news correspondent Ronan Farrow reported in the New Yorker that Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted or harassed 13 women, with some of them even being allegedly raped.
Also published in the New Yorker was a recording made by the New York City police in 2015 where Weinstein admitted to groping Ambra Gutierrez. Actress Rose McGowan, one of the recipients of the legal settlements, had taken to Twitter to accuse Weinstein of raping her and to accuse multiple other Hollywood A-listers, including Ben Affleck, of lying about not being aware of Weinstein’s sexual proclivities. In a shocking turn of events, McGowan was banned from Twitter shortly after her revelation were revealed. This only added fuel to any theories seeking to illustrate how deeply the corruption of Hollywood permeates into other industries. In total, 48 women had accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault as of October 16th.
Upon the mainstreaming of Harvey Weinstein’s actions, celebrities were slow to denounce Weinstein. Prominent A-listers like Mark Ruffalo and Meryl Streep, who are often so quick to denounce anything that President Trump does on Twitter, took days to roll out a short statement, while most of the industry continue to remain silent. Nobody can truly know the full extent of the blackmail and damaging personal information that Weinstein may have on them from having served such a long and despicable tenure in Hollywood.
Weinstein may operate mostly in Hollywood, but he is deeply entrenched in the world of Democrat politics as well. He had donated large sums of money to the political campaigns of John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In 2012, he hosted an election fundraiser for Barack Obama out of his own home in Westport, Connecticut. He supports leftist policies such as gun control and universal healthcare. He sits on the board of prominent organizations such as the Robin Hood Foundation and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This creates a big dilemma for many celebrities who would be normally very eager to virtue signal for any campaign against sexual assault in society, but now have to denounce a man who has the capability of seriously damaging their reputation, not to mention a fellow prominent leftist.
In reality, cultivating celebrity denouncements is worthless insofar as that they are very unlikely change sexual behavior within Hollywood. It took a major national story to break an open secret that had been known in Hollywood for at least two decades. One could imagine the difficulties that a young actress or employee may have in taking down a powerful producer such as Weinstein, but many of the figures who knew about Weinstein’s activities were powerful individuals in their own right, so they cannot use a negative power dynamic as their excuse for not speaking up. The Weinstein story prompted a series of sexual harassment allegations against others that had not been taken seriously by supposedly progressive-signaling companies such as those against the head of Amazon Studios, Tom Price, who has since been suspended.
It is no longer a topic of contention that a huge portion of Hollywood knew about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior. One possibility for celebrities not speaking up is that Hollywood has a sexual assault problem so this type of behavior is commonplace. Perhaps Weinstein, as disgusting as he is, is not that much of an aberration. His actions may be more egregious than most, or simply more widespread but if they were treated with such reluctant acceptance for all these years, what does that say about the industry as a whole? Director Roman Polanski was charged for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977, a charge which he pled guilty to and fled to Paris after the judge changed his mind about accepting Polanski’s plea bargain, yet he remained a celebrated director who would go on to win Oscars for his films. Actor and director Woody Allen continued to have a prolific career in film and theater after he had been accused of sexually molesting one of his adoptive daughters (then 7-years-old), as well as having an affair with a different adoptive daughter whom he would later marry. The same Woody Allen then proceeded to defend Weinstein once these allegations came forth, indicating that he feels bad for him “because his life is so messed up.” Clearly Hollywood does not draw a hard line against promoting sexual criminals.
The view that Hollywood is filled with rapists and pedophiles in executive positions who commit all manner of sexual crimes against men, women and especially child actors is a long held opinion by many that sometimes tends to drift into conspiracy territory. The evidence for this consists of mostly poorly documented accounts and small snippets of incriminating circumstantial evidence that if pieced together, could create suspicion of certain individuals, but certainly not enough to criminally charge anyone. However, the recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein breathe new life into these theories. The silence of many celebrities is indeed deafening, and their sluggish and halfhearted attempts to denounce Weinstein only after being prompted by severe public backlash is very telling of the state of Hollywood.
When looking at the entirety of the events leading up to the investigation and the subsequent fallout, it seems naive to believe even for a second that Harvey Weinstein’s fall was the result of his past catching up with him, and not a calculated hit by another powerful playmaker. It is more likely that Weinstein had outlived his usefulness, and his crimes were no longer worth covering up. He became the feeble, old bull elephant that needed to be deposed to give the younger males territory. As the accusations pile on from all directions against members of the Hollywood aristocracy by voices who feel emboldened by the victory over Weinstein within the uncoordinated chaos that follows the opening of a power vacuum within an industry, it becomes increasingly clear that this was always the status quo and that Weinstein’s behavior may only slightly deviate from the industry standard.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Lisa Bloom, before she attempted to bribe Rose McGowan to renege on her tweets late Sunday night, defended Weinstein by saying ‘he’s a dinosaur who doesn’t know any better,’ that ‘he’s a man of his time’ or that ‘he’s just doing what he’s used to.’ Bloom speaks more truth than perhaps she is even aware of. None of those statements diminish Weinstein’s actions in the slightest, they only describe how normalized his behavior had become in the film industry. One thing is certain: Harvey Weinstein isn’t the first sexual predator in Hollywood, and he certainly won’t be the last.