“The Horrors of Hollywood” ft. Harvey Weinstein

Film producer Harvey Weinstein has used his fame on several accounts to take advantage of young women in the film industry, showcasing the scary reality of Hollywood and it’s seemingly perfect exterior.

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By Ka Seng Soo

Beyond the blinding, golden doors of Hollywood is a world of coercion—a world in which Harvey Weinstein lies front and center. The story of the Oscar-winning film producer is riddled with decades of sexual assault allegations that have recently caused tremendous chaos in New York City (NYC) and Los Angeles (LA) courts. His current charges include one felony count of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint. If convicted, Weinstein will face up to 28 years in prison.

Though his alleged crimes have only recently been brought to court, the Hollywood producer’s acts first began in LA over two decades ago, when he invited young actress Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel. His invitation came under the pretense that it was a mere business breakfast meeting. But when they met, he brought her up to his room, attempting to coax her into having sexual relations with him in exchange for a chance in the film industry. She quickly left. This rejection, however, did not discourage Weinstein; he invited Emily Nestor, one of his employees, to the same hotel in 2014 and offered her the same deal as that of Judd. Weinstein forced a female assistant to give him a massage while he was naked in 2015. Each victim was afraid to take action because of Weinstein’s tremendous power in the film industry. They feared that refusal would mark the beginning of the end of their careers.

Weinstein’s behavior eventually extended from coast to coast: Dawn Dunning met with Weinstein in NYC over a period of several months in 2004 to discuss potential roles in his movies and do screen tests. When Weinstein commented on her body, Dunning chose to ignore what she thought were harmless remarks. When he put his hand up her skirt during a meeting at a hotel in Soho, she shrugged it off. Dunning wanted her break in the film industry, and disregarding his behavior seemed like a necessary evil for true success. However, events escalated at their next meeting in a hotel near Park Avenue, where Weinstein “cut to the chase,” showing her contracts for three films in exchange for her consent to a threesome. Dunning left the hotel with her dreams crushed and her dignity lost. In the summer of 2005, Weinstein allegedly raped Tarale Wulff at his downtown Manhattan apartment. He had asked her to meet for a possible role in one of his movies, and then told her that he had had a vasectomy before forcing her onto his bed. Wulff froze but could not do anything to stop Weinstein. She was left with neither the audition nor the role that she sought, but rather traumatic memories and immense emotional distress.

In each instance, Weinstein used his fame to take advantage of young women hoping to enter the film industry. While women like Judd and Dunning were able to escape, others like Wulff were unable to stand their ground against the ever-powerful figure. It was a matter of domination and subjugation, a fight of power. And it was a fight that Weinstein knew he would always win, which emboldened him further to continue his disgusting behavior.

Though his private image is stained by his years of sexual assault, Weinstein presents himself in public as a “liberal lion” and a “champion of women.” In fact, the film producer’s defenders posit that his case is an example of the #MeToo movement “gone too far.” But the notion that scrutiny of blatant, repeated sexual assault has “gone too far” is absurd, especially in the context that an American is raped every 92 seconds. The mere prevalence of sexual abuse in our society renders this assertion invalid and the movement imperative. In their attempts to exonerate Weinstein, defenders cheapen this key movement and—even worse—empower other sexual predators, sending the false message that their behavior is acceptable. Thus, the delivery of Weinstein’s long, overdue punishment is critical, and his film industry success should not and must not excuse him from facing it.

On a broader scale, Weinstein’s lack of punishment would pose a threat not only to women who wish to enter the film industry, but also to working women at large. If Weinstein were to be acquitted and his victims were to be deprived of the justice they deserved, future women in the workforce might be even further discouraged to speak out about their male colleagues’ inappropriate behavior—vocalizing their concerns would seem but a futile endeavor. Thus, to create real change in the face of defendants attempting to clear Weinstein’s name, champions of the #MeToo movement must push further and rally harder. Unity in light of sexual assault is still unity, and it is as powerful as ever.