Magazine article Screen International

Comment: Weinstein Accusations Speak to a Larger Industry Problem

Magazine article Screen International

Comment: Weinstein Accusations Speak to a Larger Industry Problem

Article excerpt

The allegations raining down on the disgraced mogul suggest the need for some deep industry soul-searching.

Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein’s impropriety towards women has been one of the biggest elephants in the film industry room for decades.

For established players in Hollywood to suggest they were unaware of professional misconduct by the industry titan is hardly plausible. But a culture of fear and complacency has meant that few have previously spoken out.

As in many sectors, speaking out against industry totems is a path fraught with danger. At the sharp end of the entertainment industry, those who do so run the risk of their careers stalling or of being expelled from the inner circles of influence. For many in the film business, especially in Hollywood, that is a fate worse than tacit complicity.

Meanwhile, while some journalists investigating Weinstein were allegedly threatened with legal action, other media brands passed up opportunities to speak out.

The thread keeping Weinstein safe has threatened to unravel at various times and now has finally done so. It has taken a handful of brave women whose names command public attention and some tenacious and well-resourced publications - to put their heads above the parapet and detail what has long been swept under the carpet.

The most pressing concern today should be an ongoing fact-finding mission around what happened to whom. We have heard some of the revelations. More will surely emerge (neither is Weinstein the only bigwig alleged to be a serial sleaze).

Those who have been wronged should be encouraged to come forward. The industry should appropriately recognise and acknowledge allegations, while those closest to the misconduct should engage in some seriously deep soul-searching, at least. There may be further criminal action to come.

Systemic problem

Soul-searching is far from enough, however. Gatekeepers and influencers must stand up, speak out and most vitally, act. The two most immediately important questions now are not what is next for Weinstein-less TWC, but what is next for the victims of any substantiated crimes and for future generations of women who want to get ahead in the industry through skill and determination alone. To echo the words of Marty Baron in Catholic Church expose Spotlight, it’s the ‘system’ which needs to be exposed alongside individual perpetrators of wrongdoing.

Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour didn’t take place in a vacuum. From Jimmy Saville to Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby to Bill O’Reilly (and of course Donald Trump, who straddles multiple spheres), in the last couple of years alone the entertainment industry has heard a litany of stories of criminal or improper workplace conduct towards women. What has it done to significantly ensure that women entering its ranks will not have to put up with that type of behaviour going forward?

Little, from what I can make out. Is the film industry, for one, capable of meeting that challenge?

Several national film bodies have been making positive moves towards improving diversity in industry ranks, but the wider industry continues to suffer from a deregulation problem. …

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