Harvey Weinstein has had countless allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment. It is the rejection of systemic sexism and misogyny that the film industry has been crying out for, for over thirty years. However, there are a few voices we should be taking more notice of, for all the wrong reasons, and that is those in Hollywood who have elected to stand up in support of the disgraced producer.
Household names such as Woody Allen and Oliver Stone have been among those to defy the overwhelming feeling of outrage that is sweeping the world. Director Stone told reporters in Busan that he believes a man “shouldn’t be condemned by a vigilante system”, “It’s not easy what [Weinstein] is going through.” Meanwhile, Woody Allen warned against a “witch hunt atmosphere…where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.” The comments are disturbingly similar; well-regarded men of the industry attempting to portray, potentially, the most important investigation in Hollywood’s history as little more than hysteria. Given Allen’s own brush with a sexual abuse scandal, I think his words become even more chilling.
It’s not just the men. Actress Lindsay Lohan spoke out on Instagram, saying that she had worked with Weinstein on several occasions and had never been harmed by him. The implication? Her multiple colleagues who have reported incidents of rape or harassment are liars. Lifelong friend of Harvey Weinstein, Donna Karan said, “You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.” It is a staggering rejection of female empowerment and solidarity, as well as a perpetuation of blame culture. The irony of it coming from a fashion designer cannot be ignored. Karan has championed female causes, but these comments are enough to annul it all. Women have managed to make their voices heard, and the likes of Karan and Lohan have told them to shut up.
James Corden also caused controversy following his jokes made on the subject at the amfAR Gala. He quipped, “It’s a beautiful night here in LA. So beautiful, Harvey Weinstein has already asked tonight up to his hotel to give him a massage.” Rather than condemn Weinstein, the comedian normalises the behaviour. The jokes are the equivalent to a jovial punch on the arm, a roll of the eyes – “Oh Harvey, what are you like!” I don’t see it as any coincidence that Harvey Weinstein gave Corden his first Hollywood break. It’s the same principle by which Tarantino knew about the sexual abuse and did nothing; the allegiances in Hollywood run deep, and career concerns clearly overtake moral ones. By neglecting any attempt at empathy and choosing instead to portray Weinstein as the comedy sleazeball, Corden is complicit in the cover up that has gone on for decades.
What unites all these events is the subsequent public apology that has become synonymous with 21st century scandal. Each celebrity, following massive online backlash, has retracted their comments – citing a lack of awareness of all the facts, a lapse in judgement, and miscommunication. The damage, however, is already done. For me, the comments are utterly terrifying. They reveal an industry rife with repugnant priorities, where friendships, fears and cheap laughs overshadow any semblance of integrity.