Film mogul Harvey Weinstein was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Saturday Oct. 14 following sexual assault allegations from dozens of women including actresses Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cara Delevingne.
While some have viewed this removal as a victory for women, it does not seem possible when Hollywood still continues to disregard allegations against other prominent figures.
For years, rumors about Weinstein’s mistreatment of women were spread around the media. Eventually, he became the brunt of jokes in shows, including the 2013 Oscars. After he read the Best Supporting Actress nominations, host Seth MacFarlane quipped, “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” To the horror of today’s viewers, the audience laughed.
Even though MacFarlane brought the allegations against Weinstein to light, no conversation was addressed on how he would invite actresses to business dinners and then force them into his hotel room to give him sexual favors. The affected women remained silent, understandably fearful of being blacklisted while men in Hollywood continued to benefit, who were aware or ignorant of Weinstein’s actions while filming with The Weinstein Company productions.
The silence is deafening and yet statements released by celebrities today are not any more pleasant on the ears. Kate Winslet told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday Oct. 14 that her failure to thank Weinstein during her speech for Best Actress at the 2009 Oscars was “deliberate.” She then expressed her desire for Weinstein to be punished “within the fullest extent of the law.” While Winslet’s statement was admirable, it lost its impact due to the resurgence of a Sept. 2017 interview with The New York Times.
In the interview, she was asked if she had any hesitation working with director Woody Allen in his film Wonder Wheel because of the sexual abuse allegations from his adoptive daughter. Winslet had also worked with Roman Polanski, a director who fled the country after pleading guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl.
In response, Winslet said, “As the actor in the film, you just have to step away and say, ‘I don’t know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false.’” It does not make sense for Winslet to call out one abuser, like Weinstein, while overlooking the actions of several others like Polanski or Allen.
Allen was involved with further controversy on Sunday Oct. 15 after warning BBC, “You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.” His statements were disturbing on many levels. A woman should be able to do her job without being harassed. People should not be allowed to take part in predatory behaviors, and yet people like Polanski and Bill Cosby remain members of the Academy.
It is time for all abusers to be called out. Although a common defense of actors who work with abusers is that they were not present for the incidents, working with and for the directors in a way is supporting the abusers’ careers.
Until other offenders are removed from the Academy and actors stop working with these individuals, nothing will change. Now is the perfect opportunity for Hollywood to do a spring-cleaning and disempower abusive figures.