Harvey Weinstein in the Spotlight

Stars raise awareness in wake of allegations and #MeToo social media campaign


Sarah Reinbrecht, Scarlet Staff

Regardless of how familiar one is with Hollywood producers, it is very likely almost everyone is  familiar with Harvey Weinstein after the last few weeks. Though, the old adage claims “no publicity is bad publicity,” the opposite has been true for Weinstein. There has been an undeniable backlash against him, from Hollywood as well as the rest of the country. This backlash is absolutely justifiable and rightly deserved, and arguably more extreme than past reactions to reports that a man in Hollywood was sexually assaulting women. However, the problems that Weinstein’s actions reflect require thorough solutions. Weinstein’s persecution and the recent #metoo twitter campaign need to act as a precursor to additional change in Hollywood, and the world as a whole, rather than a single accomplishment.

Weinstein has been fired from Marimax, his own company, and has been removed from various academies, indicating that the incriminating reports against him have influenced Hollywood elite. Many others outside of Hollywood have distanced themselves or their brand from him. Further, the #metoo campaign that is circulating on twitter and other social media platforms serves to highlight how common sexual assault is and how difficult it is for women to speak up. Though the backlash against Weinstein and the campaigns are powerful, there needs to be a more meaningful solution. Punishing Weinstein ultimately hurts only him and the campaign creates awareness, which is important, but accomplishes little otherwise.

What truly needs to happen is a shift in the cultural norms that permeate Hollywood (though the rest of the country could benefit from a shift as well). Specifically in Hollywood, though, it needs to be acknowledged that the surplus of actresses vying for a role in Hollywood puts actresses at a disadvantage in terms of their vulnerability to sexual assault. It creates an atmosphere that makes it easier to prey on the actresses because they are aware of the level of competition and how easily opportunities could be taken away from them. Further, there also need to be norms that protect actresses. For example, Harvey Weinstein met with many of his victims by themselves in a hotel room. If Hollywood could make it the norm for actresses to meet with producers/directors/etc. with their agents (or another advocate) in a public place, that would help lower the risk of sexual assault. There are other solutions, but most importantly, members of Hollywood elite need to be more vocal in confronting people that may be committing sexual assault. A small percentage of men commit these crimes, but unless they are confronted by their peers, they will repeatedly assault women.

Again, Hollywood is not the only place where it is necessary to change how sexual assault occurs. However, sufficient change is a long, drawn out process that is different in each place. Therefore, if individual places focus on changing their specific environment, that will contribute to overall progress. Thus, the members of Hollywood should reflect on how the culture needs to change and address it as needed.