Last Thursday, the New York Times pretty much single-handedly brought down one of the most powerful men in Hollywood with an article alleging decades of sexual harassment, abuse of power, and seriously inappropriate conduct. Harvey Weinstein has spent decades building a $160 million fortune, as a movie producer and studio executive for Miramax and, more recently, The Weinstein Company, both of which he co-founded with his brother, Bob. On Sunday, he was fired from his namesake company, as all of Hollywood rushed to distance itself from him.
Some reports have claimed that Weinstein sent out a mass email to his movie industry peers, just hours before losing his job, begging for their support. Fox News reported that part of his email pleaded: "If you could write [a] letter backing me, getting me the help and time away I need, and also stating your opposition to the board firing me, it would help a lot. I am desperate for your help. Just give me the time to have therapy. Do not let me be fired. If the industry supports me, that is all I need.” Weinstein's pleas ultimately fell on deaf ears.
As some Republicans sought to politicize the scandal and Democrats scrambled to donate any Weinstein campaign contributions to charity, the fallout in Hollywood was even greater, as the film community tried to figure out just how far-reaching Weinstein's abusive behavior had spread. The Times reported that at least eight women had reached settlements with Weinstein since 1990. Ashley Judd openly detailed some truly disturbing incidents with the executive, as did several other women who never filed charges for fear of having their careers ruined.
It is impossible not to draw parallels between the conduct Weinstein is accused of and the allegations that first emerged against Bill Cosby three years ago. Both concern men in positions of power in the entertainment industry; both men are alleged to have preyed on younger women who were desperate to gain more traction in a notoriously difficult business; both situations were talked about within elite circles as problematic open secrets; both men repeatedly paid women for their silence.
As more and more details emerge about Weinstein's conduct, and who knew what over the years, two of Hollywood's biggest female stars asked that this be a turning point in their industry. In a statement, Meryl Streep said: “The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar. Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”