In all the years we’ve been in the entertainment news business, there’s never been a firestorm quite like the one ignited by the sordid saga of Harvey Weinstein and his alleged far-reaching sexual abuse scandal.
The Variety staff has been working overtime to cover every angle, including Tuesday’s extensive coverage.
This moment is about more than just one man whose decades of despicable behavior have been exposed by the courageous women who are finally coming forward with their terrifying stories. Yes, the reverberations are being felt across the entertainment industry, where other alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment, like Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, will continue to be outed.
But the scandal, of course, transcends Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
What this is really about is our culture at large, where for too long too many turned the other way as power was abused and covered up to protect profits.
But no more.
We are at an inflection point, the juncture where inexcusable, often criminal behavior that has scarred so many women (and some men) simply won’t ever be greeted by a blind eye again. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the New York Times reporters who set the news in motion with their groundbreaking story on Weinstein, saw to that. So did the impossibly long list of brave artists, from Ashley Judd to Gwyneth Paltrow to Asia Argento, who came forward, making it a lot more difficult for abusers to think they can hide and get away with their hideous actions.
You could feel the change last week at Variety’s annual Power of Women L.A. event, where the industry gathered to honor Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Clarkson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Octavia Spencer and Patty Jenkins. There were strong expressions of disgust over Weinstein’s unconscionable behavior, both from the podium and from the audience of more than 500 attendees.
There was much solidarity and hope in the air that Hollywood would discover that its collective conscience has truly been stirred and embrace that mind-set going forward.
But over time, the many people and corporations in the entertainment field and beyond that have long protected and enabled the wrongdoers will have to prove through their actions that they’ve been sensitized to do things differently. Perhaps, they’ll even go so far as to stop paying settlements — i.e., hush money — to the victims and demanding they sign NDAs so they’re legally bound not to speak their truths.
Victims can no longer stay quiet; if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. As plenty of strong women just made clear with their actions, sins won’t be met with silence any more.