Updated: Nov 26, 2021
Image: 2019Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Sex is no unfamiliar word in the Hollywood lexicon. It is no secret that sex plays a central role in the entertainment industry, walking hand in hand with drugs, alcohol, and gossip. But what happens when lust and attraction meet power? Or when a voice is silenced by cover-ups? We’ve seen the effects, and we are now faced with the defining trial.
On October 5th, 2017, the New York Times broke the story of Harvey Weinstein and his sexual assaults and harassment. Weinstein was one of the most powerful and influential men in the film industry, producing cult classics such as “Pulp Fiction”, and “The English Patient”. Weinstein had an aggressive and bullying way of doing business which instilled fear and admiration in the people of the industry. Independent movies were defined by Weinstein and the movie industry would not be the same without him.
In 2016, Rose McGowan publicly addressed his sexual misconduct in a tweet, responding to the hashtag “#WhyWomenDontReport”. This set off a series of events that seemed unfathomable. Women mistreated by Weinstein took their stories to the public. Horror stories from prominent actresses such as Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow surfaced and caused public outrage. It was found that Weinstein had been sexually abusing women for decades, and it was well known in the inner circles of Hollywood. Within Miramax and The Weinstein Company itself, 16 former and current executives in the production companies admitted to knowing about the sexual advances and revealed that it was common knowledge. It revealed a culture of omittance, which was instilled deep within the companies. It was uncovered that, for years, through cover-ups and settlements, Weinstein had assured that he could continue to abuse his power and commit these crimes, with no one interfering. He would manipulate actresses and models, threatening to destroy their careers if they didn’t do what he wanted. Over 90 women have spoken out against Weinstein, kickstarting the “#metoo” movement which took the world by storm, denouncing sexual harassment and assault in all industries.
It has now been 2 years since the New York Times story broke, sparking the “#metoo” movement. Weinstein now faces trial in a Manhattan courtroom. He has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts, first-degree rape, third-degree rape, first-degree criminal sexual act, and two counts of predatory sexual assault. A jury of 12 people will define Harvey’s fate. The trial has been going on since Jan 22. According to reports, 6 women will take the stand to testify against Weinstein, though 4 of the accounts are too old to meet the statute of limitations for prosecution. However, the prosecutors wish to use the testimonies to prove that Weinstein has a pattern of behavior. Weinstein’s defense is mostly aiming to undermine the women and their credibility. The defense has also tried to get the trial moved out of New York City claiming that the “carnival-like atmosphere” outside of the courthouse could prevent a fair trial from taking place. However, this request was denied. The public is anxiously following these proceedings, and waiting to see if this giant will be taken down.