This past weekend marked a major change in Hollywood. Producer Harvey Weinstein left his group The Weinstein company following a New York Times article accusing him of sexually assaulting several women. Considering his impact on how Oscar campaigns have been ran in the past 30 years, it comes as both a shock and no surprise depending on who you ask. His bullish nature (well documented on my Failed Oscar Campaigns column) would suggest that he had a few other unfavorable tendencies. Now that others are coming forward and forcing Hollywood to take sides, the defamed producer has brought out a worthwhile conversation about the meaning of power and what it means to abuse it.
While this is a blog dedicated to chronicling Oscar history, I will admit that discussing certain subjects isn't in my best interest as it turns an opinion based blog into something more political and divisive. I don't condone sexual assault and am glad that Weinstein has gotten some punishment for his actions, or the start of it anyways. This comes in the wake of several other noteworthy people receiving backlash for their inappropriate behavior (Devin Faraci and Harry Knowles). It is inexcusable and I hope he gets a fair but just punishment for his actions. Speaking as I choose not to indulge the vile details here (you can read for yourself), I will leave that up to someone who has better understanding of the judicial system than myself.
So why then would I mention Weinstein's fallout? The answer is simple: he is part of the Oscar conversation. Everything he has been involved with has practically been to get to the next Oscar statuette, even if he's only ever won once for Best Picture with Shakespeare in Love. It becomes harder when you consider the many films he's helped finance and careers he's helped launch. I'm sure there would be these films without him, but imagine if he didn't work hard to promote films like Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, or later on with Carol. These are all masterpieces created by artists who benefit from having their work out there. I admit to having a curiosity of Oscar campaigning partially because of his bizarre stories. It's why I poke fun at him in my lead paragraph on Failed Oscar Campaigns.
In some sense, his glory days ended awhile back. 2015 was a sorry year where he failed to even make it into the Best Picture field, even spectacularly releasing Southpaw, Burnt, and Carol in haphazard manners. The one conflict is that I will continue to write about him for the column because I feel Oscar campaign history is an interesting subject. However, I hope to not give off the sense that I admire Weinstein's work as a campaigner. He always seemed seedy and pulled loopholes to his benefit. The Weinstein Company will still carry on without him, though it's telling that the damage is so strong that they're considering changing their name entirely. While, if you're interested, I encourage you to read up on the details, I will provide this quote from Kate Winslet, who starred in The Weinstein Company film The Reader, which finally won her a Best Actress statue:
“I have no doubt that for these women this time has been, and continues to be extremely traumatic. I fully embrace and salute their profound courage, and I unequivocally support this level of very necessary exposure of someone who has behaved in reprehensible and disgusting ways. His behaviour is without question disgraceful and appalling and very, very wrong. I had hoped that these kind of stories were just made up rumours, maybe we have all been naïve. And it makes me so angry. There must be ‘no tolerance’ of this degrading, vile treatment of women in ANY workplace anywhere in the world.”
There's many more reports, but I wish not to provide a play by play on this matter. It's a terrible thing. I admit that there's conflict because he helped produce so many iconic movies, but it's less of a difficult matter to come to terms with than more controversial filmmakers whose work I try to separate from their personal lives. It's a tough dichotomy, but I hope that Weinstein gets punished and that this will continue to shift how sexual harassers are given power in Hollywood. They shouldn't have any at all, as it's a place of business and no business should have interactions like this. Here's hoping that this leads to more change soon not only for The Weinstein Company, but for gender politics in general.