Monday, October 16, 2017

Harvey Weinstein Now Removed From Oscars Membership

Harvey Weinstein
In case you haven't been paying attention, the era of Harvey Weinstein is over. Following an immediate removal from The Weinstein Company, the producer has been faced with dozens of allegations that symbolize decades of ugly patriarchy being abused in gross manners. I will not go into detail here, as that isn't the intent of this blog. However, I still believe that this is fair punishment for a man who abused his power in inappropriate ways, even sacrificing many actresses' careers because they didn't comply to his scuzzy behavior. While all of this is disgusting, there has been one fair punishment, which was announced last Saturday by The Academy: Weinstein is no longer a voting member.

To summarize, Weinstein's presence in any given Oscar season had been a big deal up until a few years ago. Along with being a fixture to my Failed Oscar Campaigns column, he has made the art of campaigning into a manipulative act of bullying. It's worked out, as he's gotten a personal Oscar for Best Picture with Shakespeare in Love: a film that arguably initiated the ascendancy of Weinstein's presence, first through Miramax and later the Weinstein Company. He is almost too connected with the industry to have been believed to be taken down. Yet only nine days ago, The New York Times ran a piece that slammed him for sexual harassment, and the accusations have only piled up since.

So, how does The Academy respond to this? They held a meeting on Friday and announced that he would be taken off of membership. In an open statement, The Academy said that:
"The Academy finds the conduct described in the allegations against Harvey Weinstein to be repugnant, abhorrent and antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents."
To add even more of a crushing blow, Harvey's brother Bob was among those who demanded he be removed. While this is an Academy Award-central blog, Weinstein has also been having international titles revoked, including one from the BAFTAS, the Producers Guild of America (PGA), and a removal of France's Legion of Honor title; the final one of which he received while campaigning for The Artist in 2011. As a result, his name has also been removed from upcoming Weinstein Company movies (and the company plans to change its name in time), and many of this year's potential Oscar players have been postponed.

So, what is next? Weinstein claims that he will be doing some soul searching, though there's a good chance his reputation will never recover, even if his studios have gained five Best Picture winners total. What many hope his downfall symbolizes is a shift in how the industry works, specifically regarding sexual harassment. As John Oliver on Last Week Tonight pointed out, there are still some sticky situations if The Academy was to exhume themselves of this taboo, as recent Best Actor winner Casey Affleck (Manchester By the Sea) famously was on trial for sexual harassment at the time, and Best Director nominee Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge) has had less than a favorable reputation regarding ethical treatment of people.

While I do intend to continue discussing Weinstein movies in Failed Oscar Campaigns, I would like to hope that this is the first of a shifting look at male dominance in the film industry. While I have my own conflicts along the lines of "Art and the artists," it will be my battle to challenge, especially as I believe that punishment is due for those who mistreat anyone in any unethical manner. It's tough, because I do love Manchester By the Sea, but hopefully this debate will be had and it will produce results as fulfilling as the expulsion of Weinstein has been not only in The Academy, but for many groups around the world. I won't be providing a play by play of these, but just know that there's probably been five or six more groups who removed Weinstein's name since this publication. I wouldn't doubt it.

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