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ANALYSIS: After Harvey Weinstein, is Hollywood really set to change?

Monday - 16/10/2017 11:44
A systemic problem: 'There's kind of a wink and acceptance of that type of behaviour'

The toppling of once-mighty movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has been swift and unprecedented, but is this truly a watershed moment for Hollywood?

Since the release of explosive investigative reports in The New York Times and The New Yorker, Weinstein has gone underground, reportedly seeking therapy. (He has denied any "allegations of non-consensual sex.") Meanwhile, accusers continue to come forward, forcing the industry to face difficult questions about the "culture of complicity" — meaning the agents, assistants, fellow producers and media partners that aided his abuse of power over decades.

London police announced Sunday they are investigating three new sexual assault allegations against Weinstein — all by the same woman. Those are in addition to another rape claim received earlier this week. The Metropolitan Police has not identified Weinstein by name in either case.

Weinstein-Allegations Timeline
More than three dozen women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault or harassment by Weinstein, including (top row from left) Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, Jessica Barth, Cara Delevingne, Romola Garai, Judith Godreche, Heather Graham, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Lea Seydoux and Mira Sorvino. (Associated Press)

Weinstein is just the tip of the iceberg, comparable to Britain's Jimmy Savile, Emma Thompson declared to the BBC last week.

"[Weinstein's atop] a system of harassment and belittling and bullying and interference and what my mother would have referred to in the olden days as 'pestering' … This has been part of our world, women's world, since time immemorial," said the actress and writer.

"Do they have to all be as bad as him to make it count? Does it only count if you have only done it to loads and loads of women? Or does it count if you have done it to one woman, once? I think the latter."

It's been widely predicted that the infamous producer is done in Hollywood, but will this scandal lead to real change in the industry, which has a track record of leniency for its wayward sons, particularly when the offender is a beloved artist or box-office phenom?

Organizers of the Oscars – the industry's top prize – have been criticized, for instance, for toasting controversial figures regardless of bad behaviour, sexual misconduct allegations or criminal convictions: from Roman Polanski to, more recently, Mel Gibson and Casey Affleck.

Facing the appalling scope of the revelations against Weinstein — and its own rocky process of diversification — the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made the almost unprecedented decision to expel him from its membership on Saturday

"We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues, but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harrassment in our industry is over," the academy said in a statement.

And yet, Polanski, as well as Bill Cosby, accused of sexually assaulting dozens over the years, remain members. Top actors have eagerly queued up to work with Woody Allen, whose son Ronan Farrow — the reporter behind the New Yorker's Weinstein story — continues to remind the public of his father's alleged sexual abuse of his sister, Dylan. 


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