Coping with the Weinstein Scandal
Picture yourself during Orientation Week. It is what I like to call Community Standards Day. You learn a lot of heavy information compared to the thrills and fun of Playfair and House Block Parties. You learn about setting standard in your respective housing communities and making healthy choices in terms of alcohol and mental health. You also probably watched a video about how sexual consent is a lot like making a cup of tea. You probably laughed a lot, because the video is funny. But you were also probably struck by how true the metaphor utilized rang. This three-minute video, entitled “Tea Consent,” went viral for breaking down consent into something that seems incredibly juvenile to understand. No is no. Consent is everything. If someone doesn’t want tea, don’t make them drink tea. At all. Despite this, we still somehow live in a world where consent seems like a blurry gray area for people to comprehend and understand.
It has been a week since The New York Times posted an expose on how Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax and The Weinstein Company, had been sexually assaulting and harassing women for at least 30 years. Yet during this entire week new, startling, and sometimes disturbing information kept surfacing. This ranged from further evidence against Weinstein himself to consequences from the expose, which include his expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, his expulsion from The Weinstein Company, and even the NYPD and London police opening up investigations into the accusations made against him.
I woke up to the Harvey Weinstein reports similarly to last week when I woke up to the Las Vegas shooting. But this time, rather than saddened, I felt disgusted.
I felt disgusted that these allegations spanned pretty much Weinstein’s entire career. I felt angry at the executives who let this happen by shoving the issue under a rug until someone had the guts to pull it off. I felt horrified that women felt intimidated and pressured to not speak out for fear of having their careers destroyed. I felt confused that this level of depravity had been going on for so long in companies beyond just The Weinstein Company.
The only good thing that came out of the ungraceful fall from grace of Harvey Weinstein was the encouragement from women in the industry to speak out about their stories and struggles. Forty-six women, including high-profile names in the industry and pop cultures like Angelina Jolie and Cara Delevingne, have come forward with sexual harassment and assault claims against Weinstein. Five have accused him of rape. Women from other companies have also begun to speak out, such as Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle’s executive producer Isa Hackett, who accused Amazon Studios’ programming chief Roy Price four days ago of sexual harassment from 2015.
The cost, however, is a corruption of innocence and brand trust. If you decide to watch The King’s Speech, or Pulp Fiction, or Kill Bill one day you’re not going to be able to avoid seeing the logo of The Weinstein Company before starting the movie. If you walk into a theater today and decide to see Wind River, you’d be struck by the fact that you’re financing a sexual predator and his regretfully willing cleanup crew. The filmography of The Weinstein Company and Weinstein himself spans hours and hours, and that sickens me to my core. That corruption of innocence and nostalgia — and sometimes your childhood — is terrible.
The day after the Weinstein expose was published, a woman made sexual harassment claims against Andy Signore, co-creator of the YouTube channel Screen Junkies, notable for covering movie news and featuring the YouTube series Honest Trailers. Screen Junkies is comparable to The Weinstein Company in the movie news community, a community that I had participated in as a young teenager and could always fall back on as I got older. Like The Weinstein Company, it had an outrageous amount of power and was considered a reliable source for content and truth. To make matters worse, their parent company was notified of this abuse in August and it wasn’t until the woman went public that they publicly fired Signore from his own company, hours after Weinstein received the same treatment.
I revisited the community the day after the scandal broke to see a bunch of hate (at Weinstein Coping with the Weinstein Scandal and Signore), disgust, anger, confusion, and sadness. The Screen Junkies scandal hit close to home for me because the community affected was just a bunch of average schmoes. They didn’t walk out of their house every day onto a movie set or a private yacht. They are film lovers with 9-to-5 jobs, they are total nerds, and right now they are experiencing pain that mirrored what I felt. The one clear emotion that I’ve felt out of all the confusion was a lack of safety and escape. I am confronted yet again by the shock and betrayal from these companies and products that I’ve relied on as a form of escapism from the trials of reality, only to realize that they occupy that same hemisphere. Even in my safe space, I am confronted by the realization that I am a 19-year-old young woman, and that makes me a target.
I’m confronted by that same destruction of trust and respect. I’m confronted with another moral struggle and an incredible amount of cringing and disgust when I scrolled down to see the thousands of videos Screen Junkies has released over the past six years. I had watched the Honest Trailer episode covering 2003’s Daredevil and felt incredibly uncomfortable with every component. The video additionally has the nerve goes as far as to make a joke about how “if a girl doesn’t like you, beat her up until she changes her mind,” and the pedestal that I used to hold high up for my YouTube icons broke into a million tiny pieces.
It is here that we must confront the issue of separating the product from its creator. This issue is the root of most of the confusion. The best metaphor I can think of is a computer virus that the computer acquired early on in its operating software, that could have been treated during its contraction but six years or maybe 30 years later, has built itself around the computer so much that taking out the virus and solving its problems would bring down the whole hardware with it.
In the wake of these two scandals and my resulting feeling of betrayal, I’ve been told, “It’s important to get mad.” It’s important to get mad and make it known that this behavior will absolutely not be tolerated. It’s important to get mad at this harsh world in order for it to soften with peace and acceptance. It’s important to just wake up. Sometimes, the world is the absolute worst.
However, during Church on Sunday morning, my priest preached about how while tragedy still occurs, that there still lies so much goodness in humanity. He mentioned this in relation to the shooting in Las Vegas, citing stories on how total strangers protected other total strangers and rushed others to the hospital for safety. In some ways, people from all over have shown this same support after this scandal. They’ve applauded survivors for speaking out. They’ve created diverse support systems with each other. They’ve helped to make others aware. And sometimes, they’ve just been there for their friends to friends to comfort them, watching a good movie to get their mind off the situation.
In short, humanity still produces good content. And these scandals might break down a lot of cherished values and memories, but the result will only make us stronger. And we can only become stronger by spreading that goodness of humanity, continuing to live as we are, and teaching the world one movie or cup of tea at a time.