As the Harvey Weinstein accusations — and the list of people who allegedly knew about his transgressions but didn’t speak out — continue to add up, other names in entertainment and pop culture have emerged as potential sexual offenders.
Last week, Amazon Studios head Roy Price resigned from his post after sexual harassment claims emerged against him. He had previously been suspended pending investigations into the claims.
The show about women fighting harassment at Newsweek in the 1960s had 1 season before Amazon's Roy Price canceled it https://t.co/pBBiPYGMf2
— Refinery29 (@Refinery29) October 17, 2017
Magician and illusionist David Blaine also found his name in the headlines after a former model accused Blaine of raping her in Great Britain back in 2004.
These two cases — combined with Weinstein, former Fox News head Roger Ailes and former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly — could be just the tip of the iceberg in what’s become a growing list of celebrities accused of sexual assault.
As the general public’s awareness of sexual assault and harassment throughout the entertainment industry has increased, so too has its response to new allegations. After the hashtag #MeToo circulated around social media, the prominence and frequency of sexual harassment and assault allegations has grown exponentially.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 22, 2017
However, it isn’t clear if there is going to be much concrete change coming from this new awareness moving forward.
President Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” video that generated outrage during the 2016 election cycle wasn’t enough to derail his path to the White House. And as was the case with Weinstein, it took years before any complaints were taken seriously enough to lead to any sort of progressive action. As director Quentin Tarantino said, he “could have done more.”
Others have evaded most punitive damages, as a piece in the Los Angeles Times pointed out. As it mentions, “There have been so many false alarms that it’s hard to tell a cultural shift from a news cycle. Many famous men have faced grave allegations of misconduct toward the opposite sex — Trump, Woody Allen, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, R. Kelly, Bill Clinton — only to escape relatively unscathed as the conversation moved on.”
Some of these men weren’t necessarily sexual harassers and assaulters, but their denigration of women is worth noting.
But there are also the stars who, understandably, are hesitant to tell their stories. Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o wrote a gripping op-ed in The New York Times Friday that described the struggle between her desires to succeed as an actress in the industry and risking her career by coming out about her run-ins with Weinstein. Nyong’o recounted a specific interaction with Weinstein when she rejected his demands:
“‘I just want to know that we are good,’ [Nyong’o] said.
‘I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine,’ he said. It felt like both a threat and a reassurance at the same time; of what, I couldn’t be sure.”
Harvey Weinstein, accused by dozens, specifically disputes Lupita Nyong’o’s, the only black woman to accuse him: https://t.co/Fcq1LvjLVE
— Liz Plank (@feministabulous) October 22, 2017
And even among the 60 or so accusers of Weinstein, some have still wished to remain anonymous. Of course, that’s their right, but the reasons vary.
Maybe these women are afraid of seeing their careers vanish, too. Maybe the trauma from their experiences is too difficult to make public. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. But how will the stigma against reporting sexual assault change if people — both survivors and bystanders — don’t do more to see their attackers reprimanded?
Hollywood is an industry of vanity, sometimes above all else. Celebrities succeed as long as their images do. And the sad truth is that, at least before the Weinstein accusations came in, those affected by his advances couldn’t share their story because it could damage their own images and those of the industry — just see Barbara Walters’ response to Corey Feldman’s abuse claims on “The View” from a few years ago.
Price may be gone from his position of power, and if the claims against him are true, then it’s another step in the right direction. The same goes for David Blaine and any associated fame that comes with his magic tricks. But will a few names, big as they are, be enough to change the mentality among everyone, whether Hollywood elite or man on the street?
There’s no way to know that for sure. For bystanders, silence is complicity. But one thing is certain among the survivors: The more brave women that come out about their experiences, the closer the needle moves to ousting sexual harassment and assault, once and for all.
Should the onus be on the survivors? In theory, absolutely not. In practice, though, it may have to be until a new normal arises regarding sex offenders in positions of power.