Opinion

The Monkey Bar

Numbers don’t lie. The Twitter #Me Too Campaign that started 10 years ago by activist, Tarana Burke, was reposted last month by actress, Alyssa Milano, as a Call-to- Action for victims who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. The campaign created a revolution–the 2017 women’s revolution to self-determination.

So far, more than 76 women have accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of forcing them into unwanted sexual activity.  Four police departments: New York, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and London, U.K. have open investigations into accusations of sexual assault against Hollywood’s fallen King.  The New York Attorney General’s Office has also opened a civil-rights investigation.

The New York Times and New Yorker broke the scandal the first week October. Since their stories published the list of his accusers, include actresses, Asia Argento, Lena Heady, Paz De la Huerta, Dominique Huett, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Molly Ringwold, Mira, Sorvino, and many more.  Weinstein was fired from the Weinstein Company October 8th and without delay filed a lawsuit against the Weinstein Company “in an attempt to gain access to his emails and personnel file for the purpose of defending himself,” reported TMZ and Variety. Mr. Weinstein has also challenged his termination.

It took more than a century of film making (1890-present) to crush the ‘great wall of silence’ that protected Hollywood’s elite and notorious ‘casting couch.’ It also took that long to crush the collusion of ambition.  In the midst of this great tragedy there is an equally heart wrenching story:  Mrs. Harvey Weinstein, a.k.a. Ms. Georgina Chapman, and the five Weinstein children born from both marriages whose hearts are shattering through no fault of their own. Ms. Chapman, Britain’s talented fashion designer whose global brand, Marchesa, became an overnight status symbol amongst Hollywood celebrities and women across the globe, is the mother of Mr. Weinstein’s two youngest children.

As sex scandals go, the Harvey Weinstein case is perhaps the tip of the iceberg as other victims come forward and speak out about their incidents.  The dethroned King of Hollywood it seems, shares the stage with several leading men in the film industry including his brother Bob Weinstein, 63, film producer. Bob Weinstein was also accused of sexually harassing TV producer, Amanda Segel.

According to Variety, Bob Weinstein invited Ms. Segel to dinner at his home and later to a hotel room during a three-month period in the summer of 2016, Spike TV told the Associated Press. Segel reported that Bob Weinstein’s attempts to harass her “stopped only after her lawyer, David Fox, told the Weinstein Company’s COO, David Glasser that [his client] would quit the series.” Fox struck a deal to keep Ms. Segel on the show and out of the same space as Bob Weinstein.

Brett Ratner, 48, from Miami Beach, Florida.  Ratner, producer and director of Rush Hour, X-Men, The Last Stand, among others, was accused of sexually harassing six women, including actresses Olivia Munn, Natasha Henstridge, Melanie Kohler, (who claimed Ratner raped her approximately 12 years ago) and three others.

Kevin Spacey, 58, best known for his recent role on Netflix’s House of Cards original content series and the 1999 film, American Beauty. Mr. Spacey was accused of sexual harassment by actor, Anthony Rapp. Mr. Rapp claims he was a teen of 14 when Spacey harassed him, in 1986.  Mr. Spacey apologized to Mr. Rapp via Twitter claiming he was drunk. “I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” Spacey tweeted October 30, 2017. Actor, Harry Dreyfuss, whose father, Richard Dreyfuss, was starring with Spacey, in 2008, when apparently, Spacey groped him in the presence of his father while they practiced their lines also came forward according to Buzzfeed.

Since Mr. Rapp’s allegations, other actors and production crew have come forward accusing Mr. Spacey of sexually inappropriate behavior. Filmmaker, Tony Montana, a former House of Cards crew member and actor Rob Cavazos.  Immediately following the charges of sexual harassment, Netflix announced it would shut down production of the sixth and final season of House of Cards.  The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences also announced it would no longer honor Mr. Spacey with the 2017 Emmy Founders Award.  As a result the actor agreed to “seek evaluation and treatment,” his representative, Staci Wolfe, told USA TODAY.

Across the pond, in London, officers from Scotland Yard are investigating allegations by a man who claims he was sexually assaulted by Mr. Spacey.  The London Metropolitan Police did not identify Mr. Spacey. It confirmed in a statement that The Child Abuse and Sexual Offenses unit was investigating allegations that “a man assaulted another man, in 2008, in Lambeth.” In England, law enforcement does not identify the accused when they are under investigation unless they have been formally charged.

The future of the Weinstein Company is uncertain since Thomas Barack and his private equity company, Colony Capital, pulled out of a deal designed to infuse capital into the Weinstein Company. This means the Weinstein Company might have to file for bankruptcy or a ‘fire sale’ of assets according to banking experts.

What is clear is that these cases represent a Call to Action to Advocate for Integrity.  Perhaps a basic question is: What are our values as a nation?  As a victim’s advocate, it is obvious the media, our communities, elementary schools (private and public), and universities, need to make a greater effort, together and independently, to help educate and instill in our youth a moral compass.  It is also indispensable to set up firewalls to protect the most vulnerable populations these heady days of “24/7 swipe left.”

Not surprisingly and given the symbiotic relationship between Hollywood and Washington D.C., politics play a role.  Title IX guidelines, part of a federal law aimed at protecting victims of sexual misconduct on college campuses, are now being examined.  Secretary of Education, Betsy de Vos, said she was removing the “Dear Colleague Letter” because it denied proper due process.

Like George Clooney recently articulated, “let’s hope something good comes from all this.”