Illustration by Leona Cheung
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Given the allegations that ranged from sexual harassment to rape against Harvey Weinstein that nearly lead to the bankruptcy of his company, it’s no surprise that Hollywood’s on high alert.

It was discovered that the mostly mediocre Weinstein Company just narrowly avoided bankruptcy after reviving their deal with past investors. Maria Contreras-Sweet who previously lead the Small Business Administration known for supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, is the leading investor taking charge of the company. She has given the deal another chance in hopes that she could change them into a dominantly female establishment.

Just under a week earlier, the company was convinced that bankruptcy was inevitable, especially given Harvey Weinstein’s allegations of sexual assault.

Given his terrible legacy, it feels fitting that powerful women could be leading the charge towards reforming the company’s practices. Unfortunately, there is much more to do if such sexual misconduct is to end within the industry.

The fact of the matter is that none of this is new, for such egregious acts have been around since the very existence of professional filmmaking. For a long time, these ideals stemmed from the concept of the “casting couch,” in which mostly women would find themselves in very compromising positions just for the measly chance of receiving a role within a film.

How has such a foul practice survived for so long? Well suppose you are an advisor to a very powerful man and you enter his domain only to witness him performing his act of vulgarity. You could pass the knowledge on but he has some powerful friends; friends that could make it impossible for you to continue your journey throughout your preferred career. If you are the woman, the same is true but with the added threats of being slut-shamed and humiliated just for getting work.

Now multiply this by the thousands, and then we have an accurate representation of the system that is kept hidden by not only the film industry but by the entertainment industry as a whole. Time and time again, those working under people like Weinstein do their best to to keep to themselves, and if any of them found out about what he did, they likely kept it secret to avoid drawing attention to themselves, which could possibly get them fired or worse. Due to this, many heinous acts can occur without any of them being sent out to the public, to which creates a very dangerous environment to work in.

This perpetual cycle needs to end. By allowing the informed to remain quiet and by refusing to scrutinize what’s really going on, we are keeping the “couch” comfy. In October, back when all this activity was surfacing, it was highlighted for how prolific of an issue this truly was. Women were finally “making headlines” as they came through with their stories of being sexually exploited. Speaking out and making the topic more prominent is the key to solving this dilemma.

Understandably, there are many who perhaps have higher stakes to be lost if they confess. However, sacrifices may have to be made if we are to shape the entertainment industry into a safer environment. Remember, these are the people who control what we come to enjoy.

Movies and television shows can mold us from a very young age. Whether it be “Star Wars” or “The Avengers,” it makes no difference. They depict the heroes we wish we could mirror, and some go into the industry hoping to deliver similar experiences to newer generations.

Let the story of the “Wein-stain” remain as a warning that we are ever more vigilant and that no one should be afraid to speak out. It’s about time for those who shield such manipulative people to act like the heroes they put on screen.

 

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