THAT'S JUST HARVEY
by Eunice Park OAKWOOD SECONDARY SCHOOL
On October 5th, 2017, the New York Times released an expose of Harvey Weinstein titled “Harvey Weinstein Paid off Sexual Harassment Accuser for Decades.” The media reacted accordingly- blowing up with new articles, tweets, and interviews of stars who worked alongside Harvey and those who had heard of his behavior through others. Amongst the whirlwind of media attention, there were two clear narratives.
One. Harvey Weinstein was respected and feared. Film mogul and director of countless critically acclaimed features, Mr. Weinstein had an iron clasp on the movie industry sitting on top of his throne at Miramax entertainment.
Two. No one was surprised. Countless claims of sexual harassment smeared Harvey Weinstein’s reputation in the film industry long before the New York Times article, and those who worked alongside him believed it was only a matter of time before he was exposed.
I had the opportunity to interview a close co worker of Harvey Weinstein, who worked in Miramax Entertainment for decades alongside Harvey’s important projects.
During her time working as an assistant in the 90s, Miramax Entertainment was the “ultimate status symbol.” “It was one of the hottest companies (in the movie industry)” at that time, and thus, its workers felt pressured to push the boundaries of what they would tolerate at that company.
With Harvey Weinstein, workers had to tolerate his antics daily. He was “rude and demanding- mostly to people who were inferior”, she states, describing Harvey’s abusive behavior as an “ongoing, daily thing.” When he was in a bad mood, his co workers would whisper to one another to “watch out” for Harvey, “the loose cannon”. Even when Harvey was in a good mood, he was still very vicious. He would unnecessarily bully all his co workers to get his way. When his co workers realized the immense power he had, they were forced to attempt to rationalize his aggression and bad temper with the saying:
“That’s just Harvey.”
What made her most uncomfortable about Harvey Weinstein was what she had heard from Rose Mc Gowan, actress of movie Scream. Working alongside Harvey Weinstein, Rose Mc Gowan confided in her that Harvey would frequently make her uncomfortable with his advances, many of which contained sexual overtures. Unfortunately, she states that her younger self was “not brave enough, nor as aware of accountability” at that time to report such behavior to her superiors.
However, she is inspired by the recent turn of events that have brought these issues to light. She believes that although “things have not changed that much in Hollywood for women, what has changed is the dialogue.” Sexual harassment, instead of being accepted and even encouraged, is now increasingly talked about and is no longer acceptable in the workplace. For any young girls wishing to become involved in the movie industry, she states that the best piece of advice she can give is to “be brave”. “Don’t be deterred by men like Harvey Weinstein.” Instead, be “educated and empowered,” and most importantly, brave, to report these issues of sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior as they occur.
Yes, Harvey Weinstein was respected and feared. Yes, no one was surprised when they heard of allegations against him. However, with each voice speaking out against Harvey Weinstein, the narrative against sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the workplace becomes louder and louder, until finally, the excuse “that’s just harvey” is not valid any longer.