Hollywood scandal insinuated by industry in-jokes

Alisha Griffin, Contributing Writer

The problem that I have with the Weinstein scandal isn’t that it happened in the first place. I am glad that more of these people are being ousted and ridiculed by the public. The problem I have is that people knew about it, and didn’t say anything. Even worse, they made jokes about it.

You might have already seen the videos. There are several compilations of all of the times that numerous media figures have subtly joked about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault on women.

During the 2013 Oscars, host Seth MacFarlane, after reading out the names of the women nominated for Best Supporting Actress, joked, “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” He has since shared that the joke came from a place of “loathing and anger”; one of his female colleagues had confided in him about the behavior of Weinstein prior to his hosting gig.

In “30 Rock,” there is a character named Jenna Maroney who is a famous actress in the show. She said in a 2012 episode, “I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions out of five.” In another instance in an episode a year later, she says: “I know how former lovers can have a hold over you long after they’re gone. In some ways, I’m still pinned under a passed-out Harvey Weinstein, and it’s Thanksgiving.”

Another less humorous warning sign was when actress Gwyneth Paltrow, one of Weinstein’s accusers, called Weinstein a “coercer” in a 1998 interview with late-night talk show host David Letterman.

It’s hard before a major scandal like this to piece random occurrences like this together. But they were warning signs. Glimpses into the life of a Hollywood far removed from the glitz and fabulousness we associate it with. Casting couch syndrome describes when an aspiring employee trades or is forced to perform sexual favors for job opportunities. This has long since been a method adhered to in order to achieve in Hollywood and in the performance industries within and outside of it.

Hollywood already has a history of being sexist, on top of being racist, homophobic, and transphobic. The latter three are problematic on their own, especially for a supposedly liberal industry, but the former is distressing for the sexual harassment and assault victims deeply intertwined within it.

The 2013 Oscars were notorious long before the Weinstein scandal erupted — the show opened with a song called “We Saw Your Boobs,” which listed the many times actresses showed their breasts on screen. While many responded in disgust to the song, it does make a valid point. There are many, many times where a woman’s breasts are shown on screen, bared for the world to see. And yet there is no song that answers to this, no, “We Saw Your Penises” song. If a man is naked on screen, even in some of the raunchiest of movies, you often only ever see his rear.

Despite how “progressive” Hollywood may be, it still perpetuates the image of the beautiful woman, the “submissive” supportive partner who functions to soften the hard exterior of the male protagonist. And that’s just on screen: It took until 2010 for the first female director to win an Oscar.

Many well-known and respected actors and actresses have come forward about how they’ve been sexually harassed and assaulted in response to the Harry Weinstein scandal, even if their personal stories do not directly involve the film producer. However, it is not just actors and actresses who experience this misconduct in Hollywood. People with little or no fame such as assistants, aspiring actors, aspiring writers, directors, and producers suffer through this kind of sexual abuse as well. Furthermore, so do people in other worlds of business.

This is not the first time Hollywood has been involved in such a scandal, and it will not be the last. But Hollywood has to do more than just joke about this. It needs to do more than just fire the accused. It has to continue to speak out against the sexual assault occurring behind the scenes.

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