After eight women accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment in a New York Times expose, many of his colleagues have stepped forward to condemn him, claiming they weren’t aware of his behavior. But an old joke by Seth McFarlane has people wondering how “unaware” Hollywood truly was.
McFarlane co-hosted the 2013 Oscars with Emma Stone and, during the Best Supporting Actress category, he made what sounded then like a harmless joke at Weinstein’s expense. After reading the names of the nominees, he said, “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.”
McFarlane has since stepped forward on Twitter to explain that the joke came from “a place of loathing and anger” after his friend Jessica Barth told him that Weinstein sexually harassed her. And McFarlane’s Oscar quip isn’t the only indicator that Weinstein’s “dirty little secret” was far from a secret in Hollywood’s upper echelons.
In 1998, Gwyneth Paltrow said on the Letterman Show that Weinstein “will coerce you to do a thing or two.” Seven years later, Courtney Love told young women with Hollywood aspirations, “If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in his Four Seasons [hotel room], don’t go.”
NBC’S 30 Rock referenced Weinstein in a 2012 episode where one of the characters notes that she isn’t afraid of anyone in show business and that she “turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions.”And Sharon Waxman, a former reporter for the New York Times, alleges that the newspaper “gutted” a 2004 story about Weinstein under top-down pressure.
Weinstein’s power in Hollywood was undeniable; the film producer was widely known as the driving force behind Oscar nominees. Many felt as though if they publicly accused Weinstein, their careers would be over. As Weinstein company’s Creative Executive Lauren O’Connor wrote in a memo to the company’s executives, “I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.” And these anxieties were not unfounded; Actresses Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette both allege that they were blacklisted from movies after rejecting Weinstein’s advances.
Jokes like McFarlane’s prove that Hollywood knew about Weinstein’s reputation long before it became international news. The question now haunting the industry is what they can do to keep it from happening again.
For more stories like this, click ‘NEXT POST.’ And why not ‘SHARE’ on Facebook?