In the wake of the disgusting Harvey Weinstein scandal, actresses and other women who are participants in the film and TV industry are stepping forward with their stories about sexual harassment, and worse. They are ugly, extremely disturbing stories, and it seems as though there are many more stories to be told.
Molly Ringwald, the youthful megastar of many hit movies of the ’80s, wrote an opinion piece for the New Yorker entitled “All the Other Harvey Weinsteins” that describes her experiences as the target of harassment and demeaning conduct, which included an incident that occurred when she was only 13. Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Thompson, Reese Witherspoon, and other well-known figures have similarly talked about their personal histories in dealing with ugly comments, degrading behavior, and sexual assault.
Thompson says she thinks that sexual assault is “endemic” in Hollywood, and she seems to be right in her use of that word: the incidents that she and others have related make it clear that the problem isn’t limited to Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. From the stories being told, Hollywood has been a grossly depraved place for decades and maybe forever, a place where egregious behavior was tolerated, rationalized, and covered up, where powerful men were able to do what they wanted, no matter how sick or twisted, without fear of being caught and punished or otherwise held accountable, and agents, directors, producers, and others were all part of the culture of harassment and corruption who did nothing to help or protect the girls and women who were being subjected to shameful and at times criminal behavior.
Let’s hope that the dam has finally broken, and that the torrent of stories about harassment and assault in Hollywood finally changes the system for the better — but I wouldn’t count on it. The depravity of the film and TV industry seems to have been so deep and embedded, with so many people either actively participating or looking the other way, that I wouldn’t trust Hollywood to self-regulate going forward. In fact, I wouldn’t trust Hollywood types when they talk about just about anything.
It’s time for the news media and the government regulators to start paying a lot more attention to what happens behind the scenes and behind the cameras, to ensure that girls and women don’t become victims, again and again and again.