Sexual harassment: Oscar board does the unthinkable, expels Harvey Weinstein
At least 34 actresses have accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment in recent days. As accusations continue to pile on, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the board behind the Oscars has moved to expel him. Weinstein is widely regarded as an authoritative voice within the Academy. More than two-thirds of the board members reportedly voted for his expulsion.
Weinstein is known as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. In 1970, he founded Miramax production house which produced "Shakespeare in Love" and "Chicago," among others. Along with his wife Georgina Chapman, he co-founded The Weinstein Company in 1979, which churned out top-grossing films such as "Django Unchained." The company secured its 26th Oscar best picture nomination in 28 years with "Lion."
The board which consists of top Hollywood stars, including Tom Hanks and Whoopi Goldberg clarified that the decision was not meant to simply separate themselves "from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues." It was to send "a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over."
The flurry of allegations against Weinstein was triggered after a recent New York Times report. According to the report, Weinstein sought sexual favors from several young actresses trying to find their way into Hollywood. Top actresses, including Gwenyth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Kate Beckinsale then joined the bandwagon revealing several instances where Weinstein had treated them in a sexually inappropriate manner.
Weinstein responded at first by apologizing for his behavior which "caused a lot of pain" to his colleagues. However, he later insisted that any form of sexual contacts he had were consensual and denied accusations of rape, sexual assault, and criminal sexual harassment.
Through expelling Weinstein, the Academy has sent a message that it doesn't back Hollywood's casting couch culture. However, Weinstein's expulsion doesn't end the problem altogether. Questions remain over other members such as Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, who have been accused of sexual assault. Weinstein has so far had a big say in the Oscars process. Without him, the process may be radically different.
In response to the allegations, the British Film and Television Association (BAFTA) also expelled Weinstein. The French government decided to revoke his "Legion of Honor," France's highest civilian distinction. Several British politicians have called to revoke his title of the "Order of the British Empire".