Hollywood is finally draining the swamp of men's bad behaviour

Hollywood is finally draining the swamp of men's bad behaviour

Hollywood is finally draining the swamp of men's bad behaviour

Updated 11 October 2017, 7:30 AEDT

There's a generation of Hollywood powerbrokers who've acted like it's still the Stone Age, but it looks like they're no longer going to get away with it, writes Cameron Williams.

There's a generation of Hollywood powerbrokers who've acted like it's still the Stone Age, and for once, it looks like they're no longer going to get away with it.

The New York Times has exposed three decades of previously undisclosed allegations of sexual assault against one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein.

The allegations were documented in interviews with past and present employees of companies he has run, Miramax and The Weinstein Company. Weinstein's companies have been responsible for producing the films Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting and Shakespeare in Love, which won him an Oscar for best picture and increased his power in Hollywood.

More and more women in the film and television industry are speaking out about sexual assault.

Many have been silenced on these issues in fear that speaking out against men in positions of power will damage their careers.

Even worse, many refused to take these women seriously or believe them. After all, there is a precedent of powerful men advancing their careers in the wake of sexual misdemeanours.

But a series of high-profile cases and investigations are empowering victims to speak out and seek justice.

Allegations surface

One of them is actress Ashley Judd, who told of an incident where she allegedly met with Weinstein in a hotel room where he greeted her wearing only a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or if she would watch him shower.

Speaking to the Times, Judd recalled the incident saying: "How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?"

The Times discovered Weinstein had reached eight settlements with women in the past 30 years after being confronted with allegations of sexual harassment.

Over the past few months the film journalism world has been rocked by sexual assault allegations made against two film writers, Devin Faraci and Harry Knowles, who have links to American cinema chain The Alamo Drafthouse.

Cinefamily, a popular independent cinema venue in Los Angeles, temporarily shut down after reports of sexual assault and rape from high-profile members of the organisation.

And the biggest case of them all is the allegations made by 33 women against comedian Bill Cosby, which can be noted as a unifying moment for survivors of sexual assault in pursuing justice.

The courage of those who speak out

Even though the circumstances are dire, the courage of women speaking out is inspiring more women to voice their trauma.

Momentum is driving the movement against sexual predators in the film industry.

These women are no longer alone and they have the confidence to speak the truth and be heard in the face of an industry that tolerated and hid bad behaviour for decades.

Women had been given a choice between speaking out or having a career.

Their trauma was used against them to accept the sexual advances of men as part of the industry they had chosen.

As more allegations become public it sends a strong message that this behaviour is not okay — in any industry.

The sewer is opening and it's time to flush out the worst offenders.

On the defence

"The story sounds so good I want to buy the movie rights": it's a quote that's likely to haunt Weinstein, who said it in a statement ahead of the New York Times report.

The line says a lot about his reaction to the issue.

In a later statement to the Times about the allegations, Weinstein said: "I appreciate the way I have behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain and I sincerely apologise for it. Though I am trying to do better I know I have a long way to go."

Weinstein will be taking a leave of absence from his companies and is said to be working with therapists to improve his behaviour.

Weinstein's lawyer told The Hollywood Reporter the report was "saturated with false and defamatory statements" and they plan to sue the Times and donate proceeds to the case to women's organisations.

But the money isn't enough while men like Harvey Weinstein are still in power.

Cameron Williams is a writer and film critic.