Of male power and Weinstein’s response to his lost reputation - GulfToday

Of male power and Weinstein’s response to his lost reputation

Kuba Shand-Baptiste


Commissioning editor on The Independent’s Voices desk.

Commissioning editor on The Independent’s Voices desk.

Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein

If anyone needs a stringent lesson in accountability, it’s Harvey Weinstein. Yet judging by the news of the former film mogul’s settlement agreement with more than 30 of his accusers – and now his claim that he was a “pioneer” in supporting female actors and directors – no one seems less likely to understand the gravity of his alleged crimes than the man himself.

As if sightings of Weinstein – who has denied all allegations of sexual assault and rape against him – continuing to poke around the entertainment scene weren’t enough, now it has emerged, in an interview with Page Six magazine, that he believes his efforts have been “forgotten” due to “what happened”. I wonder why?

The timing of the brazen remarks, delivered with all the tact you’d expect from a once untouchable, now disgraced Hollywood giant awaiting trial, couldn’t be worse. But again, from the outside looking in, it seems as if that’s the least of his concerns. What Weinstein wants, or at least appears to want, is not only to be absolved of the horrific accusations lodged against him, but to be celebrated for his career in the process.

That he has been “forgotten” doesn’t matter; it’s what he’s being remembered for that he can’t stand. His tainted reputation precisely doesn’t warrant sympathy, it warrants condemnation. And Time’s Up, the movement and organisation dedicated to battling sexual harassment and assault, rightfully offered as much following the publication of his comments. A statement from the group reads: “Harvey Weinstein is trying to gaslight society again. He says in a new interview he doesn’t want to be forgotten. Well, he won’t be. He will be remembered by the collective will of countless women who stood up and said enough. We refuse to let this predator rewrite his legacy of abuse.”

Sadly, given the “tentative” agreement he reached with his accusers last week – which may not see him required to admit personal financial responsibility for the $25m (£19m) settlement with more than two dozen women who made allegations against him – Weinstein’s behaviour isn’t all that surprising.

In addition to dodging the costs of paying his accusers himself, his legal team managed to come up with a deal that also affords him the luxury of not having to admit any wrongdoing for allegations “ranging from sexual harassment to rape”.

It doesn’t stop there. Expanding on his frustrations at being (rightfully) ostracised, he apparently saw no issue, not even in personal PR terms, with expanding on his role as a champion of women in the film industry: “I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I’m talking about 30 years ago”, he said.

“Gwyneth Paltrow in 2003 got $10m to make a movie called View from the Top. She was the highest-paid female actor in an independent film. Higher paid than all the men.”

These remarks are made by a man whose historic abuse of power, and the courage from those who suffered under it, helped to spark the biggest movement against sexual abuse and misconduct we’ve ever seen. Yet his indignation over the fact that the entertainment world is no longer scrambling over itself to shower him with praise appears to trump every other matter. Rather than displaying any regret or remorse, he has merely unleashed his barely checked ego.

And it’s not just us, the public, who have to suffer this, but that group of women he still treats with so little respect: the survivors.

Rebecca Goldman, the Time’s Up Foundation’s chief operating officer, called the settlement “a symptom of a problematic, broken system that privileges powerful abusers at the expense of survivors”.

I couldn’t agree more. The settlement provides a glimpse into the impenetrable shields that protect powerful men, no matter the gravity of the allegations against them.

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