Label’s Social Media Officer, Leah Langley, speaks about the the gruelling trials of Harvey Weinstein and how his sentencing has become an influential moment in time for the film industry.
When allegations of assault, from numerous female employees, over a nearly three-decade period hit the headlines on October 5th 2017, the world stood still for a minute. Although this wasn’t the first case of its kind to hit the press, the person accused seemed to come as a shock, and the case has gone on to, arguably, define the #MeToo era.
Since the allegations were published, more than 100 women have emerged with allegations of sexual assault and harassment. Prosecutors in the Weinstein case argued that he is a “rapist who has preyed upon vulnerable women for decades”, whilst his defence claimed that he is the victim of “power-hungry women who offered sex in exchange for career ascension in Hollywood”.
On January 6th 2020, the Weinstein case finally took to court with the trial process beginning in New York. On February 24th 2020, he was found guilty of a Criminal Sexual Act in the first-degree, and third-degree rape. He was also convicted of sexually assaulting a former Production Assistant and raping an ex-actress. However, he was acquitted of first-degree rape, and two counts of predatory sexual assault which could have seen him sentenced to life in prison. On March 11th, 2020 Weinstein was sentenced to twenty-three years in prison for rape and sexual assault whilst he still faces further criminal charges for rape and sexual assault, in Los Angeles.
The case of Harvey Weinstein has brought an important lesson along with it: we should listen to women. The media have been complacent in their reporting over the years which is said to be part of the reason that Weinstein was allowed to abuse his power for so long. The conviction is a questionable victory for the #MeToo movement as it doesn’t reflect change in the criminal justice system, rather just the growing power of women’s voices. The question remains on just how many more cases like these have to emerge before women’s voices are heard once and for all.
The film industry has also seen changes with the development of this situation. January 1st 2018, saw Hollywood insiders announce the formation of the ‘Time’s Up’ movement which is an initiative created “to fight sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond”. The work done by the ‘Time’s Up’, and #MeToo movements have helped other movements, dedicated to pushing for a diverse and equal industry, to flourish. Unfortunately, stories of predators within Hollywood are no longer unusual, but this is bittersweet as it means that more women are speaking out with the faith that they will be heard.
The Weinstein case is one that is going to be remembered for a long time. Not only due to the sheer seriousness behind it but, also for the movements that have been proliferated and the actions that are being taken as a result of its emergence.
Featured image by Frankie Stevens.