The high-profile shunning of Harvey Weinstein by Hollywood’s movers and shakers continues with choreographed precision as the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the top trade organization of TV and film producers, voted unanimously October 16 to expel the disgraced Hollywood movie executive from its ranks, a move that has been termed “unprecedented."
That decision follows the equally unprecedented vote by the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to jettison Weinstein from the organization.
The actions come on the crest of a tidal wave of allegations that Weinstein had engaged in decades of sexual harassment, assault, and rape against actresses and other women involved in the motion picture industry.
In 2013, Weinstein and his brother Bob Weinstein, who had been among the most celebrated movie executives in Hollywood, were given the PGA's Milestone Award, presented to those who have made historic contributions to the entertainment industry. The duo joined such past recipients as Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg.
In announcing its decision to revoke Weinstein's membership, the board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences explained that “we do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also 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 board, which includes such Hollywood notables as Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Whoopi Goldberg, insisted: “What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.”
While the Academy attempted to position itself on moral high ground, Weinstein's fall from the top of the Hollywood mountain is nonetheless a major embarrassment: His films have earned more than 300 of the Academy's Oscar nominations, with 81 wins.
Among other things, the news of Weinstein's behavior reinforces Hollywood's image as a bastion of unbridled behavior and sexual dalliance. In fact, Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson went so far as to call the Weinstein scandal the “top of a very particular iceberg.”
Calling sexual harassment “endemic” to the Hollywood movie culture, Thompson said in a BBC interview that Weinstein is “at the top of the ladder of a system of harassment and belittling and bullying and interference and what my mother would have referred to in the olden days as ‘pestering'…. That’s the word we used to use in the olden days if you recall. This has been part of our world, women’s world, since time immemorial.”
Writing in National Review, columnist Ben Shapiro pointed out that efforts by the rest of the Hollywood elite to distance themselves from Weinstein's reprobate behavior is transparently disingenuous. “Hollywood has long been accused of depravity, but has spent the past two decades attempting to establish feminist bona fides,” noted Shapiro. “All of that collapsed this month. No longer can Hollywood pretend to be a forum designed for female betterment; no longer can many of Hollywood’s most burnished elites proclaim their love for female empowerment. They stood by and did nothing because Harvey Weinstein was powerful.”
Photo of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum: Screenshot from Academy promotional website