Trigger Warning: This blog post discusses sexual assault.
With the release of the highly anticipated film She Said (2022), I started thinking about whether or not Hollywood has actually made progress in the way that women and sexual assault cases are treated since the beginning of the #MeToo movement.
She Said, directed by Maria Schrader, tells the story of the investigative journalists at the New York Times that exposed Harvey Weinstein and the multiple cases of abuse and sexual misconduct against women in the film industry. It’s based on the book by the same name. The film follows journalists Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) as they uncover the stories that helped launch the #MeToo movement. The film shows how hard it was for the victims to speak up, but eventually many realized that by sharing their own stories they could help prevent these situations from happening in the future. Some of the victims who spoke up chose not to be named, but this doesn’t take away from the impact of their story. While the film focuses on the instances of sexual abuse and assault committed by Harvey Weinstein, these stories helped break the silence of many who have been victims of an abuse of power in Hollywood and got conversations started about the history of sexual assault in Hollywood. The film hit theatres on November 18th and is already receiving rave reviews from both critics and early audiences.
Something that is so important about this movie is that the creative team is made up of many women, which unfortunately is still something that we don’t see much of in Hollywood. The film is both written and directed by women, and it’s a great example of how important it is for women’s stories to be told by women. This seems obvious, but unfortunately in Hollywood a lot of the time this is not the case.
Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor began their investigations in exposing Harvey Weinstein in 2017, and later in the year the #MeToo movement began to go viral online. After the instances of sexual assault committed by Harvey Weinstein became public knowledge, actress Alyssa Milano went to twitter to tweet about #MeToo and encouraged others to speak up so that people could become aware of just how major the issue of sexual assault is and how many people it affects. A major issue surrounding conversations about sexual assault is that the voices of victims can be silenced. This can be for a number of reasons. One of these could be that they are too afraid to speak up, one could be that they feel responsible for what happened to them, or in the case of many of the sexual assault cases in Hollywood, victims were silenced due to power structures within the industry. Just like Harvey Weinstein, many big names in Hollywood take advantage of their power. Because of the power that they have, they know that no one will feel comfortable standing up to them or speaking out against them.
I remember hearing so much about the #MeToo movement when it first appeared, and with the release of She Said it made me wonder if Hollywood has actually made any progress since then.
The exposure of Harvey Weinstein and the statements from victims encouraged other victims to publically call out their abusers. This led to many big names in Hollywood being exposed for their abuses of power and their wrongful acts. Thankfully, in 2020 Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for criminal sexual act and rape. This was a sentence that caused tears of joy among Hollywood. Unfortunately, even though Harvey Weinstein is locked up, there are still many known abusers working in Hollywood today. Even though they have been exposed for their sexual crimes and abuse of power, once the heat surrounding them dies down Hollywood seems to slowly try and reintegrate them into the industry.
One major instance that comes to mind is the multiple rape allegations against Roman Polanski, a Polish-French film director and producer. In 2020, at the César Awards, Roman Polanski received the award for best director, even though at this time the rape allegations were public knowledge. As he walked up to accept his award, some actresses chose to storm out of the audience in order to show their disgust with the award shows decision to award a known rapist. The fact that he was even nominated when the accusations were public knowledge is shameful. At this time, the #MeToo movement had been a major conversation topic, and yet Hollywood still chose to disrespect the victims and award the known abuser.
Another instance of a major name in Hollywood being accused of sexual misconduct is Kevin Spacey. In 2017, actor Anthony Rapp came forward and stated that when he was 14, Kevin Spacey made sexual advances towards him at a party. This encouraged 15 others to come forward and also speak out about Spacey. On November 16, 2022, Spacey was charged with seven more sexual offenses. Somehow this man is still not in jail. Shockingly, or maybe not so shocking when you look at the patterns in Hollywood, Kevin Spacey is still employed in Hollywood. Even though he was first accused of sexual misconduct in 2017, he is still making movies today. Kevin Spacey was the main character in House of Cards, and after the sexual assault allegations came out he was fired. While this seemed like a big move, it seems like an instance of Hollywood just waiting until the bad press blows over until they can start casting him in things again. He took a break from acting but now has three upcoming movies. This just shows that Hollywood cares more about money than it’s victims of sexual assault. Is that really surprising though?
These are just two of many examples that prove that Hollywood still chooses to employ known abusers. Yes, Hollywood has made small strides after the introduction of the #MeToo movement, but a lot of it feels very performative. There are constant conversations surrounding the takedown of sexual abusers in Hollywood, and yet they still continue to live freely while their victims suffer. It’s terrifying to think of what may still be going on that hasn’t been publicized.
Hi! I'm Megan and I'm a fourth year English major. This is my first year writing for WEW and I'm really excited about it! Some of my favourite things to do in my free time are watching movies, reading, and baking. My favourite movies are La La Land (2016) and Little Women (2019) and my favourite book is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I'm looking forward to sharing my ideas with everyone and also learning about new topics from the other writers!