Montclair State University students responded to the latest Harvey Weinstein controversy involving actresses that came forward about sexual harassment. Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale and many others have turned to social media to publicly discuss Weinstein’s tenancy to sexually harass and manipulate actresses into performing inappropriate acts, from nude massages to intercourse.
“[I’ve] heard so many jokes and stories about Harvey Weinstein, but it’s just that no one ever came forward until someone finally spoke up about it,” said Anthony Chidichimo, a theater studies major.
Weinstein’s sexually inappropriate behavior has been an open secret within the industry for years. On the red carpet in 2005, Courtney Love warned aspiring actresses against taking a meeting with Weinstein in his hotel room. At least two separate references to his actions were made on the hit NBC show, “30 Rock.” In 2013 while announcing Oscar nominations, “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane made light of Weinstein’s behaviors. If what Weinstein was doing was common knowledge among the industry, why did it take The New York Times’ piece and countless actresses coming forward for something to be done?
The Weinstein Company, founded by Weinstein and his brother Bob, was found to have been aware of Harvey’s actions for years, quietly agreeing upon settlements with actresses in return for their silence. When the Times broke the story and it became apparent that action needed to be taken, Weinstein was fired from his company. Now without a job, he plans to travel to a European rehabilitation facility.
Communication and media arts major Sydney Peterson-Quinn wasn’t impressed with his rehab plan.
“The fact that [Weinstein] is trying to relocate to Europe is kind of a cop out,” Peterson-Quinn said.
Since the company has been paying off victims for decades, surely the board, especially his own brother, knew what Weinstein was up to. In keeping it a secret, the company made it possible for Weinstein to continue to prey upon young women for years. He was only fired because the public found out about it and refused to let it go.
Julia Contino, an English major in the teacher education program, was shocked this had gone on for so long without any intervention.
“This not only falls on him, but everyone that knew about it,” Contino said.
Chidichimo felt that more needs to be done because of lack of intervention from the inside.
“They deserve to all be fired,” Chidichimo said. “[People] always talk about the Weinsteins and how they’re so powerful, and now with all these accusations, I feel it’s disgusting.”
Some celebrities have been less critical of Weinstein. Last week Lindsay Lohan posted an Instagram video, that has since been deleted, defending Weinstein. She said she feels bad for him, that his wife shouldn’t divorce him and that people needed to stop. Understandably, many were displeased with this.
Franklin Rotondella, a finance major with a minor in economics, pointed out that Lohan isn’t in the best position to comment on the scandal.
“[She’s] trying to forge a comeback,” Rotondella said. “She shouldn’t be voicing adverse opinions.”
Other students, like psychology major Sabila Nazim, believed that Lohan should take her own past into account when declaring a side.
“As a victim of harassment herself, she should be supporting other women, not shutting them down,” Nazim said.
This past weekend, Weinstein was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which highlights the changing climate in Hollywood. Perhaps these are baby steps towards the right direction. However, in 2003, the Academy awarded convicted child rapist Roman Polanski the Oscar for Best Director to a standing ovation. He was not present at the ceremony, as he had fled the country in 1978 to avoid arrest.
Peterson-Quinn thanked the victims who came forward, highlighting how brave they are.
“These women are stepping forward,” Peterson-Quinn said. “They’re making other women feel okay to come and talk about their experiences with Harvey Weinstein and with other men, and even women, who have sexually assaulted them.”
Courtney Vignola, double majoring in psychology and linguistics with a minor in speech-language pathology, highlighted the similarities to the Bill Cosby situation.
“These men of higher power are abusing their power to do things to women that are degrading and disgusting,” Vignola said, “but if we band together [and] spread awareness, we can have it stopped.”