Film Discussion

Harvey Weinstein sacked, but actors take “genuine risk” to career by reporting abuse

Harvey Weinstein, the producer behind movies such as Pulp Fiction, Gangs of New York and Shakespeare In Love, has been sacked by the company he co-founded following allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

The full statement from The Weinstein Company said: “In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein Company – Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar – have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately.”

The news comes amidst allegations of sexual harassment towards female actors by the prolific film producer, revealed by The New York Times three days earlier, many of which Harvey Weinstein denies.

Dr Deborah Dean, Associate Professor of Industrial Relations at Warwick Business School and expert on gender inequality in the acting profession, said that “the endless supply of actors means that it is a genuine risk to a career to report behaviour like Harvey Weinstein’s”.

Dr Dean said: “This is about a continuum of attitudes and behaviour, as the 2016 TUC report on workplace sexual harassment makes clear. The current story is about one end of that continuum and the imbalance of power between a small number of employers and the endless supply of actors.

“The Harvey Weinstein case is nothing to do with ‘show business’ per se. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are part of many women’s working lives and have been since at least the Industrial Revolution.”

She added: “It’s just that there is more opportunity for illegal or boorish behaviour where the work is project-based. In an industry structured around hundreds of different types of projects, rather than fixed workplaces with staff on open-ended contracts, individuals often operate without organisational scrutiny.

“Recruitment and selection can take place in a range of environments, including private houses. And where individual workers are just that – individuals in a chronically over-supplied, geographically dispersed industry with expected patterns of unemployment or short-term contracts.”

Ignoring the potential career risk that Dr Dean posits, Rose McGowan, star of the Harvey Weinstein produced Death Proof and Planet Terror, was one of the many women who worked with The New York Times to expose the alleged assaults.

Rose McGowan took to Twitter to encourage other victims of sexual harassment to not remain silent.

Sexual assault and rape is a crime and should be reported to the police. Victims can find advice about reporting such instances, and find details about other support organisations, via the Government’s website.

Featured image credit: By Zff2012 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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