Hollywood’s hidden hurt
Faculty and students share opinions regarding the Weinstein sexual assault allegations. | Photo Courtesy of Hayden Warner
Glamorous and rich, full of everyone’s favorite public figures, Hollywood stands as the sect of California giving the state its illusion of fame. Designers, directors, videographers, actors and many others swell into overcrowded Los Angeles, trying to break into the Hollywood scene, but beneath all its allure, harassment has remained hidden for the past several years.
disgusted yet not perplexed
The New York Times revealed on Oct. 5 that producer Harvey Weinstein allegedly sexually harassed women in the film industry for decades. Biola cinema and media arts faculty and students feel disgusted yet not perplexed by the news, but also empowered by the number of women speaking up.
“It certainly provides an opportunity to talk about the realities of just how far we have not come with these conversations and with changing behavior,” said Lisa Swain, associate professor of cinema and media arts. “On the one hand, I was appalled and shocked, but on the other hand, I wasn't surprised.”
Students felt the tremors of the news as dozens of sexual assault stories flooded social media and Hollywood’s “most powerful man” fell from his pedestal. What started as a few women’s uncovered pain, turned into the narratives of over 50 women claiming sexual assault against Weinstein, co-founder of the Weinstein Company.
“In many power structures… sexism is real and imbalance of power between genders is real. This kind of thing has been going on for a long time,” said Camille Tucker, screenwriting professor. “Social media has had a way of uncovering a lot of injustices in our society, and it causes people to enter into a collective conversation that didn’t used to be there.”
Faculty and students believe abuse such as this occurs in any industry where power plays a vital role, though it may occur more often in film or seem more noticeable because of the famous nature of the business.
“We put so much celebrity on people in the industry, and it’s all ego and give them power,” said Griffin Casey, senior cinema and media arts major. “It’s such a tight knit community. It’s hard to break in. So people are desperate to break it, and guys will use that to their advantage.”
As students prepare to enter careers in film, they do not appear afraid due to the Weinstein allegations, saying they have known of similar situations for years and have previously received warnings. They have learned what to stay wary of and how to surround themselves with a safe community, and they feel encouraged by the boldness of the women who came forward.
“I think that there’s a wave of women becoming very courageous about their experiences and through the internet finding validation in each other and realizing that there are so many women out there who share their experiences,” said Summer Wagner, junior cinema and media arts major. “Through that network of support they're able to open up and be courageous and claim their story to protect other women, and that’s what we saw with this case.”