“We crucify this man in this manner, yet contridict ourselves by electing a president who did the same,” said Augustine Nukoka, a Richland journalism student looking to study law next year at the University of Texas-Dallas.
Harvey Weinstein, 65, was a co-founder of The Weinstein Company, a multimedia production and distribution company responsible for producing well-known films including Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” and “Django Unchained” as well as “The King’s Speech” starring Colin Firth, which won four Academy Awards in 2011.
Weinstein, father of four daughters, was recently fired from the company that bears his name after a The New York Times investigation revealed numerous allegations of sexual harassment and at least eight settlements with women who accused him of sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact. Heather Daniel, a Richland journalism student who previously reported on the entertainment industry, said, “It’s not surprising,” and it “happens a lot.”
Daniel focused on music during her tenure at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and said the music industry is ripe with similar examples. In 2014, singer and songwriter Kesha accused Dr. Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, an American record producer and songwriter, of sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abusing her.
Daniel said the entertainment industry is structured so “who you know and your connections” heavily influence success.
“Careers aren’t solely based on talent,” she said. And with that structure comes a huge, and not uncommon, power disparity.
“Some people get in the industry to take advantage of power,” leaving those without influence “too afraid to speak out for fear they’ll lose their jobs,” said Daniel.
With such a common narrative, Patricia Martinez, a Richland journalism student focusing on broadcast writing, wonders if readers are too quick to judge. “When I search Weinstein, I see a lot of praise of Ashley Judd and other victims.” Yet, Martinez saw little about Weinstein from his point of view.
“I don’t think how this is being reported is fair.”
LaShanda McCuin, a Richland journalism student focusing on entertainment news, disagrees.
“The reporting is bringing awareness to any type of tycoon taking advantage of his power.” She said reporting helps the victims because it lets abusers know this “will come out to the public and he will be taken out of the company.”
McCuin is not alone in thinking an educated public is a powerful tool. Professor Michael Jackson, Richland journalism faculty, said, “The only way to stop this is to make people aware.”
Daniel is also hopeful, yet has another idea: break up the power from the few and distribute to the many. In this new age of social media, “We are accepting more independent artists,” she said. Daniel added that through a “do it yourself environment, using YouTube or Facebook, you can promote yourself.”
With this story spreading across time and industry, Jackson wondered if “maybe it takes something like this to change.” One thing is for certain, this controversy is far from over.