Just ahead of this weekend’s Oscars, Los Angeles-based British street artist Plastic Jesus has erected a statue of Harvey Weinstein just a few blocks from the Dolby Theatre, where the ceremony will be held. Titled “Casting Couch,” it depicts Weinstein, clutching an Oscar and sitting on a chaise lounge, wearing a silk robe, a nod to the many, many women who have told similar stories about the producer, which often include showing up to a hotel room for what they were told was a business meeting, only to allegedly find him wearing nothing but a bathrobe.
Plastic Jesus explains the inspiration behind the statue on his Facebook page, writing, “Whilst many thought the ‘casting couch’ was a thing of the past it was clearly still a part of the Hollywood culture.”
“For many years the exploitation of many hopefuls and established names in the industry was brushed under the carpet with their complaints of harassment and sexual abuse being ignored or worse,” he continues. “Hopefully now in the light of recent allegations, against many leading figures in Hollywood the industry will clean up it’s act.”
The artist’s Oscar statues are somewhat of a tradition, often calling out the entertainment industry’s open secrets like drug use and the objectification and exploitation of women. (In 2014, he erected a giant Oscar Statue shooting heroin. In 2016, the life-sized gold statue took the form of an exotic dancer.) He is also responsible for that miniature wall that went up around Trump’s Walk of Fame star.
The Weinstein statue is a collaboration with Ginger, the artist behind those naked Trump statues.
“So many people, actors and actress, came to Hollywood to follow a dream, and the profile of Harvey Weinstein was so huge, to get alongside him, to actually get to meet Harvey Weinstein, to many it would have been the dream of a lifetime,” PJ told Reuters. “But sadly, some of those who did meet him were abused sexually and raped. So the idea is that people can come here, they can see the statue, and they can actually sit on it and consider what it would be like to sit next to a monster.” A monster who possibly holds the key to your dream, no less.
In the run-up to the 2018 Oscars, British artist Plastic Jesus puts a statue of Harvey Weinstein, in a bathrobe on a sofa, on Hollywood Boulevard. The artist is denouncing the culture of silence that allowed the abuse to go on for so long. pic.twitter.com/UY51tgTMGm
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 2, 2018
These artists aren’t the only ones to call out Hollywood’s culture of sexual coercion and assault in the days leading up to the industry’s most glamorous night. This week’s issue of the New Yorker takes on these open secrets with their cover, “Golden Opportunity.” The image by Chris Ware shows a young woman attending an audition in the office of a director or producer. As she sits on a sofa with her arms crossed uncomfortably, with prestigious awards on the shelves behind her, the man auditioning her closes the blinds. The implications are clear.
In that picture, both the woman and the man have their faces obscured, because while Weinstein has become the face of this epidemic, he is in no way an anomaly. A recent survey found that 94% of women working in the entertainment industry in Hollywood have been harassed or assaulted. And while the details of these particular situations may be unique to Hollywood, abuses of power and exploitation of women happen everywhere, in every industry.
(image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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