The Weinstein Company Now Facing Charges of Sex Trafficking
The Weinstein Company isn’t only facing legal woes thanks to Weinstein’s predatory behavior. They’re now facing charges of sex trafficking in Europe. Because of course they are. Because everybody knew.
In addition to the plethora of investigations against Harvey Weinstein by the NYPD, the LAPD, and the Beverly Hills Police for sexual assaults committed here in the U.S., Weinstein has also been charged with assaults in the UK and in France. Yesterday, actress Kadian Noble filed a complaint in federal court claiming that Weinstein sexually assaulted her at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and that The Weinstein Company covered up another “Friend of Harvey.”
You can read Noble’s complaint in full HERE, and in it we learn that “Friend of Harvey” was internal Weinstein Company code for the women that Weinstein was setting out to lure into sexual contact with the promise of roles or other enticements that could be provided by the company.
There are two things that are interesting (and distressing) about this beyond the heinous crimes themselves. First, there’s the fact that these assaults were not just the act of one sick man, but the product of a machine purposely set up to provide them. So, not only is it true that “everybody knew,” but everybody actively helped. There were lines on budgets. There were tell-tale letters, F.O.H, used as code. Producers other than Weinstein encouraged Noble to go along to get along without actually telling her what she’d be going along with. This was part of the business.
The second interesting thing, is that because assaults like Noble’s were committed through a concerted effort by multiple people that often maneuvered the F.O.H. to places like London or Cannes for “work meetings,” The Weinstein Company was actively engaging in sex trafficking.
As reported by Deadline Hollywood, “TWC knowingly participated in Harvey Weinstein’s venture in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1591 [the sex trafficking statute] by benefiting from, and knowingly facilitating, the venture in which Harvey Weinstein traveled in foreign commerce to recruit or entice female actors into forced or coerced sexual encounters on the promise of roles in films or entertainment projects.”
It was already sexual assault. The Weinstein Company then compounded his crimes with another crime by facilitating the luring victims out of the country, making what they were doing sex trafficking.
What these new charges stress is something far more frightening and insidious than one mere sexual offender. Sex trafficking charges really highlight the fact that many people—hell, an entire industry—is to blame for what happened to these women. It’s so easy for individual statements to be released condemning Harvey Weinstein as a monster.
It’s a lot harder for individuals to look at themselves and ask, “How did I contribute to this?”
It’s similar to the way mainstream media too often refers to white, male shooters as individuals, as “lone wolves,” but shooters of color are indicative of an entire race or culture. White men are never referred to as terrorists even when committing terrorist actions. People of color don’t have the luxury of being seen as individuals.
We’ve only started to seriously ask “What’s the deal with white men?” We’ve only just started to connect gun violence and domestic violence. We’ve only just started to examine the white community as a community, and it’s still much too uncomfortable for many white people to think about shooting violence in those terms. Even though the data is clear on whose doing most of the mass shooting in the U.S.
Likewise the entertainment industry, where complicity in sexual harassment and assault is everywhere. The assistants who facilitate “meetings.” The fellow producers who encourage certain behaviors for rewards. The creatives who benefit financially from the abuse of others and look the other way, not thinking too hard about where their money comes from. None of those people wants to look at themselves and ask what they could’ve done.
Instead, they want to point fingers and throw stones at the evil Harvey Weinstein, as if he’s the only problem. Believe me, he deserves all the thrown stones in the world. He deserves time in prison. But he doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and the problem of sexual harassment and assault in entertainment doesn’t go away when he goes away.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s acting in spite of it. It’s time for people at all levels to get brave and start acting according to their values, not according to their fears. Yes, even those on the lowest rungs of the ladder. It can feel really powerless down there, I know. But we’ve gotten to a point where, while fear is understandable, it is no longer an excuse.
“You’ll never work in this town again?” So what. There are other towns in the world and other jobs. Believe it or not, some of those jobs are even in film and television! But the promise of work and money can no longer be acceptable in exchange for an environment of abuse. No job is worth people’s lives, and no individual’s desire to work in one particular industry is worth everyone’s safety.
It’s time for everyone else in the entertainment industry, as a community, to start looking at themselves, and decide the kind of Hollywood they want to be a part of. The time for “looking the other way” is over.
(image: The Weinstein Company)
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