Harvey Weinstein, an American producer and founder of The Weinstein Company, invites a 22-years old model, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, to his room in a hotel.
“Go to the bathroom, go to the bathroom.”
Guitierrez answers to him with fear: “Please, I don’t want to do something I don’t want to do.” This audio, which was originally published by “The New Yorker”, changed the whole Hollywood industry instantly.
It is difficult to name a famous Hollywood project without Weinstein’s involvement. It seems like every award-winning movie from “Good Will Hunting” (1997) and “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” (1989) to “Pulp Fiction” (1994) and “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) was produced by “Miramax” or “The Weinstein Company.” They gave to the world many award-winning pictures, many happy faces in the audience and many happy faces of actors and actresses. Everything stopped in October 2017 when “The New Yorker” and “The New York Times” published a journalistic investigation where different actresses confessed that Weinstein sexually harassed or raped them.
The Weinstein case gave second birth to the #MeToo movement, which was originally established by American activist Tarana Burke. In 1997, a 13-year-old girl told Burke while shooting a documentary movie about women of color that she was sexually assaulted. Later “Charmed” (1998) actress Alyssa Milano used that hashtag to in order to aware people of sexual harassment in the workplace, including Hollywood industry. After that, Hollywood stars started another campaign, “Time’s up,” which is supposed to support women who suffered sexual harassment. Filmmakers, actors and actresses also went to the Oscars and the BAFTA dressed in black in support of gender equality.
Sergey Glotov is a Russian film critic for a Finnish online magazine “Koulukino,” who supports gender equality in Hollywood, but he does not think the #MeToo movement will lead to anything good. “This movement showed what almost everyone had already known: man harass women on daily basis. But this movement only reveals the problem but doesn’t offer any solution to cure it,” says Glotov. “There is a need for a long-term work on people’s mindset for this to be changed. I hope the Weinstein case, that showed a man who lost everything because of his actions, will bring some good results.”
Here comes the question: So why didn’t Hollywood pay attention to Weinstein actions in the 90’s when most of the actresses were complaining about his behavior? “Short answer – money. Long – money and power,” says Glotov. “Who was Weinstein? He was the person who could promote his picture to win Oscars with a great ease. His connection, his wealth and his power were forcing not only his victims to be silent for so long, but also others to ignore the cases of harassment.”
How Harvey Weinstein’s Sexual Abuse Cover Up Fell Apart | The Backstory | The New Yorker
The European movie industry has a different reaction to the Weinstein case and #MeToo movement. Austrian film director Michael Haneke told the Kurier, an Austrian newspaper, that “This new puritanism colored by a hatred of men, arriving on the heels of the #MeToo movement, worries me.” Haneke also added that this can become a fight against nudity and eroticism in movies. French actress Catherine Deneuve agrees with Haneke, saying that harassment is not a crime.
“Europe doesn’t deal with the issues that America does. Europe has other problems to worry about,” says Glotov. “What Europeans see – is a dangerous and hateful environment that dominates the States. And for Haneke and others who commented, they commented not on the #MeToo itself, but on the extreme version of it. And Haneke sees the danger that may come from this ideology and warns about it”.
Sexual harassment is not the only problem excising in Hollywood right now. Equal pay and gender equality are being discussed since the 2000’s. In addition, there is a problem with the audience who are reacting negatively to movies with female-driven characters. The trailer of the new “Ghostbusters” (2016) movie by Paul Feig with main female characters became one of the most disliked videos on Youtube, while new “Ocean’s 8,” the reboot of the famous “Ocean’s Eleven” is one of the most disliked too.
But as with the #MeToo situation, Glotov does not think that there is any problem with female characters’ appreciation today: “There is no big negative reaction to films with main female characters. No one rioted because of Shape of Water. People did not tweet criticism towards the main character of Lady Bird. What triggers a reaction is when Hollywood shows on a large scale how politically correct they are.”
Glotov also mentions the “Wonder Woman” movie, saying that there is nothing wrong with the female characters at all. “People love Wonder Woman as a character. But once they started to make a promotional campaign that focused on the gender of the director, main hero and target audience, it didn’t go unnoticed. That was strongly criticized because to be a feminist and to pose as a feminist are two different things.”
“This movement contributed to the normalization of the discussions of sexual violence in public space which should serve as a starting point for changing many things in this matter,” says Sonya Vasenkina, a YouTube blogger who is trying to create Russian-language space in which the audience can discuss issues of sexuality and gender. “This movement contributed to the normalization of the discussions of sexual violence in public space which should serve as a starting point for changing many things in this matter. This is positive because now not only sociologists are talking about these things quite seriously.”
Vasenkina adds that gender inequality has been an ongoing problem and it is difficult to change it immediately. “Some people are just successfully living in a bubble, especially men, and in many ways this bubble is supported by women who prefer to keep silent systematically,” says Vasenkina. “It is difficult to talk about similar things, especially in conditions when the public space is not adapted to processing such information.”
Post-soviet Union countries, such as Russia, have a quite radical position to the #MeToo movement and the Weinstein case itself. Many Russian actors and actresses told to Russian website “Meduza” that they are supporting Weinstein and do not see anything bad in his actions. “Unfortunately, Russia has a strong case of gender inequality. In patriarchal Russian society women are seen as a sort of appendage to men,” says Glotov. He supposed that this mindset is supported by the government and the Russian Orthodox Church. “The media in any country plays a big role in shaping public opinion, and if we are speaking about Russian media, sexual violence against women appears in a very categorical light and often not in favor of women,” Vasenkina adds.