One thing is certain about Hollywood’s widening sexual harassment scandal — it’s only just begun.
It is not just about Harvey Weinstein. It didn’t begin with him. One wonders if his victims were emboldened by the falls of Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes at Fox News. And the suspension and then resignation of Amazon Studios chief Roy Price after he was accused of sexual harassment by a producer seems clearly related. I’ve met Price, and he didn’t make a favorable impression. But I didn’t have the slightest inkling he was capable of this.
Having covered TV for more than 27 years, I’m shocked but not surprised by what’s happened.
I’m not surprised that sexual harassment exists in Hollywood. We’ve all heard stories about it. Tales of women (and men) who had to sleep with someone to get parts are such a staple of TV and movies that they’ve become a cliché. And, perhaps, lessened the impact of the real-life stories.
But I’m shocked at the number of allegations against Weinstein. I’m shocked by the stories of brazen behavior of Weinstein, Price, O’Reilly and Ailes.
I’m horrified that this went on under my nose, including several years as an officer and president of the Television Critics Association.
Several years ago, a fellow TV critic told me — exasperation in her voice — that even though she had recently gotten engaged, she continued to get hit on by other male critics and by men we write about. I was alarmed. I said that if that happened again, she should tell me immediately and I would deal with it. Which was paternalistic. She is about the age of my daughters, and I responded like a father.
I should have done better. About the only thing I did right is I never questioned her story.
And I’m aghast at what happened to another fellow TV critic, Maureen Ryan of Variety, who wrote a column headlined “A TV Executive Sexually Assaulted Me.” Even if you feel overwhelmed by so many stories from so many women, this is worth reading. I’ve known Mo Ryan for years, and I had absolutely no idea. Much of it could have happened right in front of me — maybe it did — and I was oblivious. I should have done better.
These stories are not about me. They are not about men. Men need to listen and learn, however. There will be plenty of chances. A lot more stories are coming.
“Based on what I have experienced and what I have heard from countless friends and colleagues,” Ryan wrote, “there are men at many levels in this industry (and others) who abuse their power and break people. These men, at much lower levels than Weinstein, do this because they feel like it. They either don’t care about the consequences, which are unlikely to arrive in the vast majority of instances, or they want to see if they can get away with it. Very often, they do.”
I applaud women like Ryan, whose courage is helping to change that.