Sexual Misconduct and the Fall of Hollywood Essay

  • Last Edited: February 13, 2018
sexual misconduct and the fall of hollywood essay

Opening

In this essay about Sexual Misconduct and the Fall of Hollywood, we examine how the allegations of sexual impropriety by some of Hollywood’s power players has led to a major shake-up in the entertainment industry.  This essay will contain a list of some of the Hollywood players accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault, the allegations against them, and at least partial lists of their known accusers.  The essay will also delve into an examination of the casting couch phenomenon.  Although these sexual misconduct allegations may have come as a surprise to much of middle America, there is substantial evidence that many of Hollywood’s rich and powerful were well aware of the sexual abuse and failed to use their positions to protect the vulnerable.  This example essay will show how these allegations are changing perceptions of people in Hollywood and challenging what people think they know about their favorite movie starts.  The essay will also examine some of the consequences of these allegations; while sexual assault allegations were not enough to keep Trump from gaining power and have not previously resulted in shakeups in Hollywood, this new round of allegations has resulted in some significant changes.  Our example essay will not only explain what the current allegations are and how they have impacted the structure of Hollywood, but also delve into a discussion of why these changes may be occurring.  In addition to providing details about the fall of Hollywood, our example essay will show you how to write each part of an essay: introduction, thesis statement, and body paragraphs that combine evidence and analysis.  The essay will conclude with a review of the information presented in the essay and suggestions for further research.

Titles

The End of the Casting Couch: Do the Weinstein Revelations Have Hidden Silver Lining

Sexual Predators: What Drives Men to Prey on the Powerless

Can a Good Guy be a Sexual Predator: Reconciling Harvey Weinstein’s Public Role with His Private Behavior?

Hollywood’s Sexual Harassment Scandal Highlights How Power Plays a Critical Role in Sexual Harassment

Related Topics

The Sexual Assault Allegations Against President Trump- The current President of the United States, Donald Trump, has had a number of sexual assault allegations levied against him.  These allegations began long before he ran for President, and, among his accusers if his first wife Ivana Trump, who wrote about a rape in her memoir, but refused to call it a rape during Trump’s campaign for President.  Trump currently faces trial in a civil lawsuit alleging he raped a child.

Bill Cosby the Rapist?  Bill Cosby was one of the most beloved comics and television personalities in American history.  Though the height of his fame was the 1980s, he was a cultural constant from the 1960s to the 2000s.  Women came forward accusing him of sexual assault during that time period, but their allegations were treated as if they were spurious.  However, the more women came forward, the more it seemed clear that women were alleging a very distinct behavior pattern in which Cosby would first drug and then sexually assault them.  Cosby eventually faced potential civil legal consequences for his actions, though he was never criminally charged with rape.

Roy Moore- The Alabama GOP’s 2017 candidate for Senate has a long history of inappropriately sexual behavior towards young girls.  Though Moore has denied any illegal behavior, he has not denied attempting to date or have sex with teenagers while he was an adult male.  Moreover, this behavior seems to have been well-known in his area and was so pervasive that Moore was actually banned from some public places because of his behavior towards young girls.  What is most amazing is that, while the national GOP has asked for Moore to step down from the race, his base does not seem to find these allegations sufficiently disturbing.  Instead, they suggest that, even if the allegations against Moore are true, he is still better than a Democrat.  In fact, some of his supporters, including some prominent religious figures, have gone on record to support Moore’s behavior of seeking out teenagers as romantic partners.

Outline

I.  Introduction

II.  Body

A.  Background

B.  Allegations against Weinstein

C.  Allegations against others

III.  Conclusion

Introduction

Everybody has heard the terms “casting couch.”  While it is one of those terms that people associate with old Hollywood, it is also a term that most people probably have not spent much time contemplating.  In fact, many people probably viewed it as a way for women to use their sexuality in order to give themselves an advantage over their competition when looking for film roles.  However, what many people do not realize is that the casting couch never was a way for aspiring female stars to try to monetize their sexuality and use it as leverage to get better positions.  Instead, the casting couch was a euphemism for a system that systemically exploited vulnerable actors, male and female.  While producers and directors often used their power to sexually harass victims, knowing that they would fear reprisal, they also used it both to get the opportunity to commit sexual assaults and as a way to prevent victims from reporting those assaults.  Most people outside of Hollywood seemed to believe that this practice had ended after the days of the old big studios, but recent revelations have demonstrated that the problem of pervasive and persistent sexual harassment and assault by some of Hollywood’s most powerful people has continued well into modern times.

Essay Hook

While accusations of rape against high-profile men were, until extremely recently, treated with skepticism, the overwhelming number of accusations against Harvey Weinstein and other figures in Hollywood has lent credibility to accuser’s claims.

Thesis Statement

A change in how accusers are viewed could lead to a revolution in how sexual harassment and sexual assault are treated, bringing more victims forward, and helping stop serial predators in all walks of life.

Body

Background

When one examines figures about sexual harassment and sexual assault, the numbers tell a terrifying story.  Approximately 9 in 10 rape victims is a woman, and 1 in 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape during her lifetime (RAINN 2017).  Moreover, 12% of these assaults occur in the workplace, though sexual assault is merely one end of the continuum of sexual harassment that many women report as part of their working or personal lives (RAINN 2017).  There have not been any definitive studies on sexual harassment, though the recent resurgence of the #MeToo campaign, wherein women showed solidarity as survivors of sexual assault and harassment made it very clear that many, if not most, women have experienced some type of sexual harassment during their lifetimes.

Despite those figures, Hollywood has been oddly silent on the issue of sexual harassment and assault.  While both play some role in plot lines in movies, very few celebrities have historically used their positions to speak out about their own experiences as victims.  Moreover, when Hollywood has made efforts to bring attention to sexual violence, such as Ashton Kutcher’s involvement in anti-trafficking efforts, the spotlight has always been focused outside of the Hollywood sphere.  In fact, when actors have spoken up about being victimized because of their livelihood, there has been a surprising lack of meaningful negative response by the American public.  Corey Feldman not only stated that he had been abused as a child, but also that his fellow child star Corey Haim had been victimized by a well-known actor, and he was treated like a crackpot for making those allegations.  The director of The Last Tango in Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci was so open about sexually assault being something that actresses deserved that he gave interviews about directing Marlon Brando to actually sexually assault Maria Schneider during the film because he wanted to capture her actual humiliation and rage, not acting (Curtis 2016).  Numerous female actors apparently made allegations against Weinstein prior to the newest wave of allegations, and numerous powerful male actors were aware of the allegations, but they went without consequences for decades.  While Hollywood may have been willing to cast an occasional spotlight on sexual violence outside of the industry, they were collectively unwilling to really investigate it within the industry.

Harvey Weinstein

It is difficult to say what changed.  It would be easy to suggest that no one knew about Harvey Weinstein because his victims had never come forward.  However, that is not true.  Several of his victims had actually filed lawsuits against him.  In addition, his sexual predator behaviors were so well known that they were punchlines by different comedians at different points in time.  However, on Thursday, October 5, 2017, The New York Times published a story detailed decades of allegations of sexual harassment.  Two well-known actresses, Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd were among the accusers. The assaults described seem to form a well-established pattern.  Weinstein would often invite actresses to a hotel room under the pretense of discussing a film, they would find him in his bathroom, he would ask for a massage or ask to massage them, and he would offer to advance their careers in exchange for sex.  Some allegations went even further, alleging that Weinstein raped them.

Initially Weinstein appears to be preparing to dispute the allegations.  His publicist announces that Weinstein intends to sue The New York Times and disputes that any sexual harassment occurred, while, at the same time issuing an apology.  Weinstein’s lawyer resigns and Weinstein is fired by the board of the company he founded, after announcing that he intends to seek counseling.  However, the allegations against Weinstein continue to mount.  On Tuesday October 10th, The New Yorker magazine publishes allegations by 13 more women, including three accusations of rape by non-famous actresses (BBC News 2017).  Weinstein continues to deny allegations of non-consensual sex. However, both Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie come forward to say that they are among Weinstein’s harassment victims.  Cara Delevigne joins the ranks of women to accuse Weinstein of harassment, later followed by Rose McGowan coming out on Twitter on October 12th with allegations that Weinstein raped her.

[ Harvey Weinstein – Hollywood ]

The Twitter allegations were an interesting point in the scandal.  After Rose McGowan made the allegations, the actor Ben Affleck tweeted at her, ostensibly in support.  McGowan’s response was a profane one, based on her belief that Affleck was well aware of Weinstein’s behavior and had failed to use his dual positions of power, both as a man and as a Hollywood A lister to put a stop to that behavior.  The resulting dust-up had people outraged that Twitter was seemingly using its power to silence a woman coming forward about her sexual assault, but not men who admit to having committed sexual assault or men who allegedly knew that assaults were occurring and did nothing to try to prevent them.

While police in the UK and the United States began investigating several of the sexual assault allegations against Weinstein, powerful Hollywood players began to respond to the allegations.  Most people condemned Weinstein, but claimed to be ignorant of the allegations against him.  However, others showed knowledge and silence, which has been interpreted, by many, to be complicity.  For example, Brad Pitt, who was dating a young Gwyneth Paltrow, apparently confronted the director over his sexual harassment of Paltrow.  While Pitt was not yet an A-list celebrity, he would become one, and never used his position to denounce Weinstein, even though the woman he would eventually marry, Angelina Jolie, was one of Weinstein’s victims.  Likewise, Quentin Tarantino, a frequent creative collaborator of Weinstein’s publicly admitted that he knew about Weinstein’s misconduct for years, stating specifically, “I knew enough to do more than I did” (BBC News 2017).  Perhaps most telling is Tom Hanks, who has a reputation in Hollywood as a truly nice guy, came forward to call Weinstein on the carpet, making it clear that he would not let Weinstein use his age as an excuse for the behavior. Furthermore, a number of professional organizations took unprecedented steps against Weinstein.  The Oscars, the Producers Guild of America, and the Television Academy, among others, take steps to expel Weinstein.  Whatever had permitted Weinstein to sexually harass and sexually assault women for years, with absolute impunity, had changed and Weinstein was finally being held accountable for his conduct.

Other Accusations

What even more interesting is that, once it became clear that the public was taking the accusations against Weinstein seriously and not engaging in the wide scale victim-blaming that usually accompanies sexual assault allegations against wealthy and powerful men, other Hollywood actors began to come forward about their experiences with sexual assault and sexual harassment.  This growing list of accusations has taken down another Hollywood icon and a respected TV news personality, touched on a Senator, and perhaps brought peace to some child victims.

After Weinstein, the most notorious sexual predator in modern-day Hollywood may be Kevin Spacey.  Notoriously quiet about his personal life, very little was known about Kevin Spacey until October 29th, when Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making sexual advances towards him that included substantial physical contact when Spacey was an adult and Rapp was a 14-year old child.  Spacey came forward with a statement that he did not remember the incident, but apologizing for it.  However, the first allegation was only one of many.  Soon, more than a dozen people had made allegations against Spacey that ranged from inappropriate sexual behavior to sexual assaults.  Netflix and many of Spacey’s other business associates severed ties with him almost immediately, a very different response than one might have predicted had these allegations surfaced before the Weinstein scandal.

Another prominent Hollywood figure, the newsman Charlie Rose, soon faced his own storm of sexual harassment allegations.  These allegations included nudity, groping, and lewd phone calls, though no rape claims have been made.  Like other accused males, Rose did not seem willing to take responsibility for his behavior, issuing an apology that seemed to suggest he was sorry if they were offended, but not sorry for his behaviors.

Of course, there were also two very unexpected men accused during this time period.  Senator Al Franken, a former comedian, was accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by Leanna Tweeden.  There is even a photo of Franken grabbing Tweeden’s breasts while she appears to have been asleep.  However, the allegations against Franken have not had the same swell of support as allegations against other famous figures.  The person who photographed Franken groping Tweeden says that she was not asleep, but in on the joke. In addition, even Tweeden acknowledges that the forcible kiss she alleges occurred during rehearsals where a kiss was part of the script.  That allegation, and the knowledge that Tweeden is politically against Franken, has left people wondering if what Tweeden says is true.

If the allegations against Franken left people uncomfortable, sexual harassment allegations against George Takei left people both baffled and outraged.  Interestingly enough, Takei took a stance absolutely denying that he ever engaged in the behavior described, and no more accusers have come forward.  Is this a man standing up against false claims?  Some think so, especially because Takei has transitioned from actor to an outspoken liberal political activist.  On the other hand, many people fear that by not taking Takei’s accuser at his word, they are perpetuating the blame-the-victim approach that has permeated American culture for years.

While it may be impossible to ever answer whether some people are jumping on a bandwagon for personal gain, it is clear that the revelation of these sexual predators in Hollywood has had some positive results for victims.  Corey Feldman found the courage to name Corey Haim’s alleged abuser, Charlie Sheen, and his own claims about sexual assault area actually being investigated.  After the actor Anthony Edwards came forward to describe his own sexual abuse as a child, his alleged abuser, Gary Goddard, was forced to resign.  While these remedies may be too little, too late, they could just as easily prove to be necessary steps to healing for the victims.

Matt Lauer, a popular news anchor from The Today Show (NBC morning news program) was the latest casualty on the movement to rid mainstream media of sexual impropriety towards women.  He was fired from the popular morning talk show on 11/29/2017.  He is being accused of exposing himself, sending lewd pictures and text messages to an intern during the Olympics, engaging in sexual assault with a married woman in his office, and gifting sex toys, with provocative messages, to various NBC employees.

Matt Lauer of Today Show

[ Matt Lauer of The Today Show ]

Conclusion

Sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood has a long and sordid history.  Traditionally, a very small group of wealthy and powerful men has held decision-making authority over most of the industry.  Therefore, they have had access to vulnerable people and the clout to make allegations of misconduct go away, either by settling legal claims or by literally driving accusers out of the business.  Though once dismissed as the “casting couch” and treated in a way suggesting that the victims were complicit, these serial predators are finally being held accountable for their behaviors.  Given that the trend is spreading to predators outside of Hollywood, there is some hope that the fall of Hollywood will leave rise to an era of enlightenment that encourages victims to come forward and believes people when they make sexual harassment or assault allegations.  However, given that a repeatedly accused child predator, Roy Moore, is the GOP Senate candidate for Alabama at the time this paper is finished, it may be that spotlighting Hollywood sexual misconduct means other sexual misconduct will continue to flourish in the dark.

Works Cited

BBC News.  “Harvey Weinstein Timeline: How the Scandal Unfolded.”  BBC News, 28 November 2017.  http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41594672.  Accessed 28 November 2017.

Curtis, Joseph.  “Last Tango in Paris Director in ‘Non-Consensual’ Rape Scene Row Says Actress Did Know How Violent Scene Would Be- but Didn’t Know Brando Would Use Butter.” Daily Mail, 5 December 2016.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4002550/Last-Tango-Paris-director-non-consensual-rape-scene-row-says-actress-DID-know-violent-scene-didn-t-know-Brando-use-butter.html.  Accessed 28 November 2017.

RAINN.  “Scope of the Problem: Statistics.”  https://www.rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem.  Accessed 28 November 2017.

Closing

After reading this Fall of Hollywood example essay, hopefully you have a better understanding of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein and other powerful men in Hollywood.  In addition, we hope you understand better how to write an expository or informative essay.  Given that there have been daily updates about famous sexual predators, this is a subject that is constantly changing and cannot be fully addressed in a sample academic paper.  However, by choosing to highlight certain elements of the scandal, we hope you can learn how to highlight selected parts of complex topics.  If you have any questions about how to handle a complex, multi-faceted, and ever-evolving topic, we would be happy to help.

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