Looking back, the headline couldn’t do the story justice. On Thursday, October 5, 2017, the New York Times published what would become a Pulitzer Prize-winning expose from journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey: “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades.” Scores of Weinstein’s misdeeds were recounted in just over 3,500 words, centered around decades of alleged sexual harassment and abuse. Fallout was swift: Within a week, Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company, Ronan Farrow published his own expose in The New Yorker, scores of other victims came forward with their stories of alleged Weinstein sex crimes, and Weinstein became a Hollywood pariah.
A year after the Weinstein story broke, the conversation has extended well into Hollywood and beyond. Countless other powerful and famous men have been felled by accusations, victims and advocates have bonded together in hopes of evolution and healing, and the industry has attempted to keep up with seismic change. But what exactly has changed over the course a single year?
1. The Many Lawsuits of Harvey Weinstein
From Matt Lauer to Louis C.K., Charlie Rose to Les Moonves, most accused perpetrators have only suffered personal and professional upheavals. However, Weinstein’s crimes brought the former TWC head to the courtroom. In May, he turned himself into Manhattan police and was then almost immediately taken to the Manhattan location of the New York State Supreme Court to face charges of rape, a criminal sex act, sex abuse, and sexual misconduct before Judge Kevin McGrath. As of this writing, he’s still out on bail and awaiting trial.
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The New York case is just one of many facing Weinstein. After being accused by over 100 women of various crimes related to sexual misconduct, Weinstein is the subject of a federal investigation, along with investigations in Los Angeles and London. A frequent criticism of the #MeToo movement is that it’s nothing more than a witch hunt, one that doesn’t include due process or literal justice, so it’s remarkable that the man whose alleged misdeeds helped push that same movement forward is the one who has faced the most visible legal fallout.
2. The Rise of #MeToo and Time’s Up
Tarana Burke launched #MeToo in 2006 to promote “empowerment through empathy” among victims of sexual abuse, particularly women of color. However, the past year saw her profile and her hashtag skyrocket. Burke stepped up to the task of leading a sea change: A fixture at conferences and panels, Burke and her ideas remain steadfast. She just wants people to be heard, she just wants people to talk. When she appeared on “The Daily Show” in May, Burke was clear about what #MeToo means: “I think that we have seen a culture starting to move in a different direction, but a true culture shift won’t happen until we are resocialized about how we think about sexual violence, and how we engage with each other, and how we talk to each other.”
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On January 1, Hollywood insiders like Kerry Washington, Natalie Portman, Brie Larson, Ashley Judd, Reese Witherspoon, announced the formation of Time’s Up, an initiative created “to fight sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond.” Aided by major star power and a Golden Globes coming-out party, the Time’s Up movement has, become a crucial part of the conversation. Its legal defense fund has already raised over $22 million to help victims in need of financial support.
3. Inclusion Riders, Pay Equity, Gender Parity, and More
Time’s Up and #MeToo helped proliferate other movements dedicated to pushing forward an industry that is diverse, equality-driven, and rooted in professional behavior. This drew attention to hot-button subjects such as inclusion riders (thanks, Frances McDormand), pay equity, gender parity both in front of and behind the camera, trans representation, and beyond.
Of course, the real work hinges on the actions, initiatives, and directives that create change. “We don’t really want panels about this, we want policy, right?” actress Tessa Thompson said at a Sundance event in January. “This is useful insofar as it gives us a space to get on the same page, to be able to look across the room at our allies who are like-minded… When we talk about the real change that needs to happen on a studio level, to really create some change in our industry, and in the kind of stories that are told and celebrated, that’s kind of what we need to do, right? That’s what these spaces are useful for.”
4. The Fall of So Many Men…
The list of post-Weinstein downfalls also includes Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Jeffrey Tambor, Brett Ratner, John Lasseter, Woody Allen, Aziz Ansari, Ryan Seacrest, Al Franken, Chris Hardwick, James Franco, Matthew Weiner, and more. Stories of Hollywood player-predators are no longer unusual, but that’s a kind of victory in itself: People are less afraid to blow the whistle, and have more faith that they will be heard.
5. … and the Attempted Comeback
In recent months, some of the biggest names have already attempted comebacks, from Louis C.K. and his Comedy Cellar appearances to Charlie Rose stumping for a new television gig. It doesn’t have to be that way. As Jane Fonda memorably said last month: “It doesn’t matter if it’s two weeks or a year or two years, it depends on what kind of changes they’ve gone through. And if they haven’t gone through the changes, then why should they come back? Why not be doing the same things that the guys who’ve lost their union jobs in Pennsylvania do? Work at Starbucks, fuck it! ‘Oh, poor top-paid executive can’t get his job back,’ fuck it! Go work at Starbucks until you’ve learned. If you can’t learn, you don’t belong in the boardroom, there’s plenty of women who do belong in the boardroom.”