New video shows Weinstein in another sexual assault scandal
It seems as if the Harvey Weinstein scandal is a never-ending timeline. Earlier this week, this footage was released by Melissa Thompson, one of three women currently suing Weinstein for sexual assault in New York. Thompson supposedly made the recording to demonstrate video technology for the Hollywood producer in 2011.
Right off the bat, Weinstein refuses to shake hands with Thompson and proceeds to hug her and rub her back. Throughout the video Weinstein made inappropriate, unprofessional, and unsolicited comments like “let me have a part of you. Can you give it to me”?
Thompson says Weinstein agreed to use the technology for his film promotions, and would then put his hand up her dress. The video does not show this scene clearly, but we hear Thompson uncomfortably spurt out “that’s too high. Too high”.
According to Thompsons account of the events, she later met with Weinstein at a nearby hotel bar where she expected to close the deal they had discussed earlier that day. Weinstein instead led her to a hotel room and raped her. Any attempts to fight off his advances were met with strong resistance from the hefty movie producer.
Thompson told Sky News that she ‘constantly felt trapped’ by Weinstein’s advances and that no woman should have to go through such an ordeal at a business meeting.
Weinstein’s legal team claims she was ‘asking for it’
Of course, this testimony has not occurred without resistance from Weinstein and his legal team. The video reported on Sky news only shows a portion of the video and according to Ben Brafman, Weinstein’s personal attorney, the full video “demonstrates that there is nothing forceful” and “casual, if not awkward, flirting from both parties”.
According to Weinstein’s support staff any attempt to imply otherwise is an attempt to defame and discredit Weinstein in order for Thompson to extort financial gain out of an otherwise consensual encounter.
Weinstein’s legal team are not alone in their assessment of the video. Much of the public who have seen the video have backed up these claims that Thompson was ‘asking for it’ and that she reciprocated his advances in order to further her business objectives.
However, this is a poor interpretation of these events and Michelle Thompson herself has directly rejected these claims. In an environment in which she was marketing a business product, she would have been inclined not to directly offend or spurn Weinstein.
According to her testimony, she repeatedly attempted to bring the attention back to her start-up initiative and away from Weinstein’s perverse sexual objectives. Oftentimes, in the business world and the film industry specifically, women are made to feel as if they must deem such advancements as acceptable to succeed in their careers.
Weinstein’s attitude endemic of a problematic Hollywood culture
Thompson’s case seems like many others that have been brought into light during the Weinstein scandal and #metoo movement. Following a New York Times piece in October of 2017, in which two actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, previously hidden scandals began to come out. They claimed that he would forcefully request his female employees to massage them and on numerous occasions promised to advance their careers in return for sex.
Suddenly, reports starting pouring in from other Hollywood celebrities backing up these claims to stand in solidarity with these actresses.
Blockbuster actresses such as Angelina Jolie and Gwenyth Paltrow also claimed they were harassed by Weinstein early in their careers when they were still new in the film industry. In total, 87 women made claims of rape, assault, or harassment against the Hollywood film producer.
Based on the numerous reports from actors, actresses, and directors, it seems clear that the Hollywood community knew about this. At the 2013 Oscars, Seth Macfarlane even made a small quip about it that in retrospect seems far less amusing.
The #metoo movement has aimed to rid Hollywood of this endemic ‘casting culture’ which views sex as a transactional service which women must take advantage of to get ahead. Many say these women consented and reciprocated to his advances and this clears him of any possible nefarious activity.
However, due to Weinstein’s position of power over them, such reciprocation has clearly come under circumstances that could indicate pressure or duress, clearly nullifying any claims of consent.
This encounter caught on tape is just another drop in a massive ocean of scandals against Weinstein that will continue to spread light on the issue of sexual assault in the film industry and the workplace at large.