Karishma Singh ’18

Harvey Weinstein has been making headlines for the past few weeks, but this time not for his latest blockbuster. On October 3, an exposé was published by Ronan Farrow in the American Magazine, The New Yorker that detailed the sexual harassment and assault claims against Weinstein made by multiple women, a list which has since grown, and includes some well renowned actresses. This revelation came as a huge disappointment and shock to his many fans.

Weinstein was the co-founder and chairman of the New York founded film studio, The Weinstein Company, a position from which he has since been fired, as well as the co-founder of the production company Miramax. His successful career has garnered him many Tony awards as well as an Oscar. Not only has he been beloved by fans of his films and shows, but a number of A-list celebrities have also praised him endlessly, so much so that he is the second most thanked person in the history of Academy Award speeches.

As disappointing as these allegations are, it is far from the first time this type of situation has emerged regarding a powerful man in the entertainment industry. Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and Chris Brown are amongst the many male celebrities who have had abuse or sexual assault claims made against them.

As our society continues to become more aware, we are often faced with the moral quandary: If we disagree with an artist’s actions, choices, or beliefs, can we still admire or even support what they create? Understandably, this is a topic that our generation of hyper-political correctness struggles with, as criticism is catalyzed by everything from our clothes, to our beliefs, to whom we show support. The dilemma has spurred copious podcasts and conversations, yet there is still no clear answer.

It is tricky to come to a consensus, and even trickier to distinguish when support is morally wrong, and when it is independent of the actions of the person we support. There are some individuals and companies whom, by supporting what they do, we are supporting what many consider to be their misdeeds. For example, by buying food from Chick-fil-A, a company that donates to anti-gay organizations, we are indirectly donating to anti-gay organizations. When we buy the music of known abusers, we are giving them more monetary power little by little, song by song.

However, if we watch Pulp Fiction on netflix, we are not monetarily supporting Harvey Weinstein. Still, we are contributing to his cultural influence. As to whether or not this is unethical, there is no universal truth. While this is frustrating, it does give way for self reflection and a chance to figure out what you believe in and who you want to be, regardless of any rule dictated by society.   

My advice: Be informed. Every person is a brand and when we accept the place of these brands in our lives, we are supporting actions which we may not necessarily agree with. Know where you put your money, time, and attention. My hope is that there will come a time, and soon, when there is no need for these conversations, when rape culture is eradicated and powerful people use their platforms to better the world.

One Comment

  1. Tom MacFarlane

    I really appreciate you tackling this tough issue, Rishi. I am a believer Virginia Woolf’s idea that the lasting art is that which transcends the artist completely, where the artist gets out of the way. It’s idealistic I know but a useful gauge still of true creativity.

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