Harvey Weinstein Fired For Sexual Harassment: Using Jay Z As A Shield Didn’t Work

Written by Dana Sanchez

One of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein isn’t the first prominent movie executive to promise stardom to vulnerable women in exchange for sexual favors.

“Casting couch” violations have been ongoing against women since there was a Hollywood.

Weinstein — “a producer known for shaping American film and championing liberal,” according to The New York Times, was fired Sunday from the Weinstein Company amid allegations of decades of alleged sexual harassment.

The allegations involved actresses and former employees of the Weinstein Company as well as Miramax, a previous company that Weinstein and his brother founded.

The firing followed new allegations of harassment which came to light in the last few days, The Times reported. The Weinstein Company has an all-male board of directors. Board member Paul Tudor Jones resigned on Saturday.

Weinstein’s response has swung “wildly between contrition and attack” since a New York Times investigative report revealed allegations of sexual harassment and payoffs over decades.

On Thursday, he acknowledged that “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a
lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it,” while likening his personal flaws to those of the rapper Jay-Z, who apologized on his most recent album to his wife, Beyoncé, for cheating on her. Weinstein said he was planning to get help, but within hours, he had threatened to sue The Times for defamation. And in her own statement released on Thursday, (Weinstein attorney Lisa Bloom) said he “denies many of the accusations as patently false.”

Weinstein may be the first Hollywood executive who tried to invoke the lyrics of a hip-hop artist to try and save himself.

In his statement, he paraphrased lyrics from a song on Jay Z’s “4:44” album, as if his audience would be able to relate and accept his explanation. Weinstein and Jay Z are business partners but misquoting the musician’s words went over with a hollow thud. It didn’t work, wrote Spencer Kornhaber in The Atlantic:

“(Jay Z’s) lyrics are one man’s apology to his wife for breaking her heart, to a specific group of women for using them, and to no one else. The listener might relate to the betrayal, the intimacy, and the regret on display, but certain lines just aren’t for the taking … (Jay Z) blames his infidelity squarely on something broken inside of him: “I apologize to all the women whom I toyed with your emotions / ‘Cause I was emotionless.”

Weinstein, on the other hand, blamed his behavior in part on his generation.

“I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”

Jay Z’s art came from a place of vulnerability, Kornhaber said:

Maybe the rapper even gave his blessing to apply his example to the situation. But “4:44” is a highly personal song that indicts the self rather than a culture or “generation,” and Weinstein betrays it by using it as a form of inoculation—as a way to shrug and suggest who among us? That he had to gin up a quote to fit his needs confirms that art this vulnerable makes a poor shield.

Weinstein is now in the company of alleged sexual harassers and abusers including Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes, among many others, who use their power against those who have none. “That’s how this whole awful thing works,” Kalli Holloway wrote in AlterNet.

However Hollywood tends to be forgiving, Holloway said:

“Mel Gibson is on the up-and-up these days and the Golden Globes gave Woody Allen a Lifetime Achievement Award just three years ago. Fox News fired Bill O’Reilly six months ago and then welcomed him back last month like an esteemed honoree at a medal ceremony.”