Academy and Twitter scramble as Weinstein fallout continues

The film organization recently expelled the former studio executive from its ranks, and the social media platform said it was ‘not doing enough’ to address abuse after many users boycotted.


As the Harvey Weinstein harassment fallout continues, several organizations are taking steps to cut ties—though some say not fast enough.

On Saturday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dropped Weinstein from its membership.

The Academy has issued a statement that distanced itself from the beleaguered studio executive and took a strong stance against sexual harassment:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors met today to discuss the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and has voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority to immediately expel him from the Academy.

We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.

What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.

Although many applauded the Academy’s decision to oust Weinstein, the move recalls similar instances that it opted not to address.

The Guardian reported:

In its 90-year history, the Academy has expelled only one other member, and only because 83-year-old Carmine Caridi, an actor, violated specific written rules about sharing screener copies of films in 2004. No member has been expelled for unethical or potentially criminal behavior, including figures such as Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and Mel Gibson, who have had high-profile sexual or domestic assault allegations made against them.

 

The Weinstein expulsion could prompt further moves by the Academy.

The New York Times reported:

Although largely symbolic, the ouster of Mr. Weinstein from the roughly 8,400-member academy is stunning because the organization is not known to have taken such action before — not when Roman Polanski, a member, pleaded guilty in a sex crime case involving a 13-year-old girl; not when women came forward to accuse Bill Cosby, a member, of sexual assault; and not when Mel Gibson went on anti-Semitic tirade during a drunken-driving arrest in 2006 or pleaded no contest to a charge of battery against an old girlfriend in 2011.

Now, the academy may be forced to contend with other problem members.

Scott Feinberg, the longtime awards columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, said, “This may well be the beginning of a very tough chapter for the academy. The next thing that is going to happen, rightly or wrongly, is that a wide variety of constituencies are going to demand that the academy similarly address other problematic members.”

The Academy is one of several organizations facing pressure to act as the allegations against Weinstein pile up—and backlash builds.

On Oct. 11, the British Academy of Film and Television suspended Weinstein’s membership. The organization published the following statement:

In light of recent very serious allegations, BAFTA has informed Harvey Weinstein that his membership has been suspended, effective immediately.

Whilst BAFTA has previously been a beneficiary of Mr Weinstein’s support for its charitable work, it considers the reported alleged behaviour completely unacceptable and incompatible with BAFTA’s values. This has led to Mr Weinstein’s suspension, and it will be followed by a formal process as laid out in BAFTA’s constitution.

We hope this announcement sends a clear message that such behaviour has absolutely no place in our industry.

BAFTA will continue to work with the film, games and television industries to improve access to rewarding and fulfilling careers in safe, professional working environments.

The New York Times reported:

The Producers Guild of America was also scheduled to meet on Saturday to discuss revoking Mr. Weinstein’s membership. Late Friday, the group abruptly moved the special meeting to Monday. Under that group’s bylaws, Mr. Weinstein will have two weeks to respond to any action. The same guild gave the Weinstein brothers its Milestone award in 2013, citing their “historic contributions to the entertainment industry.”

In a sign of the international nature of the condemnation of Mr. Weinstein, the French government on Saturday said it had started a process that could strip him of his Legion of Honor, the country’s highest civilian distinction; he received it in 2012. A government spokesman had said that France would wait for definitive legal action before considering such a move.

Twitter responds to boycott as many tweet stories of abuse

Backlash surrounding Weinstein’s crisis also sent Twitter scrambling.

HuffPost reported:

Women spent Friday actively boycotting Twitter in response to the temporary suspension of actress Rose McGowan’s account earlier this week. McGowan has spent the last week using the platform to criticize disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein, whom she has accused of rape. The suspension inspired women, and men, to stop using Twitter for the day in an act of defiance.

The hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter trended as both women and men refused to log on to the platform in protest. Others continued to tweet under the hashtag, accusing Twitter of double standards when it comes to enforcing its terms of service.

The hashtag also spawned other hashtags and keywords as people continued to speak out against sexual abuse, including #MeToo. (“Me, too” posts have proliferated on Facebook, as well.)

“As of Monday morning, more than 6 million Facebook users were “talking about” me too and the #metoo hashtag was trending on Twitter,” Fortune reported.

The BBC reported:

Although the #MeToo hashtag is trending worldwide – including in the UK, US, India and Pakistan – other hashtags are also being generated.

In France, Twitter users are using #balancetonporc or “rat on your dirty old man” to encourage women to name and shame their attackers, while #Womenwhoroar is another term being used to encourage victims of bullying or sexual abuse to speak up.

Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, responded to the boycott in a series of tweets admitting the platform wasn’t “doing enough” to combat abuse. Dorsey promised to introduce tougher rules along with taking a “more aggressive” stance on enforcing them:

Dorsey’s tweets were in addition to those sent by Twitter’s safety team the day prior, which addressed suspending McGowan’s account:

Dorsey retweeted the thread:

Though Twitter promised to improve, many users criticized the platform for not doing enough.

The Verge reported:

In the last year, Twitter has introduced some features that help filter abusive Tweets out of one’s replies, and the ability to block certain keywords. In July, the company said that its efforts have been working. Still, it doesn’t seem to go far enough, and in response to Dorsey’s Tweets, several users pointed out that Twitter has verified white supremacists such as Richard Spencer. Dorsey replied that Twitter is “reconsidering our verification policies,” but that it wasn’t as high a priority as enforcing their rules.

A spokesperson for Twitter said that they don’t have any comment beyond what Dorsey listed in his Tweets, but that more details would be forthcoming.

(Image by Peabody Awards via)

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