Campus discusses Hollywood’s history of sexual assault

by Editor-in-Chief Monday Sanderson

Sexual assault and sexual harassment occur every year. However, this year, several of the most-discussed cases are coming from Hollywood.

Since the allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein in October, the public is becoming aware of more high-profile instances in sexual assault and sexual harassment.

People are becoming tired of the system in Hollywood, said Jason Pangilinan, assistant professor of film and digital media production.

“You got this power structure that’s there, and this power structure feeds off the weakness of people,” he said. “That’s how this system works. Now we’re seeing people are done with (this). They want to change it, and they should. So, that’s what we’re getting to now.”

Pangilinan said the weakness the system is feeding on is people’s need for attention.

“All of us have the basic human condition to be recognized,” he said. “How you go about (it) is particular to the individual. Hence, some people gravitate toward this because you end up on the large screen all over the world, and you get the admiration of fans. For some people, that’s what they need, and the system knows it.”

Senior Karli Hill said these cases of sexual assault are not surprising.

“It wasn’t surprising because I had always heard about it,” she said. “No one really talked about it, but we all knew.”

Other Americans agree with Hill. Fifty-nine percent of the U.S. believe sexual assault is a large problem in the entertainment industry, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll.

However, only 1.61 percent of the 41,250 filed sexual assault cases came from the entertainment industry between 2005 and 2015, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Pangilinan said even though there are few cases filed, the knowledge of sexual assault in the industry is not shocking for people anymore.

“It’s what is known as the open secret,” he said. “You suspect it’s happening on a subconscious level, but you never think it’s your heroes. When you figure out that your heroes are trash, that’s what (is) shocking. Then, you hear about people like Matt Damon and George Clooney who know about the situation, but they didn’t say anything, but you perceive them to be good, stand-up guys based on the characters they play. They’re powerful, they’re in the business, and they can make a difference, but they don’t. Your heroes let you down.”

Pangilinan said Hollywood has been like this since the industry began.

“The system itself is sick,” he said. “For a long time, people have known. The idea of a casting coach is there in every industry. Obviously, it’s really prevalent in the entertainment industry, and it goes back to the beginnings of film.”

Pangilinan said these allegations will have long-lasting effect on Hollywood.

“Most of the people who have been accused will have their careers ended,” he said. “The culture, hopefully, will change. We’ll find more respectable people in posts of power who make decisions. Unfortunately, what will happen is that somebody who is innocent is going to get their career ruined.  I just feel sorry for that person it will happen to.”

Sophomore Jake Skinner said the allegations will not deter him from pursuing an acting career.

“I still want to work alongside people I’ve looked up to over the years,” he said. “Yes, there are bad ones out there that hide it, but not all of them are bad, and I can’t accuse them of being so.”