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The Integrity Of Harvey Weinstein’s Work

Purge him from the film industry for his sins? Fine. But we do not have the right to deny his artistic achievements
The Integrity Of Harvey Weinstein’s Work

Look, I think it is a very good thing that film producer Harvey Weinstein is getting his comeuppance for the way he treated women over the course of his career. But this is outrageous:

On the heels of Harvey Weinstein’s ouster from The Weinstein Company, his name is being removed from all of the company’s TV series, on which he had served as an executive producer, sources told Deadline. The same step is expected to be taken on movie releases. Additionally, we hear TWC brass are auditioning ad agencies today that will be tasked with finding a new name for the overall production and distribution company.

We hear TWC has been making calls to TV networks and producers informing them that Harvey Weinstein’s name will be scrubbed from credits going forward. They were prompted by strong reaction from TV executives and creative auspices involved in TWC series who practically demanded the name removal as they wanted to distance their projects from Weinstein following the New York Times‘ devastating Thursday expose detailing decades of sexual harassment behavior. That report has been exacerbated by numerous subsequent accounts by women who have come out in the past couple of days.

Notice that this purge of the historical memory of Harvey Weinstein is being pushed by the leadership of his own company. Former company. Still, it is disgusting, and frightening. Harvey Weinstein was and is a bad man, but as a producer, he also happens to be an extraordinarily gifted maker of films. Weinstein’s work must be judged on its own merits. If we were to start deciding on the merits of artworks based on the personal sins and failings of artists, our museums, theaters, concert halls, libraries, and record collections would empty out.

This is Stalinist. Fine, take away Harvey Weinstein’s power, take away his good name, take all that away. He deserves it. He brought this onto himself. But it is very, very wrong to deny the good work that he did, and to make him professionally a non-person. Artists are very rarely saints, but that does not compromise the worth of the work that they do. Purging his name from the artistic record is an injustice not simply to Harvey Weinstein, but to the truth. We cannot allow ourselves to get into the habit of lying about history for moral reasons. This is corrupt. Yes, this involves standing up for Harvey Weinstein, but more than that, it involves standing up for the truth.

When I was a film critic, many of the best films of any given year came from Miramax, the company Harvey Weinstein co-founded. Again, Harvey is manifestly a wicked man, but he was extraordinarily good at his work, and that should not be forgotten.  It doesn’t redeem him morally, but it remains true nonetheless.




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