Writer and director Kevin Smith rose to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s thanks to his low-budget cult favourite films like Clerks, Clerks II, Chasing Amy, Jersey Girl, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. These films were produced by The Weinstein Company and Miramax, which was led by Smith’s former friend Harvey Weinstein.
In the wake of the ongoing scandal ripping through Hollywood, more women are stepping forward every day to share their stories of traumatizing sexual-harassment and assault at the hands of Harvey Weinstein. Smith, who says he was unaware of the assaults, is now taking responsibility for the role he feels he played in prolonging the career and the power position of Weinstein.
Speaking on his podcast Hollywood Babble-On this week (relevant segment begins around one hour, 25 minutes), Smith says the news of Weinstein’s assaults has cast a dark shadow over his own career. “My entire career is tied up with the man,” said Smith. “It’s been a weird f—ing week. I just wanted to make some f—ing movies, that’s it. That’s why I came, that’s why I made Clerks. And no f—ing movie is worth all this. Like, my entire career, fuck it, take it. It’s wrapped up in something really f–ing horrible.”
Recorded in front of a live audience, Smith became emotional when an audience member yelled that Weinstein’s assaults were not Smith’s fault. “I’m not looking for sympathy. I know it’s not my fault, but I didn’t f—ing help. Because I sat out there talking about this man like he was a hero, like he was my friend, like he was my father and shit like that, and he changed my f—ing life. And I showed other people, like, ‘You can dream, and you can make stuff, and this man will put it out.’ I was singing praises of somebody that I didn’t f—ing know. I didn’t know the man that they keep talking about in the press. Clearly he exists, but that man never showed himself to me. It all hurts, and it didn’t happen to me, but it all hurts.”
Smith, a lifelong feminist who famously cast Alanis Morissette in the role of God in his film Dogma, repeated throughout the taping that the shame he now feels is nothing in comparison to the pain of the women Weinstein assaulted.
A small number of men who had interactions with or worked for Weinstein, including Seth Rogen and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg, have admitted they were aware of the rumors of Weinstein’s abuse of power, though they did not know how far the assaults were taken. While many members of the Hollywood elite have apologized for their lack of awareness, Smith is actually doing something about his unintentional complicity.
In an effort to make amends for the role he played in Weinstein’s success, Smith has promised to donate all future residuals from his Weinstein-produced films to Women In Film, a nonprofit organization that promotes women in film. Smith has also promised to donate $2000 per month of his own money to the organization for the rest of his life.
Smith isn’t the only person in Hollywood making financial amends for the actions of others. Actor Griffin Newman, who has a small role in an upcoming Woody Allen film, is donating his paycheck from the film to RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization.
I need to get this off my chest:
– I worked on Woody Allen’s next movie.
– I believe he is guilty.
– I donated my entire salary to RAINN.
— Griffin Newman (@GriffLightning) October 14, 2017
Let’s hope more of Hollywood takes their cues from Smith and Newman and makes substantial efforts to help victims and bring balance to gender inequality in the film and TV industry.