Over the past 18 months, Charlotte Kirk, a low-profile 28-year-old British actress, has taken down not one but two media moguls—former Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara and former NBCUniversal vice chair Ron Meyer—in dual sex scandals that are still rocking Hollywood. Though her case has generated international coverage, Kirk herself has remained silent, muzzled by an NDA that a California court may well overturn on Thursday in a ruling that could have far-reaching repercussions on the right of sexual harassment victims to speak out. But Rose McGowan, the 47-year-old activist who helped take down Harvey Weinstein and ushered in the #MeToo movement, has never had any trouble saying what’s on her mind. McGowan writes that her experiences in Hollywood have given her a bit of insight into Charlotte’s plight and the men who “lie about their deeds and actions and then turn around and lie about their evil behavior.”
I have never met Charlotte Kirk. I’ve never spoken to her. But after reading the countless articles written about her story, my heart broke.
In many media accounts Charlotte has been painted as a crafty and seductive young woman who lured and fooled her powerful suitors. The way they’ve been portraying her, basically branding her an unstable whore who is just out for money, is the very same thing the U.S. media machine did to me on the orders of Harvey Weinstein, when stories about his assault on me first began to emerge. Back then, an L.A.-based “crisis PR” firm named Sitrick Communications led Weinstein’s massive campaign against me. Now a new posse of powerful men—and their PR crisis managers—seem to be using the same playbook in their campaign to tar Charlotte. I refused to sign an NDA but Charlotte reportedly signed one under heavy pressure. She has no way of defending herself against a growing and relentless spin campaign.
It’s easy to see what happened to her. She was a young girl living a normal life who all of a sudden found herself on yachts with billionaires—how could that not fuel her dreams? But those dreams quickly turned into a nightmare. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk’s friends charged that a posse of powerful Hollywood men—[producer] James Packer, [director] Brett Ratner, and [former Warner chief] Kevin Tsujihara—traded Charlotte like a party favor as a way of closing a $450 million production deal. If true, those are very serious and horrifying allegations. [All three men vehemently deny the allegations.] Profiting off someone else’s body is generally considered to be human trafficking, even if the people who are allegedly profiting are media titans rather than low-life pimps. To add insult to injury, someone anonymously released a batch of text messages between Kirk and her alleged assailants. The men’s defenders took Charlotte’s text messages and spun them to their own advantage. It’s the same old story that’s been going on in Hollywood since day one. They always use the same party line to destroy the women that they’ve hurt. “She’s insane. She’s on drugs. She’s a whore.”
What a load of horse shit.
The thing is, this isn’t one isolated incident. It’s not a onetime event. Beautiful 19-year-old girls come to Hollywood every day and get destroyed all the time. So do beautiful boys. For Hollywood’s powerful men, Charlotte was just another casual Tuesday.
Many of the men who rise to the top in Hollywood get off on power. And they’ve been able to get away with it for so long because the complicity machine protects their power. It takes a lot to stand up to all that. I know from my own experience how much it takes to survive this kind of hell. I feel for Charlotte. Her career has been destroyed before it even began, because we survivors get punished for being raped. You become a threat. Your name is dragged through the mud. Public perception is bought and paid for and people—especially Hollywood people—tend to believe the worst allegations about you. Because they want to.
I know it’s hard to face ugly truths. All around Los Angeles, you hear a lot of empathy for the fallen moguls. The standard outcry is ‘but these men lost their jobs!’ But how else is anyone good supposed to rise if we don’t clean house? These are the men behind the companies that put thoughts into our heads, we are the audience for their creepy taste. That’s what people don’t get, it’s bigger than they know. Would you want Kevin Tsujihara, Ron Meyer, Brett Ratner or James Packer’s views in your head? No? Me neither. And that is why I stand with Charlotte Kirk. Look deeper you’ll see the truth through the spin. One life destroyed by power is one too many.
Rose McGowan, an activist and “Cultural Resetter,” is the author of the memoir Brave.