Since Harvey Weinstein’s unraveling, the list of cultural heavy-hitters accused of sexual misconduct has been growing at a dizzying clip, particularly in Hollywood.
Enter Rotten Apples, a searchable database introduced Tuesday that informs users which films or television shows are connected to those accused of sexual harassment or worse.
“It’s an easy way to single out those individuals,” said Tal Wagman, an associate creative director at the advertising company Zambezi, based in Los Angeles, and one of the four creators of the website.
Wagman and the other creators all work at Zambezi, which is not affiliated with this “passion project,” as the team put it, but is supportive.
The team said it is not trying to make any money off Rotten Apples.
The site offers a search bar in which users can enter the name of any television show or movie.
The results will either say that the TV show or movie “has no known affiliation to anyone with allegations of sexual misconduct against them.” Or users will see a list of individuals involved in a project who have been accused of misconduct, along with their role in the production. Each result is linked to a news article about the accusations.
On Rotten Apples, an “individual” is defined as a cast member, screenwriter, executive producer or director.
For example, a search for volumes one and two of “Kill Bill” turns up results for the brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, both executive producers.
Dozens of women have claimed that Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them. While Harvey Weinstein has admitted that his behavior “has caused a lot of pain,” he denies that he sexually assaulted women. His brother, Bob Weinstein, has admitted to participating in some payoffs to some of his brother’s accusers and denied others.
A search for “House of Cards” turns up a result for Kevin Spacey, who faces sexual misconduct allegations — he apologized for one incident and has not responded to other claims. Netflix has since halted production on “House of Cards.”
The tool is purely informational and is not intended to condemn entire projects, said Wagman, who likened it to Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB.
“We’re definitely not advocating for boycotting anyone’s films,” he said. The team instead wants the tool to help people make “ethical media consumption decisions.”
Bekah Nutt, an interactive producer at Zambezi and a team member, hopes that the tool can shed light on how pervasive the problem of sexual misconduct is.
“It became interesting to think about the wide-reaching careers of those facing allegations,” she said. “Every article would spotlight the big projects everyone knows about.”
This tool, she said, allows users to see “the full-range of their careers.”
As the dominoes inevitably continue to fall, the creators of Rotten Apples hope to perpetually update the website. Still, they anticipate that the site may eventually be forced to shut down.
“We don’t know the wide-ranging legal power that supports Hollywood,” Wagman said, adding that they are reassured by the fact they are only linking to reputable news organizations.
But the downside of that, they admit, is that it narrows the database to bigger names.
Ultimately, they hope the tool allows media consumers to not grow desensitized.
“Every day, there’s more and more allegations that are coming to light, it’s really important that we don’t tune out and normalize this,” said Annie Johnston, a lead designer at Zambezi and a team member. “That’s why we want to keep the site up.”