Archive for October 9, 2017

A Few Quick Thoughts about the Harvey Weinstein Saga: Oct 9, 2017

October 9, 2017 14 comments

As pretty much every person on Twitter knows by now, Harvey Weinstein was recently exposed by NYT for being a serial sexual abuser. This particular bit of “news” was, however, not exactly new or surprising to people working in the entertainment industry. His behavior was, in fact, well-known enough to be openly joked about in an episode of the NBC sitcom ’30 Rock’ about five years ago. To make a long story short, pretty much everybody in the entertainment industry who knew Harvey Weinstein at some personal level also knew about his.. should we say “peculiar behavior”.. towards women. Heck, even waitresses who worked in restaurants frequented by Harvey were aware of his behavior.

Perhaps more interestingly, a similar story about Harvey Weinstein was spiked in 2004 (almost 13 years ago) after Matt Damon and Russell Crowe called up NYT. It is now almost certain that we will soon hear about more successful attempts in the past by him and his famous hollywood friends to stop the publication of similar stories by other news outlets. And all of this raises the question- why did the allegedly “liberal” part of the moneyed establishment go to such lengths to protect Harvey Weinstein from public exposure of his misdeeds? How did they benefit from their sustained efforts to protect Harvey Weinstein? What was in it for them?

To be clear, what Harvey Weinstein did was fundamentally different from simply paying women to have sex with him– though he may have compensated them in some form or the other. Nor was his behavior some sort of uncommon sexual fetish, public knowledge of which might have made him look “icky”. Instead, he repeatedly and over multiple decades forcefully propositioned women to have sex with him or harass them in highly blatant ways. Given his power and stature in the entertainment industry, a significant percentage of those women probably ended up having sex with him.

It is also noteworthy that his behavior was not affected by his martial status. Nor did his ex-wife or current wife ever raise that issue in public (even during a divorce)- suggesting that they found it more profitable to keep their mouth shut that speak up about it. More interesting, and newsworthy, is the almost total silence about Weinstein’s behavior over all these years from people who had worked with him for years and in many cases decades. While a very few of them have made some feeble attempts, in the previous day or two, to convey their “disappointment” with Weinstein’s behavior. Isn’t it odd that so many Hollywood celebrities who rightly condemned Donald Trump’s behavior towards women were completely silent about Weinstein’s escapades- even when they knew far more about the later?

The simple fact is that Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predilections and behaviors were widely known in the entertainment industry and yet until a few days ago, almost nobody ever wanted to discuss in the public realm. And this leads us back to the same question posed earlier in this post- Why? What was in it for them to not discuss this publicly? What did they gain (or not lose) from keeping it an insider secret of sorts?

So far, the vast majority of theories about why so many kept quiet for so long revolve around his alleged power in the entertainment industry- and there is some truth to that idea. The guy was a pretty big player (producer and studio executive) in the entertainment industry. Also, he is not the first movie producer, director or studio executive to demand sexual favors in return for a job or funding. So maybe, they saw his behavior as somewhat “normal”. But that does not explain why so many were willing to use their personal contacts and effort to keep his behaviors out of the spotlight. Why keep rooting for a guy who keeps doing the same embarrassing and highly problematic stuff year after year, decade after decade?

The other, and more likely, explanation is that Harvey Weinstein’s behavior is actually normal within the entertainment industry and protecting him from public exposure was a way to stop subsequent public scrutiny of the behavior of other famous and powerful figures in the entertainment industry. Think about it.. Harvey Weinstein, though important was hardly the only player of his stature in the industry. If his behavior was actually unusual in that industry, others would have no problem letting him face the music. I mean.. what do they have to lose if they were ‘clean’ of such accusations?

On the other hand, if Harvey Weinstein’s behavior is typical for that industry then allowing him be exposed to public scrutiny would upset the proverbial apple-carts of many other directors, producers and executives. The evidence (so far) suggests that it was fear of subsequent scrutiny of other famous figures in that industry, rather than his power and influence alone, was the main motivation for the elaborate charades and pressure tactics deployed by other Hollywood celebrities to keep him out of the public spotlight. Of course, almost nobody since the days of silent cinema believes that Hollywood celebrities had vanilla or milquetoast personal lives. In fact, many popular magazines would not even exist without public interest in the tawdry personal lives of movie and TV stars.

But it is one thing for some celebrity to cheat on their girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse or become involved in some divorce or substance abuse scandal. People expect that. However, running a ‘casting couch’ for over two decades while randomly propositioning and exposing oneself to women AND then claiming to be a great supporter of “liberal” and “feminist” causes is both nauseating hypocritical and fit for almost endless parody. It is my opinion that the outrage over the Weinstein scandal has far more to with his behavior being incredibly hypocritical rather than just sexually tawdry. Here is something to think about.. would the Weinstein scandal have got the traction it has if it was about him having slept with a thousand escorts? Would anybody have cared if it was just about him buying sexual companionship?

What do you think? Comments?