On Monday, outspoken left-wing activist Ashley Judd filed a lawsuit against disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, alleging he prevented the actress’s attainment of roles due to her rejection of his sexual advances.
“I lost career opportunity,” the Kiss the Girls star told ABC News. “I lost money. I lost status and prestige and power in my career as a direct result of having been sexually harassed and rebuffing the sexual harassment. … My career opportunities, after having been defamed by Harvey Weinstein, were significantly diminished. … My career was damaged because I rebuffed Mr. Weinstein’s sexual advances. I know it for a fact.”
Judd’s assertion is not without potential merit: in December, The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson revealed to New Zealand publication Stuff that Weinstein discouraged him from considering her for his hit series based on J.R. Tolkien’s celebrated novels. Regarding Judd and fellow Weinstein accuser Mira Sorvino, Jackson claimed he was told “they were a nightmare to work with and [he] should avoid them at all costs.”
The Miramax chief may have said just that.
To be sure, nothing is easier than chalking up another dastardly deed to Harvey Weinstein; but is Judd correct in her contention that unreturned affection was the cause of her career’s decline? The glare of Hollywood’s rampant narcissism renders as difficult a clear view of the goings-on. The irony of spoiled multimillionaires secluded by a bubble of sycophantic coddling and attention to their every petulant need having acquired — and perpetually maintaining — that status by playing ordinary people onscreen is a potent one. But perhaps a greater irony lies in the fact that the real-world stage upon which cineplex celebrities find themselves — for all to see — is the least story-friendly venue. It is the least romantic, stocked with — even in the throes of virulent skirmish — the most inadequately designated heroes and villains. Despite the fact that most actors live to play characters which color in the diverse circles of a great yarn, many at the top appear to be of a relatively similar ilk. Their mansions, private jets, personal assistants, chauffeurs, chefs, nannies, notoriety, and wallets protect them from the harshness of the world outside their gates and — in some cases — the cruelty of the need to be gracious.
But is Ashley Judd right? Maybe. Perhaps Weinstein desired her, and the wound of her rejection manifested a nefarious plot to hit her career in the kneecaps, the proverbial baseball bat being swung in homage to Harvey and brother Bob’s reputation as low-rent Tinseltown gangsters.
Or perchance Judd is the maker of her own demise. Of the powers with which she threatens the world, perspective doesn’t seem to breach her top five. In an interview years ago, she stressed that being from a famous and successful family didn’t help her succeed in Hollywood.
From the cheap seats, that looks unlikely.
In a typical pursuit-of-the-dream scenario, an aspiring cinematic superstar pilgrimages to LA via their 12-year-old bucket of rust to slave as your barista, bartender, or dishwasher. Or all three. And between preparing your venti half-caf triple 5-pump vanilla extra-hot no-foam almond milk latte…and liberating the plate from your picked-at edamame lettuce wrap courtesy of a high-powered sprayer ricocheting cranberry glaze and your DNA all over their apron and arms and, sometimes, face…and mixing your Ramos gin fizz with raw egg white and flour water as they feign interest in both the men and women adorning the bar in hopes of garnering tips sufficient to fund a Laundromat Sunday … amid all that, they scurry to acting classes taught by third-rate sitcom guest stars and hustle to auditions for independent films and laxative commercials, all the while crossing their palsied, stained dishpan fingers for a chance to claw their way from two-roommate North Hollywood squalor to easy street in a Beverly Hills fortress of solitude.
Judd, by contrast, began her pursuit quite differently. Her mother and sister — comprising the hit country duo The Judds, whose success was procured before Ashley graduated high school — are worth $25 million and $20 million, respectively. That kind of legacy wealth secures a lifetime free of, well, what some hopeful actors do for a lifetime. Yet to Judd, her family’s affluence didn’t benefit her at all. In her mind, the struggle was real. She had to fend for herself, in her luxury home with her unlimited funds. She fought gallantly, awaking daily to the metaphorical cold water of no need for a job.
And during that brawl with hardship, as she performed in role after big-screen role, establishing her reputation on the set, could there have eventually developed an EvilWeinstein-less reason she was kept from further significant opportunity? Might there have emerged the reared and ugly head of some legitimate basis for which she was deemed a terror with whom to work?
Yes, there might.
In 2006, Judd checked into a treatment facility for 47 days. For mental problems. In a Today show segment with Matt Lauer, she referred to herself as “absolutely certifiably crazy.”
Even so, that didn’t stop the Ashley train from pulling into the station of ideological evangelism.
Why would a professed sufferer of mental illness — a malady which manifests itself in aberrant perception and behavior — feel compelled to find a spotlight, step into that illumination, and proselytize? How can one demand their positions are correct, while simultaneously insisting they’re insane? Undeterred by those questions, in January 2017, as part of the Womens March on Washington, Ashley grabbed a handheld to teach the country what it should think about President Trump. And to let everyone know that she’s “nasty.”
Watching her disturbing performance isn’t likely to prompt, “Ya know, I’d really love to work with that lady.”
Who craves time with a bipolar, nasty woman?
Judd surely doesn’t really think of herself as inwardly filthy. In fact, long before the #MeToo and Time’s Up limelight in which she could valiantly bask, she was saving the world elsewhere.
According to her 2012 memoir, the pain of her life’s circumstances has stimulated her focus on humanitarian work around the earth. In an article she wrote for Oprah.com, she shone bright as compassionate aid-worker, the noted global ambassador for health organization Population Services International since 2002 (and board member from 2004 to 2013).
But how does Ashley’s elite rubber meet the road of the less fortunate?
For a glimpse into her altruism, I highly recommend the recounting by an unwitting YouthAIDS mission guest — and companion to Ms. Judd — of a three-nation tour “for the easing of the celebrity conscience.” Josh Trevino’s characterization of the actress and her antics is not only revelatory, but hilarious. A few excerpts:
When we arrived at the clinic we were visiting, a couple of the YouthAIDS people came up to me: What on earth did you do to Ashley this morning?I explained, and they told me that she was feeling terrible. Make that TERRIBLE, in all caps. The poor woman had her massage at 7pm the previous night, and went to bed shortly thereafter. If this seems absurdly early, know that Ms Judd required a whopping fourteen hours of downtime — most of which was sleep — per day. But traffic noise woke her up at 6am (which struck me as unlikely — she was on the tenth floor of a well-appointed luxury hotel in placid, leafy Rosebank). With the appointed fourteen hours thus interrupted, she slept again till about 9:45am — which meant that when I ambushed her with the cell phone, she had just awoken. To top it all off, she was now convinced that she had caught some manner of cold or flu from one of the YouthAIDS staff members. I need to add that this afflicted YouthAIDS staff member was a total trouper. She worked hard all day, despite her constant sneezing, sniffling, and coughing: three things Ashley Judd had not done once since awakening and seizing her teapot. The staff member? Sent home. Ashley Judd? She demanded the summoning of a Chinese healer-acupuncturist so she might be cured immediately. Now, let me remind the reader that we were in bloody Africa. There are many lovely things about Africa, and especially about South Africa. Still, continent-wide, the standard for a good day there is pretty set:
• Do I own nothing?
• Is my flesh rotting?
• Do I have to sleep near or on feces?
If you can answer no to all three questions, you have had a good day in Africa! The YouthAIDS staff scattered to the four winds, seeking a Chinese healer-acupuncturist for Ashley. Mercifully, the hotel staff knew of one. They’d dealt with American celebrities before.
We saw horrible things. Dire things. Things like a kid so poor he glided past us on a single rollerblade. Yeah — one on one foot. That impressed me. And every place we went, Ashley Judd swooped down like a good Southern matron and hugged the small children. She cried with destitute mothers. She stroked the heads of poor black people. The photographers from Glamour and Conde Nast loved it. And then, she’s back in the car, and Ashley is tired, and Ashley is sick, and Ashley needs acupuncture. I asked the YouthAIDS senior person whether maybe Ashley was a bit spoiled, and she told me the story of how Ashley refused to do their first promotional tour to Cambodia unless she was allowed to fly British Airways first class all the way. That’s quite an expense for us as a humanitarian organization….but we ended up having to do it.A profound love for humanity, but no time for humans: the very picture of the narcissist celebrity leftist.
Does that sound like someone whose stifled career could only be reasonably blamed on a sinister blacklist due to her sexual conservatism?
Further paddling through the waters of planetary want with the oars of her triumphant benevolence, Judd decided she might be exactly what America needed to save it: she announced the possibility of running for Congress in 2014.
Alas, she abandoned the notion. However, the congressional consideration certainly suggests a rather haughty self-view.
Additionally, Judd had a come-apart last year over the offense of being complimented — what she labeled “every-day sexism” — at an unspecified airport. Her grievance was so substantial, she believed, it deserved to be posted online. The webiverse was not amused, responding with parodies lampooning the immense egotism and melodrama of her cell phone video.
Upon consideration of these things:
Harvey Weinstein is a monster. What’s more, he is a weirdo. Who wants to be watched while they shower? Who ejaculates into a potted plant for kicks? Welcome to Hollywood. And Los Angeles. I know, because it’s where I live. The land of the strange. And by all reports as of late, an epicenter of sexual harassment.
Ashley Judd may well have been a victim of that oppressive system.
But maybe — just maybe — the leftwing activist and vocal catalyst for the #MeToo movement is more about “Me” than “Too.” Conceivably, her desire to be the center of attention — a reasonable trait for an actor — has at times placed her at the center of, in a word, a nightmare. Possibly, her displays of drama indicated herein mirror similar contributions to her work environments. Maybe she is not merely one of the victimized girls in fellow-liberal Weinstein’s creepy and serial past. As for her particular lackluster career, perhaps like so many naked characters she has unashamedly portrayed on film, she now lies in the very bed she herself — and her crazy, nasty antics — made. And, subsequently, Time’s Up.