It has not even been a week since the revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long predilection with preying on women. The revealing side story to his lecherous career has been the avalanche of players and entertainment journalists coming forward to claim longtime knowledge of his abuses. By saying “this was well known” there is the effort to downplay the severity, and/or to distance from the abuses.
What these attempts at skirting personal culpability actually end up doing however is illustrate how the industry has both cultivated this rapacious atmosphere and shielded the guilty. Weinstein’s reach-around crimes reach all the back to the 1980s, and this exposes the glaring weakness of the entertainment complex. How could so many know, and for so long, without this coming to light earlier? One of the more pathetic narratives when these players are confronted with questions of their silence has been a variation of, “It is the victim’s story to tell,”; this is a way of seemingly showing sympathy to the abused while in actuality it is escaping responsibility.
Sharon Waxman, creator and publisher of The Wrap, is one of the more influential journalists out of Dreamland. She wrote a withering piece about her tenure at the NY Times when she attempted to break a story about one of Harvey’s numerous sexual issues. The paper of record was strong-armed by Weinstein, and Waxman was contacted directly by actors Russell Crowe and Matt Damon, each lobbying for her to spike the story. The Times ultimately neutered her report, stripping it of all reference to his predations. But what of the intervening years? Why had Waxman not delivered any similar content on her own portal in more than a decade?
To see exactly how disinterested Hollywood is in regards to facing sexual assault problems in its environment we need only look to the 2016 Oscar ceremony. There we were served all manner of virtue signaling and hollow gesturing towards an issue, and Harvey was a direct player in it all. That ceremony was said to be a bad one for Weinstein, in that it was a rare year when none of his titles were up for the Best Picture honor. He was not without a passel of nominations however, as his films “Carol”, and “The Hateful Eight” garnered numerous other category nods.
The layers of dark irony arrived midway through the procedings. During the ceremony Vice President Joe Biden – no stranger to questions of questionable touching of women – came on stage to introduce the next performance for Best Original Song. Lady Gaga was to perform “Til It Happens To You”, and she brought the house down as she was joined on stage by a phalanx of sex abuse victims. The song was from the film “The Hunting Ground”. This was a documentary about college campus sexual assault. It was distributed by…The Weinstein Company. (I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself.)
Biden gave a stirring speech about the subject, promoting a sexual abuse support web site – www.itsonus.org
“Tonight, I’m asking you to join millions of Americans, including me, President Obama, the thousands of students I’ve met on college campuses and the artists here tonight to take the pledge. A pledge that says I will intervene in situations when consent has not or cannot be given. Let’s change the culture. We must and we can change the culture so that no abused woman or man like the survivors you will see tonight ever have to ask themselves ‘what did I do?’ They did nothing wrong. I really mean this.”
Just amazing. A politician who benefited directly from the political donations of the sexual predator introduced a cause against sexual assault, as prelude to the nomination of a sexual assault film, made by the very same sexual predator. And the audience which today claims they “knew all along” about Weinstein applauded this hypocrisy — including Matt Damon, who was among those standing in the audience.
It would take a scriptwriter to create a more surreal scene.
To say Hollywood was treating this all cynically is understatement. Nobody changed the culture. And clearly nobody took action, beyond retweeting the hashtag contrived for this, #IWillIntervene. No one typifies this environment better than actress Jessica Chastain.
She was among those luminaries dutifully posting the hashtag du noir during the Awards
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) February 29, 2016
Then this week, the actress joined the chorus of Burbank bypassers mentioning how she knew all along of Harvey’s degeneracy.
I was warned from the beginning. The stories were everywhere. To deny that is to create an enviornment for it to happen again.
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) October 9, 2017
When she began receiving blowback on not taking any action the actress deflected pitifully when challenged on why she had been mum on the subject.
It wasnt my story to tell. Its the victim's decision.
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) October 9, 2017
So much for intervening on behalf of the oppressed, eh Jess? I guess she felt she needed to obtain the rights to the intellectual property before adapting the story for authorities.
This is the Hollywood sloth on this subject exemplified. Holding up signs on Instagram, or tweeting out hashtag commands, is more than enough to get the job done, in their minds. They adorned themselves in the veil of concern when they provided the proper signaling. Actual work and taking action — that’s something for their assistants to manage.
And meanwhile a studio mogul can rampage through the entertainment complex like an undersexed Shrek for decades; but at least they felt good for caring about the subject.