The mainstream news hasn’t been shy in covering the sordid story of bigshot movie producer Harvey Weinstein and his history of sexual assaults.
Harvey and his brother Bob created their first company – Miramax – in the late 70s, and over 25 years it became a hugely powerful force in cinema, producing films like Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love and Chicago. In 2005 the brothers set up a new production firm called The Weinstein Company which made films including Paddington, The King’s Speech and Django Unchained.
So, if it hadn’t already registered, Harvey Weinstein is a really big deal and his influence in Hollywood is unrivalled.
It’s a substantial story, a shocking story, and one that rightly deserves to have the disinfecting rays of daylight shone on it.
Further light should now be shed on his influence outside of Hollywood.
This isn’t a witch-hunt – Weinstein has already admitted a level of wrongdoing. Through his lawyer, Lisa Bloom, he said: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
He’s also reportedly seeking therapy and plans to stop working for some time to “work on himself personally”. Whatever that means.
Furthermore, in the previous years, Weinstein has paid out settlements to at least eight women.
All this fuels my disappointment of the stunning hypocrisy of Hollywood at large, most of whom have remained silent.
In 99% of instances, the entertainment world’s chattering classes can’t wait to fire up their Twitter machines to #standwith whoever has been wronged. They post open letters on their Instagram accounts and clamour for slots on news channels where they can signal to the world how much more they care than anyone else.
And yet, in the Weinstein case, it’s taken days for Hollywood’s army of aggressively PC soldiers to come out against him.
Some stars are claiming that Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment was an open secret.
If that’s the case, why did so many people continue to work with him? You can’t spit fury about sexual assault one moment, and then silently buddy-up and take money from a serial abuser the next. It’s insincerity of the most obnoxious form.
The famously outspoken Meryl Streep has only just criticised him, but it took days of pressure for her to break her silence. Other attention-seeking talking heads (George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, etc..) remain notably absent from the public debate.
There are three possible explanations.
The first is that these people are so chummy with dear Harvey they don’t want to pile on their friend in a moment of need. I don’t accept that because it’s never stopped them before. It’s a dog-eat-dog industry, and as soon as someone steps out of line, they’re blindfolded by their publicist and marched in front of a firing squad comprised of their peers.
The second explanation is Weinstein’s power. No matter what happens to him, he’ll remain rich, and where there’s money, there’s influence. He’s been sacked by The Weinstein Company, but mark my words; he’ll be back. And when he does, these people and their bank managers will want to be remembered as allies. Regardless of the punishment he faces, Weinstein will retain the ability to make people rich and famous.
The third (and – to me – most plausible) explanation is politics.
Weinstein is a major donor to the Democratic party. He gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Barack Obama’s leadership bids (he visited the ex-president at the White House at least 13 times) and also contributed to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns. He’s good buddies with Bill Clinton and regularly opens his wallet for “progressive” causes.
In left-leaning Hollywood, you can behave in the most abhorrent way imaginable as long as you have the right politics. Look at Roman Polanski.
Tribalism is a strong bond and this story is a test of America’s left-leaning hegemony. If news anchors, columnists and late night TV hosts don’t pour the same hatred on Weinstein as they have on people accused of far less (and with far less evidence), the craven partisanship we all suspect will be undeniable.
In the last couple of days, many journalists have claimed that they wrote stories about Weinstein’s behaviour but their editors and publishers spiked them, either because Harvey was a major advertiser or close personal friend.
That would be believable if we lived in a time without social media or easily-manageable blogs. But after seeing how dishonestly many of these writers have behaved in the last year, I think it’s far more likely that they’re just scrabbling around, trying to save their reputations.
For a group of people who have been so voracious in their attacks on anyone even *accused* of sexism, Weinstein’s Democratic friends don’t seem terribly concerned with the rights of women who have been victimised by one of their team.
Some things are more important than what side someone is on, and this is one of them.