I have a feeling that this Harvey Weinstein story is going to be huge. It’s not that he was a sleazy Hollywood producer with a well-worn casting casting couch; that sort of stuff has been going on for ages. Nor is it that lots of people around him knew it was going on but covered it up; that too has been going on for ages. It’s more to do with who covered it up.
Since as far back as I can remember, Hollywood in general, and particularly famous actors and actresses, have been fully supportive of liberal, progressive politics and openly hostile to Republicans and conservatism. They worshipped at the feet of Barack Obama and went into meltdown over the election of Donald Trump. They have portrayed themselves as the moral arbiters of the nation, leading the way into a progressive new world by adopting every trendy cause going: Leonardo DiCaprio on global warming, Mark Ruffalo on fracking, Shia LeBeouf on anti-Trump, God knows how many actresses turning up in support of Planned Parenthood and other feminist-driven organisations. This culminated with Meryl Streep’s excruciating Oscar speech in which she positioned Hollywood celebrities like her as the shining beacons of hope in a country which would otherwise be nothing but ignorant white men watching football.
The Democrats, of course, have welcomed this unquestioning support for years, happy to hob-nob with Hollywood stars at swanky parties in New York and LA and receive millions in campaign donations along the way. Hollywood, Democrats, and liberal politics have become so intertwined it is almost impossible to separate the two. Also entangled in the whole lot is the media, which is largely the publicity arm of the Democratic party, and hence also firmly in bed with the Hollywood moguls. When Trump ran for president, everyone on the left – Democrats, the media, and Hollywood stars – lined up to condemn his misogyny and ill-treatment of women when the Access Hollywood tape (several years old) was mysteriously leaked at a crucial point in his campaign. This triggered the feminist-driven anti-Trump movement which after his election organised huge protest marches in support of women’s rights which they claimed were being eradicated under an administration which wasn’t even a week old. Several prominent Hollywood celebrities spoke at these highly-political marches, more attended, and the media gave them fawning coverage.
Now it appears that these same people have not only been close friends with a serial sexual predator, but they have been actively covering up his activities for years. The dyke was breached when Ashley Judd spoke to the New York Times about Weinstein’s behaviour towards her early in her career. Ironically, Judd subjected the masses to an unhinged political rant at the Washington Women’s March last January; one wonders why she chose to attack Trump – who she’s probably never met – than lodge a complaint about the man who actually abused her. I’ll get to the answer later.
Since then, the floodgates have opened. Several more prominent actresses have come forward with tales of abuse at the hands of Weinstein and with it dozens of pictures of actors, celebrities, and Democrat politicians cosying up to him while showering him with accolades. This would be less damaging were everyone in the dark as to what he was up to, but evidence is pouring in that his demands for sexual favours from young women was Hollywood’s worst kept secret. It was so widely known that Seth MacFarlane even joked about it at the 2013 Oscars, and everyone laughed.
It’s hardly surprising that few of these young women came forward to report him, and tempting though it is to point out that Judd only went to the papers once her career was over and her money earned, it is unfair. Yesterday an audio recording emerged of an encounter between actress/model Ambra Gutierrez and Weinstein. The conversation was recorded as part of an NYPD sting operation into Weinstein’s behaviour, and Gutierrez – who had been groped by Weinstein the day before – made the recording on their behalf. Weinstein admits on tape to inappropriate behaviour the day before, but the New York District Attorney – one Cyrus Vance Jr – decided to quash the case. If police recordings weren’t enough to bring about meaningful intervention into Weinstein’s behaviour, the mere word of a young woman wasn’t going to. As a measure of Weinstein’s clout, I read an anecdote on Twitter last week regarding an incident that took place at a very public event in New York. Some reporter had upset Weinstein and he grabbed him around the neck and basically threw him down some steps. Despite the dozens of photographers and cameramen around, not a single shot of the incident was published: nobody would dare.
Of course, covering up is one thing, actively defending the guy another. According to today’s Independent:
It’s been alleged by The Wrap founder Sharon Waxman that she investigated the accusations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein 13 years ago while reporting for The New York Times in 2004.
She claims this piece was cut from the paper due to both The Weinstein Company’s presence as an advertiser and alleged meddling by major Hollywood players including Matt Damon and Russell Crowe.
We also have this report from the New York Times which really doesn’t make Brad Pitt look too good after his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow was propositioned by Weinstein:
She refused his advances, she said, and confided in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time. Mr. Pitt confronted Mr. Weinstein, and soon after, the producer warned her not to tell anyone else about his come-on. “I thought he was going to fire me,” she said.
So Pitt knew about Weinstein since the time of this incident, which would have been around 1994, and said nothing. However, skeptics might point out that Paltrow wasn’t so traumatised that she couldn’t work with Weinstein afterwards in her defining role in Shakespeare in Love. Also in the NYT piece comes news that Weinstein also made unwanted advances on Angelina Jolie.
Okay, here’s the thing: I can understand why a young, unknown actress might not speak up about Weinstein, but Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow? Why are they only coming public with it now? Jolie has been one of the most powerful people in Hollywood for years, and Paltrow has been famous enough to brush off Weinstein for at least as long. Why did they not speak up sooner? And while we’re on the subject, why haven’t these right-on Hollywood men responded to the Guardian‘s request for a comment:
The Guardian contacted more than 20 male actors and directors who have worked with the movie mogul over the years, some of whom have projects with Weinstein. All declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries about the accusations that the producer sexually harassed women over a period of nearly three decades.
The list of industry figures thus far remaining silent includes a number of male directors, such as the Oscar-nominated Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, the Hateful Eight) and David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, Flirting With Disaster), who have both made numerous movies with Weinstein.
The liberal film-maker Michael Moore, currently working with Weinstein on a documentary about Donald Trump, also did not respond to a request for comment.
Here’s why. Firstly, nobody gives a shit about one another in these circles. Actors and actresses by nature are narcissistic, selfish assholes and would happily stab one another in the back to get ahead. Ditto Democrats and most of the media. That vicious, vindictive, nastiness that is ever-present among public figures who champion liberal politics – particularly celebrities – doesn’t simply disappear once they’re around friends. They don’t have any friends, just people they can use for now. I see Weinstein’s wife has just decided to leave him, as if she had no idea what he was like before. The directors of his company have fired him only because the public found out about his behaviour, not because they did. Paltrow and Jolie and all the other long-term, highly-protected A-listers are speaking out because as of this week it became the smart thing to do reputation and career-wise. Before that, they were happy to stay silent as women were abused and propositioned just as they had been when younger. So much for female solidarity.
The second reason is politics. For all the talk about Republican and right-wing misogyny, nine times out of ten any public figure caught abusing women in America will be a Democrat or one of their chief supporters. The notable exception is Donald Trump, but sharp-eyed observers will point out that he was a big pal of the Democrats throughout the entire period any bad behaviour was alleged to have taken place (and I wrote about his supposedly excusing sexual assault here). Only once he turned Republican did his misogyny become an issue. One thing this unfolding story about Weinstein will prove once and for all is that Democrats, liberals and their media lackeys will ignore, accept, and defend all manner of disgusting, sexually-abusive behaviour from men provided their politics conform with theirs. We could mention Roman Polanski, or Antony Weiner, or Bill Clinton; provided they are on the liberal, Democrat side of politics, anything is acceptable. But if you’re a Republican and you say you wouldn’t have dinner alone with a woman who wasn’t your wife, the liberal establishment goes into hysterics about misogyny and marches in protest, accusing you of “attacking women”.
I don’t know why Judd finally broke ranks and spoke to the NYT, but now the cat is out of the bag even his politics can’t save him (although some are trying, and others are rapidly backtracking). The liberal mouthpieces have now smelled blood in the water, a chance to take down an old, white guy, polish their third-wave feminist credentials, and push the narrative than women everywhere are subject daily to horrific sexual exploitation by male bosses. Presumably they think nobody will notice they covered it up for years purely because he helped their careers and espoused the right politics.
Commenter Phil B asked me yesterday why I continued to fisk the nonsense that Laurie Penny writes, and this is my answer. In yesterday’s post I commented on how she is happy to remain friends with somebody with a history of sexually assaulting women because she approves of his politics. In the post the day before I recalled how she allowed her rapist to get close to her because “he was a fun-loving, left-leaning chap who was friends with a number of strong, feminist women” she admired. Yet Laurie has decided that it is ordinary, decent, conservative men that are the problem – just as Hollywood celebrities, Democrats, and liberals say it is.
This Harvey Weinstein story is not just about Hollywood, it goes to the very heart of left-liberal politics from the top to the very bottom, and you can be sure he’s not the only one behaving like this. Other names will come out in due course, all with a similar history. This is why I think it will be too big to shove under the carpet.