Jamie Oliver’s two flagship London restaurants have gone into administration, although the celebrity chef immediately bought one back.
His upmarket Barbecoa steak restaurant in London’s Piccadilly will close a year after it was re-launched.
The closure of the 12 restaurants will affect at least 200 jobs.
Court documents revealed that Jamie’s Italian had debts of £71.5m.
There’s a world of difference between being a good cook and being able to run a restaurant. Many a decent cook has been persuaded by friends and family to open a restaurant only to find the skills required are quite different. I find Jamie Oliver’s recipes to be hit and miss, but he’s made good money flogging books and doing TV shows so he has some talent. But as a businessman capable of running a restaurant empire he looks about as credible as Diane Abbott for Home Secretary. The mockney cheeky-chappie shtick doesn’t count for much in the hard realities of business.
The chain also closed down six Jamie’s Italian restaurants in January 2017.
At the time, the company said that the closures were due to uncertainties caused by Brexit and a “tough” market.
Or, as someone on Twitter put it, he was selling bland, overpriced crap served on manky old wooden boards. Sadly, these latest developments will leave him with more free time to lecture the British public on how to feed their children and lobby for an increase in state nannying.
It was the New York Times interview with the actress Rose McGowan that first brought Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour to the attention of the general public last October (it was common knowledge in Hollywood circles). This is why I had a vague idea who she was when I saw the video below, filmed during a book signing at a Barnes & Noble in New York:
Rose McGowan has meltdown on stage at Barnes & Nobles book signing after trans heckler yells that she hasn’t done anything for trans women who are victims of sexual assault. pic.twitter.com/fTRafCUNcL
The person who yelled at her is a transsexual woman who appears to have a rather dubious history of her own. Naturally, this being 2018, the organisers of the women’s march, the event where deranged women turn up in DC wearing pussy hats to scream en masse at Trump, have denounced McGowan and she is now becoming persona non grata:
In light of feedback from the Seattle community and concerning public behavior by Rose McGowan, Seattle Arts & Lectures has decided to cancel the event with her on February 20. All ticket holders will be refunded.
So last week McGowan was a feminist heroine, a survivor of sexual assault and leading the fight against the Patriarchy. But having not taken any shit from a bloke in women’s clothes who stood up and abused her at her book signing, she’s now an outcast.
Here’s my view: these people are fucking insane. I have some sympathy with McGowan – the lunatic who accosted her should have been turfed out on her ear – but look at her reaction and overall demeanor, best seen in this video shot shortly after the incident:
Rose McGowan had more to say. This was moments after the Trans woman was kicked out the Barnes & Noble. pic.twitter.com/DiIJWwOvyw
She’s turned up to a book signing wearing what looks like gym kit, or an outfit she loafs around her flat in. She’s slouched in her chair able only to express anger littered with profanity, coming across as a moody adolescent who’s decided to copy TV portrayals of ghetto thugs when telling her parents she doesn’t want to clean her room. And people actually turned up to listen to this?
People are tempted to point to Harvey Weinstein and say this is what is wrong with Hollywood. Alas, I think the problems go way deeper, and have spilled over into whole swathes of the media and even politics. It is quite something to watch whole swathes of an advanced country go collectively insane.
In the Coen brothers’ magnificent Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? long-time incumbent Mississippi governor Pappy O’Daniel is lagging in the polls to a newcomer named Homer Stokes in the run up to an election. Stokes’ campaign is centered around the theme of “sweeping the state clean” and on his tour around the towns and villages he brings with him a midget who carries a broom.
Later on, with O’Daniel facing certain defeat just days from the vote, one of his campaign staff makes a suggestion:
“We could hire us a little fella even smaller than Stokes'”
Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globeson Sunday night prompted wishful calls for the star to run for president — and two of the TV icon’s close friends told CNN that Winfrey is “actively thinking” about seeking the Oval Office in 2020.
Why not? President Donald Trump proved that a celebrity with no political experience could run for the highest office in the land and win.
True, Donald Trump is a TV celebrity who won the presidency but his election was an aberration, a protest vote against what people saw as a corrupt and self-serving political establishment which was taking them for granted. It wasn’t a result of some desire among Americans that they wish to be governed by TV celebrities from now on, even if some clearly do.
The Democrats are probably too dim to work this out, though. So far their response to Trump has matched that of the Republicans for denial-based stupidity, pushing the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harries up a list headed by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders (who will be 79 on election day in 2020). Like Pappy O’Daniels advisers, they may just be daft enough to think copying the opposition’s gimmick is the way to win the presidency. I’m hoping they are.
I understand he used inflammatory language and controversial behaviour to get people to listen to him, but once he had the world’s attention it was time to take it down a notch and start portraying himself as a serious, mature individual who beneath the act is really worth listening to. Instead he stuck with the jokes about sucking black dicks, “feminism is cancer” remarks, calling Trump “Daddy”, and others, all of which were crucial parts of his early “game” of getting attention but made him look as though he was never going to be serious about anything and was purely a professional attention-seeker.
Shortly after this episode, the publishers Simon & Schuster cancelled his book deal, for which he’d been paid an $80k advance (Milo claimed at the time it was $250k). Milo took umbrage at this and sued Simon & Schuster claiming $10m in damages. As a result of this lawsuit, the first draft of Milo’s book Dangerous is now publicly available on the New York state courts’ website, complete with editor’s comments. It can be downloaded from here in .pdf and boy does it make for some grim reading.
Firstly, it is obvious that Milo had no intention of toning down the infantile jokes. Sure, they’re funny once or twice when he says them in front of an audience who didn’t know what to expect, but they quickly got tiresome and the book is full of them. What makes it worse is this brand of humour doesn’t translate into print well.
P.J. O’Rourke once wrote an article called “How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink”. It was snortingly funny and got him a lot of attention, but he never used a title like that again (or made many sexual jokes) because it’s only really funny once. Milo hasn’t worked this out, and nor is he anywhere near as clever and funny as P.J. O’Rourke. Consider this for example:
The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whisky I don’t know.
O’Rourke had the extremely rare skill of being able to apply off-hand humour while still making serious points. Milo, as we can see, simply isn’t gifted enough to do this.
The other thing that doesn’t translate well to print is Milo’s ego. Self-aggrandising comments work well enough verbally, but they really grate in the written form.
Unless the author is writing as an obvious alter-ego and staying in character, self-depreciation is far more effective and amusing than self-aggrandisement.
This might not matter so much were Milo capable of making the serious points well. Sadly, it seems he isn’t:
This one is especially scathing:
While some people are showing sympathy for the editor who had to go through this mess, many are asking what Simon & Schuster expected. Milo’s fans would say that Milo has simply written what would be expected of Milo, which is undoubtedly true. I suspect what happened was Simon & Schuster thought they could cash in on the Milo phenomenon and were perhaps persuaded by his articulate and consistent verbal arguments, without realising he can’t write for toffee. And I think that’s the problem here: Milo simply can’t write, or if he can, he decided not to apply his skills here. There are rumours that it might have been ghost written, which doesn’t say much for the ghost. Even for a first draft, this is poor and it’s not surprising Simon & Schuster are using it in defence of their cancelling the contract. Whether they are successful or not remains to be seen; if they’re not, I can’t see anyone having much sympathy for them.
I found all this particularly interesting because the story came about as I was implementing my editor’s comments on my own book. Thankfully I received very few comments of the nature of those above, although this might be because I was paying him. If he’d shovelled eighty grand in my direction in advance of the manuscript, he might have been a little less forgiving. But another reason could be that I didn’t send a first draft to my editor, he got the third draft after I’d gone through it twice removing anything I thought was superfluous. I actually read every line out loud, as if I were on a stage. It’s a good way of seeing how the text flows and if a joke falls flat.
I must thank my readers for helping me with this. When I posted an excerpt of the first draft a lot of people jumped in and told me, quite bluntly, that it was overwritten shite and I should lose at least 50% of it. Someone patiently explained I should write the scene rather than describe it word for word, and introduced to me the concept of being efficient with words. Then Adam Piggott rang me up on Skype and told me it was sub-Dan Brown garbage and if it went to an editor like that he’d be robbing me blind. None of this was particularly easy to take but, armed with a much more critical eye, I was able to make major improvements for the second draft. I was determined that whatever I sent to the editor would not have his eyes rolling, and that he’d at least see I’d made the effort to get the manuscript as good as I could on my own. This is why I didn’t have any problem accepting the editor’s comments. I’d already taken the beating after the first draft; his comments were extremely benign by comparison.
If Milo had run his stuff by someone first, he might not have saved his contract but he’d at least have avoided the humiliation of having editor’s comments like these plastered all over newspapers. He eventually self-published his book, but it didn’t do very well. Writing, it appears, is difficult and requires a lot of effort. Who knew?
Matt Damon has always come across to me as a sanctimonious arse, but I have some sympathy with him here:
Matt Damon has been criticised as “tone deaf” for his recent comments about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.
The actor and writer is facing a backlash on social media for saying people should be paying more attention to men who are not sexual predators.
In an interview for Business Insider on Monday, Damon said men not involved in sexual misconduct in Hollywood are not gaining attention.
“We’re in this watershed moment, and it’s great, but I think one thing that’s not being talked about is… the preponderance of men I’ve worked with who don’t do this kind of thing,” he said during an interview while promoting his new film Downsizing.
It’s a pretty bone-headed choice of words but this is what happens when actors try forming their own sentences instead of reading someone else’s. Personally I reckon Matt Damon was most accurately portrayed in Team America: World Police:
What I think he was trying to say was that not all men in Hollywood are engaged in sexual abuse, and his comments should be taken in the context of an environment in which certain women believe that all men, by definition, are rapists. To be fair to these certain women, by which I mean deranged feminists, I can see where they are coming from: if I’d put men’s politics and platitudes before their character and subsequently found myself surrounded by low-grade scumbags while decent men kept two postcodes away, I’d probably feel the same way too. But if women are free to declare that all men are rapists, I don’t see why Matt Damon can’t point out they aren’t. Only he would have been better getting his agent or someone to write the words on a piece of paper first.
This, however, is spot on:
Last week in an interview with ABC News Damon said groping and rape were two different things and shouldn’t be treated the same.
“There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?” Damon told ABC’S ‘Popcorn’ with Peter Travers
“Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated, without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”
This is simply common sense, but this is the last thing feminists want injected into the debate:
Both sets of remarks drew criticism from other actresses, including from his Good Will Hunting co-star Minnie Driver – who said Damon was among those to be “utterly tone deaf” on the topic
Who? Oh yes, Minnie Driver, whose career tanked after Good Will Hunting while Damon’s soared. Is she a little bitter, do you think? Perhaps she’s still over in Stanford waiting for him to show up? Meanwhile, here’s Alyssa Milano who, I think, starred as Arnie’s daughter in Commando:
I have been a victim of each component of the sexual assault spectrum of which you speak. They all hurt. And they are all connected to a patriarchy intertwined with normalized, accepted–even welcomed– misogyny.
A burn from a kettle hurts. So does getting shot. That doesn’t mean we should conflate kettle-burns with shootings. Okay, I get she think’s they’re connected but:
We are not outraged because someone grabbed our asses in a picture. We are outraged because we were made to feel this was normal. We are outraged because we have been gaslighted. We are outraged because we were silenced for so long.
“Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated, without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”
Actresses are not the sharpest knives in the drawer at the best of times, nor are third-wave feminists. But actresses engaged in third-wave feminism are so dim they make Matt Damon look like the smart one.
Via Twitter I came across an astonishing quote from one Bernard Godard, who served as an expert on Islam in the French ministry of interior between 2007-14. His remarks were made in relation to the recent allegations against Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss scholar specialising in Islam who from what I can tell gets wheeled out frequently for commentary and blessed with cushy positions in institutes of higher learning such as Oxford University. Apparently Mr Ramadan is now being accused of raping minors, which seems to be quite a regular occurrence among mildly famous people these days. But what is extraordinary is the statement of M. Godard, who obviously knew Mr Ramadan well (emphasis mine):
“That he had many mistresses, that he consulted sites, that girls were brought to the hotel at the end of his lectures, that he invited them to undress, that some resisted and that he could become violent and aggressive, yes, but I have never heard of rapes, I am stunned,” he told French magazine L’Obs.
Right, so a pal of yours is known for inviting girls to his hotel room, demanding they undress, and getting violent and aggressive if they resist but when you’re informed of rape allegations you’re “stunned”? Look, I know the French have a rather odd interpretation of what constitutes sexual assault if the man in question is a well-connected older man (see Dominic Strauss-Khan for example), but does this Godard really think everyone’s that stupid? If the British government is being rattled by allegations of inappropriate knee-touching fifteen years ago, Lord knows what we’re going to uncover if the French lift the blanket on the behaviour of their politicians.
I was thinking about all this the other night, and cast my mind back to Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein. Entry into Hollywood is difficult and one doesn’t just arrive and immediately get invited to Weinstein’s hotel room for an audition; there is a process and it takes time. For a lot of people, that will involve turning up and touting around for roles as an extra just to get you on set, building up to a minor walk-on role perhaps with a few lines of dialogue. For others, family connections get them onto a set and shoved up the ladder a bit quicker. Unless I’m missing something, this lifestyle will involve little other than talking to agents, socialising, putting yourself about, and spending hour after hour hanging around either on set or off it with other wannabe actors and actresses in just the same situation as you. You’ll also be surrounded by thousands of other studio workers, e.g. electricians, make-up artists, wardrobe assistants, etc. many of whom will also be working hard on their careers.
Apparently we’re supposed to believe that none of these people engage in gossip or, when a greenhorn arrives in their patch, they spell out how things work and what’s expected of them. If the celebrity stories are to be believed, they navigated the lower rungs of Hollywood for years without getting a single whiff of how it worked, and only at the moment Weinstein jacked off into a potted plant did it all become clear. Right.
Regardless of the industry, newcomers are almost always subject to being pulled aside on day one and educated by the experienced hands as to how things work. Half the time they’re making sure a potential rival doesn’t get above their station, but the other half they’re just engaging in natural paternal or maternal behaviour mixed with the fun of gossiping about people. Anyone arriving on the periphery of Hollywood would have learned very quickly how things work closer to the core. Rumours would abound as to why actress X got that role in film Y shortly after she met with producer Z, and a young aspiring actress would soon learn what was expected of her sooner or later. Some would quit the industry, some would choose to hang around on the periphery or take a less-prominent role which didn’t require the same compromises, but others would choose to press on anyway. This is fair enough, but I find it extremely hard to believe any actor or actress did so without having received dozens of warnings, listened to hundreds of stories, and heard a thousand rumours.
Is this any different in politics? Are those who hang around on the periphery not pulled aside and subject not only to endless dark warnings about how they should behave, but also about the nature and characteristics of the powerful men and women who control the hierarchy? Of course they are. Stuff a tenth as juicy as this becomes office gossip in every organisation, it simply isn’t possible to keep serial debauchery, harassment, sexual assault, or rape under wraps and out of the rumour mill. Every organisation has a load of people who absolutely live for this kind of thing, and they make sure whatever goes on is common, if unconfirmed, knowledge. Exaggerated and embellished of course, but usually based in some sort of truth.
What I feel is getting left out of the “everyone knew” narrative is that this is probably true of the victims, too. Who in their right mind would go to a hotel room of an old creep like Tariq Ramadan or Harvey Weinstein other than to sleep with them? Or did these young women proceed anyway, perhaps thinking they possessed some rare special talent that would mean the meeting would be strictly professional? I could easily believe half of them were dim enough to think that, but the rest? They probably knew damned well what they were getting into.
The minors though, that’s different. My guess is guys who prey on people less powerful than themselves get a kick out of it, and once they’ve been through several dozen willing adults it starts getting boring and they move onto something more edgy. One thing’s for sure, celebrities wrapped up in sexual assault allegations or kiddy-fiddling allegations seem to have an abundance of willing, adult partners on-tap so it’s not driven by frustration. That’s probably reason enough for an organisation to nip this sort of behaviour in the bud as soon as the management hear about it; sure, the university administrations probably thought it was a right giggle that Ramadan used to bed the prettiest girls from the audience immediately after his lectures, but they probably find it less funny now he’s accused of raping minors.
Which brings me onto my final point: in among all this talk of minors being abused in Hollywood or by dodgy Swiss scholars, where the hell were the parents? Nobody seems to want to ask that.
Yesterday someone wrote one of those lengthy threads on Twitter which made the point, over and over, that despite the dozens of celebrities spilling tales of sexual harassment in Hollywood, nobody is naming names other than Harvey Weinstein’s. Perhaps they are afraid of a libel charge, but I doubt it: could all those allegations against Weinstein be proved now? Unlikely.
Via Tim Worstall, I now see that Christie Turlington has come out and said the fashion industry is full of sexual predators who prey on vulnerable young wannabe models. Maybe next week Scott Quinnell will come out and say rugby clubs were full of large, boisterous males who liked drinking and singing, and we’ll be equally surprised.
I have no doubt that sexual harassment and abuse is rife in the film and fashion industries, but what is being overlooked is that consensual sex is also rife. If disgusting fat film producers can proposition women for a part, you can be sure a lot of women are putting out for parts – many of them doing so quite happily. My guess is nobody is naming names because it will blow the lid on just how much consensual sex goes on in Hollywood, and how much of it is directly related to actors and actresses getting parts in a film. The moral standing of the pompous, self-righteous arses who presume to lecture us plebs at award ceremonies is already shaky; imagine what it would be reduced to should full details emerge of who they shagged and when – and, as we’ll be able to work out for ourselves – why. The underlying assumption people make of those complaining about Weinstein is they rejected his advances – yet never had sex with anyone else in order to advance their careers. That’s probably a big assumption.
Here’s something for the feminists to consider: if you want to stop men abusing positions of power in order to have sex, you also need to stop women having consensual sex with powerful men to advance their careers. It’s a two-way street, and it’s no coincidence that sexual abuse is more prevalent in industries where both men and women are able to sleep their way up the greasy pole.
Commenter Stephen K responds well to my previous post on Harvey Weinstein:
Contra our host’s idea that this will be big, I think it will blow over. Nothing will happen. None of Weinstein’s (former) fans and enablers will change their views (at most they will go a bit quiet for a while, until they can change the subject). Hollywood will use this as the opportunity to bravely make films about sexual abuse in which they bravely depict conservative/ traditionalist men as abusers. These films will be highly praised as topical and (of course) brave. It is a matter of days, if not hours, before someone writes an article explaining that “the Weinstein scandal is all the more reason why we must redouble our resistance to the misogynistic regime of Trump” which will get retweeted a million times. We have seen it all before.
I agree with this of course, mainly because it is already happening. Today Newsweek asks:
Who hates women most? Pence, Trump, or Weinstein?
And there was some woman on the BBC this morning whose take on the whole thing was that misogyny is everywhere and needs to be rooted out, presumably to the benefit of women like her who, if her remarks were any guide, would be out of her intellectual depth sweeping floors in the local chippy.
As Stephen says, we’ve been here before, and sleaze in Hollywood is nothing new. There is a reason why actresses are the butt of crude jokes involving bishops and seen as one rung above prostitutes, and why no self-respecting father would let his young daughter anywhere near a film studio let alone the hotel room of a fat, greasy producer. You’ll note that books are filled with stories of women who ran away from home to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood, and didn’t let their parents know where they were going.
However, back then actresses were not pretending to be the conscience of the nation as they now are. Had an actress in a previous era attempted the sort of self-righteous posturing Meryl Streep engaged in at the last Oscars, the laughter of the men in the room would have been heard around the world. Actors like DiCaprio would have fared no better, either. One of the things Friends got spot on was portraying Joey Tribbiani as actors are: nice looking, good at speaking words someone else has written, but otherwise rather dim. The Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! made the same point as well.
But actors and actresses spouting political nonsense wouldn’t matter so much had the Democrats not wholeheartedly embraced them and taken their vacuous endorsements seriously. At times it looked as though Democrats with ambitions of high office were taking their leads from air-headed celebrities, seemingly star-struck in their company.
But even that wouldn’t matter so much had the Democrats not made women’s rights, sexual assaults, and misogyny a central issue on which to attack their political enemies. But they have, and now any criticism coming from liberals on the subject can be countered by simply saying “Here’s a pic of you and Weinstein, and you knew full well what he was like.” Sure, they will say that Trump and Pence and everyone else are just as bad, but all that does is put them on the same footing and liberals can’t fight from there. Without a moral high-ground to posture from, liberals can barely muster an argument.
Following Trump’s win, the Democrats have lurched even further towards the loony-left end of the political spectrum, with centrists (assuming there are any left) ceding the floor to nutters like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Worse, Hillary simply won’t shut up and go away and nor will Obama, making it impossible for anyone sensible to rally the handful of sane Democrats left and mount a challenge for the 2020 election. Although it’s tempting to believe that all female Democrat voters are deranged lesbians or single women in Brooklyn who own a lot of cats, there are plenty of normal women who vote that way too. I’m sure a good portion of these will be appalled at the hypocrisy and enablement of sexual abuse that is on display here, and won’t be persuaded by the excuses and whataboutism pouring forth from those compromised. These women will have been put off voting for Trump because he’s a sexist pig, and that portion who don’t put politics above absolutely everything else will be pretty unhappy that their own party is behaving the same way or worse.
What the Democrats need is a proper house-cleaning that gets rid of the Clintons once and for all, puts the Obama era behind them and drags the party back into the realm of electability leaving Warren and her ilk ranting harmlessly from the sidelines. That means tackling some of the issues that drove people to vote for Trump – jobs, immigration, terrorism – but also getting shot of the lunatics that stop these issues being talked about. The Democrats will always need the media but they can be tempered; they don’t need batshit insane Hollywood celebrities with failed marriages, bad tattoos, and cocaine habits.
I think the question is why now, and why was it the NYT that took down this Godfather at the top of the power structure?
My guess would be that a faction in the Democrat party looking to move it towards the centre has decided to use Weinstein’s abuse of women to strip the Clinton and Obama factions of credibility, clearing the way for them to take charge. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the NYT has played their role, having been approached by this new faction well in advance of the interview that started the ball rolling. Let’s see if they run any articles calling for “reforms” or “pages to be turned” and “new eras to be embraced” by the Democrat party in the coming weeks and months.
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.
I’ve managed to avoid any TV programmes and articles on the subject, but we’ve recently had the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death. I remember it well, particularly the shameful “outpouring of grief” that followed, whereby millions of seemingly sane and ordinary people with no connection to the promiscuous princess wept in the streets. Since then, the mass feigning of grief in order to feel part of something has become a recurring theme in British life, and has spread to other English-speaking countries (witness the embarrassing scenes in Australia following the death of cricketer Phil Hughes). For me, the death of Diana (or rather, what followed) marked a turning point in Britain becoming something of a joke. I always found it hard to take the British public seriously after that.
I have a Ukrainian friend who for some reason has a strong interest in the British royal family. She was rather surprised when I told her that before she died, Diana was an unpopular and rather divisive figure. Many people, myself included, thought she was an embarrassment and I was particularly annoyed with her muddle-headed campaign to ban land-mines, a subject she knew nothing about. She went to Africa and encountered victims of the millions of Soviet and Chinese landmines scattered willy-nilly around the continent’s many war zones, then returned home and harangued the British Army – who carefully map their minefields, and use them only for essential defensive purposes – into giving them up. My initial reaction to her untimely death, before it transpired she’d got into a car driven too fast by a guy who was drunk, was that she’d stepped on the toes of somebody with a considerable interest in land mines.
The idea that Diana was universally loved and adored is pure revisionism (see PCar’s comment here for example). In the months preceding her death, Viz ran an amusing series called “The Queen of Hearts” which used photos of her with fictitious captions. One of them was of her holding the leg of an African child in a hospital:
Then there was this incredible correction issued by the National Enquirer after news came in that she was dead:
The switch of stance typifies the tabloids’ reaction to Diana’s death, and since then there has been nothing but whitewashing.
The other thing I find annoying about Diana, one a bit closer to home, is the way her sycophantic admirers have hijacked the Flame of Liberty in Paris:
The Flame of Liberty (Flamme de la Liberté) in Paris is a full-sized, gold-leaf-covered replica of the new flame at the upper end of the torch carried in the hand of the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) at the entrance to the harbor of New York City since 1886. The monument, which measures approximately 3.5 metres in height, is a sculpture of a flame, executed in gilded copper, supported by a pedestal of gray-and-black marble. It is located near the northern end of the Pont de l’Alma, on the Place de l’Alma, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.
The Flame of Liberty became an unofficial memorial for Diana, Princess of Wales after her 1997 death in the tunnel beneath the Pont de l’Alma (see death of Diana, Princess of Wales) The flame became an attraction for tourists and followers of Diana, who fly-posted the base with commemorative material. Anthropologist Guy Lesoeurs said, “Most people who come here think this was built for her.”
They’ve even had to add a separate plaque nearby half-acknowledging the monument’s unofficial role as a Diana memorial. However, this annoyance is tempered somewhat by recalling the response of the French authorities when it was suggested that the design of the Alma Tunnel was unsafe and contributed to her death, along the lines of:
“There’s nothing wrong with the tunnel if you don’t drive through it at suicidal speeds.”
With characteristic French stubbornness they resisted calls to alter the tunnel, and it remains unchanged to this day.