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.
Until somebody decided to shoot up a nightclub in Germany, this was running as front-page news on the BBC’s website:
Fairer pay for women must be backed up by stronger policies at work, according to Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.
But the firm’s chief operating officer, in an interview for BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, said the first step is to “start paying women well”.
She chose Beyonce’s empowering Run The World (Girls) as her first song.
It’s one way to become empowered, I suppose.
She said: “We start telling little girls not to lead at a really young age and we start to tell boys [to] lead at a very young age. That is a mistake.”
We do? Okay, I can probably believe that in some countries with cultures we’re encouraged to embrace that little girls are told not to lead, but in the West? Really? Who is saying this, and where? This is bullshit.
“I believe everyone has inside them the ability to lead…”
Then you’re an idiot. Not everyone is a leader, just as not everyone is a loyal lieutenant, and not everyone is an essential specialist, and not everyone is an equally important plodder. If you’ve not understood this, you’ve not understood leadership at all.
“…and we should let people choose that not based on their gender but on who they are and who they want to be.”
Oh please. We’ve had women leaders since at least Cleopatra. Who, and where, are girls being told they cannot lead because of their gender? All I see on the webpages of major corporations is how important women are and how proud they are to have a load of them in senior positions. The fact we have a female COO carping at us in the national press ought to tell us that this isn’t really a problem. Whereas it is boys that are being failed by schools, more girls than boys are graduating from college and now lead in such fields as law and medicine, and young men are still committing suicide at a far higher rate than women.
Ms Sandberg made headlines in 2013 with her book “Lean in” about female empowerment in the workplace.
It became a worldwide bestseller, but was criticised by some for being elitist and unrealistic for many women not in her privileged position.
You mean not all women agreed, and cat-fighting ensued? I don’t believe it.
In the interview, she also called for more to be done around the gender pay gap between men and women.
The gender pay gap that Christina Hoff Sommers has debunked numerous times as being a complete myth?
Ms Sandberg admitted she had struggled with self-doubt at Harvard
The BBC’s poster-child for female empowerment and leadership wrung her hands in self-doubt while at America’s top university? Did Katherine the Great doubt herself?
…and recognised that women more than men underestimated their own worth, preventing them from putting themselves forward or asking for a pay rise.
A minute ago everyone was capable of leadership, and we need more women in such positions. Now we find they underestimate themselves. Sorry, but I prefer anyone presuming to be my leader to be a little less wet. Attila the Hun is my benchmark.
“We need to start paying women well and we need the public and the corporate policy to get there,” she said.
“Certainly, women applying for jobs at the same rate as men, women running for office at the same rate as men, that has got to be part of the answer.”
As Christina Hoff Sommers repeatedly says, there is nothing stopping women going into higher-paid professions such as engineering and computer programming, they simply choose not to. The women who chose to become engineers are absolutely coining it. I can think of two now, one owns half of Melbourne (*waves*) and another spends much of her life flying around on holiday in business-class (*waves again*).
Following the sudden death of her husband Dave Goldberg, Ms Sandberg described herself a “different” person now.
She found him on the floor of a gym with a head injury after he had suffered a heart attack whilst they were on a weekend away.
Okay, I’ll dial it down a notch here. Losing your husband is catastrophic, and I am all too familiar with its effects. That she’s managed to carry on so well afterwards is genuinely worthy of admiration, and she deserves a lot of respect and sympathy over this.
Back in the days when he was writing about “game” – the art of male seduction of females – Roissy over at Château Heartiste mentioned something called “overgaming”:
Overgaming is usually poison to a pickup when the girl is very high value. Hot chicks experience the pleasures of smooth alpha operators more frequently than do lesser girls. Your clever retorts and masculine lack of punctuation are nothing new to the hot chick. She will enjoy it and place it in her mental pile with the rest of the suave suitors. You need to bring something more to the table, and that something is *escalation*. Escalation is what separates the men from the dilettantes.
Girls want to be played, but they don’t want to be sloppily overplayed like a marionette. She will balk if she thinks you have assured yourself she is an easy mark, and her ego will reassert itself, even at the expense of losing a mating opportunity with a higher value male.
Overgaming kills attainability, and male attainability is a necessary (but not sufficient) precondition for female surrender. Sharing a self-effacing story designed to humanize you will establish your attainability, and draw her closer to you.
Roughly, “game” in this context is the process of gaining a girl’s attention and getting her interested in you sexually. This is achieved by adopting certain mannerisms, vocabulary, body language, and other attributes designed to make you stand out from the crowd and win her affections. In the early stages of flirtation this normally involves being cocky, aloof, and a bit of an asshole (which, even if you don’t buy into the whole “game” theory, is undoubtedly better than being a complete drip who can’t look her in the eye). But what a lot of wannabe pick-up artists miss is that “game” is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The end is to get laid, preferably more than once. “Game” is merely the means with which to get there.
That is what Roissy means by “escalation” in the first paragraph: at some point, when you have secured her interest and are holding her attention, you must move beyond the witty banter and flirtations towards meeting them in person or initiating physical contact. Roissy’s post highlights the fact that some people don’t know how to stop “gaming” when its usefulness has (at that point) been exhausted. What they need to do is dial back the “game” a notch and start being normal and nice for a bit.
I was reminded of the concept of “overgaming” this morning when I read that Milo Yiannopolous has had his much-hyped book deal cancelled by his publisher Simon & Schuster. Milo burst onto the scene a year or two ago with the aim of garnering as much publicity as possible with his flamboyantly gay style and outspoken opinions. His notoriety has gone from strength to strength as Twitter first unverified him and then kicked him off completely before he embarked on his Dangerous Faggot tour of the US which culminated in riots outside UC Berkley last month which were reminiscent of the Vietnam War protests.
Whereas it is hard to deny that Milo hasn’t been extraordinarily successful in promoting himself (hence landing that $250k book deal in the first place), I did wonder at the time of the Berkely riots where all this was heading. Garnering fame and notoriety is good in the early stages of a career when you want everyone to know who you are, but what is the end game here? When you have the BBC running front page articles on you and coverage of the riots protesting your talks are making headline news, it is fair to say the “game” side of your campaign is done. But what comes next?
I know what Milo’s goals are: he wants to destroy political correctness, restore the principles of free speech, and make SJWs cry. All laudable aims, and 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. As Ben Shapiro said:
“Being a provocateur just for the sake of being a provocateur is worthless.”
I don’t think Milo is only an attention-seeker, I do genuinely believe he is trying to do some good out there. But he got caught up in his own hype, and started to resemble those that he was attacking: he was fond of issuing writs against publications that called him a white supremacist or a Nazi, which was somewhat at odds with his stated belief that freedom of speech should be absolute; and he was increasingly playing the victim and complaining he was being treated unfairly and called nasty things, when he’d spent his entire career to date telling SJWs to suck it up because feelings don’t matter. In doing so I think he started to alienate some of his natural supporters. The “feminism is cancer” thing never sat well with me: there are better ways to oppose feminist stupidity than implying cancer is preferable, and it is inevitable that this would not go down well with those of us who have lost close friends and relatives to the disease. But this could possibly be overlooked given he needed to say outrageous things in order to get noticed, which I presume is why he saw fit to give an interview last year in which he implied that some 13 year old boys might be able to consent to having sex with adults:
Another man says: “The whole consent thing for me. It’s not this black and white thing that people try to paint it. Are there some 13-year-olds out there capable of giving informed consent to have sex with an adult, probably…”
The man says, “The reason these age of consent laws exist is because we have to set some kind of a barometer here, we’ve got to pick some kind of an age…
Milo:You know, people are messy and complex. In the homosexual world particularly. Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents. Some of those relationships are the most -”
It sounds like Catholic priest molestation to me, another man says, interrupting Milo.
Milo: “And you know what, I’m grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.”
The surfacing of this interview, and the outrage it is causing even among his supporters, is looking as though it will finish Milo off (at least for now). He is backpeddling furiously, issuing clarifications left and right, and is scheduled to hold a press conference in New York this afternoon. None of this will help. The actual topic under discussion isn’t that bad: it is perfectly legitimate to acknowledge that the age of sexual consent is arbitrary and some individuals might find themselves on the wrong side of that line. And what Milo says in the second paragraph might well be true, but just because something is true it doesn’t mean that it should be endorsed. He would have been better off just stating that this happens and leaving it at that.
But that wouldn’t be Milo, would it? He just had to go and say that final paragraph, which puts a completely different slant on things by making it look as though he is endorsing the sexual abuse of minors. The whole discussion is on the edge to begin with, which is fine. But by stepping over that line with that sentence, Milo alienates the tens of thousands of men and women who believe in free speech and hate feminism in its modern form but really, really don’t want their 13 and 14 year old sons – gay or straight – to fall into the clutches of an older male authority figure who “helps them discover who they are” and “provides them with love” which takes the form of oral sex.
I’m assuming this video didn’t get much attention at the time because not many people saw it, but now the MSM has dug it up it is impossible to ignore. Simon & Schuster, who stood by Milo through all his latest controversies, have finally pulled the plug as they don’t want their brand to be tarnished with this sort of stuff. It is a colossal tactical error, and Milo ought to have known better.
There was a time not so long ago when Milo would appear at campus talks with serious social commentators like Christina Hoff Sommers. She no longer shares a platform with him. When he first entered Twitter he benchmarked himself against Ben Shapiro and even briefly enjoyed more followers than him, but Shapiro – who also gets banned from campuses and has protesters shouting him down – portrayed himself seriously with the odd clownish moment, and now seems to have carved out a career for himself. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ran for office in some capacity in the future.
With Milo, it was difficult to see what he actually wanted to do with his success and had he some idea he might have conducted his interviews with a bit more care. It was serious tactical error to say those words, but the error came from having no clear strategy. It was all “game” and he didn’t know when to stop.
Staying on the subject of sex and relationships and messed up women, I have been forwarded this article on Scarlett Johansson in which she is quoted as saying:
I don’t think it’s natural to be a monogamous person. I might be skewered for that, but I think it’s work. It’s a lot of work…And the fact that it is such work for so many people—for everyone—the fact of that proves that it is not a natural thing. It’s something I have a lot of respect for and have participated in, but I think it definitely goes against some instinct to look beyond.
So anything that is hard work is unnatural? As the opening line in a Universal Loafer’s Charter this would take some beating but it’s clearly bollocks. Pretty much anything worth doing requires effort, including getting yourself fed.
Well, some have gotten animal about insisting that monogamy is unnatural, pointing to examples in the animal kingdom.
On that basis eating one’s own turds is also natural. Should we be more open to this? Finding lunch partners might be problematic following adoption of such practices, but with enough education and a few Supreme Court rulings these issues can be overcome.
On the other side of the argument, people have pointed to the health benefits of monogamy, such as … offering more emotional and mental stability and comfort. Emotional and mental stability can in turn have a range of health benefits…
The final answer may be that monogamy is both natural and unnatural. Natural for some. Unnatural for others.
Ultimately, what’s natural depends on the individual and what fits the individual. It’s better to know where people really stand and let them choose the situation that works best for them as long as they are not hurting others (e.g., having multiple partners without appropriate protection and precaution can hurt others).
Well, yes. But that’s the issue, isn’t it? I am quite happy for people to engage in the wonders of polyamory and shun monogamy if it makes them happy, but I am permitted to be skeptical about those who, for no apparent reason, doth protest too much in telling me how great it is. Taking Scarlett Johansson as an example, I would have held her comments in higher regard had she said them when she was 21 and looked like this:
Than having been twice divorced at 32 and looking like this:
True, she now has the wisdom of experience under her belt but cynics might think that, having fucked up two marriages and is now staring down the barrel of middle age and diminishing professional appeal, by declaring monogamy as unnatural she is looking to shift the blame for her own failings and, perhaps, launch a secondary career as an angry, bitter celebrity with a lesbian haircut turning up at wimmin’s marches denouncing The Patriarchy.
Look, I get marriage and monogamy isn’t for everybody, and perhaps it isn’t “natural”. And I am quite prepared to believe that there are plenty of well-adjusted, normal people who are perfectly happy who have chosen to live in an alternative manner. Good for them. But it remains the case, at least in my experience, that most people are happiest in a normal, functioning, monogamous relationship despite all the difficulties involved in maintaining one. The vast majority of people would find the idea of their loving partner sleeping with somebody else to be abhorrent, and the jealousy and anger will bubble up from something deep inside them that has very much been put there by nature and not social conditioning. If celebrities want to make statements denouncing monogamy and authors want to pen articles assuring everybody that shagging around doesn’t cause friction with their own partners, then fine. But the rest of us are entitled to point out that their advice is hardly a universal blueprint for personal happiness and question their motives for imparting it.
Commentator David Moore has posted this link underneath my previous article on Madonna:
This month, the singer covers the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar, in which she talks about her out-of-the-ordinary lifestyle, touring the globe and dating much-younger men
I’ve created a very unconventional family. I have lovers who are three decades younger than me. This makes people very uncomfortable. I feel like everything I do makes people feel really uncomfortable,” she said.
No, it doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable. What it does is attract commentary, some of which might be unflattering, and some of which might consist of speculation as to your overall happiness despite your wealth, fame, and fortune.
Most recently, those ‘lovers’ included 25-year-old model Aboubakar Soumahoro. In 2014, she dated now-29-year-old back-up dancer Timor Steffens, and she famously dated Brazilian model Jesus Luz, who was 29 years her junior, from 2008 to 2010.
While people have always had much to say about her younger lovers, though, there isn’t usually as much buzz about men who date much-younger women. In fact, Madonna said, she faces a lot of criticism and commentary for things that men do without comments from the outside.
Firstly, let’s just dispel a myth. Everyone is aware that wealthy, famous men can attract women much younger than them, many of whom are very good looking. However, nobody thinks this is something especially noteworthy other than the fact that young women are often attracted by money and fame in a way that young men are usually not. Although men might give the occasional grunt of approval towards famous men who serially date much younger women, the practice is hardly universally admired, let alone seen as something to be emulated. To use a contemporary example, for all of Trump’s womanising he seems to be on good terms with his ex-wife and children and has been married to his current, ex-model wife for 11 years. Men will always admire a guy who settles with a beautiful woman and starts a family more than they will a perpetual bed-hopper.
Secondly, any older guy who hooks up with a young, beautiful foreign girl always stands accused of being used for a passport, especially if she is from an altogether different culture. The same applies to women. Aboubakar Soumahoro is from the Ivory Coast. Timor Steffens is born in the Netherlands of Moroccan origin. Jesus Luz is Brazilian, as the article says. What you don’t see is high-profile American male celebrities dating exotic foreigners who may need money and a passport. What you do see is wealthy but ageing European women dating exotic young men in places like Egypt and Gambia who turn out to be interested in a residency visa, cash, and not much else. Madonna is of course free to date whom she likes, but people are also free to draw their own conclusions and those conclusions aren’t all that different when the situation applies to men.
Speaking about why she continues to work into her 50s, Madonna said: “It’s inexplicable; it’s like breathing, and I can’t imagine not doing it.
“That is one of the arguments I would get into with my ex-husband, who used to say to me, ‘But why do you have to do this again? Why do you have to make another record? Why do you have to go on tour? Why do you have to make a movie?’ And I’m like, ‘Why do I have to explain myself?’ I feel like that’s a very sexist thing to say.”
Perhaps he just wanted to spend more time with you, and didn’t like you being away? Then you called him sexist, went and did whatever the hell you wanted, and now you’re divorced and dating a string of foreign kids.
“Does somebody ask Steven Spielberg why he’s still making movies?”
Yes, ever since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Hasn’t he had enough success? Hasn’t he made enough money? Hasn’t he made a name for himself? Did somebody go to Pablo Picasso and say, ‘Okay, you’re 80 years old. Haven’t you painted enough paintings?’ No. I’m so tired of that question.”
It’s a reasonable question to ask though, isn’t it? I mean it’s just a question, and nobody is disputing her answer. And I imagine the wives of Spielberg and Picasso did ask them whether they didn’t fancy taking it easy for a while and spending more time at home, and one would hope they had an adult discussion about it rather than an argument that ends in accusations of sexism, divorce, and lingering bitterness.
“I’m political. I believe in freedom of expression, I don’t believe in censorship,’ she said. ‘I believe in equal rights for all people. And I believe women should own their sexuality and sexual expression. I don’t believe there’s a certain age where you can’t say and feel and be who you want to be.”
Then thank heavens you were born in the modern United States and thus have enjoyed such freedoms your entire life.
She often speaks out about this issue. In 2016, she took to Instagram to decry ageism after she met criticism for a very revealing dress at the Met Gala.
Madonna, dear: being free to do what you want is not the same as being free from criticism of your wardrobe choices for high-profile events.
“When it comes to Women’s rights we are still in the dark ages,” she wrote on Instagram at the time.
She either doesn’t know much about women’s rights or she doesn’t know much about the Dark Ages. Or both.
“My dress at the Met Ball was a political statement as well as a fashion statement. The fact that people actually believe a woman is not allowed to express her sexuality and be adventurous past a certain age is proof that we still live in an age-ist and sexist society.
Nobody is saying you cannot express your sexuality. You can do whatever you please, and indeed you do just that. What you cannot do is make, by your own admission, a political statement and expect to be free from criticism.
I have never thought in a limited way and I’m not going to start. We cannot effect change unless we are willing to take risks By being fearless and By taking the road leas traveled by.
Wearing a certain dress to a celebrity ball is being fearless, is it? And turning up in risqué outfits is “the road less traveled” in celebrity circles? Really?
Thats how we change history.
Another one talking up her own legacy. Leave that to others to decide, eh?
If you have a problem with the way I dress it is simply a reflection of your prejudice. I’m not afraid to pave the way for all the girls behind me.
As the David Moore says in his comment: it all comes across as rather desperate.