The spectacular (and scummy) fall of uber-producer Harvey Weinstein is front-page news across the U.S. Given that new accounts of his disgusting behavior come out daily, it must be hard for journalists to keep the story up-to-date.
In a statement that Weinstein issued earlier this week, his explanation was that he “came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”
First of all, Weinstein’s exploitative predations would never have been excusable, even in the drug-addled, “free love” climate of the 1960s and 1970s. But it’s still appropriate to offer a little “we told you so.” Many older folks — people of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation — argued at the time that the sexual revolution and corresponding cultural changes Weinstein’s contemporaries clamored for (which he now blames for his conduct) would end in tears. For that bit of prescient wisdom, they were called “prudes,” “squares,” “out of it,” “uncool” — walking manifestations of the dreaded “generation gap.”
Even more telling than Weinstein’s implausible defense is the pathetic penance he offers: All should be forgiven, eventually, because he’s planning to go after Donald Trump!
That may seem like a bit of a non sequitur. But Weinstein is just playing by one of the left’s primary rules (used successfully by Hollywood publicists and political consultants for decades): utter lack of personal virtue will be overlooked as long as you hold the correct political views.
In truth, Trump would be revered in Hollywood, in spite of — or perhaps because of — his conspicuous consumption, multiple marriages, proclaimed affairs and coarse language, as long as he toed the party line on abortion on demand, climate change, white privilege and gun control.
Yet the same people who work in an industry that tirelessly promotes careless sexuality and wretched excess can with no sense of irony join protest marches or take the stage during their “comedy” routines, rock performances and award acceptance speeches, and lecture the rest of us here in flyover country about how our values don’t measure up. This is just one more reason why Americans are disgusted with the entertainment business, its deluded dilettantes, self-absorbed starlets and posturing power players.
Meryl Streep (who once jokingly called Weinstein “God”) also issued a statement in which she condemned his behavior, claims she didn’t know about it, and asserts, “Not everybody knew.” She continues, “I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it.” (Really? Tell that to Ronan Farrow or the reporter who broke the story, Meghan Twohey.)
It’s safe to assume that Streep is telling the truth when she says she was never harassed by Weinstein, but her other assertions don’t pass the smell test. Glenn Close’s public statement references years of rumors. Nor was she the only one who heard them. Lena Dunham’s statement decries “the silence of the men,” but admits she heard the stories, kept mum and played along. What about the women?
Everyone, apparently, was too afraid — or too concerned for their own careers — to say anything. (As National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke brilliantly points out, this exposes Hollywood’s deceit and maddening hypocrisy about “fearing” President Donald Trump: We now see how they act — or don’t — when they truly fear someone — like Harvey Weinstein. They’re no more afraid of Donald Trump than they are of Donald Duck.)
Tina Brown wrote a column for The New York Times (which she, too, used as an opportunity to equate President Trump and Weinstein). She concludes by saying, “[I]t’s a different era now. … It’s over.”
Oh, no. It’s just getting started. Former child actors like Corey Feldman and Elijah Wood have referenced the equally well-known (and equally hushed) stories about serial child predators, exploiters and pedophiles in the entertainment business. It’s time to see if Hollywood can put its substantial money where its big mouth is. Time to out the worst offenders of the bunch. Time to drain the Hollywood swamp.
Laura Hollis is a Creators Syndicate columnist and a teacher of business law and entrepreneurship who holds faculty appointments at the Mendoza College of Business and the Law School at the University of Notre Dame.