Like many in America I have been obsessed with the downfall of Harvey Weinstein this week. Every day there has been a steady stream of salacious stories about how the movie mogul acted inappropriately, even criminally, during the last twenty or so years. Some very high-profile women and many more lesser known actresses have come forward with claims of sexual misconduct. Being Hollywood I suppose I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn that a studio boss would use his position to curry favor with beautiful women. What did surprise me, however, was the sheer number of claims being reported. The scale and depth of his depravity is shocking.
Beyond these highly disturbing stories come the denials from long-time collaborators. We had no idea, they state, with horror and disgust. As more of these denials come to the fore I find myself growing increasingly skeptical. How could the sickening habits of such a high-profile man go unnoticed for so long? For me, the only obvious answer is that they didn’t.
Harvey Weinstein is a tremendous success in Hollywood. Even the incomparable Meryl Streep referred to him as “God” in a 2012 Golden Globe acceptance speech. Show business is notoriously competitive and cutthroat and often success isn’t driven by talent alone but by who you know. Just look at celebrity offspring. Are they so much more talented that the hordes of young hopefuls that arrive in Hollywood each year? In some instances, perhaps, but in most probably not. Scott Eastwood springs to mind. Certainly, he is handsome but without his father’s name, his father’s face, and his father’s contacts would he really be landing plumb roles in superstar franchises? One can only wonder.
Anyone trying to break into Hollywood would know that having Harvey Weinstein as an ally would open a lot of doors. Just look at all the Oscar winning roles his studio has produced over the years. Harvey knew this too and used this power to intimidate or cajole his way into the arms of beautiful young starlets desperate for their big break. Surprising? Probably not, after all this is show business. But the great Hollywood denial? Disappointing, but I suppose that is not surprising either. So many of us are driven by self-preservation. Why should Hollywood be any different?
If Harvey had been only been moderately successful he would have been brought down years ago. I’ve read many articles trying to pinpoint how he got away with his lewd behavior for so long and I think they are missing a glaring truth. His shield of armor was not forged by ignorance, confidentiality agreements, discretion, fear of retaliation, quid pro quo, etc. Of course, these played a role but the key driver rendering him untouchable is missing. Harvey got away with it because he was successful. All the denials aside, Harvey’s close collaborators had to have at least suspected something. There are far too many accusations of his sexual misdeeds to have gone unnoticed for long. And for those who may have heard or noticed? Many likely choose to ignore the ugly truth right in front of them. Harvey was the King of the Land of Dreams. I wonder how many in Hollywood made a deal with the devil to secure a little piece of that for themselves?
But even Kings sometimes fall…
I read a quote once that is attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. but I believe he paraphrased from an nineteenth-century priest. Either way, I think it’s relevant to this discussion.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Which brings me to current day. Bravo to all those brave women who came forward with their stories and felled the mighty Hollywood beast. It took a lot of courage to share their experiences and the cost to some I’m sure was high. Look at the career trajectory of Rose McGowan as just one example. But because these women refused to stay silent the truth has finally come to light. Hopefully now justice, long overdue, can be served