So Harvey Weinstein is in the firing line for multiple claims of sexual harassment by many people. By women who have experienced encroaching encounters with the film producer, and many men who claim to have witnessed the same.
And I’m putting my money where my mouth is after my last article about Casey Affleck, as this time around there has been evidence of Harvey’s alleged crudity released to the media:
He personifies the living embodiment of the successful Hollywood bully, even long before these accusations came out. We’ve been subjected to anti-Semitic references in our entertainment about film executives being crude, bloated and gluttonous pigs.
And here’s a Jewish guy from New York who makes it big in the biz, ramrodding his way through people and becoming comfortably successful.
The argument centres though from the concept of success. Do you succeed being a nice guy, or do you step over people to make your way to the top, and enjoy the fruits of comfort by taking what you get?
I’ll hypothesise here. He entered the film business with a passion, met with many people and persuaded them with his charisma and charm to enter into business deals that allowed him control over creating films.
This drew the attention of so many producers, creative directors, set directors, lighting companies and eventually actors, all who wanted to work and observed his success rate.
And in turn, all of them, not just actors, had to endure his volatile, entitled personality. He would scream and shout if something didn’t go his way (as depicted in some media we didn’t realise related to him, see “You may have missed Hollywood’s Inside Jokes about Harvey Weinstein”)
That meant women tolerated his advances too for many years, with the exception of strong-minded actors who flatly denied and left but kept their mouths shut as they were fearful of losing their opportunities for work. And those that did speak up, were ignored and ostracised.
It also put men in awkward positions too, from his business partners through to the lighting guy. Those that needed work, which Harvey provided, made the conscious choice of associating with him despite the rumours and the jokes, and keeping silent. Some said something though, as Kate Beckinsale pointed out below:
#dayofthegirl @katebeckinsale “I was called to meet Harvey Weinstein at the Savoy Hotel when I was 17.I assumed it would be in a conference room which was very common.When I arrived,reception told me to go to his room.He opened the door in his bathrobe.I was incredibly naive and young and it did not cross my mind that this older,unattractive man would expect me to have any sexual interest in him.After declining alcohol and announcing that I had school in the morning I left,uneasy but unscathed.A few years later he asked me if he had tried anything with me in that first meeting.I realized he couldn’t remember if he had assaulted me or not.I had what I thought were boundaries-I said no to him professionally many times over the years-some of which ended up with him screaming at me calling me a cunt and making threats,some of which made him laughingly tell people oh “Kate lives to say no to me.”It speaks to the status quo in this business that I was aware that standing up for myself and saying no to things,while it did allow me to feel uncompromised in myself,undoubtedly harmed my career and was never something I felt supported by anyone other than my family.I would like to applaud the women who have come forward,and to pledge that we can from this create a new paradigm where producers,managers,executives and assistants and everyone who has in the past shrugged and said”well, that’s just Harvey /Mr X/insert name here”will realize that we in numbers can affect real change.For every moment like this there have been thousands where a vulnerable person has confided outrageous unprofessional behavior and found they have no recourse,due to an atmosphere of fear that it seems almost everyone has been living in.I had a male friend who,based on my experience,warned a young actress who said she was going to dinner with Harvey 2 be careful.He received a phone call the next day saying he would never work in another Miramax film;the girl was already sleeping with Harvey and had told him that my friend had warned her off.Let’s stop allowing our young women to be sexual cannon fodder,and let’s remember that Harvey is an emblem of a system that is sick,and that we have work to do”
We did this because we follow the Alpha, the leader and the inspiration and we’ve seen this happen everywhere. Steve Jobs was a massive bully to people to make the iPhone happen, and so many profited.
Republicans followed Donald Trump and made him president because the select few that threw their lot with him profited from his success.
Here in South Africa, Jacob Zuma is the figurehead of corruption, yet his powerful presence and eerie gaze keeps him seated in power. Meanwhile, charges of malpractice with arms deals and ACTUAL admittance to sexually exploiting women are as insignificant as air, because the elite few make an easy buck.
And I’ve seen this happen myself. I’ve been treated like crap from bosses and colleagues at work, and by other comedians who dismiss me and then head off into success, while I stay at home feeling sorry for myself.
It’s not them being successful, it’s me letting them getting away with it, and therein lies my argument.
The argument about women being subjects of objectification is the tip of the iceberg for a species (not even society) that treats everyone beneath them, let alone women, as subjects in their empire, and now the Hollywood version of the French Revolution has stormed the proverbial Bastille.
Am I saying that we should forgive Harvey for his crude ways because he basically contributed to an economy?
No, I’m saying we all enabled his behaviour, right down to the pleb that bought the movie ticket. We let this happen because we’re down-to-basics humans with vanity and a thirst for survival, and we would accept his whims to get what we want.
The actor that accepted his invite to his home and was subjected to his crudity. Whether they walked out or not, they initially said yes.
The businessman that shook his hand and paid him cash with a promise on return. Despite hearing about someone that accused him of lewd behaviour.
The director that accepted his funding for his desperate attempt at creating his vision.
Harvey Weinstein needs to be tried in a court of law for his behaviour based on the evidence and the testimony of the many people who are finally speaking up.
But never forget, you, me and everyone else let him do it, right from the start. Myself, the street cleaner or Joe Bloggs from 24 Nowhere St might not have known that he funded, and assisted with legal means, an amazing set of films, but inadvertantly I enabled him by paying money for movie tickets that funded his grisly behaviour.