I’m lounging in Richmond’s wonderful Jefferson Hotel, watching the hilarious and despicable parade of actors, actresses and Democrats—Hillary, the Obamas–rushing to condemn Harvey Weinstein now that his use to them is probably ended, and they see safety in numbers. Many of their statements—I was just listening to Mira Sorvino—mouth the same platitudes about how “this is no longer conduct that can be tolerated”—pssst: It was never tolerable behavior; your industry and colleagues just tolerated it anyway—and how it is essential that such sexual predators be stopped—pssst again: why didnt YOU do anything to stop it?– while saluting the courage of victims who come forward, without any adequate explanation in many cases of why they, or others, didn’t come forward for years and even decades while other actresses were victimized and even raped. (The alleged rape total is now up to three.)
Angelina Jolie said today that she was harassed by Weinstein a decade ago, decided not to work with him, and “warned other actresses she knew not to do so as well.” This dovetails nicely with another harassed non-reporting actress’s tale, that of Gwyneth Paltrow—years late, of course, that she was attacked by Weinstein, and her boy friend at the time, Brad Pitt, confronted him. Presumably Pitt also later knew about Jolie’s experience,being married to her and all. Brad Pitt was afraid to expose Harvey Weinstein? Sorry, I don’t believe it. I don’t believe George Clooney’s statement either, or long-time stars like Glenn Close. I also don’t understand Paltrow, whose father was himself an influencial producer. Her father wasn’t willing to stop Weinstein? Why not?
[CORRECTION: an earlier version of the post conflated Sorvino with Paltrow. Thanks to Spartan for the alert.]
This was a conspiracy of silence, abetted by Weinstein’s wallet. As long as he was a useful ally to ambitious actresses willing to exchange their ethical duties as citizens and human beings for parts and pay-offs, and liberal politicians employing wilful ignorance to keep money flowing to their campaigns and causes, Weinstein had a free pass to molest and abuse, and knew that he had a free pass.
The posturing by so many powerful people who could have made Weinstein a pariah at any time—but just not during the current campaign at the time, or while the latest promising Miramax project was being produced—is nauseating. Even if one excuses the struggling starlet—and I don’t, not when she’s struggling and afraid, and definitely not years later, when she knows what happened to her is still going on but she’s now a Hollywood power herself—there is no way to excuse the community. This isn’t sort of like inner cities that have a “no snitch” culture that allows crime, drugs and murder to rot everything while innocent victims are terrorized, it is exactly like them. Victims still have ethical duties as citizens and human beings. Of course it’s hard. If being ethical was easy, we wouldn’t have to keep talking about it.
Of course, the most complicit of all may have been Harvey Weinstein’s business partners, including his brother. There is no reasonable possibility that some, most, or all of them didn’t know that their meal-ticket was a sick, sexual predator. Certainly Weinstein’s brother, now running The Weinstein Company. Now I read in the Wall Street Journal before me that the company is planning on rebranding, taking the Weinstein name off of the company. The idea is that after a few successes and maybe some convenient amnesia, people will begin trusting the company again. Hey, let’s call it “Trust Entertainment”! (That’s my idea, not theirs.)
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Is this ethical?
My take, though I am, as always with ethics quizzes, open to a better answer, is no.
It would not be ethical for O.J. Simpson to have plastic surgery, a sex-change, and to invent a new identity so women would date him again
It would not have been ethical for Arthur Anderson to quietly keep the same personnel and culture and emerge as different accounting firm.
And The Weinstein Company should not get away with calling itself Trust Entertainment.
In “Marathon Man,” the William Goldman film and novel, a Mengele-like Nazi fugitive named Szell shaves his distinctive white hair and visits the diamond sector of New York City, pretending to be a Jew among the same people he tortured and killed on Hitler’s behalf. A concentration camp survivor recognizes him, and he is pursued down the street as the old woman points at him and screams, “SZELL! SZELL!”
If The Weinstein Group tries to hide from its accountability and past, everyone in Hollywood and the media should never allow the public and artists to forget what it did, who it hurt, and that it is a different company in name only.They should metaphorically point to every new project, every new enterprise, and cry, “Weinstein! Weinstein!”
Lest we forget.
UPDATE: By sheer coincidence, my wife and I rented “Wind River” after I posted this. It’s terrific. It also was produced by The Weinstein Company, which we only discovered in the closing credits.
I’ll be more careful next time. So should you.