I, like the rest of you, have been watching the stories about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein roll out with an amazed sort of disgust.
There’s a lot to digest. Numerous victims. Numerous accusations. But most shocking, perhaps, is the laundry list of Weinstein’s enablers. From his own staff who helped Weinstein manipulate vulnerable women into situations where they could be exploited to members of the members of the news media who spiked stories about the movie titan’s alleged villainy. Who even allowed negative stories about his would-be accusers to be planted with them.
Negative stories which served as a deterrent to some of Weinstein’s other victims speaking out.
For me, perhaps the most shocking anecdote in all of this came from Ronan Farrow’s harrowing report in the New Yorker.
Italian actress and director Asia Argento, who says Weinstein raped her in 1997, actually portrayed that rape in one of her movies. When others saw the scene, the recognized Weinstein and his modus operandi:
In 2000, Argento released “Scarlet Diva,” a movie that she wrote and directed. In the film, a heavyset producer corners the character of Anna, who is played by Argento, in a hotel room, asks her for a massage, and tries to assault her. After the movie came out, women began approaching Argento, saying that they recognized Weinstein’s behavior in the portrayal. “People would ask me about him because of the scene in the movie,” she said.
Let that soak in for a moment.
Argento portrays in a movie a sexual assault by a powerful producer, yet because Weinstein’s are so widely known in Hollywood circles, people recognize his behavior. Despite the fact that it was presented as fiction.
But ask yourself this: Had Weinstein been a powerful Republican, would his apparent predilection for sexual harassment and assault survived as such an open secret? Would NBC News have spiked the story? Would the New York Times, in 2004, have succumbed to pressure from luminaries like Matt Damon and Russel Crowe to spike a story about Weinstein’s monstrous behavior as a former reporter has alleged?
Would a veritable army of entertainment industry reporters have cooperated with Weinstein in smearing his accusers?
Yes, yes. I’m aware of Trump’s comments about grabbing women by the vagina, and Bill O’Reilly’s multiple settlements with women over claims of sexual harassment, but the difference is that those stories were reported on aggressively.
Nobody at NBC News was interested in spiking stories about Roger Ailes and alleged misconduct.
For years now we’ve been treated to self-righteous Hollywood celebrities lecturing us about how evil Republicans are. There’s a Republican #waronwomen they told us.
And yet a man who was, as much as anybody, at the center of the entertainment industry was so notorious for his abusive behavior towards women that a fictionalized portrayal of that abuse in a movie was immediately recognized for what it was.
Harvey Weinstein was left free to victimize women, over and over again, because his films made lots of money. He provided career-making roles for actors. He donated to, and raised a lot of money for, progressive candidates and causes.
If his politics had been different the list of his victims would probably be smaller.
That’s the ugly truth. But Weinstein isn’t even the first high-profile example of this double standard.
Two words: Bill. Clinton.