Liberal Hollywood? Nothing is more conservative than an industry built by powerful old men to exploit women.
✎ Wayne K. Spear | October 12, 2017 ◈ Current Events
IT’S ENCOURAGING TO SEE the stars burn with indignation this week, but the spectacle would be better had Harvey Weinstein’s creepy predations not been an open Hollywood secret and a punchline before they finally became a scandal. Tinseltown’s men are making the correct noises now, but they aren’t the ones who put the former into Weinstein’s updated CV, former film studio executive. That honor belongs to female actresses and two female reporters at the New York Times, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who one week ago exposed a man who for years made a habit of exposing himself. Good riddance, Harvey Weinstein, you pig. You were forever cajoling women to watch you take a bath, and you forever looked like you needed one.
Harvey Weinstein is the elephant in the room.
Just as you’d expect, the Trumpians have taken to this news like the wolves that they are. Harvey Weinstein! A Democratic donor! Supporter of Hillary and Obama! And Weinstein was a donor to, and supporter of, Democratic politicians and causes. For this reason his crimes have become a symbol in the minds of many for all that is rotten within liberalism and the left. Hollywood, a pit of leftist godless sexual iniquity and deviance. A land of anarchic carnal indulgences and hedonistic arrogance. How on earth do they get away with this disregard for family values? You’ve heard the saying. When you’re a star, they let you do it.
Harvey Weinstein is gone, at least for now, but his species is far from extinct. We’re certain to revisit the sordid genre of sex, liar, and audiotape because men have made sure that the institutions which shelter and abet the Weinsteins of our world remain intact. Weinstein survived his 2015 audiotape exposure, as did a certain high-profile political candidate, in 2016. Our world still has locker rooms and casting couches. There’s still an elephant in the room, and the elephant is wearing a bathrobe, and if you don’t give the elephant a massage you will never work in this town.
So much for Hollywood liberalism. The industry clings to and conserves the outdated and pernicious garbage of our past. “I came of age in the 60s and 70s,” Weinstein said, “when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.” His self-defence is ridiculous, but it’s also revealing. Hollywood is a throwback to an earlier era, an essentially conservative institution where female employees are expected to indulge the whims of older men as a condition of advancement. The film critic Manohla Dargis puts it like this, in her article “Harvey Weinstein Is Gone. But Hollywood Still Has a Problem.”
Outsiders tend to see the industry as liberal, and while insiders do promote progressive causes, the business hews to a fundamental conservatism. This conservatism shapes its story recycling, its exploitation of women (and men) and its preservation of a male-dominated, racially homogeneous system. Despite pressure, including from the likes of Ava DuVernay and Lena Dunham, the industry resists change. Those in power don’t see an upside in ceding it.
Miramax won over the outside world with artful stories, but on the inside it was a toxic environment over which presided a manipulative sexual predator and rapist. For decades Weinstein prevailed against allegations of harassment, all the while honing his grotesque sexual predator playbook. (From the Twohey and Kantor Times article: “Working for Mr. Weinstein could mean getting him out of bed in the morning and doing ‘turndown duty’ late at night ….”) Weinstein ought to be a type of man consigned to the past, but he isn’t. Hollywood ought to be setting a better example, but it isn’t. It’s still an industry run by powerful men to exploit women, and there’s nothing progressive or liberal about that. On the contrary it’s conserving the very worst instincts of men, in the interests of money and power, and in that sense it’s deeply conservative. And only men can change it.