These past few days he caught my attention. Harvey Weinstein. Unmasked.
Petulant, controlling, surly. Harvey’s behaviour well-known in LA, often reported. His verbal abuse of others tolerated, excused, even celebrated. Harvey believed the only way to achieve his ambition was absolute control. The only way to win Hollywood.
Then, Harvey’s life unraveled. The women spoke out. The Mossad agents protecting Harvey stood down. Stories leaked, reputable media outlets ignore the story until the sound of those women screaming could no longer be ignored. Rape, molestation, finger fucking.
I am powerless over my addiction… my life has become unmanageable. It’s a pretty astute description of any addict. I am powerless over that which may kill me: drugs/drink/gambling/sex/food. I do not consider the consequences of my actions therefore: my life falls apart.
Any addict who confronts their addiction must first accept the notion of powerlessness. This seems obvious to most addicts hitting our desperate rock bottom… but I betcha a billion dollars Harvey Weinstein, whose name is synonymous with the word control, will struggle to understand this baffling first step. He may never understand but unless he humbly embraces his part in this catastrophe of his own making there will be no second chance, no triumphant return to Hollywood for Harvey Weinstein.
I met Harvey a few times these past 20 years, notably at the NYC Philomena screening with Fern Mallis. He was gruff and rude. I didn’t expect anything else. Weinstein had long ago become a grotesque caricature of himself. There are so many apocryphal stories about Harvey Weinstein from too many miserable producers and directors… their projects in tatters after Harvey intervenes; re-cuts, re-imagines, ultimately buying and bludgeoning the outcome of their project into his project. An editor told to lose all the wide shots from a director’s cut because, according to Harvey, wide shots are meaningless if one is watching the movie on a tiny screen in an airplane.
Harvey could make or break a career in Hollywood. There was no other narrative on offer. Film folk strode bravely into the Weinstein inferno never knowing if they and their film would return ruined or gilded with Oscar gold.
Men like Harvey are very familiar in Hollywood. The executives, CEOs and super lawyers I met owning up to their addiction in the rooms of AA and SAA in LA all had similar stories, sobbing when they got caught, pleading with their wives not to lose access to their children. Every day confessing misogyny to their peers at stag meetings all over the West Side.
Let’s get one thing straight. Harvey did not act alone. He had a bunch of conspirators: lawyers, assistants and relatives. The most powerful players in Hollywood looked after him, turned a blind eye to his appalling behavior… ’cause he made them billions of dollars. Studio and Agency bosses who, although they did not do the abusing themselves, aided and abetted his abuse. He could rely on a cabal of powerful white men to get him out of trouble by paying his victims and making them sign crippling nda.
Unless you’ve sat with men like Harvey Weinstein listening to their most troubling secrets it is impossible to explain how they get away with what Harvey got away with. These problems go to the very heart of the Hollywood star making… and taking away machine.
Let’s remind ourselves, this outrage wasn’t generated by women. Women’s stories have been used as evidence for the prosecution but this scandal was manufactured by men to strategically bring Harvey Weinstein down. D’you think for one moment if he hadn’t pissed somebody off really badly this story would be news?
When Harvey became too much of a liability, powerful men removed his protected status. Why did they choose to bring him down now after years of abuse? Why did it suit them to make an example of him? Why?
There are many men like Harvey in positions of power in the entertainment industry… in every industry, behaving just like Harvey. There’s little appetite for real change. We condemn people for not speaking up sooner, for not breaking the silence. Yet, some of the brave women who told the truth about Harvey have been savagely criticised for doing so. Why did they accept a cash settlement from The Weinstein Company in lieu of the truth? We all know why. Male abusers are preciously, lavishly safe guarded.
Unlimited access to sex with whomever you desire is the greatest prize afforded to those who make millions and achieve high status. Men, who without question or sacrifice can ‘grab them by the pussy’ without consequence. Can cum over an intern’s blue dress as she kneels demurely in the Oval Office. Can grab a young boys ass and know he wouldn’t dare complain.
Nobody wants to hear the truth about powerful men. Everyone wants to shoot the messenger. Remember when I wrote about Bryan Singer?
Another ‘open secret’: fashion photographer Bruce Weber continues to behave like Harvey Weinstein toward young male models. Taking pictures of them naked for his ‘private collection’ molesting and assaulting and promising lucrative campaigns if they give in to his gentle caress, taking the campaign away if they refuse.
This is as big a secret as Harvey’s expose. How does it sound? Who wants to shoot the messenger? Every fashion editor in the world turns a blind eye, a deaf ear. When Terry Richardson was exposed they said nothing. Terry still works… making money the rest of us can only dream of.
I had these experiences. Accepting the invitation construed as a tacit agreement to have sex. And yes. It’s all about privilege, entitlement… my first ‘date’ with a very famous hair dresser ended with what I now understand was rape. I was 18. He had the power to change my life. My story sounds pathetic when I tell it to myself in isolation, I learned not to tell it. Together these stories change perceptions, and make us stronger. This outrage breaking over the world about Weinstein sends a clear message to those men with power and entitlement to reconsider what is acceptable behavior. I am not a victim. Telling our stories will not make us victims. I am not my story.