Of bloody course

“Weinstein Company co-founder Bob Weinstein has been making a dedicated effort to distance himself and his company from his brother, Harvey Weinstein, both by working to fire him from the company and by dismissing him as “sick and depraved” over the many allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted women. But now Bob Weinstein is facing a sexual harassment allegation of his own.” From: Bob Weinstein has now been accused of sexual harassment | A.V. Club

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“It’s not over exactly, but everything is different now”

‘The patriarchal structures we all live and work in, which is to say, just about everywhere, unless you happen to live in a shipping container the wilderness of New Zealand with Holly Hunter (in which case, send me your coordinates)—exhibit the same patterns over and over and over again. For every old, established, wildly successful “lion” like Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, and Harvey Weinstein, there are dozens if not hundreds of men whose names we don’t know who’ve made shocking and unwanted sexual advances. Indeed, what about these small-time motherfuckers?’ From: You Can’t Get Away With This Shit Anymore – The Awl

Well, I certainly hope that The Awl is right, and that my cynical take on the lasting effects of the Weinstein revelations is wrong. But I feel like we’ve been down this road before. It’s not just the giant turd sandwiches who perpetuate the systems that encourage and protect predators, it’s also the small turd sandwiches, and whichever of their flunkies who’ve so far managed to not be victimized by the people signing their paychecks. There’s a lot of inertia in that, and it’s going to be tough to push it into the ditch of history. But I hope it’s possible, this time.

Hollyworst

The Weinstein allegations have gotten me thinking. Mostly about what a piece of shit Harvey Weinstein is. But also something else that I’m having trouble boiling down into a coherent, succinct thought. Bear with me here.

The story of the Hollywood bigshot who uses his power to sexually assault young women is a tale as old as time. In fact, Hollywood’s abuse of women is a well-worn trope of the stories Hollywood itself has popularized. It’s something that we, the consumers of entertainment, can’t pretend to be unfamiliar with. Yet it’s something about which we feel blasé enough to keep pouring money into a system that enables and perpetuates that abuse. I guess it’s like football: you know people are getting hurt in serious ways, but as long as the details are obscured slightly, you still tune in when the game is on.

Or maybe the sexual abuse of actresses is something we associate with old Hollywood — a relic of the past, nothing to be concerned with now. For surely, in these more enlightened times…

No, that can’t be it. Because if that were the case, Weinstein’s downfall would lead to some kind of change in how things are done in Hollywood, some remediation of a system that concentrates power in the hands of the predators, and silences the victims that Hollywood treats as just so much grist for the ever-grinding mill. But, as ever, nothing will actually change. Stay alive; you’ll inevitably see tales of long-hushed-up abuse reported to have taken place in 2018 and beyond.

You might think it’s too early to say that, but fuck it. Systems surrounding the rich and powerful change slowly, and only when the rich and powerful as an aggregate decide they will.

Do you imagine there’s a bunch of Hollywood execs (and directors, and casting agents, and…) who are currently pounding their fists on their desks, and shouting to their assistants, “Goddamn it! This is intolerable! We’ve got to do something about powerful men preying on vulnerable young people, right now!” I suspect not. Call me cynical, if you must.

What I do imagine is that there’s probably a fair number of Hollywood big wheels having lengthy conversations with their lawyers at the moment. “Er… listen, I need to tell you some things… I don’t want to end up with a Weinstein problem here.” I expect there’s some sweaty consciences — not the sort that lead to deep introspection, but rather the kind that wonder how to avoid being told on.

Sure, more allegations against more of Hollywood’s elite might come out, and a few will lose their jobs, temporarily. But there are people — very rich and powerful people — who have a vested interest in ensuring that the system lives on. And it’s not just the direct perpetrators of the abuse, but also their enablers, their corporate dependents, their shareholders — anybody who fears the chaos that would ensue should their boss or employee bite the dust.

After all, what does the wellbeing of a few (hundred? thousand?) victims matter, when you might be discomfited by having to find another job or hireling?

Can we be done with Hollywood now?