Action! What Do We Do about Harvey Weinstein? – Is it time to take an honest look at how movies get made?

The media, in general, tends to package information into simplified, self-standing, bite-sized increments.   They do this usually out of necessity, not dishonesty.  Information needs to be concisely presented to audiences who want to feel informed but have the attention span of a wombat.  Headlines, sound-bytes, and clickbait are all responses to how we take in information but have also conditioned us to take these incomplete stories at face value.

A major theme of this blog is that I want people to remember that they and the world are not one-dimensional.  I am cautiously wading into the very murky waters of the Harvey Weinstein scandal with that in mind.  The world is grey.  There are no easy answers only more questions.

Right now, what we know is that Harvey Weinstein is accused of horrible, despicable acts by many women and I would speculate that we are all fairly sure that there is more to learn.  Much more.  More discoveries will trickle out about the sickening exploits of this man and the exploits of others in the film industry.

I am not here to just hate on the Movies.  People who make films can be from the sweetest and kindest people.  Hollywood is the place that gave Kermit the Frog and company the Standard Rich and Famous Contract:

Hollywood gave me countless hours of fun in high school quoting every line from Billy Maddison (“Considder me Miles Davis”).

Hollywood is also a zillion dollar industry filled with narcissistic people, powerful people, determined people and people who are all three.  There is a lot to gain: fame, money a following and when all that is gained, there is all the more to lose.  What could possibly go right?

People had a lot to say but not too many were saying that they were shocked.

There has been a rush to accuse, exploit, make statements, attack other statements, retract statements.

It seems that the takeaway message in many areas is that men are pigs.  Harvey Weinstein is just an example of a rich man using his power to harm, destroy and physically and psychologically maim women.  There are more. Beware of men.

Other equally foolish people are asking why on the one hand women would objectify themselves on the red carpet and on screen but on the other hand shout “wolf” when a man makes an advance.

It does not matter what you look like or what you wear, there is no protection from creeps.  Sadly, even a woman who shaved her head, dressed in a burlap burka and abstained from showering for a year would not escape from a twisted man like Weinstein.

Here is where things went off the rails for me though:

Actress Mayim Bialik wrote an op-ed article in the New York Times about her experiences in being a successful actress.  She writes:

“Though I am shocked and disgusted by the scope of his alleged predation, the fact that he may have abused his position of power does not surprise me in the least…”

“I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with being employed in an industry that profits on the objectification of women…I quickly learned even as a preteen actress that young girls with doe eyes and pouty lips who spoke in a high register were favored for roles by the powerful men who made those decisions.”

She went on to explain that she was raised to be cautious and aware while working in such a seedy industry:

“I always made conservative choices as a young actress, largely informed by my first-generation American parents who were highly skeptical of this industry in general — “This business will use you up and throw you away like a snotty tissue!”— and of its men in particular: “They only want one thing.” “

I eventually left the business when I was 19 to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles. I craved being around people who valued me more for what was inside my brain than what was inside my bra. After 12 years away from Hollywood, I returned to acting, largely because I had no health insurance and missed performing and making people laugh…

As a “nontraditional”-looking woman, I came back to an industry that had me auditioning for the “frumpy friend” or the “zaftig secretary,” though I eventually landed a role that has earned me four Emmy nominations.”

Bialik’s article was cherry-picked for quotes and discounted after it was featured alongside a few high profile tweets from actresses taking umbrage with her article as part of the #Me Too movement.

I am not a woman and I do not work in the entertainment industry but  I thought what she said made sense.  I did not hear her blaming the victims or a tone of schadenfreude. I heard that she knew she was walking into a snake pit and she is not surprised that people are getting bitten.

A seatbelt will not prevent you from getting into an accident, not smoking won’t inoculate you from cancer and looks will not deter a rapist.  I thought she was simply saying that If you are going to work in Hollywood you need both eyes open. They are marketing physicality and apparently, it is also the price of admission in many corners.  This is the nature of Hollywood.  Why is anyone surprised?  People have been joking about the casting couch for years.  Nobody will anymore.

All this being said, my question is not narrowed to the scope of who is right or wrong, it is: what do we do?

Consider the following:

  • For years women in fur coats have had paint splattered on them and people have protested just about every industry over their cruelty to animals –including the movie industry.  
  • There were protests before the Oscars last year about African Americans being excluded from roles in Hollywood
  • The Republican party has been slammed again and again an being anti-women
  • The Catholic church has been long scrutinized for the sexual abuse perpetrated by its priests

(I am not in any way saying that these are not valid reasons to protest at all )

Are the events in Hollywood no less appalling?  Will there be people picketing movie theatres across the country now that we know just how movies are made?

People who have seen movies produced by the Weinstein Company like Paddington, Silver Linings Playbook, The King’s Speech and The Nut Job have been unknowingly lining the pockets of an alleged rapist.

Surely there are more out there. And even after executives are purged, who is to say that more predators won’t spring up?

Should we boycott Hollywood?

In the world of football, players are retiring early due to the risks of CTE brought on by head trauma induced while playing.  The National Football League was sued for hundreds of millions of dollars over this.  Some people have stopped watching football altogether because of this.

Aspiring actresses and actors should consider the risks more carefully now before setting out to obtain the Standard Rich and Famous Contract for themselves.  Some kind of lifeline should be available if this happens again.  That is also something to kneel about.

Director Quentin Tarantino recently revealed that he knew what was going on to some degree:

“I knew enough to do more than I did,… There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”

He is admitting to being complicit more or less to what Harvey Weinstein was doing.

Should Tarantino be allowed to continue to make movies?

When the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State scandal happened, heads rolled. Joe Paterno was blamed for not doing enough to stop it.  Penn State was heavily reprimanded and lost tens of milions of dollars similar script should be followed here too.

Are there more directors, co-stars, producers that knew what was afoot but looked away?

How badly do we want to see explosions, impossibly beautiful people, expletive-filled dialogue and CGI universes that we can turn a blind eye to what is happening?  We need to have the fortitude to take an honest look at the movie industry.   Even if it means missing out on the next blockbuster sequel for the time being we should put a hold on seeing movies until we know sexual assault won’t be part of the audition process.

Finally, Jim Carry has been acting different and getting a lot of attention lately for his colorful behavior, and cryptic quotes that have to produced gems like this interview:

Some people are dismissing the man as crazy, attention seeking or on the verge of a breakdown.  Worst of all, what if he is telling the truth.  Here is a man who came from nothing and made it into the belly of the beast that is Hollywood and for a moment was the beast.

By the way that clip is almost unwatchable now.

Now he’s on the other side.  He has his fame, fortune, adulation and his main message about the movie machine is that there was really nothing there all along anyway.

The wisest man who ever lived said-“There is nothing new beneath the sun”

Now that the light shines brightly on this exposed industry what will we choose to do?

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