This column may contain strong language, sexual content, adult humor, and other themes that may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.
So long, Harvey Weinstein.
His fall from grace, less than two weeks after the bombshell exposés in The New York Times and The New Yorker, not to mention the many women who’ve come forward since, was swift and brutal, the latest karate chop to any hopes of a comeback administered in the form of his expulsion from Hollywood’s de facto governing body, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
For a former titan of the film industry, whose films have garnered more than 80 Oscars, the path from much-feted movie mogul to pariah must be deeply galling. Yet there’s been little by way of remorse from Weinstein himself.
At first he admitted to being “an old dinosaur learning new ways,” blaming his coming of age in the ’60s and ’70s for his mistreatment of women because it was the era “when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”
His limp defense conveniently failed to take into account a few things: that he’s no Don Draper (not that Don Draper’s cavalier behavior towards women is less excusable), and that if old dinosaurs did learn new ways they would not be extinct today.
Subsequent statements insisted that any sex that may have occurred as a result of what Ashley Judd called his “coercive bargaining” skills was consensual. Well, the man makes movies, so in the fantasy film that plays on a constant loop in his mind, every woman would be foolish to turn down the chance to suck the great Harvey Weinstein’s d*ck. “No” is just a prelude to an eventual “yes” whether you are Gwyneth Paltrow or Angelina Jolie, or the model trying to break into acting, or the waitress hoping to be discovered, or the assistant’s assistant trying not to get fired from her job.
And in his mind, his loathsome, abusive behavior is a “sickness,” an uncontrollable disorder, a sex addiction that a stint in rehab should be able to cure. Even his own brother and former business partner Bob Weinstein at first wasted no time waving the sickness excuse:
“My brother Harvey is obviously a very sick man. I’ve urged him to seek immediate professional help because he is in dire need of it. His remorse and apologies to the victims of his abuse are hollow … he has proven himself to be a world class liar and now rather than seeking help he is looking to blame others. His assertion is categorically untrue from A to Z. I pray he gets the help that he needs and I believe that it is him behind all of these stories to distract from his own failure to get help.”
A week later, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bob was singing a slightly different tune. The sexual harassment and abuse scandal has barely abated as allegations continue to surface. Bob admitted to knowing his brother had been unfaithful to his wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, but believed that all his affairs had been consensual. He also acknowledged Harvey’s history of non-sexual verbal and physical harassment. “It’s a sickness that’s inexcusable. And I, as a brother, understood and was aware as a family member, that my brother needed help and that something was wrong.”
Harvey, however, couldn’t care less about the women who’ve come forward and spoken about their own personal experiences with Harvey, the trauma and shame they’ve had to live with all these years while simultaneously sucking it all up—excuse the pun—as they did the publicity rounds for their films, smiling as they posed with him for photos, thanking him from the stage as they clutched their Oscars, no doubt while cringing inside and trying to quell the nausea and rage the mere mention of his name would summon.
As Bob said, “It’s unbelievable that even to this moment he is more concerned with who sold him out. I don’t hear concern or contrition for the victims. And I want them to hear that. Harvey has no remorse whatsoever.”
I don’t think we should hold our breath either waiting for some semblance of remorse or contrition. What Harvey Weinstein has is not a sickness. What he had, up to very recently, was power. And the complicity of an entire ecosystem of enablers.
Like many men before him, Harvey Weinstein did what he did with nary a consequence for decades to countless women simply because he could. A sick man he is not. He is a predator who knowingly and deliberately used his position as a powerful man in Hollywood to lure women to his hotel room and badger them relentlessly into being given a massage by him or watching him masturbate, or having sex with him. Some women managed to get out of his hotel room untouched but no less disgusted; others were not so fortunate. For many women, jerking off a man like Harvey Weinstein was an occupational hazard—it was what you had to do to land a part in a movie or work in the industry.
So bravo, Hollywood for turning your back on Harvey Weinstein. But before you pat yourselves on the back, I hope you realize that he is just one in a long line of predators and abusers stretching back to Roman Polanski, Alfred Hitchcock, and beyond. If you don’t, then you really are living in La-la Land.
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.