And so in the wake of the Las Vegas Massacre (58 dead, 500 plus injured when the Mainstream Media chose to put it focus elsewhere) we start hearing about how Harvey Weinstein acted as the gate keeper for ambitious Hollywood Goddess wannabees – by subjecting them to sexual abuse and, for those whose ambitions proved shaky (by not welcoming his advances greedily enough), turning them into rejects of Hollywood. All the while cranking out some of the best movies that had no real link to the Marvel Superhero Universe over the past twenty-five years.
I want to know what’s going on, as something doesn’t quite add up.
I’m not quite willing to chalk up this as the changing ethos of the American society. After all, we still forgive all if the person is successful enough in what we want them to be successful in to be worth forgiving – and the sins are forgiveness-worthy. Woody Allen is still a welcome force in Cinema despite being accused of doing the one sin now deemed patently unforgivable – partly because Woody did his penance (Yes, marrying adopted daughter Soon Yi is penance) and partly because he started putting out good movies once again (before being accused of abusing Soon Yi and Dylan, he put out some abysmal films that even art houses did not like).
Hollywood mogels have been known as lecherous bastards who, because they controlled the entry gates to the silver screen they could – and often did – extract their price in sexual pleasure from many women, many of whom would maybe get a couple of shots as unnamed support actors in a few films and fade into the background of Los Angeles (or become early episode fallout in reality shows). It’s a low-risk, high-payoff activity as long as things were going well, and generations of high-level letchers benefitted, being forcefuly made to step aside only when the business models changed enough to cause the old men, proving unable to change with the times, to be replaced with newer, younger men who seemed pre-adapted to the new reality.
Which leads to the obvious question: Was Harvey Weinstein losing his touch? Twenty-five years is enough time to burn through a man’s peak performance period (our physical peaks happen in their mid-twenties, observation, skills and practice more than compensates for loss of sheer talent for a long, long time after that in most fields), and at the age of 65 it’s obvious that the guy is probably on the downward slope of his career (yes I’m being ageist, but aging DOES have its effects and there’s only so much you can do to fight back). I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he could have gone out in a blaze of glory – and turned all those tales of enforced sexual debauchery now staining him into a footnote for a tell-all book to be written six months after his death, IF they were to be told at all – if he had just decided to retire over a period of a few years starting a couple years ago. It IS kinda interesting that, starting with 2013 the movies that he was the Executive Producer start getting more obscure and less successful, with The Hateful Eight probably his best known movie after that.
The next question that comes to my mind is: What else did Harvey Weinstein do to give others a reason/an excuse to push him aside? Bill Cosby went on a crusade in favor of morals and families in the black community, and while his flaw was more egregious than most (Really, Bill, did you REALLY NEED to knock those women out to have sex with them – especially when many of them were ready and willing to GIVE themselves to you?) I can’t help but think that a large portion of America doesn’t mind Black America in the state that it’s presently in (Bill Clinton in office: “What are they going to do? Vote Republican?”) and that Bill Cosby paid for THAT. Similarly, Mel Gibson may have gone off the deep end by identifying with Opus Dei to an extreme, but before that he funded, cast and shot The Passion Of The Christ, probably the most audacious film in the 2000s so far, and there was a need to keep things the way they were – so by saying the man who made the movie was a nut, Hollywood could continue with its secular, quasi-libertarian agenda.
Thing is, there wasn’t any major thing going on – unless you consider his support for Hillary. With a sizeable group of people on the Republican/Libertarian/Religious Conservative side of the nation not ready to let things lie, the idea of tarring the left with an obviously criminal/immoral stroke is irresistable. Not only do they get to signal their morality to themselves by pointing to the other and highlighting the vulnerabilities on the other side (I actually like hypocricy up to a certain point – after all, as François de La Rochefoucauld said, “L’hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend à la vertu. (Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue.).”). After all, if you’re making yourself out to be the paragon of virtue, it does not make sense to keep company with folks who make a mockery of those virtues you raise highest.
There’s also the issue of Hollywood beginning to fall apart. Sure people are going to films the world over, but there’s a difference between a film that can make it in America alone and a film that has to translate to a Chinese people who understand the action better than the nuances of American Culture (and a Chinese Government that knows what it wants and is in a position to dictate it to others). Those billion dollar grossing films Hollywood makes doesn’t give them the freedom to do what it desires, but instead forces them to fit their films within the markets that give them their money.
One way to tell this is to see how many movies hit upon Tibet. For a while in the late nineties and early oughts there were plenty of movies that hit upon what happened to Tibet, the biggest ones being Tenzien and Seven Years In Tibet. But now…you’re not going to see movies involving Tibet, as you’d have to depict Tibet in such a dark light that the Communists from China would have their stars on their uniforms SHINING PURE LIGHT. (Now granted, given how society was during the last years before the invasion it would actually make sense, but still…)
There’s also the issue of an artistic industry which has become unable to do anything other than refer to the past. Used to be Hollywood could take stand-alone stuff and translate them into movies – bestselling books, songs, band movies, even their own written creations. Such was the power of Hollywood that, when a certain ambitious filmmaker wanted to do a Buck Rogers film, he was told “no” and had to rewrite it so that it passed muster as a creative film. That that film went on to create its own world – both in ours, and separate from it – tells you the strength of Hollywood in the seventies, even with Television lapping at its heels.
Now…everything has to be a sequel of another film (or they spawn sequels by necessity) or they are soon forgotten. Add to that the fact that the Marvel universe seems to have grown to the point of owning theaters when their movies come out, and one can see the problem Hollywood is up against when the Superhero bubble pops – and I expect it to do so soon.
In other words, Hollywood is weak and vulnerable. And Harvey Weinstein, long an icon, seemed to have been chosen to be the sacrificial lamb in Hollywood’s attempt to regain its status as a welcome creator of the arts – an attempt that seems to have failed as others are now falling under the kleig lights of the campaign against Hollywood Serial Rapists (Including Kevin Spacey, whose reason for not doing the nasty with the girl in American Beauty seems to be that the girl proved INDEED to be a girl).
Very interesting watching everything going on around us. However, while the perversions of Hollywood power seems to be finally coming to light, never forget that these perversions were sewn into the fabric of Hollywood.
In short – while the perversions of Weinstein, Spacey, et.al. are necessary, they’re not necessarily sufficient. There’s crimes other than the unremitting exploitation of the vulnerable that are bringing these people down, with those crimes being used…not so much as an excuse, but as a justification. ‘Tis better to look like you’re cleaning out the dirt rather than ungratefully kicking out an important man (and to think there used to be retirement requirements on higher offices – to insure that stuff like what happened to Weinstein didn’t necessarily need to happen).