UPDATE: NBC News had this story months ago but pulled the plug on reporter Ronan Farrow, who then went to the New Yorker. Lorne Michaels chose not to refer to the story on the latest SNL. Is NBC still scared of Harvey – or is it somehow in bed with him?
It was at the Golden Globes, just five years ago – fairly recent in human terms, if eons by Hollywood standards – that Meryl Streep stood in front of the Hollywood elite and the world and thanked “God – Harvey Weinstein – the Punisher, Old Testament, I guess.” Cut to October 9, 2017, and the script has been flipped. “The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and whose good and worthy causes he supported. The intrepid women who raised their voice to expose his abuse are our heroes.” So, yes, “God” is dead. Who saw that coming?
Well, Harvey did, at least at the end. He desperately called the producers, managers and agents who had supported him over the years because of the money he’d made for them and their clients. But it was too late. God was toxic, and the hymns to his power went silent.
So pigs have flown. Hell has frozen over. And Harvey Weinstein stands accused in the court of public opinion (and maybe even in court) of thirty years of violating the trust and the bodies of pretty, young women – even raping them. The media has delighted in calling this “an open secret” – but I’d heard it from many sources, and if I knew, that so many others did too. Seth McFarlane’s joke in the 2013 Ocar’s, about the Best Actress nominees no longer having to make believe to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein – just listen to the ensuing laughter. People knew but felt like he was too powerful to confront. But now that has changed.
Harvey is the subject of not one but two massive exposes, the first by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in The New York Times, the second by Ronan Farrow (son of Mia) in The New Yorker. Either one would have been devestating, but coming together like this in two major publications – something I’ve never seen before – have the force of a Mafia hit from two different families. Bang bang, Harvey. You’re fucked.
So now he’s floating in a lake of his own bodily fluids, along with those other scum of humanity, Cosby, Ailes and O’Reilly.
Not long ago, it was just Rose McGowan speaking out, asking where are all the other victims of Harvey’s pawing? Then the A-listers starting coming out of the closet: first Ashley Judd, then Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Mira Sorvino, Roseanna Arquette, Heather Graham, Cara Delvingne…. Then Gloria Allred showed up – it wouldn’t be a sex abuse showdown without her – with a female screenwriter who Harvey abused. A screenwriter! Once again, there was the offer of a massage, his going into the bathroom to take a shower and coming out in an untied robe, little Harvey in his hands….
The tale of his downfall seems to be the one story that everyone can agree on and feel good about. Ewan McGregor tweeted “It’s about time this is coming to light and he is getting his just desserts. Bye Bully.” And his wife, Georgina Chapman, chimed in that she’s divorcing him
Even right-wing Breitbart News has weighed in with this: “Today Weinstein is widely regarded as past his prime. Numerous reports indicate that the 65 year old is in deep financial trouble. Moreover, he has not produced a hit or come near Oscar Gold in nearly five years… Weinstein no longer has the juice to ruin anyone. Without that shield, it looks as though he faces a reckoning that has been a long time in coming.”
But will he indeed face a reckoning?
And more importantly, will the predatory and biased culture he represents face a reckoning too?
Is there really a chance that this signals a sea-change in the way business will be conducted in the future, and that gender bias could come under serious review?
Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein. Mr Weinstein has confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.” – Sallie Hofmeister, Spokeswoman for Harvey Weinstein (Source: The New Yorker)
After failing to garner any support from his enablers, Harvey Weinstein scrambled around for a way to re-capture the narrative.
First, he issued this conciliatory apology: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.” He followed this up by telling the NY Post, “I’ve got to deal with my personality. I have got to work on my temper. I’ve got to dig deep. I know a lot of people would like me to go into a facility, and I may well do just that – I will go anywhere I can to learn more about myself.” (As if the point is for him to learn more about himself – please.)
Then he tried this defense: “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behaviors and workplaces were different. I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it.”
Then he tried to reassure everyone that he had heard the criticisms, and he was already changing his ways.
“Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. My journey now will be to learn about myself (!) and conquer my demons. Over the last year I”ve asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me and she’s put together a team of people. I’ve brought on therapists, and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with the issue head on. I so respect all women and regret what happened.”
Then he tried making up a Jay Z quote which doesn’t actually exist: ‘”I’m not the man I thought I was and better be for my children.” The same is true for me. I want a second chance in the community, but I know I’ve got work to do to earn it.”
In the same breath, he turned around and had his attorned Charles Harder (who represented Hulk Hogan in his suit aginst Gawker) state that Weinstein was going to sue The New York Times for not giving him enough time to react to their expose before it was published. (They gave him two days.)
And he had his spokeswoman issue the statement I previously quoted, “unequivocally” denying any non-consensual sex. Sorry, but you can’t take responsibility and not take responsibility at the same time. There is no “consensual” sex here, and to say so is continuing to victimize the victims.
None of this confusing array of responses has done anything to stem the tide of allegations, accusations and moral disgust.
It has, however, brought me back to my own experiences as an abuse victim in the Horace Mann Sex Scandal, which was recounted in the New Yorker 2013 expose “The Master,” and in the People Magazine article the following year about the predatory teachers at Horace Mann.
I was also represented in our lawsuit against the school by the ubiquitous Gloria Allred. I received hate mail from supporters of the high school and was directed by others to websites where alumnae from the school wrote terrible things about we victims, claiming we were only in it for the money. I eventually wrote my own book, The 13th Boy (Cune Press 2014) But I have to say, it’s an emotionally gruelling process, and I don’t recommend it if you like sleeping through the night. I’m glad we went ahead with it, but it was an ultimately disappointing result.
It did teach me a lot, though, about how to read between the lines of media stories and separate truth from lies. And I can tell you this:
Harvey Weinstein will be back sooner rather than later, working through back channels to get himself back in the game and into a position of power.
There is no chance of reforming an abusive pattern of behavior that has been going on for 30-35 years. There is always the possibility of adapting his predilections to a more acceptable expression, but he will never stop having those abusive impulses.
I hope for the sake of all our futures – and all our daughters (including my 18 year old) – that this society does stop viewing behavior like Weinstein’s as acceptable, just because it comes from someone rich and powerful.
I do hope that there’s a time just ahead in which people will indeed be judged on the content of their characters. And their abilities.
I have my doubts, because I know how difficult it is to change entrenched behavior patterns.
But the blowback on Harvey Weinstein is a positive sign, and who knows where it can lead?