There is no defense for Harvy Weinstein. He is obviously a serial abuser of women, the kind of guy the term “scumbag” is reserved for.
That much acknowledged, what strikes me, however, is all the feigned shock. Is anybody really actually surprised? Weinstein has been doing for decades what many powerful men have doing more or less forever. It’s as absurd to be surprised by Weinstein as it is to be surprised by Trump’s Access Hollywood tape or by Rodger Ailes’ decades long abuse of women.
Weinstein is an example of an endemic ugly fact, not a surprising anomaly.
Think I’m too cynical? Do we have the term “casting couch” for no reason?
But what really fries my bacon about all the outrage is the obvious culture-wide schadenfreude for Weinstein’s fall. The victims? They are mentioned only to give context, not out of any deep concern; unless the victim, of course, is famous. The fact is Americans love watching rich and famous cultural icons anathematized and humiliated in the media as much as ancient Romans loved watching gladiators die in the Coliseum. Doubt this? Ask yourself why Weinstein and OJ Simpson and Madoff and Anthony Weiner were such monster stories. They were monster stories because they were icons who who became punchlines. Can one in 1000 Americans name a single girl Weiner “sexted” with? I doubt it.
It seems Weinstein’s’ abuse of his power spanned a wide spectrum, from asking women to watch him shower and masturbate to encounters he kept secret behind non-disclosure agreements and piles of cash.
But the larger point is this, if Weinstein were a common small town ephebophilic or pederast priest who had abused 50 working class children, boys and girls, the cultural reaction would be a yawn.
There are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of such victims. The culture yawns. But when an iconic movie mogul demands a blow-job, especially from a beautiful famous actress, that’s news.
There is, as Big Daddy says in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, an “air of mendacity” in the hullaballoo about Weinstein.