Thursday,26 April, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1365, (19 - 25 October 2017)
Thursday,26 April, 2018
Issue 1365, (19 - 25 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Shocked you say?

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein

How shocking to hear that Hollywood folk were shocked at their big-wig film producer’s lascivious behavior. Really? 

Harvey Weinstein who has soared to the top of his profession, establishing himself as the most powerful producer in the world, has been preying on young, hopeful, would-be stars for decades. It was common knowledge and Hollywood’s dirty secret, from the mighty super-stars to the humble, lowly doormen. No one dared to speak, reveal or stop him.

Now, that he was caught, they are suddenly all shocked? Oh please. 

For as long as cinema has existed, so has couch-casting.

It is a term used to describe obscenities, perhaps on a couch, between a powerful filmmaker and an aspiring actress, a sort of passage, a show-biz tradition, to help many a starry-eyed, young lady up the ladder of stardom.

Willingly or unwillingly, the lascivious games continued, a high price to pay for fame and money, glamour and glory, but much as we sympathise, both parties are not altogether guiltless.

Everyone in tinsel-town has engaged in, or is familiar with those games they play. Producers, directors, actors or any member of the powerful big-bad-wolf club, have, or at least baited, young beauties in order to lure them to their dens of sin. The give and take left everyone happy, as long as each party remained quiet. 

This sort of practice is a professional passage or ritual that is not only accepted but expected. 

The essential rule is never to get caught.

 Once caught, hypocritical Hollywood turns its back, pretending to be oh so shocked.

Have we not seen comedian Bill Cosby escorted from one court to another, claiming his innocence?

And now it has happened again, Weinstein got caught. With the aid of the FBI, who wired a young Italian actress, Ambra Battiliana Gutierrez, the incriminating encounter was recorded. Harvey was arrested. His brilliant career ended. His membership in the Academy of Motion Pictures was withdrawn and he is confined to a healing centre for addiction in Arizona.

It is all very sad. Such behaviour is unacceptable, but it happens. Hundreds, even thousands out there are relieved that they have not been caught. Getting caught is the crime.

Sadder still is how friends, family, associates, who owe their successful careers to Weinstein’s counsel, money, power, etc all turned their backs on him, including his own brother.

Hypocrisy is synonymous with show-business.

Suddenly they developed a conscience. Suddenly morality has found its way to tinsel town. Unlikely.

 Is that the end of the despicable practice? By no means.

This sort of thing is not unique to Hollywood or show-business. It happens worldwide by moguls in politics, sports, business, churches, where the strong, usually men, prey on the weak, usually women.

Weinstein was the biggest and the best producer in Hollywood, with a string of Oscars and endless awards attached to his name. 

All concerned seek their pound of flesh, so to speak, and now that the bull is down on his knee, out of the woodworks they come, one after another, recounting grotesque scenes, decades after they had occurred, to add one more dagger into the heart of the befallen.

Where were the likes of Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mia Sorvino, (all Oscar winners) amongst many others, when the sexual assaults took place 20 years ago? Despite seeing him regularly at parties, events or studio lots, their weird and creepy adventures with the film mogul had been forgotten as long as his power was intact. Now that he has been stripped of everything, their memories are suddenly clear. Now they remember? Why did they not condemn the act when it happened? They had need for him then, but once established they have no need for him now.

Irony of ironies, our staunch feminist, champion of women’s rights, Hillary Clinton, one of Weinstein’s closest friends, knew what was going on, but never objected to the use and abuse of the innocent as long as his donations continued and his gold coins tinkled in her pocket. Weinstein is no King Lear, but neither is Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, once president of the US, a notorious predator whose scandals are legendary. She fiercely defended him, while condemning his accusers.

He is still her husband and she still dares to denounce her friend Weinstein, and she describes how she was “shocked and appalled” by such “intolerable” behaviour, forgetting that her own husband was impeached and settled many cases out of court. Now if that is not hypocrisy, it must be what, Alzheimer’s?

 Hillary should hide back in the woods of her estate never to be seen or heard from again. She has had her chance, not once but twice. She had nothing to offer, and her incoherent, arrogant illogical speech is offensive, even to Democrats. 

Weinstein is only one of many predators. Woody Allen married his adopted daughter, Soon Yi; Roman Polanski at age 43 raped a 13 year-old girl and fled the US, to return years later to receive an Oscar and a standing ovation. The prodigal son had returned.

It is not our place to dictate morality, for we are all sinners. However, when harm is inflicted on another in any form, it must be stopped. 

Compassion is God and Man’s greatest satisfaction, wherever it came from.

Now that indeed would be a shock.

 “We have enemy, and he is us.” 

Walt Kelly (1913-1973)

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