Schadenfreude is ugly and petty, and delicious. But in the case of Harvey Weinstein, it appears to have taken everyone’s eyes off the prize.
There is a storybook villain, Mr. Weinstein, whose repulsive face turns out to be the spitting image of his putrescent soul. There are victims, so many of them, typically up-and-comers in an industry where he had the power to make or wreck their careers, or bully or buy their silence, or, if some allegations are to be believed, rape them.
But mostly there are enablers, both those who facilitated his predations and those who found it expedient to look the other way.
Bret Stephens goes on to name some corporate types, A-Listers, “and then there was the rest of Hollywood.”
Mr. Weinstein’s depredations were an open film industry secret, the subject of an onstage joke by Seth MacFarlane at the 2013 Oscar nomination announcement. Everyone laughed because everyone got it.
So at the same time as the woke of Sunset bemoaned the depredations of social justice, they were enabling, or at least concealing, a movie mogul’s use of his coercive power to rape would-be starlets. They would decry the misogyny of a politically incorrect word, but not a rape? At least not when it was done by a guy who could make you, or keep you, a star.
Having gotten past the first level, that Harvey is scum, we’re on to the next level of blame:
Some of his victims, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, became Hollywood powers in their own right but never publicly rang an alarm until this week. The actor Ben Affleck, who owes his start to Mr. Weinstein, is an overnight laughingstock because he acts surprised by the producer’s behavior.
The casting couch is mythic, there being only so many roles for too many beautiful young women, and fat, old, greasy gatekeepers enjoying the “benefits” their access allows them. Was this only a Hollywood legend, or was this how it really worked, the producers, directors, agents and talent scouts able to coerce the lovelies into providing them “favors” they would otherwise never get?
For now, everyone seems focused on the old questions, “what did you know and when did you know it” with regard to Weinstein. The claim is that his predations were the worst kept secret in Hollywood. Not being of that ilk, I wouldn’t know.
But even if Harvey was the “worst,” was he the only? While we’re busy smacking the stars who kept their yaps shut about Harvey for their hypocrisy, as well as their pretense of being icons of equality and equity while keeping a rapist’s secrets, was nasty ol’ Harvey the only fat guy with a repulsive face who used his power against women?
One thought is that this is bad enough, horrible, that the bastion of progressivism and social justice has now been exposed as a farce, so that the forces of evil can laugh at the hypocrites. Certainly, Weinstein’s financial support of the Democrats and progressive causes makes it impossible to ignore the blatant hypocrisy. Let’s not make it worse. Let’s not give them a whole town filled with Harveys. And let’s not ruin the cash flow to worthy causes in the process.
Or maybe it was only Harvey. Just one guy, one disgusting predator, who was using his casting couch. But if it wasn’t just one Harvey, then what will the Bens and Matts and Gwyneths say to explain why now, as this disgraceful episode plays out in public, they persisted in enabling and concealing other Harveys?
These actors have seized the opportunity to condemn a great many social justice horrors, like words they find exhausting and families on television commercials of mixed gender and same race, rather than same gender and mixed race. But they’re totally cool with actual rape as long as it could get them that next Oscar-winning role from some other Harvey?