Requiem For A Heavyweight
As the movie titan Harvey Weinstein faces the twilight of his influence and power in tinseltown, the larger implications of such a descent becomes more evident. Sexual exploitation and molestation in the movie business is as old as the motion picture business itself. The Arthur Freed incident (where the famous Hollywood producer exposed his penis to the adolescent former child star Shirley Temple) was only a small entrée into the world of predatory exploitation within which the business has always thrived.
The declaratory statement that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences board of Governors made in regards to its expulsion of Weinstein from the board to, as they said, “…send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexual predatory behavior…in our industry is over.”, rings hollow because these allegations against Weinstein are in fact representing an even bigger pathology brought on by a destabilization happening behind the scenes.
Hollywood is again going through a transitional phase! With that transition comes the slaughter of giants.
No different than the Greek myths where the children of Titans retaliate against their progenitors, so too are the confluence of forces taking over the business of movie making: digital streaming, social networking, an anemic box office, and asian investors (cornering a market of billions of consumers). Against Harvey Weinstein’s Cronus was the ire of various actresses, employees, as well as business associates who were ready for the emasculation. Nevertheless, the disintegration of Harvey Weinstein and his Weinstein Company isn’t going to eradicate the superstructure of sexual harassment and nocturnal pleasure which is the bedrock upon which Hollywood was founded.
The fall of the movie moguls, who indulged in the behavior Weinstein himself is being accused of, didn’t lead to a massive realignment of the way in which entertainment executives, producers, directors and even casting agents interact with the object of their desire.The pathology of abuse continues as the interconnecting vein running through the different phases of Hollywood: from the mogul age to the dot.com/digital/social media age. Indeed it was social media journalism that felled the profligate abusive Weinstein and his company. Nevertheless, If there is a part in movie to be had many up and coming actresses will succumb to the lecherous embraces of the people who can open doors to them or make sure a film is shot in such a way particularly favorable to them as movie stars in the Golden Age (like Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner) once had too.
Whether consensual or not, the temptation to be a success at the cost of a starlet’s modesty is what is at issue here. Furthermore, the aphrodisiac of power will always make ugly and fat film makers appealing to the people who will want to take Hollywood and the world by storm. Thus leaving the advocates for more stringent policies against sexual harassment at odds with the up and comers who are willing to be victimized. Not to mention the predators who feed off of an environment of explicit physical gratification with all the peccadilloes of being what is euphemistically called a “creative person.”
Just like the famous producer Jack Walsh in the Godfather who, in the director’s cut of the movie, sexually assaults a Shirley Temple like adolescent (with her stage mother’s consent) while refusing to give Don Corleone’s godson Johnny Fontaine a leading role in his picture because he has infringed on his sexual exploitation of an actress; the reality of such a psychology cannot be undone without the destruction of the talent which produces the revenues Hollywood corporations need to operate–which is why Weinstein was able to stay at the pinnacle of the totem pole of Tinseltown’s pantheon of filmmaking deities.
Furthermore, the Weinstein Company simply amplified what Hollywood had always stood for no matter what moral contraption had been placed on it — Sex and Violence sells! And Hollywood is the global temple to this reality of entertainment, business, and politics — no matter how many heavyweights like Wienstein tumble off their thrones, this will still be true.
In the often cited book by Budd Schulberg What Makes Sammy Run? the main character of Sammy Glick is the precursor to Weinstein as well as other Hollywood movers and shakers. Glick, after a lifetime of philandering and backstabbing has made it to the top of the film making business only to be undone by his marriage to his chief financial backer’s daughter who is just as sleazy and manipulative as him in spite of a more polished veneer. Al Manners (the book’s narrator and voice of decency) summed up a defeated Glick “It had to be all you, all the way…You act as if the world is just a blindfold free-for-all. Only the first time you get it in the belly you holler brotherhood. But you can’t have your brothers and eat them too. You’re alone pal, all alone.” Harvey you’re all alone!