The lesson of Weinstein: Power, morality, and the fickle friendship of fame

UPDATE: The board of The Weinstein Company has fired Harvey from the company he help found.

Hollywood’s deafening silence this week in the case of Harvey Weinstein should be telling to everyone:

It tells us a story about power.

It tells us a story about morality.

It tells us the story of fame’s fickle friendship.


Weinstein’s saga tells us that the true currency in Hollywood is power.

Until just a few days ago, Weinstein had it in spades. He hung out with the former president and Democratic presidential candidates. He decided who would become movie stars. He was a king maker. A power broker.

When the allegations made the news, he thought he could use his power to sue The New York Times (who ran the initial story about years of alleged sexual harassment) and to silence his board (whom he thought would accept his “non-apology apology” and let him come back to work in a few weeks).

But who looks at Ashley Judd and calls her a liar? And who looks at settlement after settlement, gag order after gag order, and says to themselves: all of these women are nuts?

Apparently, Hollywood does.

The people who stood next to Lady Gaga and Joe Biden at the Academy Awards and clapped and cried for victims of sexual assault are oddly silent today. The stars who made PSAs saying “It’s On Us,” are sitting around today saying, “Sorry Ashley, Rose McGowan, and the dozens of other women. This one’s on you. We need our jobs.”

No late night jokes. No SNL skits.

I guess it’s really not on them. It’s on the victims.

It’s the same with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. Both men still wield a great deal of power in Hollywood. They make moves that people like or that Hollywood likes. Even though another woman has come forward to name Polanski as the man who raped her, all we hear from Hollywood is crickets when it comes to Roman Polanski’s rape charges. Hollywood is too busy trying to get a job in his next movie.

What about Bill Cosby?

Bill Cosby and his PR team like to say that it was racism that lead to the attention that Hollywood and the media have given his accusers. I disagree. Cosby has no power in Hollywood anymore.

Jokes about pudding pops won’t get you blackballed from the business.

Harvey’s power is beginning to wane. We shall see.

***Update 6:53 pm: a few minutes after I wrote this original post, Harvey was fired. My take? The board knew what he was up to for years. They didn’t fire him because it was the right thing to do. They fired him because they had no other choice. Public shame will do that.


In his “Non-apology apology” statement, Weinstein said:

I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.

Really? My dad sold operating room equipment in the 60s and 70s. He didn’t make anyone give him massages. Or watch him shower naked. The manager at local Sav-on who sold my sister and I ice cream cones didn’t require the trainees to come to his hotel room and watch him walk around naked.

What was Weinstein’s culture? The Manson Family (minus the murder part, I hope)? This is the kind of business leader that people are looking up to? This kind of behavior was never okay. Period.

Weinstein has showed us in this one statement that he has the same morality as the Catholic Bishops, who blamed the counterculture for priests molesting children in the 1960s and 70s. Because, you know, “that was how it was back then.”

Or bishops who didn’t know that sex with children was a crime.

Weinstein doesn’t care about what he did. He doesn’t think he was wrong. He’s just mad that he’s in trouble for it.

His is a world without morality.

The Fickle Friendship of Fame

When I came forward publicly as a survivor of sex abuse in the Catholic Church, I learned who my real friends were.

Weinstein’s accusers are learning that … to the extreme.

Where are Ashley Judd’s friends and supporters? Why aren’t the late night hosts standing up for her? Lena Dunham (not one of my favorite people) is at least saying something. Where are the other Hollywood power players?

I remember a few years ago when the Roman Polanski case was back in the news. His victim has asked that the charges be dropped—not because the incidents didn’t happen, but because she’s sick of the media circus.

Can you blame her? Gore Vidal called her a “young hooker” in a TV interview and a “little hooker” and a “slut” in one of his books.

Anjelica Huston said of finding Polanski with a 13-year-old girl in her house, “I thought nothing of it.”

A telling statement, don’t you think? What else has she seen and experienced to become so calloused? So cruel?

Why do we hail these people as artists? Perhaps I would be able to separate the artists from the individual if Hollywood were not constantly lecturing us on everything from our carbon footprint to the chad on our ballots.

But Hollywood doesn’t care about any of the victims. They just care about their next jobs.

What can you do?

Vote with your wallet when it comes to Hollywood products. Tell Ashley she’s strong and that you support her. Tell Rose McGowan, the women who were gag ordered, the news anchor, and every other Hollywood victim you know how sorry you are and that you won’t tolerate this anymore.

Stop the cycle of the abuse of power. Support women in Hollywood who push back.

And help push back.




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