There is something disturbing about the Harvey Weinstein case as someone who has finally been revealed as one of the most predatory monsters of the Hollywood scene. There is a litany of cases, settlements and how silence was bought, stretching back at least thirty years. Weinstein, now confined to the dustbin of history, reputation in tatters, was arguably one of the most prominent, powerful and prolific producers in the Hollywood machinery dominated by the big studios. How did he get away with it and for so long?
The question now is why was nothing done about it as clearly the rumours were spreading and some people did know. The sad reality is that the Weinstein story is arguably only the tip of the iceberg. It is undoubtedly the case that he is not the only Hollywood predator on the scene. It is a deeply broken system, where powerful executives are able to maintain their positions through their dominance over women, especially young women aspiring to get ahead in the movie business. These demented Hollywood executives achieve a rather sordid satisfaction from their disempowerment of women.
As prominent actors have come forward to say how they managed to ward off the aggressive tactics of Mr Weinstein, they are clearly going to be numerous others who succumbed to the pressures of his bullying, violent intimidation and the sheer brutality of his power over people merely looking to improve their chances in life. It is a systematic abuse of power on an unprecedented scale, with significant effects. But the issue is that there are clearly going to be many, many women who are unable to come forward because they fear the sex tapes, other records of their abuse or the sheer embarrassment of it all. They will also face the wrath of commentators and observers who will argue that these women only got ahead because of favours they offered for favours in return.
Not only was Mr Weinstein a player in Hollywood. His filthy tentacles reached into all sorts of other spheres of influence, including in politics, as well as the art world in general. In these spaces, he would find kindred spirits in the likes of Mr Bill Clinton, he of Monica Lewinsky fame, and Mr Donald Trump, who is on record as having stated he readily ‘grabs pussies – they don’t mind, you can do anything to them’, he states. All of this amounts to dehumanisation, victimisation and subordination by a type of male against an entire category of women.
Fortunately, these scandalous revelations tell us is that there is an increasingly limited appetite for such behaviour as women’s power in Hollywood grows, and as gender equality becomes more of a thing in wider societal terms. The age of the old men in charge is increasingly looking like old news. However, in order to make the leap, this case pertaining to Mr Weinstein should open the floodgates, galvanising people to raise their voices and to use this case study to stop the systematic sexual abuse of children, women and other vulnerable groups by certain men in power.
America is waking up to the likes of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. We on the other side of the pond should be grateful that they have done so while these predators are still alive. In the UK, in the case of a former prime minister, Edward Heath, and the visible face of BBC children’s TV, Jimmy Savile, their sordid activities were only unearthed after their rotten, putrid bodies had dissolved into the ether.