Weinsteingate: Liner Notes

I turned out a piece on Harvey Weinstein — or more accurately the reaction to the Weinstein scandal — for The Federalist today.

For reasons of length, I cut a couple of grafs wondering whether Hollywood is particularly susceptible to sex harassment scandals.  It is, as Josh Barro wrote, “there are industries with cultures that involve after-hours social activities that blur the lines between business and leisure and can easily appear inappropriate for colleagues who could be suspected of sexual involvement.”  There’s now just a line about it being a business (and by the business, I mean the industry) that is built in part on the objectification of beautiful people for a mass audience.

I also cut a bit about Clooney claiming he discounted the Weinstein rumors because actresses are often smeared as having traded sex for roles.  In fairness to Clooney, Gretchen Mol claims she was smeared with just such a rumor — involving Weinstein.

But let’s not pretend that sex is not traded for jobs well below the A-List.  Let’s also not pretend that every case is non-consensual (though in many cases we can’t ignore the pre-existing power imbalances).  And let’s not pretend that those consensual cases do not unfairly weigh on the minds of other actresses and actors when confronted with a Weinstein type.

Mostly, the column should be seen as a counterpart to what I wrote on Friday about the inevitable, uncomfortable questions raised by this type of scandal.  I started this sideblog in part as a way to develop my thinking in ways that might inform columns.

This is a case where having picked through the moral ambiguities of this type of scandal, and even my own moral failings, gave me a leg up in a case involving a de facto deadline.  Otherwise, it would have been an easy trap to lump everyone into the category of “enabler,” esp. when so many Hollywood folks make for unsympathetic subjects.  People in Weinstein’s world should all be taking a self-inventory, and some of the less-culpable ironically have tougher questions to address about how Hollywood faces the future.

(Of course, it’s possible that Hollywood tries to shrug Weinstein off as just one bad apple.  But “wokeness” may have gained too much traction in Tinseltown for that.  This may end up representing a generational shift in power not seen in Hollywood since the days of Easy Rider.)

As a bonus, I’ll suggest that anyone interested in Weinsteingate check out how NBC rejected Ronan Farrow’s story.

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