So I mentioned in one of last night’s posts that I was having a discussion with CF lifer Sam that I’d be bringing up and expanding on in a later post, at his request. His proposition is basically that L’Affaire Weinstein is nothing more nor less than, in his words, “Progressivism writ large.” To wit:
I have been thinking lately about the parallels between progressivism as a whole and the Harvey Weinstein saga. For example most normal thinking people know that the core elements of progressivism are nonsense, yet they go along with it to save jobs, relationships, etc, etc. People are so afraid of the twin howler monkeys of political correctness and leftist dogma. Much the same as the Weinstein stuff was an open secret in Hollywood but the people in the business shielded him to protect themselves from his ability to destroy their jobs and relationships. The Harvey Weinstein saga is progressivism writ large.
On a personal note, I having been greatly enjoying watching all of the sanctimonious bastards in Hollywood be forced to live by their own rules.
I was wondering what your eloquently profane take is on this.
His point is well-taken and damned nigh inarguable on even cursory reflection, but it puts me in mind of another one I’ve been considering ever since the story broke. Actually, for longer than that—ever since every Lefty luminary feigned shock and horror over the Bill Cosby Sleazapalooza “revelations.”
I mentioned at the start of the Weinstein cesspool-dunk that the Hollywood casting couch is hardly some new and startling revelation; it’s been my contention for years that rattling in the closets of any and every successful actor or (especially) actress blessed with even slight physical attractiveness are tawdry skeletons consisting of everything from cheesy nude photos right up to full-on homemade porn flicks, shot right in the offices of producers, directors, and other wielders of Tinseltown power as something of an introductory job interview.
I’ve known quite a few actors over the years, even dated a couple or three—no names you would recognize, other than Marisa Tomei, with whom I had a wee bit more than a nodding acquaintance for a minute there; call it a very casual, occasional, and superficial friendship, and that will be close enough. I have had tiny speaking parts in a couple of movies myself, and even floundered my way through an embarrassingly disastrous reading for the lead-bad-guy role in an indie horror production done by a friend of mine when I was living in NYC which was later picked up for distribution by Troma. With even that limited experience, I can tell you that the ongoing existence and importance of the casting couch to establishing a career in film or TV doesn’t even rise to the level of an open secret among those in the business or associated with it in some more peripheral way.
Here’s the thing, though: it’s not the fact of its existence but the acceptance of that fact that matters here. And despite the current handwringing, it IS accepted—not just by those who control it and enjoy its depraved privileges, but also by those lying back and thinking of England after being forced onto it.I saw a news story the other day on one of the women who has made a rape accusation against Weinstein—can’t remember her name because I wasn’t paying much attention and don’t give a damn anyway—wherein it was stated that she had willingly had sex with Weinstein on two occasions before the incident she’s now crying rape over. Likewise, in the Cosby case there was more than one woman who admitted to having sex with him consensually, only later describing a successive liaison as “rape.” If I remember right, one of those women had even had a fairly long and ongoing sexual relationship with him before popping out from her hole to suddenly declare herself “violated” at his hands, which one might call puzzling at best, if one was feeling particularly generous.
All of which was why I was careful to mention that I don’t give a damn just now. Everybody but everybody knows that to get anywhere in the movie business, you’re going to have to be willing to do certain things you probably won’t be happy about having to do; hell, even my mom knows it, and she’s about as naive and innocent an old-school country girl as ever was. Screwing your way to the top isn’t thinly-veiled practice in Hollywood; it’s de rigeur, everybody knows it, and until now the “victims” were all content to just keep mum and get on with it in the interest of furthering their careers. If being in showbiz means you have to let disgusting pigs like Weinstein use you as a cum-dumpster, well, that’s just what you have to do.
Which serves to limit my sympathy for these “victims” pretty severely. Sure, it ain’t right; sure, things ought to be different, and in a better, more righteous and just world, they would be. But they aren’t, everybody knows it, and acquiescing in it and keeping your mouth shut for thirty years doesn’t say good things about the supposedly “courageous” women (and men) now “coming out of the shadows” to complain about admittedly rough treatment they were willing to accept at the time in the interests of getting a foothold in showbiz. Such tacit near-consent reduces any such incident from what most of us think of as actual “rape” to little more than a particularly tawdry business transaction. One could make a case that it damned near makes the, umm, participants not “victims” but whores, however reluctant they might have been at the time, if one were insensitive and politically-incorrect enough to do so. At the very least, it says some highly unflattering things about not just their ambition but their priorities, their judgment, their ethics, and their lack of self-respect.
In fairness, I have to admit that the raw power of the desire ingrained in some of us to be onstage, to indulge and fulfill a creative impulse that we barely begin to understand ourselves by being in the entertainment business, can drive us into some pretty unsavory and painful situations. It isn’t merely a job for us, nor even a career—it’s an immersion, an identity and, in one way or another, a submission—a desperate pursuit of one implacable longing at the expense of nearly all others. Like the old Harley shirts and stickers used to say: for those who understand, no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t, no explanation is possible.
I’ve always maintained that we showbiz types are by definition mentally defective, if not outright nuts; being onstage at all is a fundamentally unnatural act, and the huge majority of people will go every bit as far to avoid it as we will to do it. People overwhelmingly say in surveys that their number-one fear is death; coming in solidly at number two is fear of public speaking, which is basically being onstage. And yet some of us are so driven not by fear of being onstage but by desire to be that we’re willing to endure all sorts of humiliation, self-abnegation, financial catastrophe, and general damage both psychic and physical to get ourselves there.
I was recently discussing some of this with a friend of mine who had gone to see a show by a band she just loves. The band was a fairly prominent and successful one back in the early 90s or thereabouts, and the event was held in a mid-size theater-type venue rather than the arenas and coliseums they were playing back in their heyday, with no barricade in front of the stage. Along with several others, she was called up onstage to sing along on a live mic for a verse and a couple of choruses.
And she was absolutely HORRIFIED. Said she’d never been so frightened in all her life, and far from singing anything at all, the most she could manage was a timid little squeak. She said by the time she slinked offstage, she was sweating, weak-kneed and trembling, damned near complete collapse. She said the sight of all those people staring at her made her want to just dry up and blow away, to crawl under any available object of suitable size and never come out again.
She asked me, “My GOD, how do you do it?” She’s been a big fan of my own band for years, and has seen countless of our shows. We’ve been close friends for years, and she knows me about as well as anybody does by now. But her own experience with actually standing on a stage in front of a full house amounted to a profound revelation to her, and she just assumed that I felt the same crippling stage fright she did. I shocked the almighty crap out of her by stating that at this point, just about the only place I really feel truly comfortable, at ease, and happy is on a stage. It was intimidating to me at first, sure; I used to get some fairly serious butterflies when I started out, although I don’t recollect ever experiencing the stark terror she did. Now, though, it’s just as natural to me as breathing, as familiar and comforting as my living-room sofa, and has been for many years.
I’m sure it’s the same for actors and actresses; they live for those fleeting moments of performance, and the lure of it can surely lead them into some pretty dark places. I’m not excusing or rationalizing the near-prostitution they endure to feed the performing monkey, mind. But I do understand the overwhelming force of the drive that too often results in finding themselves having to make such grim choices.
I’ve never been in such a situation myself, thankfully, or anything like it; I know how I would react now, but if I’m to be honest I have to admit that it might have been a slightly more straitening dilemma back when I was young, the fire inside burning hotter, although I do think in the end that going along with such a thing would for me have amounted to a bridge a bit too far for crossing. I would certainly hope that, all these years later, if I somehow HAD succumbed to making the clearly-wrong choice, I would at least have taste and discretion enough not to declare anybody a “hero” by going along with it back then to suit their own ambitions and then claiming she was “raped” after she was established, the perpetrator having been safely disgraced, scourged, purged, and stripped of his ability to do her career any harm—much less to refer to such post-dated piling on as an act of “courage,” which strips the word of any meaning, rendering it completely useless as a signifier of anything worth bothering about.
I might have found myself taken advantage of, my relentless thirst to be onstage used against me by an unscrupulous sleazewad bereft of humanity enough to harbor any qualms or concerns about gratifying himself at my expense and to my detriment, sure. But I still can’t convince myself that that rises (or descends) to the level of rape, either linguistically or legally. I’ve known a couple of actual rape victims, and it would be an insult to them to even consider it as such. It all carries too strong a whiff of self-serving collusion for me to be able to do make so spurious a comparison. And the time when these fair-weather, no-risk whistleblowers could justly be lauded as “heroes” and “courageous” passed by years ago, with not a peep out of them.
My long digression aside, this all serves to distinguish Weinstein’s actions from those of any middle-manager or executive vice-president playing unwanted grabass with his secretary. Nobody harbors a burning passion for scratching out a living in a mundane, dreary office job, and having to put up with a bosshead’s distasteful groping can in no way be considered part of the standard deal, an unacknowledged but tacitly assumed condition of employment. That is TRUE sexual harassment (although itself still not rising to the level of rape), and should be neither winked at nor tolerated for one moment. It’s a crime, a real one, and it’s no more than right and just that that should be so. The Hollywood casting couch isn’t even remotely on the same level.
In contrast, far from being innocent, doe-eyed, unwilling recipients of the degrading attentions of shameless predators drunk on their own power, most of Weinstein’s so-called “victims” sought to use him, Cosby, and others as stepping stones to a fame they desired above all else. In turn, Weinstein et al sought to use them as semen receptacles. Such a price for access to Weinstein’s influence was indeed high, perhaps too high. But most of these women were willing to pay it at the time, and pay it they did, however much they might have come to regret it later. They were even willing to go so far as to speak of Weinstein in glowing, loving terms at awards presentations and banquets, praising him to fulsome excess while fully cognizant of his villainy, thereby doing their part in maintaining a particularly sordid illusion. It strains credulity way past its breaking point to believe that any of them had been taken all unawares by his overdue exposure; having assumed the burden of complicity themselves, they helped ensure that others would be treated similarly, and the odious blaggard would be effectively justified in his egotistical assumption of impunity.
Know what’s most amusingly ironic about the whole thing, though? The Weinstein saga provides absolute confirmation of the core truth of Trump’s famous “grab them by the pussy” remarks, and reveals the shrieking over it as just another manufactured controversy over nothing at all, an early example of the use of what has become a shopworn, tiresome, and increasingly ineffective stratagem. What Trump said, remember, was that having wealth and fame means that women will put themselves in your path and at your disposal, willing to put up with all sorts of abuse at your hands that they wouldn’t countenance from a man of more humble means. The more sensible among us knew that, far from being some sort of outrage against decency, it was depressingly true of a large number of women out there, and that Trump had doubtless been approached by many such women himself over the years and knew whereof he spoke. He didn’t by any stretch advocate doing it, and there’s no credible evidence that he ever actually did it himself. The spluttering wrath over that long-ago private statement, coming from the very people who covered up for Weinstein for years—singing his praises while certainly aware of his penchant for aggressive sexual predation and abuse and carefully keeping it under their (pussy)hats—seems even more contemptible when considered in that light.
Note well, however, that I haven’t mentioned Polanski yet. There’s a reason for that: the underage victim of the assault that flushed him out and sent him fleeing to France to evade justice bears no resemblance at all to the acts I’ve been discussing. Likewise for any underage person assaulted by Weinstein or any other Hollywood scuzzbucket; that’s a whole different kettle of fish as far as I’m concerned, and should be considered separately from what I’m talking about here.
It comes down to this: anybody who has been long in the entertainment biz as what they call “the talent” knows how unfair it all is. Talent, hard work, and dedication, while helpful if not absolutely necessary, ultimately have precious little to do with success. What too often matters far more is your willingness to suck whatever is waved in your face when it’s demanded of you, and to keep mum and not complain about it afterwards.
I could easily name you fifty bands off the top of my head who are simply fantastic—and who not three people reading this have ever heard of, or ever will hear of. They labor in perpetual and impenetrable obscurity: driving all over the country right this minute in grungy, beat-up vans; humping their gear into smelly, dingy bars and music halls; setting it up themselves, working diligently to get it right at soundcheck, and then playing their hearts out hours later to the lackluster applause of twelve or fourteen people, half of whom will go outside to smoke for a goodly portion of their set. They’ll wait around till the wee hours, bored and exhausted, to get paid fourteen dollars to be split four ways, which won’t even cover the gas to the next town, much less food or a cheap, smelly, roach-infested hotel room near the Greyhound station. It probably won’t even cover their bar tab.
I did all that myself, for years and years, slogging it out in the rock and roll trenches in the ever-dwindling hope of a miraculous breakthrough to a level high enough to provide a more rewarding level of comfort, remuneration, and perhaps most of all, appreciation. It’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow we stubbornly chase, and vanishingly few of us ever do find it. It’s a tough racket all right, but there are bright spots to be found and enjoyed as well, and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. In the end, you do it because your passion for the stage goes well beyond rationality; as I’ve told people many times, it’s not that you love it, it’s that you have to do it. It’s just…what you do, and it’s why for years the first thing I’ve told my bright-eyed, uncut guitar students that the first and best lesson I can give them is to put the thing down now and never look back. Otherwise, the desire will bury itself deep in your soul, never to be removed, the thirst never to be slaked, the need never to be satisfied, the desire never to be quenched. The business of music is the harshest of mistresses, a woman you love desperately, but who doesn’t love you back, and whose ruthless, fickle indifference will break you in the end.
And then, on the radio in your shitty, clapped-out band van, you hear the undistinguished warbling of some no-talent, no-load Johnny Come Lately pretty-boy band who never even played a live gig before scoring a hit record, thanks to the backing of industry powers-that-be and the relentless effort of a well-oiled promotion machine to push them over the top.
That’s when you experience that overpowering desire to kill something, and begin to understand the depth of what the phrase “going postal” expresses. Your only real comfort is knowing that in a year, they’ll be supplanted by the Next Big Thing, and in ten more they’ll be broke and forgotten, the piles of money they earned stolen from them by thieving managers and industry shitweasels, saddled with a seriously unaffordable drug habit, a huge house they paid way too much for and which they’ll soon be selling at a huge loss, and a wretched, decaying, demanding failed-model girlfriend with expensive tastes, skin like fifty year old shoes, and the temperament of an alligator with impacted hemorrhoids and a toothache.
For the rest of us, all the grief and suffering is ruefully referred to as “paying your dues.” The tough part is that paying them, in full and on time, is no guarantee of any kind of success; you can pay ’em and pay ’em and pay ’em for years—decades, even—and end up with nothing to show for it all but a bottomless sinkhole in your wallet, a neverending stream of nuisance calls from aggressively obnoxious bill collectors, and a resume that leaves you with no hope of ever having a successful career in a normal job outside of the music biz.
Even so, there are those of us who go right on paying them. The movie-biz story is very similar in many ways, if a good bit seamier and more decadent and depraved. In Hollywood, more so than music, most of the dues are paid in sexual coin. And there are always plenty of vainly hopeful people who are willing if not necessarily eager to cough up. I’m sure there are a paltry few truly innocent victims out there as well, real Pollyannas who naively show up at guys like Weinstein’s door with no idea of the cost of doing business with them—of what was expected of them as the price of admission for a dive into the Hollywood cesspool. Those poor souls are well-deserving of our pity, and should deepen our revulsion for disgusting pigs like Weinstein.
But most of the women who have so belatedly professed shock and anger over such depredations, smothering their culpability and cooperation under an ill-fitting blanket of victimhood…well, call me cynical, but their rationalizations don’t ring true with me, and my concern for their plight hovers somewhere between “not much” and “give me a fucking break.”
I’ve strayed pretty far afield from Sam’s original idea of the similarity between Weinstein and Progressivism itself, but the connection is clear enough: they both claim to be something they ain’t; they both enrich themselves at the expense of others less powerful than they; they both take dishonest advantage of the very people they falsely purport to help; they both hide their true intentions behind a smokescreen of lies; they both depend on the gullible or unaware for their gratification; they both make promises they have no intention of delivering on to people who are far too willing to trust them for selfish and less-than-saintly motives of their own.
But the most important similarity might be this: they both pretend to an exalted moral superiority that they in no way possess or adhere to. Harvey Weinstein is by no means any sort of singular exception, and almost everybody in the business knows it. Their all-too-convenient, self-serving protestations of shock and horror over him are not in the least interesting, and don’t amount to anything at all except as a yardstick for their own disingenuous hypocrisy; they’re all pigs-in-a-poke together, and the mud they’re smearing poor old Harvey with is daubed thickly all over their own faces, try as they might to look clean. What does matter is the REAL reason why they’ve all decide to throw his ass under the bus right now…just as they’ve done with Hillary™, their formerly beloved heroine and savior.
In Hillary’s case, we know or can easily surmise the reasons Progressivists have abandoned her to her narcissistic misery and humiliation, her despair floating off to the horizon on a rising tide of alcohol. She’s a proven loser, a hapless incompetent with no discernible facility for her husband’s oleaginous-hick smarm, his ability to pull the wool over the eyes of the ingenuous—an unlikable harridan, an inept, fork-tongued phony professing her abiding desire to assist the benighted plebe in improving his lot but famous for her contemptuous mistreatment of “the help,” and they don’t need her anymore.
With Harvey, it’s something we’ll probably never really know. Because there are plenty more Weinsteins out there, still carrying on as they always have, and they intend to go right on with it—and the now-faltering Great Progressivist Project desperately needs their cash, and will hold their noses and bury the Weinsteinian filth as long as that sweet gelt goes on flowing their way. As such, there won’t be any interest in examining Harvey’s fall too closely, or in digging up any more dirty Hollywood bones than they absolutely have to.
Like Hillary, he’s little more than an embarrassing footnote to them now, condemned to a very occasional “where are they now” mention in the entertainment news, doomed to bemused cluck-clucking dismissal by liberal “journalists” in a ten-second report when he finally dies broke, miserable, alone, and unlamented.
Obscurity, irrelevance, and deprivation are surely unsatisfying and inadequate punishment for his crimes, but will probably have to suffice. The truly galling injustice is knowing that the Democrat Socialist Party rumpswabs who feted him and ignored his iniquity right up to the end in order to keep the money pipeline open won’t suffer any such punishment, or any punishment at all. They’ll just move on to the next Tinseltown degenerate, attaching themselves remora-like to his wallet for more business as usual along the Hollywood/DC Axis.