Dis­turb­ing aura of in­flu­ence

The Timaru Herald - - COMMENT&OPINION -

cliche.

Though the dis­graced movie pro­ducer em­bod­ies a stereo­type es­tab­lished in an­other era, only the naive would have as­sumed the film in­dus­try had rid it­self of its ‘‘cast­ing couch’’ be­fore his in­de­cent pro­pos­als were ex­posed by a New York Times in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

As loath­some as his con­duct was, us­ing the fa­cade of busi­ness meet­ings to co­erce his sex­ual fan­cies, it didn’t come as a big sur­prise. What has been truly dis­turb­ing, as the domi­nos have con­tin­ued to fall with each new al­le­ga­tion, is the com­plicit cul­ture of priv­i­lege and fear that has al­lowed We­in­stein’s ab­hor­rent be­hav­iour to be­come a life­style for 30 years.

His ac­tions were tol­er­ated and en­abled by fam­ily, col­leagues, the in­dus­try, and the me­dia – and jus­ti­fied through power and wealth. The New York Times has had to work a lot harder to ex­pose We­in­stein than he did to keep his al­leged ha­rass­ment hid­den. Be­cause he largely didn’t.

Pay-offs and pri­vate set­tle­ments proved an ef­fec­tive way to make his ac­cusers go away, and there have been claims of his own smear cam­paigns via his me­dia chums. But mostly he has ruled due to an aura of in­flu­ence.

You don’t say no to Har­vey We­in­stein, and he knew it.

Ac­tress Ash­ley Judd, the first to pub­licly name and shame We­in­stein, did say no, in 1997. It’s hard now not to no­tice that her ca­reer be­gan to lan­guish soon af­ter­wards.

Other young ac­tresses likely no­ticed too, and he was prob­a­bly count­ing on it. It’s an im­bal­ance of power that has seem­ingly paral­ysed the in­dus­try.

Only af­ter We­in­stein was sacked from his own com­pany, his ca­reer in ru­ins, did the Hol­ly­wood A-lis­ters grow a spine and con­demn his mis­con­duct. One won­ders what other pow­er­ful Hol­ly­wood play­ers are still be­ing pro­tected.

As his vic­tims con­tinue to come for­ward, and other Hol­ly­wood iden­ti­ties are called out for their own sex­u­ally in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour, there is hope Hol­ly­wood could be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a me­ta­mor­pho­sis.

Or it could just be fran­tic dam­age con­trol.

This is an in­dus­try that has cel­e­brated di­rec­tor Ro­man Polan­ski de­spite his rape of a 13-year-old in 1977, and of­fered in­dif­fer­ence to last year’s con­fes­sion from Last Tango In Paris di­rec­tor Bernardo Ber­tolucci that a rape scene was shot with­out ac­tress Maria Sch­nei­der’s con­sent to make it more au­then­tic.

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