The fall of a Hollywood mogul
“Even by the standards of Hollywood, it has been a spectacular fall from grace,” said Nick Constable in the Daily Mail. The reputation of Harvey Weinstein, the producer behind such films as The English Patient and Pulp Fiction, is in ruins following a slew of sexual harassment allegations. The New York Times reported last week that the movie mogul was a serial sex pest who had reached at least eight legal settlements with women over the past three decades. More accusers have since come forward, including the actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, alleging harassment, assault and even rape. Their accounts share a common narrative: Weinstein invited them to his hotel room for work reasons, only to greet them either in a dressing gown or naked, and ask them to massage him or watch him shower. Weinstein, who has been sacked by his film company, says he is seeking help to “conquer my demons”.
Weinstein’s abusive behaviour has long been an open secret in Hollywood, said Rebecca Traister in New York magazine. I witnessed it first-hand back in 2000 when I got into a row with him at a book party. He swore at me and, when my boyfriend intervened, he got him in a headlock, dragged him onto Sixth Avenue, and proceeded to pound him. Such was Weinstein’s power then, that despite dozens of camera flashes going off, no photo of the scene ever made it into print. No one has dared hold the physically imposing, well-connected Weinstein to account for his abuses. Alas, Hollywood has a long history of “predatory, institutional sexism”, said Hugo Rifkind in The Times. But the Weinstein scandal has not erupted now purely by chance. It’s a symptom of a “changing world” and evolving attitudes.
Wrong, said Lee Smith in The Weekly Standard. It’s nothing to do with “raised consciousness”. The reason this story came out now is because Weinstein’s power is on the wane. Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency, it’s likely that Weinstein – a major Democratic fundraiser who recently gave an internship to the Obama’s eldest daughter Malia – would still be getting away with it. The media model that protected him has also collapsed. There was a time when his company, Miramax, used to buy the movie rights to every big story published in New York’s magazines. But the collapse of print advertising means few magazines can now pay for the kind of journalism that translates into screenplays, so they have no reason to keep him on side. Besides, the downfall of a movie mogul makes a great story. “Maybe there’s even a movie in it.”