Back in 2009, producer Harvey Weinstein told the Los Angeles Times that Hollywood had “the best moral compass,” citing fundraising efforts that celebrities had undertaken after national tragedies such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
It’s a quote that now looks completely ridiculous in light of the sexual assault and harassment allegations against the disgraced Weinstein and a growing number of other Hollywood players such as actors Jeremy Piven and Kevin Spacey.
Movie and television stars have long had a stronghold on pop culture in the United States — but they were never meant to be morally superior figures or leaders whom children or other young people should idolize. Perhaps the recent allegations about rampant sex abuse and harassment in the entertainment industry are now going to alert more people to the fact that preaching celebrities are as human and flawed as the rest of us — and not always worthy of following.
The easiest way for Hollywood to try to restore some of its old magic — such as it was — would be to wash itself clean of all of its sex criminals and corruption.
Since there are many women and men who have come forward with stories of abuse or harassment but have not yet opted to name their abusers, it appears there could be additional powerful figures to be exposed from this whole ordeal.
Former child star Corey Feldman, of course, has vowed to expose the industry’s pedophilia ring. If these people are not exposed, then the American public will know that sex abuse still exists in the film and television worlds — and that consumers could be supporting the abusers with their own dollars.
To be fair, Feldman claimed in recent interviews with Matt Lauer and Megyn Kelly that he did not yet feel safe naming names because there was no system in place to protect him. Others likely feel the same way, since people like Weinstein got away with their alleged actions for decades before being they were exposed. Feldman also claimed he told the Los Angeles Police Department in 1993 about the abuse he suffered as a child star and even named names, but that nothing was done.
Not only must Hollywood rid itself of these abusers but also the enablers — especially the enablers who still claim ignorance.
Thus far, Quentin Tarantino admitted in an emotional interview that he knew of some of Weinstein’s transgressions and should have done more. Actress Rose McGowan, who alleged that Weinstein raped her and then paid her off in the ’90s, has also accused some in the industry of knowing of her abuse and doing nothing about it. She called “Justice League” actor Ben Affleck a “liar” and said she revealed her rape to him when they co-starred in the Weinstein-produced “Phantoms.” Affleck worked with Weinstein for many years after and, in a recent public statement, claimed ignorance about the man’s actions.
McGowan also alleged she had told the head of Amazon Studios about the rape — and wasn’t believed. The head of Amazon Studios has now been let go after separate sexual harassment allegations against him came out. McGowan has also said she would like to see the entire board of The Weinstein Company, which Weinstein co-founded, disbanded as she believes they had to know something about what was going on because of numerous payouts by Weinstein to victims.
Actor and former Weinstein co-worker George Clooney made a recent appearance on “The Today Show” and said he wants Weinstein enablers held accountable. “Whoever had that story and didn’t report it? I want them held responsible,” he said. “I want to know what kind of ad dollars were spent from The Weinstein Company and from Miramax [the other company founded by Weinstein]. We should’ve known this.”
Sexual assault and harassment exists in many industries; this major issue must be addressed. The reason it seems so much worse coming from Hollywood is because of the moral grandstanding the industry has gotten away with for so long.
Clooney, Affleck and others who have worked with Weinstein are longtime Democratic donors who have preached endlessly about social issues. Weinstein himself was a Democratic donor who often railed against the NRA and conservative politicians.
Even someone like Tarantino looks morally compromised in the wake of the Weinstein story. He preached to audiences about the morals of police officers in the past, yet he now admits knowing for years of inappropriate activities and abuse by his producer friend.
Eyes have been opened, and the public can now see the Hollywood industry for what it is — a flawed place, where predators have been protected for a very long time.
The industry itself is highly liberal: Recall the likes of Clooney saying “f*** you” to President Donald Trump in September, while a whopping 23 celebs — including Lena Dunham, Bryan Cranston, George Lopez and Miley Cyrus — all promised to leave America when Trump was elected (although none actually did). Weinstein himself donated $300,000 to the Democratic Party over the past two decades. This sort of grandstanding, preaching, and political one-sidedness has alienated many right-wingers and average Americans from mainstream celebrities.
In the past, many people cared deeply about what celebrities said on any number of issues; but as this massive abuse scandal unravels and more and more predators are revealed, credibility is slowly crumbling. Though Hollywood’s earnings likely will not be completely dismantled, this should be the wakeup call America needs right now to stop worshipping false idols.