A Turning Point Against Sexual Harassment?
Harvey Weinstein’s sick world is collapsing in on him. Now Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have publicly accused him. From the NYT:
When Gwyneth Paltrow was 22 years old, she got a role that would take her from actress to star: The film producer Harvey Weinstein hired her for the lead in the Jane Austen adaptation “Emma.” Before shooting began, he summoned her to his suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for a work meeting that began uneventfully.
It ended with Mr. Weinstein placing his hands on her and suggesting they head to the bedroom for massages, she said.
“I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” she said in an interview, publicly disclosing that she was sexually harassed by the man who ignited her career and later helped her win an Academy Award.
She refused his advances, she said, and confided in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time. Mr. Pitt confronted Mr. Weinstein, and soon after, the producer warned her not to tell anyone else about his come-on. “I thought he was going to fire me,” she said.
Ronan Farrow, writing in The New Yorker, has much darker stories about Weinstein — and an audio clip from a NYPD sting operation:
Virtually all of the people I spoke with told me that they were frightened of retaliation. “If Harvey were to discover my identity, I’m worried that he could ruin my life,” one former employee told me. Many said that they had seen Weinstein’s associates confront and intimidate those who crossed him, and feared that they would be similarly targeted. Four actresses, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, told me they suspected that, after they rejected Weinstein’s advances or complained about them to company representatives, Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them. Multiple sources said that Weinstein frequently bragged about planting items in media outlets about those who spoke against him; these sources feared that they might be similarly targeted. Several pointed to Gutierrez’s case, in 2015: after she went to the police, negative items discussing her sexual history and impugning her credibility began rapidly appearing in New York gossip pages. (In the taped conversation with Gutierrez, Weinstein asks her to join him for “five minutes,” and warns, “Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes.”)
Several former employees told me that they were speaking about Weinstein’s alleged behavior now because they hoped to protect women in the future. “This wasn’t a one-off. This wasn’t a period of time,” an executive who worked for Weinstein for many years told me. “This was ongoing predatory behavior towards women—whether they consented or not.”
It’s likely that women have recently felt increasingly emboldened to talk about their experiences because of the way the world has changed regarding issues of sex and power. These disclosures follow in the wake of stories alleging sexual misconduct by public figures, including Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, and Donald Trump.
Like all bullies, he folds when he’s faced down and becomes wheedling and sycophantic. His volcanic rage erupts from raw insecurity. I often used to wonder if the physical dissonance between his personal grossness and his artistic sensibility — which was genuine — made him crazy. It’s no accident that Harvey’s preferred routine for sexual entrapment was to strip down and open the door of his hotel suite in an open bathrobe, or nothing at all. A rich, powerful movie mogul could now do what he couldn’t all those years in high school and tell a beautiful, cowering girl: This is who I am. Now that everyone knows the truth, deep down it may be, for him, a relief.
Again, all very, very richly deserved, and good on these women for speaking out. It should tell us something about the power of this man, and the fear of retaliation, that stars of the caliber of Paltrow and Jolie only went public about Harvey Weinstein after the Times broke the story.
Harvey Weinstein is ruined, no question. Justice is in the process of being done. But how many other Harvey Weinsteins are there in Hollywood?
Did you ever hear of former child actor Corey Feldman’s claims that he and his late friend, actor Corey Haim, were passed around like sex toys among powerful Hollywood men? From the Sunday Times of London (reprinted in The Australian):
Corey Feldman was perhaps the biggest child star of the 1980s, a hero in such hits as Gremlins, The Goonies, Stand by Meand The Lost Boys. In 2011 Feldman decided to speak out about the abuse he suffered as a young actor. “The No 1 problem in Hollywood was and is — and always will be — pedophilia,” he said, adding that by the time he was 14 he was “surrounded” by molesters. Feldman met another child actor, Corey Haim, on a film set in the mid-1980s. They became best friends, starring in numerous movies together and sharing their own television show.
Describing their first meeting in his memoir, Feldman wrote: “An adult male had convinced Corey that it was perfectly normal for older men and younger boys in the business to have sexual relations … So they walked off to a secluded area between two trailers … and Haim allowed himself to be sodomised.”
Haim asked Feldman: “So I guess we should play around like that too?” He replied: “No, that’s not what kids do, man.”
In 2012 Feldman told a British tabloid: “When I was 14 and 15, things were happening to me. These older men were leching around like vultures. It was basically me lying there pretending I was asleep and them going about their business.”
Both actors went on to suffer mental health problems, alcoholism and addiction to crack and heroin. In 2010, aged 38, Haim died of pneumonia, having reportedly entered rehab 15 times. Feldman said a “Hollywood mogul” was to blame for his friend’s death, adding: “The people who did this to me are still out there and still working — some of the richest, most powerful people in this business.”
“People look at Corey Feldman and think he’s a drug addict, so why should they listen to him?” says Anne Henry, co-founder of the BizParentz Foundation, an organisation established to protect child actors. “But that plays into the predators’ hands. They don’t want victims to be believed. We estimate that about 75 per cent of the child actors who ‘went off the rails’ suffered earlier abuse. Drug addiction, alcoholism, suicide attempts, wandering through life without a purpose — they can all be symptoms.”
It is almost certainly the case that there are men and women in Hollywood today who are powerful enough to blow the whistle on sexual abusers — abusers of women, children, and even of other men — without having to worry about losing their careers. I hope they will do that. Harvey Weinstein is yesterday’s news now. The story moves on to the men like him who have operated in the same way, and who have gotten away with it. They are now sitting in their office suites in L.A. scared to death, knowing for the first time something of the fear that they made those weaker than them feel.
It’s time to tell the truth about them.
And I hope it spreads to other industries. I have mentioned the powerful Catholic archbishop who treated seminarians and priests like this. I had a number of them calling me back in 2002, telling me their stories, but declining to go on the record. Without them going on the record, or providing me with court documents that could have backed up their claims, I could do nothing under US libel laws.
That dirtbag is still alive. His record is more or less an open secret in the Catholic clerical world, at least in his part of the country. There are a number of people who could out this serial abuser, who is a sick, sick man. Men, you need to find your courage — and your voice.