Last week, just as I was musing on a topic to write about, there was breaking news in The New York Times about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman, with his brother, of the Weinstein Co. Unknown to the general public (but well-known to many in Hollywood), he has led a 30-year career of routine sexual harassment of actresses and other women he employed, several of whom have sued him and successfully settled those cases against him.
Conservatives on social media met this news with glee. There’s been a solid two years of lecturing, hectoring and moral condescension from the left about just how execrable a man Donald Trump is and how deplorable his voters are. The foul language he tossed off to Billy Bush in the notorious “Entertainment Tonight” video was just Exhibit No. 1 in the resistance movement to destroy him and delegitimize his presidency.
But now it turns out that Harvey Weinstein, one of the biggest political moneymen and facilitators in Hollywood, who has bankrolled the majority of prominent Democratic politicians, has far worse morals. And this has been an open secret in Hollywood for the past 30 years. Indeed, women of all sorts have fought hard to be able to work for him. However, since he was the kind of fleshly titan who made fabulous careers–and ended them, as well–his illegal proclivities were never spoken of openly. There are no atheists in foxholes, goes a famous aphorism. And, apparently, there are no outspoken feminists in Hollywood when it comes to their own career advancement.
Indeed, many of the same actresses who have hijacked award shows, for example, to harangue the public about their disgust for Trump turn out to have worked successfully with Harvey Weinstein for years. In some cases, such as that of Ashley Judd, who was allegedly propositioned over and over when she joined him for a meeting in his Beverly Hills hotel room–I know what you are thinking! Why would she even agree to meet him there?–the excessive degree of anger she displayed over Trump at the women’s resistance march in Washington seems like transference of the anger she withheld from its actual target, Harvey Weinstein. Did you also hear Judd returned to work for him a few years later?
So, too, in the last few months we have heard from both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama about the kinds of women who voted for Trump instead of Hillary. Hillary’s prize statement was that, “White women voted against me because the men in their lives told them to.” Apparently, she is unable to sustain the thought that, after a lengthy political career lived fully in the public eye, adult women might have nuanced political disagreements with her. Nope. To her mind, these are all women incapable of having an independent thought of their own. All merely do what their menfolk tell them to as if the modern right in America was living in its own version of Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, it’s not much of an incentive to vote for her in the future either, if she imposes another political run on the polity.
Michelle Obama similarly ascribed complete lack of agency and self-knowledge to women Trump voters. “What does that mean for us as women?” she asked, rhetorically. “Well, to me that just says you don’t like your voice. You like the thing that you’re told to like.” Apparently, identity politics, where a person votes only for the sex or race they identify with, is the only acceptable choice for these two Democratic superstars. That is, unless you are a middle-class white man identifying with Trump, when identity politics instantly transforms you into a sexist and racist troglodyte.
And yet both these women have been until now huge fans of Harvey Weinstein. Michelle Obama, whose husband controlled every spy agency in America, even let her daughter, Malia, intern for him. Hillary Clinton has been photographed with her two hands on Weinstein’s chest and a huge smile on her face. I imagine the donation he handed over for events was massive.
All this and yet not even one tiny joke on the late shows the day this story broke. The entertainment industry is still in thrall of Weinstein’s power, it seems. Or at least, still terrified of repercussions.
Yet even this factor helps explain conservative amusement when this story broke. After years of moral condescension from the left, it’s their full-on political hypocrisy that is now bathed in Hollywood spotlights.
Mara Schiffren, a Campus Watch Fellow, is a writer and functional medicine health coach who lives in North Salem. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org