“So tell me what you want to hear. Something that’ll light those ears. Sick of all the insincere….Don’t care if critics never jump in line. I’m gonna give all my secrets away.” – Recorded by OneRepublic, 2009. Composer: Ryan Tedder
A couple of days ago, I stepped out of the shower, threw on my bath robe, came out of the bathroom spouting off (in jest) to my wife, “Happy Halloween! I’m Harvey Weinstein!” Before she could even react to my failed attempt at humor, I felt a huge conviction way down deep inside. Right away I admitted to her that wasn’t really funny and walked away from it. Unfortunately, I feel many will wear a Harvey Weinstein costume for Halloween parties this year. How sad.
It’s brutal, isn’t it? I mean, your darkest secrets to be revealed publicly.
I am not intentionally jotting with one hand while gathering stones for Mr. Weinstein with the other. Frankly all of that (throwing stones bit) would be too easy and almost recreational, in a therapeutic camera lens. However, with Harvey Weinstein’s horrific actions of sexual abuses and allegations coming out in the public square, with virtually every news agency repeating it as other victims step up to the truth-plate, I won’t keep my computer off.
Sincerely, Mr. Weinstein’s conduct is about as degrading as a human action can get. In fact I’ll go so far as to say it is next to the act of mind-bending torture and murder. Allow me to explain my thinking.
One of Harvey’s excuses is that it’s been well accepted and even applauded when it comes to the ancient casting couch. I’m afraid that is true. While on Howard Stern’s radio show, he was quoted as saying something like, “Well, it’s not how it used to be back in the day,” concerning the ability to look the other way. You might be asking yourself just how many sexual victims are out there. I don’t even want to think about it.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine why so many victims of this brand of cruelty and shame hold their silence. After all, they have been victimized, brutalized and used like a wet rag by a powerful man in the entertainment field who shakes the proverbial trees and bushes in his business. He is the king of that kingdom. You would think they would leave his office and make a straight line to the police station. If so, they might appear to be liars with a grudge on a tear to dethrone and destroy someone’s career and family. (Let me say the unpopular here. THAT DOES happen more times than you will ever hear about. But that is not the focus of this post.)
My past is a collage with multiple hats. Among the hats: director, casting director, producer, playwright, copywriter, editor, actor, music director, voice coach, program director, voice actor, voice-over talent and singer. I have worked with some of the best actors from Hollywood to Texas, New York to Toronto and from the BBC in the UK. Many of my best friends are in show business, splintering through a wide range of talents and titles. None of these have personally confessed to me they have been at the hands of a sexual predator in high places, with the exception of one. Since the Weinstein media explosion, the #ME TOO social media campaign has ignited, for solidarity purposes, in warp speed. I was saddened to see a couple of my friends post the two-word reveal in recent days.
Harvey Weinstein’s victims are not all A-List actors worth millions of Hollywood dollars. I am certain, simply by the shear numbers who work in the entertainment world who are grunt workers, extras and one or two jobs-a-year-actors. Between auditions, these are women and men who are slaving away slapping burgers together at McDonald’s or washing dishes at Denny’s. They have bills to pay and kids to feed, many without health insurance. They are living in a world where friendships are often shallow as they step on one another to get that next solid connection. Back-stabbing is common as a way to dominate or prosper. An actress at 40 years old is considered old, yesterday’s flavor. The younger actress can be blackballed and fired if she gains an inch or five pounds, which ever comes first. It happens all the time. Flaky is the real word for Hollywood.
For a few, suddenly, a nice break might be in the wings with a principle role on a new project coming up next summer. It goes something like this. He/she is thinking, if I can only get that pay scale for a year I could pay off a year’s lease, send my kid to camp, college, or get my mom and dad into that care facility they so desperately need. Let’s say The Weinstein Company is the executive producer of the new project. Harvey Weinstein holds futures in his hands like a puppet master. The agency sends he/she to Weinstein’s party the next weekend because it would be expedient. While there, he hands him/her a script and states he would love to hear a read for the role at his apartment in the city the following day. He/she agrees, asks off for the private audition and off to Harvey’s for an enormous opportunity. After arriving, Harvey himself lets him/her in and apologizes for having to take a quick shower first. After a few minutes, he comes out in his bathrobe, offers the actor a drink before the read. He/she is doing all he/she can to be on his/her best possible behavior. Then, at an unanticipated moment, Mr. Weinstein opens his robe, suggesting a full-body massage before the read. While in a state of shock, he/she has a quick life-altering choice to make within a second or two. Unfortunately, often the actor prostitutes herself at the alter of Mr. Weinstein and others like him. Why? Money, career, or for the love of the craft and family. Seemingly, it’s seen as a fork in the road to end years of poverty. What does a starving artist do?
“Some of them want to use you. Some of them want to get used by you. Some of them want to abuse you. Some of them want to be abused.” – Eurythmics – 1983. Composer: Allen Toussaint
You may not like the next line, but if you read my posts you know I don’t shy away from realities.
Mr. Weinstein and his victims are slaves to their own creation. Before you write your nasty comment in response, allow me to shine a brighter light on this.
More times than not, Hollywood, Broadway and the recording industry celebrates, highlights and nurtures scripts and lyrics of violence of all types, including the violence of sexual assault. Moreover, they pump out sexuality to the max like a sausage machine. Playing to the core lusts of the human mind, the machine targets the libido with all of the visual and audio tools to arrive there. Too many times, a producer might toss back the original screenplay saying it doesn’t have enough sex, nudity and violence. So, the poor screenwriter does a rewrite on a piece he/she has been working to sell for maybe thirteen years or more. Often an actor is asked how they are able to perform a sex scene with a virtual stranger while 20 crew members are watching. Usually they will say, they mentally take themselves out of their own body. (Interestingly enough, rape victims often say the same. I know this because I have known a few.) How often can you perform this mental escapism, talented or not, and not damage your own soul’s outlook? All in the name of the buck. Sex and violence sells. Way too often a film has to get back to the editor for cuts just to get a downshift to an R rating. So, someone who deals and peddles sex and violence on a day-to-day basis is a seeded individual. Furthermore, we, you and I, BUY the product like a thirsty dog. How dare we show shock and dismay that a movie exec gets a pass to force his way with those he might hire. Seeds grow. And like a seedling punching through the soil, so does the acting out of a seeded one who uses it as his/her income. Thus, Mr. Weinstein, who in his value system, considers sexual assault to be part of the biz. As he told one actress who complained of his grope while secretly recording him, “Come on, you know you like this. You’re used to this.”
My suggestion? Never ask why the victim stays silent. It’s a tad more obvious when you place yourself in their loafers. True, in their loafers you might make a more dignified decision, and many do, and are never heard from again. The artist often sees their very life on the line. Silence hides their shame. Silence will keep them working at what they love. Silence passes the buck to the next victim with choices. It’s indeed a vicious trap. Too many suicides come from this industry.
I could go on, but I won’t. I will add that the one actress I worked with who admitted to being a victim of a Weinstein, also admitted she had twelve abortions over her lifetime. (On the surface you would never detect that she was a disturbed individual in many ways, but I did not question her sincerity on this topic.) Years ago she moved away from Hollywood to escape the depressing gauntlet. However, around 2007 she returned to it. She has yet to became a steady-working actress.
Compassion says, hurt for them. Righteousness says, pray for all involved while revealing the truth. Forgiveness says, as for me, I must release the offender to God’s justice, not mine. God will do His work in the life of Harvey Weinstein, no matter what the result may be. No sexual abuse rehabilitation center in the world can remove sin and forgive the offender. Only the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, Who sacrificed Himself as the replacement for God’s wrath for sin can do so.
If you have ached from an abuser, just know there is an escape, even though it may seem impossible. Your exit starts with fuel for the race.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3 (NIV)