FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Sexism in Tinsel Town

As irony would have it, Harvey Weinstein—movie executive, high-profile industry mogul, loutish bully—is abruptly fired by the executive board of The Weinstein Company, the very enterprise that he and his brother Bob founded in 2005. Harvey’s offense? Using his position of power to sexually harass and intimidate women.

Initially, Weinstein was accused only of coming on way “too aggressively and crudely” to a number of reluctant women. But since the scandal broke, things have changed dramatically. Several women have come forward and actually accused Weinstein of rape, which, presumably, means he is now open to criminal charges.

As for the original complaints, because this is Hollywood where things are different, when we say “aggressively and crudely” we mean that Harvey occasionally removed all his clothing and stood before these women bare naked, while touching himself. Perhaps he considered this foreplay. That, or he wanted to make sure these women clearly understood his intentions.

In any event, as repulsive as his behavior was, it’s the resounding hypocrisy surrounding it that drives us up the wall. Indeed, it’s difficult to say which recent news story would be declared winner of the Hypocrisy Sweepstakes. Would it be finding out that Hollywood big-shots (even mid-level and low-level executive wannabes) do, in fact, take sexual advantage of vulnerable women?

Or, citing another recent news story, would it be finding out that prestigious college sports programs, with billions of dollars in TV revenue at stake, regularly and systematically break every rule in the book in order to persuade blue chip high school athletes to sign with them? Again, as egregious and slimy as both of these practices are, it’s the pretending that they don’t exist that enrages us.

Because we’re discussing Hollywood here, it’s appropriate we cite a movie. There’s a pivotal scene in the classic film, “Casablanca,” one that takes place in Rick’s Café Americain. The chief of police, Captain Renault (Claude Rains), suddenly orders the place to be shut down.

When Rick (Humphrey Bogart) demands to know why he is closing it, Captain Renault (himself a regular customer in the club’s illegal backroom gambling den), answers in faux-outrage, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in there.” Right. Just as we’re shocked to hear that rampant sexual harassment occurs in the movie industry.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was seeking his first term as California governor, a couple of low-level industry women came forward (anonymously, of course) and accused him not only of engaging in sexual harassment, but of committing sexual battery, which consisted of him “playfully” groping their breasts, buttocks, and crotches. The “LA Times” carried the story.

According to these women, everybody on the movie set knew what was going on, but no one would dare say a word about it. Besides fearing for their jobs, the groping and swinish behavior was viewed simply as “Arnold being Arnold.” Moreover, Schwarzenegger was an established international movie star, and these women, had they complained, were nondescript minions, easily replaced.

There’s another scene in “Casablanca” that’s worth citing. A young newlywed, Annina (Joy Page), wants to find out whether or not the police chief is a man of his word. Apparently, the chief has promised to help her and her husband depart the city of Casablanca, but only in return for sexual favors. Because the couple is desperate, she is seriously considering it.

So Annina politely approaches the world-weary Humphrey Bogart and inquires directly as to Claude Rains’ trustworthiness. “Monsieur Rick,” she asks earnestly, “what kind of man is Captain Renault?”

While Bogart’s answer is both insightful and revealing, it is also deliciously cynical. He takes a moment to think and then replies matter-of-factly, “Oh, he’s just like any other man, only more so.”

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 24, 2020
Stephen Corry
New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind
M. K. Bhadrakumar
How India’s Modi is Playing on Trump’s Ego to His Advantage
Jennifer Matsui
Tycoon Battle-Bots Battle Bernie
Robert Fisk
There’s Little Chance for Change in Lebanon, Except for More Suffering
Rob Wallace
Connecting the Coronavirus to Agriculture
Bill Spence
Burning the Future: the Growing Anger of Young Australians
Eleanor Eagan
As the Primary Race Heats Up, Candidates Forget Principled Campaign Finance Stands
Binoy Kampmark
The Priorities of General Motors: Ditching Holden
George Wuerthner
Trojan Horse Timber Sales on the Bitterroot
Rick Meis
Public Lands “Collaboration” is Lousy Management
David Swanson
Bloomberg Has Spent Enough to Give a Nickel to Every Person Whose Life He’s Ever Damaged
Peter Cohen
What Tomorrow May Bring: Politics of the People
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon?
Weekend Edition
February 21, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Election Con 2020: Exposing Trump’s Deception on the Opioid Epidemic
Joshua Frank
Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Billion Dollar Babies
Paul Street
More Real-Time Reflections from Your Friendly South Loop Marxist
Jonathan Latham
Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory
Ramzy Baroud
‘The Donald Trump I know’: Abbas’ UN Speech and the Breakdown of Palestinian Politics
Martha Rosenberg
A Trump Sentence Commutation Attorneys Generals Liked
Ted Rall
Bernie Should Own the Socialist Label
Louis Proyect
Encountering Malcolm X
Kathleen Wallace
The Debate Question That Really Mattered
Jonathan Cook
UN List of Firms Aiding Israel’s Settlements was Dead on Arrival
George Wuerthner
‘Extremists,’ Not Collaborators, Have Kept Wilderness Whole
Colin Todhunter
Apocalypse Now! Insects, Pesticide and a Public Health Crisis  
Stephen Reyna
A Paradoxical Colonel: He Doesn’t Know What He is Talking About, Because He Knows What He is Talking About.
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A New Solar Power Deal From California
Richard Moser
One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement and One Losing Way
Laiken Jordahl
Trump’s Wall is Destroying the Environment We Worked to Protect
Walden Bello
Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change
Jefferson Morley
On JFK, Tulsi Gabbard Keeps Very Respectable Company
Vijay Prashad
Standing Up for Left Literature: In India, It Can Cost You Your Life
Gary Leupp
Bloomberg Versus Bernie: The Upcoming Battle?
Ron Jacobs
The Young Lords: Luchadores Para La Gente
Richard Klin
Loss Leaders
Gaither Stewart
Roma: How Romans Differ From Europeans
Kerron Ó Luain
The Soviet Century
Mike Garrity
We Can Fireproof Homes But Not Forests
Fred Baumgarten
Gaslighting Bernie and His Supporters
Joseph Essertier
Our First Amendment or Our Empire, But Not Both
Peter Linebaugh
A Story for the Anthropocene
Danny Sjursen
Where Have You Gone Smedley Butler?
Jill Richardson
A Broken Promise to Teachers and Nonprofit Workers
Binoy Kampmark
“Leave Our Bloke Alone”: A Little Mission for Julian Assange
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail