Friday, October 20, 2017

The Secret Service and the Intelligence Community Exposed Malia Obama to Harvey Weinstein



NewYorker |  Harvey throttled someone. Harvey called an employee a fucking moron. Harvey threw the shoes, the book, the phone, the eggs. Harvey went to work with his shirt on inside-out and no one had the courage to tell him. If you fucking say anything to him, the assistant said to the other assistant, I’m dead. Harvey would eat the fries off your plate, smash them in his face, and wash them down with a cigarette and a Diet Coke. He belittled and berated: You can’t name three Frank Capra movies? What the fuck are you even doing here? He was funny; he was grotesque, a boisterous, boorish, outrageous, gluttonous caricature of a man, a Hollywood type. A “man of appetites”; a philanderer; a cartoon beast, surrounded by beauties. Years later, the people who worked for him—survivors, they called themselves, of Miramax and the Weinstein Company—still met regularly to tell stories about Harvey Weinstein. “I always thought it was interesting that a lot of people who left Miramax either ended up running shit in Hollywood or became social workers,” an alumna of the company told me.

Harvey stories have a new valence now, in the aftermath of revelations by the Times and by The New Yorker, and the term “survivors” must be reserved for those who have alleged intense sexual harassment, assault, and rape. (Through a representative, Weinstein has denied all accusations of non-consensual sex.) The stories aren’t funny anymore, because now we know the story behind them. Weinstein was not a philanderer, with inordinately, unaccountably attractive “girlfriends”; he was, apparently, according to the forty-some women who have come forward so far, including many of Hollywood’s most visible celebrities, engaged in quid-pro-quo harassment that, in certain cases, involved coercion and physical force. But, unlike Donald Trump, our show-biz President, a bully who has boasted of sexual assault and been accused of sexual misconduct numerous times, Weinstein is finally being condemned and punished for his treatment of women. (Trump denies all allegations of sexual misconduct.)

Workplace sexual assault, according to the feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon, is “dominance eroticized.” More than misplaced desire, she writes, it is “an expression of dominance laced with impersonal contempt, the habit of getting what one wants, and the perception (usually accurate) that the situation can be safely exploited in this way—all expressed sexually.” Among the many painful ironies of Weinstein’s public activities (the professorship in Gloria Steinem’s name that he helped endow, his support of Hillary Clinton), the one I find the most brutal and defeating is that he made movies with substantial and three-dimensional parts for women, and it was this rare commodity that he is said to have used to exploit the women who wanted those roles. Their desire for professional advancement demeaned them—even after he’d made some of them into stars. (He never let them forget it: who made them, who owned them.) There were rumors, yes, of the did-she-or-didn’t-she variety. Because the actresses were ambitious, they were seen as “ambitious,” and his predation went on, hiding in plain view. No one ever asked, Did he? That was the given, and it is only now that the abuse is being called by its true name. The company’s reputation for artistic integrity and highbrow fare was a disguise that Harvey Weinstein wore, his version of the black-ski-mask clich√©.