Harvey Weinstein is said to have a laugh like an erupting volcano. But I’d imagine that volcano hasn’t erupted for some time – Harvey has very little to laugh about these days…
Today he is fighting to save his reputation, a pariah in Hollywood and about to go on trial for sexual allegations against him. He is responsible for the rise of one of the most important movements, the #MeToo campaign, a movement that has given a voice to women who have been sexually abused in Hollywood and also exposed the seedy underbelly of the industry.
I like everyone was transfixed last October by the daily reports of women coming forward and the scandal that has engulfed Hollywood, but I have moved in the movie industries circles for years and have been privy to many stories about the abuse that is perpetuated in the industry. In my view, Harvey is a rotten apple plucked out of a barrel of lots of other rotten apples. I’d known about some of Kevin Spacey’s alleged behaviour for years, and other similar stories.
Born 19 March 1952, in NYC, to Jewish/Polish immigrants, Harvey grew up in a housing co-op. Success with Miramax, founded with his Brother, Bob, gave him critical and modest commercial success and he rose to become a powerhouse in the industry.
But before I probe into the psychology of the man, I want to share something that will hopefully prove irrevocably that I stand with the sisters of the campaign. When I was 18-years-old, I was employed as a receptionist to a small company. One day, the boss sent all the other ladies home except me and called me into his office. As I walked in my eyes were drawn to the photo of his wife and two cherub looking children on his desk, suddenly I felt him grab me and all I could feel was this tongue slither down my throat whilst stimulatingly groping my breast.
I remember recoiling in disgust and pushed him off and wiped the saliva from my mouth. I was still a virgin at the time, and felt violated and run out of his office and immediately took sick leave. Two weeks later, the pervert informed me my services were no longer required. What did I do about it? Nothing, and it haunts me to this day.
This happened in 1982, when the terms of prosecution were very different to today and it would have been his word against mine. There weren’t any CCTV cameras around and the whole office was empty. Also back then litigation was more complex then today, in the #MeToo climate I would be facing him eye-to-eye in a court room. So I empathise with every one of Harvey’s victims. When Rose McGowan first came forward as a victim, it opened a Pandora box, lifting the excess to the unsuspecting public.
What really ignited my interest in writing this was reading an interview with Jennifer Aniston, who when it was put to her what she would do in that situation with Harvey? She claims she’d have walked away from the situation. It made me question why the other women who’ve come forward, who went for meetings with him with the objective of discussing their careers and was confronted by a man in a bath robe, allegedly half-open, did they not do the same?
But before all that, let’s get inside the mind of the man in question. I am not a psychiatrist, but in my mind I picture a young Harvey, with heaps of self-loathing, wishing he was a handsome dude that could attract any woman. It is possible that as a young man he was rejected by women, and has harboured a lifelong resentment that has slowly seeped out. With power comes corruption and once he established himself as one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood, every fantasy became a reality. A greedy kid in a candy shop. With every Greyhound bus that pulled up in Hollywood packed with identikit, fiercely ambitious actresses from ‘nowhereville’. He was a vampire ready to suck their blood for exchange of fame and fortune. Nobody was ever going to reject him again.
Hollywood has always been a town awash with women ready to sell themselves as sexualised objects while repeating the mantra of feisty feminists. The casting couch has been prevalent in Hollywood for years. Actresses are routinely degraded and exploited. Much has been written about Marilyn Monroe basing her whole career on the casting couch. I recommend reading the first definitive book about Hollywood, Hollywood Babylon, by Kenneth Anger, the avant-garde filmmaker who was one of the first to expose the sordid scandals of the Hollywood denizens.
In her book, Brave, Rose McGowan portrays going to a meeting with Weinstein to plot the grand arc of her career and immediately felt uneasy as his assistant ferried her into the room and quickly departs. What transpired in that room is his word against hers. She claims she was raped (orally) whilst naked in the Jacuzzi with him. When I’d read this my heart bled for her as I saw the parallels in my experience – though fortunately I wasn’t raped – but then I slowly started to process this in my mind, and kept wondering how the hell she got herself naked and in that Jacuzzi with him? When you hear her now, the visceral of her rage is all so consuming that you cannot imagine this women being so compliant. A naïve, ambitious actress with minimal talent and even less morals maybe, but not McGowan.
Another actress who came forward names another director who allegedly forced her to perform a sex act. Ashamedly, my first thought was: did he have a gun to your head? Whereas, Eva Green had a similar experience with Weinstein but proved to be a strong-willed woman, immediately leaving the room with an “ f*!k you” attitude. Weinstein was the bully, the puppet maker in all of this he preyed on women who he could manipulate, the hungry, fiercely ambitious. Nonetheless, McGowan’s story became a dominant thread for others to spin their tale of sexual harassment, she alone encapsulated a victim of his alleged abuse.
However, the #MeToo campaign has started to polarise a few people. The movement has taken a bit of a battering lately with the alleged sexual misconduct of one of Weinstein’s accuser. Asia Argento has alleged to have slept with an underage actor, also Lucia Evans testimony against Weinstein was dropped after the lead detective, Nicholas DiGaudio made an error in his investigations, and he failed to inform the courts about a witness whose testimony cast doubt on Evan’s case. Apparently, Evans had told the friend that she allegedly willingly performed a sex act on Weinstein in exchange for movie parts. Another actress, who also claims that Weinstein allegedly raped her, then after the alleged act sent him a warm email.
Weinstein lawyers will be primed to rip these women’s accusations apart. They’d better have solid evidence, if there’s an ounce of discrepancy in their testimony then this bully’s defence team will have an arsenal of damning evidence against these women who wish to bring him down.
Weinstein is just warming up and will come out fighting with all guns blazing. His silence up to now has been his greatest defence, if another woman came forward today it would merit a minor column in the newspaper. It’s old news. What journalists want to hear is Harvey’s testimony.
Weinstein still maintains that all sexual conduct was mutually consensual.