Sunday, October 15, 2017


Harvey Weinstein blamed his sociopathic behavior on the era when he came of age, and Ross Douthat thinks he has a point:
“I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” Harvey Weinstein wrote in his awful pseudo-apology, just before the fake Jay-Z quote and the promise to go to war with the N.R.A. “That was the culture then.”

Everyone has made sport of this line, but give the devil his due: In certain ways sexual predation actually was the culture in the years when Weinstein came of age, in the entertainment industry and the wider society it influenced and mirrored.

There is a liberal tendency to regard sexual exploitation as a patriarchal constant that feminism has mitigated, and a conservative tendency to regard it as a problem that’s gotten steadily worse since the sexual revolution.... When it comes to Weinsteinian behavior and related evils, things probably haven’t ever been as bad in modern America as they were for a time in the 1970s. And if you want to understand our own era’s problems, the specific ways that things were worse back then are worth remembering.
Blame the sexual revolution, Weinstein says -- and Douthat thinks that a valid argument.

But then you look at the big Weinstein story in The Washington Post today and -- in among the horrifying but by now unsurprising stories of brutal behavior toward women -- there's this:
In 1984, Harvey Weinstein was 32 years old and making one of his first real feature films, on location outside of Scranton, Pa. It was a comedy called “Playing for Keeps,” featuring a not-yet-famous Marisa Tomei, and the mood on set was anxious. Weinstein was foul-mouthed and domineering. He sparred routinely with his younger brother, Bob, his co-director.

... the day before the “Playing for Keeps” premiere ... Weinstein, enraged that [producer Alan Brewer] had been out of pocket for a few hours, lunged at him and began punching him in the head, Brewer said; the skirmish tumbled into the corridor and then the elevator. By the time Brewer reached the street, intent on never associating with the Weinsteins again, he said, Harvey was pleading for him to stay and help ensure that their film got launched.
And this:
Warren Leight worked with Weinstein as director on “The Night We Never Met,” a romantic comedy starring Matthew Broderick and Annabella Sciorra.

... Weinstein’s behavior was erratic.... Weinstein bulldozed the editing process, said Leight, who was unhappy with the cuts. He told Weinstein as much.

“Right now this feels like getting f---ed up the ass without Vaseline,” Weinstein responded, according to Leight. “But in 10 years, it’s going to seem like the best sex of your life.” Each outburst, Leight said, would be followed by a gift basket and an apology.

Leight was so worn down that he retreated from the film business, finding success in theater and television. In retrospect, he said, the abusive tactics that Weinstein used with women were in line with those he used with directors and male employees: the domination, the cycle of eruptions followed by contrition, the swagger, accompanied by shows of neediness.

“It’s absolutely the same behavior,” Leight said.
And before that, we read this from New York magazine's Rebecca Traister:
I was sent, on Election Eve 2000, to cover a book party [Weinstein] was hosting, along with my colleague Andrew Goldman. Weinstein didn’t like my question about [his movie] O, there was an altercation; though the recording has alas been lost to time, I recall that he called me a cunt and declared that he was glad he was the “fucking sheriff of this fucking lawless piece-of-shit town.” When my colleague Andrew (who was also then my boyfriend) intervened, first calming him down and then trying to extract an apology, Weinstein went nuclear, pushing Andrew down a set of steps inside the Tribeca Grand — knocking him over with such force that his tape recorder hit a woman, who suffered long-term injury — and dragging Andrew, in a headlock, onto Sixth Avenue.

Such was the power of Harvey Weinstein in 2000 that despite the dozens of camera flashes that went off on that sidewalk that night, capturing the sight of an enormously famous film executive trying to pound in the head of a young newspaper reporter, I have never once seen a photo.
And this:
Actor Nathan Lane says embattled movie exec Harvey Weinstein attacked him during a birthday party for Hillary Clinton 17 years ago.

Weinstein ... threw the fete for Clinton’s 53rd birthday in 2000 — but he also tossed emcee Lane against a wall for a joke the actor made onstage about Rudy Giuliani’s comb-over, the Broadway and film star said.

“This is my f–king show, we don’t need you,” Weinstein reportedly raged at Lane.
Weinstein's worst abuse was directed at women -- but when he's dealt with men, he's also been a monster.

Weinstein says he's acted the way he has toward women because he was told in the '60s and '70s that he was entitled to all the sex he wanted, and Ross Douthat essentially agrees. But I don't recall anyone going to the barricades in '60s or '70s for the right to beat the crap out of a work colleague or subordinate. There were love-ins; I don't remember any fight-ins. Beating people up wasn't embraced as a cultural value old people were too square to understand.

Harvey Weinstein does every horrible thing he does for the same reason: because he's a thug, not because he's a libertine. His sexual assaults are crimes of violence, just like his attacks on men. He would have been violent if he'd grown up in any era.

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