Everyone knew something about Harvey Weinstein, it seems, and almost no one wanted to do anything about it. Since The New York Times initially published its damning investigation into the producer’s decades-long sexual harassment habit, Democrats scrambled to return his money while women in Hollywood mostly said We told you so. There are very old rumors, we’ve learned. Professors warned female students not to intern with his company; Emma Thompson once defended Haley Atwell from his verbal abuse. “All I can speak to is my own experience, and for the 15 years that I’ve been reporting, that’s how long I’ve been hearing about it,” gossip columnist Elaine Lui told Vox.
But some of the industry’s most famous men refuse to comment, according to the The Guardian:
The Guardian contacted representatives of actors who have starred in Weinstein films, including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Colin Firth, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Russell Crowe, George Clooney and Ewan McGregor, along with the directors Tarantino, Russell, Ryan Coogler, Tom Hooper, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Michael Moore, Rob Marshall, Robert Pulcini, Garth Davis, Doug McGrath, John Madden, Simon Curtis, Kevin Williamson, Martin Scorsese, John Hillcoat and John Wells.
Since the publication of this Guardian piece, Lin-Manuel Miranda has publicly condemned Weinstein, and George Clooney called the producer’s behavior “indefensible” in an interview with The Daily Beast. The others, however, remain silent—a telling choice, considering Sharon Waxman’s claim that two of them, Matt Damon and Russell Crowe, contacted her personally to “vouch” for a reputed Weinstein fixer during her 2004 New York Times investigation into the allegations. (She also claims the Times killed the story after pressure from Weinstein.)
The industry’s glacial response to Weinstein reinforces a conclusion many observers had already reached: In its superficiality and cowardice, Hollywood often manifests liberalism’s most pathetic flaws. Harvey Weinstein made people famous, which means he made them rich; this is how one purchases indifference. He is of a type, even. People still work with Woody Allen and defend Roman Polanski and joke about casting couches, as if they’re humorous and not proof of industry-wide moral impunity. Hollywood’s progressive reputation is mostly unearned, undermined by its overarching commitment to profit. There are more Weinsteins—there are always Weinsteins, in film and in every other industry—and people are probably protecting them, even as they watch this latest scandal unfurl.
The only way to change anything is to make sure there is nowhere for the Weinsteins to hide. Some friendships should be ended; some professional relationships broken. If you hear rumors for years, you have an obligation to react. At least try to uncover the truth, or admit your own complicity when somebody else does.