Harvey Weinstein is one unattractive figure in an unattractive industryby Joanne Black
In the glamour worlds, Weinstein’s unacceptable behaviour isn’t the only issue.
A little like those employers who insist on job applicants sitting personality tests or having drug tests as part of the interview process, the US film producer had his own routine for ranking applicants’ suitability. For every prospective employee, the balance of power is so weighted in the employer’s favour that it scarcely feels as if applicants have a choice. They do, but sometimes they implicitly or explicitly know that the choice is either to comply with whatever they are being asked to do or not get the job.
Lately, lots of actresses have given accounts of how they declined to perform favours for Weinstein. Many are famous, so it isn’t true that they necessarily had to endure Weinstein’s casting couch to get a movie role, though perhaps sometimes it helped. For every actress who declined a one-on-one hotel-room session with Weinstein – or a two-on-one, depending on the opportunity – there are presumably some who acquiesced.
Every one of these stories is awful in its own way, but the professed shock and horror from within the movie and fashion worlds is hard to take. It goes without saying that Weinstein’s behaviour, as described, is unacceptable. But in the so-called glamour worlds of Hollywood, fashion and music, women are not just victims. Many are complicit every day in the presentation of their gender as sex objects.
Weinstein was abusing his power in inviting these attractive young women to take off their clothes and perform sex acts for him, even though some of them were auditioning for roles as attractive young women who would take off their clothes and perform sex acts in movies. Some scripts might have created an illusion that the movie was about something more cerebral, but often in Hollywood movies it wasn’t – and still isn’t. That does not excuse Weinstein, of course, but he is just one unattractive figure in an unattractive industry.
This is an excerpt from the Back to Black column that was first published in the October 28, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.
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