Harvey Weinstein: Sex Crimes, Conspiracy of Silence & what it Means for Writers

 

FF0F1BE3-84CA-435A-85B3-3C2BC2A46464“Everyone in Hollywood knew.”

This is the common refrain now coming out of Tinseltown since Harvey Weinstein’s hideous crimes have come to light. So what does that mean to writers, especially writers of crime fiction?

As a writer myself, I’d be hard pressed to create a villain as despicable as Harvey Weinstein. The man was a monster, both physically and emotionally. He masked his behavior in sheep’s clothing sewn out of righteousness, political correctness, art, power, and Oscars. All the above conspired to hide his monstrous acts. That and the conspiracy of silence those in Hollywood took part in. In many ways, it is very similar to the conspiracy of silence the Catholic Church practiced when priests were abusing children.

But how can something like this happen in this day and age unless there was NOT a massive conspiracy to keep his crimes quiet? We’re supposed to be an enlightened populace. We’ve supposedly learned from previous eras, where the casting couch was as common as an audition. We’ve been lectured repeatedly about sexual harassment in the work place and the meaning of the word ‘no’. So what gives?

And how does all this impact us as writers?

Here’s the thing about crime: it flourishes in a vacuum. Now, depending on the crime, that vacuum can be lax bank security. A museum without adequate security. A woman walking home alone at night. Young boys from broken families left alone with predatory priests. Little to no loss prevention officers at your local Target. Crime will always flow to the most vulnerable areas in society.

Harvey Weinstein knew this about criminal vacuums and used it to his advantage. He had power and money in spades, and knew instinctively that we live in a culture that idolizes celebrities. He knew there were women who would accede to his lascivious demands in exchange for unlocking the door leading to fame and fortune; because he held the key. And the ones who protested, either vocally or to the police, he could stifle through legal maneuvers and brute power. He could ruin a young girl’s career if he wanted, and he often did. The lack of controls on this monster allowed him to continue his crimes undetected for years.

So then we ask why so many women failed to speak up about him? And why some continued to remain on friendly terms with him despite knowing what he was like? Why did they thank him after winning an Oscar? Were they afraid to lose their careers? Did they believe it was futile and that there could be no legal case made against him? Why did they remain silent? Is this just yet another sad aspect of human nature? That some people will do anything to become famous. One big name actress even told all her friends what happend to her and they advised her to forget about it. That it was only Harvey being Harvey.

Huh?

And politics aside (and I truly do mean this in an apolitical  way) did his advocacy for liberal causes provide him a moral front for his criminal behavior? He said the right things, donated money to the proper causes, as well as helped pay for Bill Clinton’s legal defense in the Monica Lewinsky case (to the tune of $10,000). Power, access, and political correctness further insulated his violent criminal deeds, and allowed the vacuum to prosper and grow, and provide a front for his criminal behavior.

Many say Weinstein is merely the tip of the iceberg in Hollywood and that other big wigs will soon be exposed. Corey Feldman was ridiculed for saying there were child predators in Hollywood. Does it happen in other industries? Of course it does. There’s Roger Ailes, Anthony Weiner and Bill O’Reilly. It happens all the time in politics and in the music industry. It happens in religious organizations, as evidenced by the Catholic Church (I grew up Catholic and one of our parish priests was a predator). Any industry or group that promotes celebrity worship and power gives rise to sexual harassers, rapists, and predators.

Celebrity + power + conspiracy = criminal vacuum.

It takes brave people to stand up against the entrenched power structure and call them out on the red carpet. It takes teachers and parents to teach kids to work hard and not succumb to celebrity worship and the easy path to fame. But I fear that this will prove difficult in this day and age, although I hope I’m wrong. Living in a culture that idolizes celebrities and treats them as demigods, there will always be a few who’ll do anything to be famous. Sell their soul to a Weinstein. Let’s hope we can fill this vacuum and prevent anymore Weinstein’s from happening. Let’s speak up and expose these villains.

I have children and want this begavior to finally end. In the future, I only want to read about such villains in crime novels not newspapers and use them in the plots of my crime novels. As writers, it’s our job to get out the truth.

Joseph Souza’s domestic thriller THE NEIGHBOR (Kensington) comes out April 24, 2018 46D53A6A-B48B-4D4B-B871-BF19BD5779EA.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

 

About joesouza

I am a writer of apocalyptic horror and crime.
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15 Responses to Harvey Weinstein: Sex Crimes, Conspiracy of Silence & what it Means for Writers

  1. Robin Taylor says:

    This post is so off-base I don’t even know where to begin.

    Like

    • joesouza says:

      Tell me where I’m wrong.

      Like

      • Robin Taylor says:

        Hi Joe. Been at work all day and only just seeing this. And I certainly don’t want to go down as “MCW’s first troll.” 🙂

        Here are my main points of frustration:

        “So then we ask why so many women failed to speak up about him? And why some continued to remain on friendly terms with him despite knowing what he was like? Why did they thank him after winning an Oscar? Were they afraid to lose their careers? Did they believe it was futile and that there could be no legal case made against him? Why did they remain silent? Is this just yet another sad aspect of human nature? That some people will do anything to become famous.”

        I hope I’m wrong in seeing this as a criticism of women for not speaking out about being abused. I don’t know a single woman over the age of 24 who hasn’t encountered harassment, belittling, demeaning, dismissive behavior from male co-workers at least once. Likewise, I don’t know many who spoke out and saw the man face consequences or change his behavior. It’s far more common for a woman to lose her job, face ostracism, or worse, after accusing a co-worker of behavior that is at best unprofessional. So it’s hard for me to read this and see you end it with “some people will do anything to become famous.” As though that is the bargain these women made when they failed to run screaming from the hotel room. The point we should be taking from this is that these women weren’t part of the bargain at all. They were faced with a choice as to how to react only after the fact. And, frankly, the choice was damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

        The reason I was frustrated enough to leave a comment, though, was mainly this: the Harvey Weinstein case isn’t about Hollywood. It isn’t about the casting couch or Oscars. The point I desperately hope people will take away from the coverage of this story is that this sort of thing happens to women EVERYWHERE. ALL. THE. TIME.

        By making it about Hollywood, folks miss the point. Likewise, by characterizing Harvey Weinstein as a “monster” it only allows people to put him in a box. “He” isn’t “us.” The truth is that, sadly, he is us. And the only way we’re going to see this sort of behavior relegated to true crime novels is if we realize that this isn’t a Hollywood problem or a celebrity problem. This isn’t an issue of those politically-correct West Coast liberals. This is for all of us to grapple with in our own small, un-famous lives. If we don’t face this problem because we think it belongs to someone else, we miss an opportunity to correct it.

        I’ll be honest — I’m a stranger to comment threads. (In part because trollish behavior seems so hard to avoid.) So I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a troll. In retrospect, I should have taken the time to explain my thoughts, or simply not to have commented at all. I hope you’ll accept my apology for not doing that.

        Like

      • joesouza says:

        Thanks for expressing your opinion in a thoughtful and respectful way, Robin. Hopefully, others may weigh in with their thoughts.

        Like

    • Sanford "Sandy" Emerson says:

      What base are you referring to, Robin? I spent over half my life as a law enforcement officer dealing with people who victimized, persecuted and oppressed others in ways I had never imagined. I think Joe’s essay is pointed and relevant. Has MCW acquired their first troll?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michael Tobin says:

      Ms. Taylor- perhaps BEFORE you leave a comment like this, you should think about why it’s “off-base” and then post an intelligent response to Mr. Souza’s blog. Such a blanket statement with no explanation gives you very little credibility in this reader’s eyes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you wrote this. I’m hoping this leads to a LOT of creeps like him being exposed and going down in flames.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael Tobin says:

    The position of power is often a facade for a self-serving agenda that places its victims at the mercy of the predator’s influence. “Just Say No” is not that simple- the recourse can be life damaging, depending on the person and circumstances. These men and women use their power on those that need them or what they can offer to supposedly make the victim’s life better. Both professionally and personally, I have been victim to people of “power”- but, admittedly, have used their power to my advantage as well. One would like to think that with Weinstein’s “hideous crimes” becoming public, it would DIScourage other predators and ENcourage others to not become victim to it. But, nothing will change. This story will become old news sooner than later- and the cycle of “power” will continue to victimize those vulnerable souls who think “this is the way”- especially if it means a golden ticket to stardom, job advancement, escape from abuse (only to be abused) or any of the many reasons these power people use their money and status to prey on these people. And, to be fair, there are many who will succumb to these power plays, knowing exactly what they’re doing, so they can get what THEY need from those who can provide it for them. I abhor what Weinstein did- but, how many of those women responded with “approval” so they COULD get what they wanted and, most likely, eventually achieved? Many people “use the abuser” for their own power (I have)- and, THAT, Joe- should be the plot of your next book!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barbara Ross says:

    It takes a lot of courage to speak out against someone who is powerful and holds your career in the palm of his hand. This is true not just for the women who were victims in this case, but also for the men and women who knew and didn’t say anything. Few producers in Hollywood had more power than Harvey Weinstein. It also takes a lot of courage to speak up about what happened between two people, because it will inevitably be a he-said, she-said situation, and the more established and connected person is going to be the person who is believed. I don’t think his politics play into it, except to make his actions hypocritical on top of being predatory.

    Speaking up is extremely difficult for victims. Always. It’s embarrassing. You wonder if you did something to create the situation. You know that you will be accused of lying, that your past and present life will be examined and found less than perfect. In the case of someone powerful, there will be a coordinated smear campaign against you. Others will avoid working with you because you are that crazy woman who accused Harvey Weinstein.

    As the Me, Too campaign shows this scenario plays itself out in workplaces and other spaces everywhere all the time. Like all things in Hollywood, in Weinstein’s case the power and money were greater, the stakes higher, the odds of an actress succeeding in a career, much less getting an Oscar, much lower. But if there’s a guy in your office that women find excuses never to meet with alone, it’s happening there, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. joesouza says:

    Very thoughtful, Barbara. Thanks for the input.

    Like

  6. Robin, thanks for your explanation. I agree that this is not only pervasive, but something many in our society treat like whistling past the graveyard. I sincerely hope this firestorm doesn’t fade quickly…or at all.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Maureen Milliken says:

    I’ll just say that women didn’t speak up — and sorry if someone has already said this because I haven’t read all the comments — but women didn’t speak up for the same reason they don’t speak up about most guys who do this. They are victim-blamed, they are further harassed, they have to defend themselves, their lives are questioned, their choices are questioned, their looks and sex appeal are question (“right! Like he’d try to do something to someone who looks like her!”) and everyone goes on their merry way pretending it doesn’t exist. Whether it’s the guy who’s “president,” Harvey Weinstein or the guy in the dorm room down the hall or the desk in the next pod. It took the New York Times, the New Yorker and a lot of guts for this story to come forward, but I’m really sick of the women who didn’t speak up being pointed to as part of the problem. It’d blow your mind the things that have happened to most women that they haven’t said anything about. It DOES take brave people, but not the ones who are harassed and assaulted, but their friends, families and coworkers. And I’m also tired of people saying they care because they have kids or daughters. Once people don’t have to qualify why they care, but care because WOMEN SHOULDN’T BE SEXUALLY ABUSED, then the problem will work towards being fixed. I’m sorry if I seem angry. No wait, I’m not. I’m also tired of apologizing for something that’s been a truth of my life and most women’s life since before they were teenagers in one way or another.

    Liked by 2 people

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