“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.
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