The GOP has had a serious hard-on for another good Democratic scandal since the world found out that Bill Clinton left that DNA stain on Monica Lewinsky’s party dress in 1998. They made a ton of political hay out of an issue that meant absolutely nothing from a governing standpoint and they have been desperately searching for a big money shot sequel ever since. As much as they hated Bill and as hard as they tried, they were not able to take him down directly despite his perjury and the bona-fide sexual misconduct he was guilty of.
However, they did succeed in hanging some ugly and smelly baggage around his neck that impacts the political and cultural landscape to this very day. That baggage was so ugly and smelly that I believe the G.O.P. has won three of the last five presidential elections as a direct result of it- accounting for other factors germane to those election cycles, of course.
So the fact that they were hooked for life after one good hit of that political crack-rock called “scandal” is completely understandable. But the pickings have been pretty slim since then because of course you cannot count the dozen or so disgusting Republican sex scandals that have come and gone since then. Why bother focusing on those when they only involved sex with teenage boys working as congressional pages, affairs with the wives of campaign staffers, incestuous child molestation or sex with strangers in airport men’s bathrooms? (Those moral authority culture warriors are some pervy mother f@#%ers.)
When it comes to trying to nail Democrats with a scandal they have been relegated to conjuring up and then building up makeshift controversies where there really were none to be found. Remember when the conservative world couldn’t catch its breath over Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the secret plot to take down America? Remember the Fast & Furious fake CIA gun running operation run by the Obama administration? How about the phony IRS political targeting scandal where Obama’s IRS goons attacked conservative organizations’ non-profit status? And nobody can forget how ACORN stole the election for Obama in 2008 with all of those fraudulent voter registrations uncovered by that insufferable jackass James O’Keefe posing as a pimp.
How about Hillary’s email server and the missing 30,000 smoking gun emails? And none of us can forget (as much as we’d like to) the grand-daddy of them all: the spectacularly idiotic and flagrantly racist “Birther“ controversy. When you lay out this line up it is pretty obvious that these people have been VERY desperate for a scandal fix for a VERY long time.
And seemingly out of nowhere the conservative right was given a huge gift. A great big one from the unlikeliest of sources: a big time Hollywood movie producer who is also a big time Democratic Party fund-raiser. And just like that, politics and popular culture collide and a scandal was born- at least by their measure it was. Turns out Harvey Weinstein is like almost every other man in America and he really likes to chase p**sy.
Shocking right? And like far more American men than we’d like to admit, Harvey is willing to go to some pretty extreme lengths to get it. I think Harvey is so universally reviled right now because the life-long”chase” that most men are on is pretty far removed from his reality and it has been for a long time. His status as a Hollywood honcho has let him operate as more of a giant spider catching flies in his huge web to feed on at his leisure than a cheetah running until its heart nearly explodes to catch an elusive and terrified gazelle. Given a choice, every man you have ever met would prefer to be that spider. So let’s not pretend that jealousy plays no role in how many men are reacting now- regardless of how fat, ugly and perverse Harvey Weinstein is.
I can understand why framing the issue this way will be objectionable to some but I find the phony outrage over Harvey’s habit of leveraging his position as a movie producer to get p**sy every bit as objectionable as the act itself. The reason is simple: the phony outrage masks the much uglier truth about who and what we are as a culture and that truth is what perpetuates the cycle of sexual exploitation by the powerful of the powerless.
Also, the phony outrage sets the table for political opportunists and scandal jockeys to conflate unrelated issues to win cheap points in the culture wars. When everyone is shouting about how outraged they are at Harvey’s “unacceptable” behavior it is quite easy to lose track of the fact that our culture of wealth worship and attention whoring has transformed every opportunity for fame and fortune into an invitation to sell your soul. And I’m guessing that once you sell your soul, renting your body out discreetly for a few hours hardly phases you if the price is right.
We have been inundated with stories about all of the actresses who have been propositioned by this asshole and brushed it off and walked away. I don’t doubt their recollections but let’s account for the reality that for every Gwyneth Paltrow or Kate Beckensale there are probably 50 other actresses who voluntarily gave up the draws for the cause. Some of them might even be bona fide stars now or at least names and faces we know. And even if thier fame was fleeting and thier fortune was less than they’d hoped I’m betting that at the moment of truth they made the calculation that Harvey had something they wanted and they had something he wanted and the private transaction was worth it for them. And to be clear: we are talking about sexual harrassment here, not rape. Those are two different issues and they must be dealt with separately or not at all. Conflating them is intellectually lazy.
Highly underrated director and producer Robert Townsend released the cult classic Hollywood Shuffle in 1987. There’s a scene where two actresses are talking while waiting for their reading at an audition and one very shapely actress gives her account of an encounter with a sleazy director:
“Girl, after I read my lines he tells me ‘I really like your style and I think you can do this role. Why don’t you come by my trailer tonight around midnight so we can talk it over.’ Girl, I ain’t stupid, I was knocking on that door at 11:59!!!”
It may be crude and inflammatory but “don’t ask don’t tell” works sometimes in private life where it fails as public policy. I am in no way endorsing or advocating such transactions- only acknowledging the likelihood that they occur and all of this self-righteous crowing from every direction masks the possibility that this is really who we are as a culture. If we want to evolve to a higher place, I’m down with that- down like four flat tires. But we will not evolve a single step if we keep pretending like sexual exploitation is not as pervasive as classism, as permanent as racism or as complex as chemistry. This is about more than Harvey Weinstein. This is about all of us.
So to all you right-wing media pundits and the poor, misguided, foolish fools you lead: cool out. Your lathering up and creaming yourselves over the indictment of ALL Democrats, “liberal media”, and the “Hollywood elite” because this particular guy got caught being an asshole does not exonerate your side. Bill O’Reilly and Roger Aisles will still go down as the same scumbag sexual predators they were considered to have been the day the news broke. Josh Duggar is still an incestuous pedophile and Denny Hastert is still sitting in prison for trying to pay off the high school boys he sodomized when he was their teacher and wrestling coach. And the president you elected is still an unrepentent p**sy grabber. Now that we know there is plenty of scandal to go around we can cut out the phony outrage and figure out why in the hell we continue to function at such a low-level of humanity when we really ought to know better by now.