My family has lived in Southern California long before the movies arrived here. “THE INDUSTRY” is not, and never has been, central to our California identity. Being outside “the Industry” and only having had one member of the family to ever even consider “the Industry” as a career, gives one a unique viewpoint in Southern California where most people flock to California willing to “do anything” (and everybody) to make it in pictures.
I have shook my head and laughed out loud as article after article and newscaster after newscaster proclaimed that Harvey Weinstein created, or invented, or manufactured a culture of sexual predation, abuse and sex for potential parts in movies. Apparently these Hollywood reporters know absolutely NOTHING about the history of the Film Industry. Just last night, I was watching a COLUMBO rerun, that dealt extensively with this culture in Hollywood, and THAT show was produced BEFORE Weinstein came on the scene. The William Desmond Taylor murder in 1922 revolved around a casting couch liaison that resulted in a pregnancy and Taylor, a gay man, confronting a studio head, and when he couldn’t get the producer to do right by the girl, threatening to go to the LAPD. He was murdered before he could get there.
There were various scandals in the 20’s. 30’s. 40’s 50’s and the 70’s as well; Though I don’t know of any on the 60’s. In the 1970’s Hollywood was one big lewd, cocaine fueled orgy.
Let’s get real. As today’s revelations about James Toback are starting to make clear, Harvey Weinstein invented nothing, nor was he an outlier in “the Industry.” Last week Gloria Alred had several press conferences and each time she “signed” a new “victim” of Harvey Weinstein. One of those was a woman who claimed in a personal interview that Mr. Weinstein explained to her that in Hollywood to “make it” she was going to need to sleep around, and sleep with him first so he could see what skills she had and how those matched up to the expectations of various producers and directors. In other words, allegedly, Mr. Weinstein was describing a SYSTEM of sexual favors in exchange for access and potential parts. A LOT more men, and women (yes, women) were involved than just Harvey Weinstein.
While I don’t work in the industry over the years I’ve had lots of friends who did, and I’ve seen and heard lots of things. No one can convince me that trading sex for success in Hollywood has been rare or unknown. Ever! I remember standing at the Las Palmas newsstand buying a copy of LaArchitecturra one morning as a Star dropped off a boy, obviously beaten and marked with hickies. That kid later became a member of the 1980’s young generation of male stars, but at the time he was a chicken at the Gold Cup. Oh, Not from here? . . . A Male Prostitute working out of a little dive diner that used to be next to the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
And while we are talking older men sexually using younger boys, there is that story that the mainstream media JUST REFUSES to pay attention to. All those young male child stars of the 1980’s and 90’s who assert they were systematically sexually abused by agents, directors and producers. People have been attempting to get that story out for 15 years and still no traction…I guess we wouldn’t want to be homophobic – so the boys can just keep getting raped. Strange are the values that spring from those that consider themselves the bulwark of political correctness.
Allah Nazimova Silent Era Actress/Producer
Much of “the Industry” politically correct press corps has offered that the solution to male predation in Hollywood is forcing the industry to hire more female directors and producers. Again, they seem to not have been paying attention. That I know of, female predation in Hollywood goes right back to the era of Allah Nazimova (silent movies) and goes straight through to the golden age of talkies, the coming of technicolor and today. There is even an alleged producer’s Wives club where after hubbie and his friends get them, young actresses get passed around the wives. The answer to sexual predation in the movies is NOT gender identity politics and hiring by decree. Clearly from “the Industries” known history, that isn’t going to help a bit. I guess it would curb MALE predation to hire more female producers and directors, but not sexual predation itself. This concept buys into the sexist lie that women are less human and less prone to moral corruption than men. Hollywood’s, and the rest of the worlds history. shows us this is not the truth.
For at least all of my adult lifetime, Hollywood has preached to the rest of the world feminism, sexual political correctness, upright workplace behavior, and the intrinsic sanctity of every human being’s moral agency. They have also been complete total hypocrites, almost to a person.
There is an answer to this. We can find it, actually in the example of one GREAT Hollywood producer, Cecil B. DeMille. DeMille had a PERSONAL MORALITY that did not allow him to partake of the casting couch. He chose actors and actresses based upon ability. His career spanned six decades. His movies are truly great. DeMille not participating in the sexual shenanigans of Hollywood didn’t seem to harm his talent or that of his actors and actresses, perhaps there is hope. The answer could be really that simple. Personal Morality.
This has become the problem with America. We all know what is morally right. Hollywood knows what is morally right. They have been preaching it to us for four decades. Oddly, we have heard nothing from Jimmy Kimmel, the actors of Saturday Night Live and others who normally pull from the headlines people to lampoon or rather harpoon with their razor sharp wit on Harvey Weintsein. Perhaps this is further proof of just how deep the immorality runs.
However, what is the right thing from the moral standpoint, is often the difficult thing to do. Many actresses prefer to short cut the long narrow rocky road to success with the expedience offered by the “casting couch.” Producers prefer to make decisions based upon sexual rather than acting skills.
I submit this is why most modern Hollywood movies suck. The skill that gets you into a movie these days is sucking, not acting and hence, it all just kind of sucks. This behavior has cheated the shareholders and the movie going public, who so far are the unrecognized victims of this Hollywood behavior.
But we can’t blame Hollywood. Carl Jung, the great Psychoanalyst once said that on Halloween people go in costume as their innermost deepest selves. What are the two most popular costumes in America year after year for Halloween? Pirate and slutty something or other. We must as a people not judge Hollywood without looking into the mirror and judging and reforming ourselves. The Hollywood of sexual predation cannot survive with a people who see themselves deeply as something other than thieves and whores.
So Hurray for Hollywood, let Harvey Weinstein’s example be the beginning of our renewal as a nation of a people who have self respect, dignity, and respect for our fellow citizens.