By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry
The flurry of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein confirms an unsettling truth that deep down we already knew. There’s a reason “casting couch” has become a grotesquely ubiquitous term. We have long quietly assumed that big-time movie producers exploit their power to sexually exploit women. We should have heeded the warning signs. The smoke has been there for a long time. Of course the faint plumes were evidence of a fire raging, a fire we both did not imagine and yet knew was burning.
How could we have been so blind?
The answer to this question will also give you the answer to the next question: Can we seriously doubt that Hollywood is also turning a blind eye to a very real child sex-abuse scandal?
The evidence is there, just as it was in the cases of Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein. In 2011, former child star Corey Feldman warned that pedophilia in Hollywood was “the big secret” and “the number one problem.” Feldman alleged that he was abused and that his friend was raped on a movie set at the age of 11. But he didn’t just talk about instances of abuse. In a later interview, he described a system whereby young children were groomed by powerful older men who formed an organized network, with “publicists” providing cover. He would “love to name names,” but feared the legal risks, he said.
Precisely such an organized system for grooming and abusing children is described by a documentary; one molester described in the film pleaded no contest to two counts of child molestation, but the rest of the network has never been named, let alone investigated or charged. The title of the documentary? An Open Secret.
Former child star Elijah Wood made global headlines after saying in an interview last year that there was “something major” in Hollywood. “It was all organized,” he said. “There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind. There is darkness in the underbelly,” adding that Hollywood can “squash” the victims so that they “can’t speak as loudly as the people in power.” (He later issued a carefully worded clarification that he had no “firsthand experience or observation,” which still leaves room for being aware of an open secret.)
These stories fit a pattern, and not just the pattern common to all sex crimes allegations — the shame, the gas-lighting, the fear you won’t be believed — but also the pattern common to testimonies about a systemic problem: the coordination, the law of silence, the coverups.
And just as striking as these allegations is the deafening silence that surrounds them.
We know that Hollywood is perfectly willing to look the other way when it comes to credible allegations of child abuse. Woody Allen remains persona grata in Hollywood despite allegations of child abuse that would have turned most visible executives in most industries into pariahs. Many prominent members of the industry (including Harvey Weinstein) lobbiedagainst Roman Polanski facing charges for the documented rape of a 13 year old.
The smoke is there. How long will we ignore it?…Continue Reading →