First… The best perspective…
An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
~ Proverbs 11:9
It has been a very long time since the American film industry was known for high moral principles or even reasonable standards of decency, whether in lifestyle or in art. But in the past few days, we have seen new depths, especially evident to those who are familiar with a bit of Hollywood history.
Photo credit: History.com
This week, Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment, as several prominent actresses made public statements denouncing his past behavior. The news articles have been scandalous, brutal, and rather ugly. According to most major news outlets, Weinstein is accused of requesting sexual favors and has been known for many years to make lewd and unwelcome comments to young aspiring actresses. If these accusations are true, then Weinstein’s behavior has been reprehensible and is completely unacceptable.
Actress Meryl Streep has been particularly vocal about Weinstein, calling his actions “inexcusable.” She added, “The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported.” Streep also said, “The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes.”
Weinstein, who has since been fired from his position with his own company, is known as the gifted producer of many films and plays and has won an Academy Award for producing the film Shakespeare in Love. He also – along with his brother Robert – founded Miramax, a highly successful production studio.
Now… let us take a few moments to consider another well-known Hollywood personality – Roman Polanski – a highly successful film director who created trouble of his own some fourty years ago.
Polanski was arrested in 1977, charged with drugging and raping a 13 year old girl. He ultimately entered a plea of guilty to a reduced charge of statutory rape, served 42 days of his sentence, and was released on probation. Then, when he learned that the judge was planning to withdraw the plea bargain, he fled the United States to France and has remained in Europe ever since.
Meanwhile, Polanski has continued to direct films, many of which are well-known such as Tess, The Pianist, The Ghost Writer, and others. The Pianist is perhaps his most well-known work, a film that won him the Academy Award for Best Directing in 2002. Polanski was of course unable to attend the award presentation because if he had arrived in the US, he would have been subject to immediate arrest as a fugitive from justice.
At the Academy Awards in March 2003, actor Harrison Ford opened the envelope and announced Polanski as the winner in the Best Directing category. Many in the crowd of Hollywood notables stood to their feet, cheering and applauding Polanski for his noteworthy accomplishment. The brief video clip below includes a fleeting scene of Meryl Streep (at the 1:11 mark) on her feet expressing her enthusiastic adoration – for a man who is an admitted pedophile and fugitive, and who remains free to this day at the age of 84.
So, Roman Polanski, a convicted rapist and pedophile is respected, honored, and adored by the Hollywood crowd. Yet these same people put on a show of righteous indignation because Harvey Weinstein made crass and disgusting remarks to many young (but adult) aspiring actresses, while evidently committing no crime.
It seems that to the influential women of Hollywood, it is acceptable to commit a heinous crime against an unknown young girl. But a man who dares to verbally mistreat some of their own will pay a very heavy price including loss of reputation and possible financial ruin.
Hollywood – a smug and self-important group of elitists who gather once each year to pass out pompous awards and offer ingratiating applause to one another… but who are unable to maintain any consistency in their understanding of moral or legal principle.
If only we would realize they are unworthy of our attention.