or How I Pretend To See What I Don’t Want To See
“All these people are assholes. All of them. They’re all big assholes, but they all know how to hide it real well, ‘cause they’ve played the game long enough.”
Redlettermedia’s Mike Stoklasa
In the last week a myriad of publications have echoed multiple cases of sexual harassment by big profile figures of the entertainment world. Mostly by big, creepy, hairy assholes who, to no one surprise, have spent the last decades harassing and probably raping people. It is no big news the temptation nature of power, especially when it comes with a sense of invulnerability given by influence, power, profitability, or all the above.
Question is, why is everybody so surprised about this. We all saw this coming, and if you say otherwise you are either a deluded one, or a very naïve and innocent person. If you are in the second group, run as fast as you can while you still have time. And don’t look back.
We have been submitted to the idea that depravity comes with fame, power, and money. We celebrated and encouraged it while socially outcasting those who fall in disgrace upon our very own eyes. If you have some time, read works like Hollywood Babylon (1959, Kenneth Anger) or, if you are a morbid kid with a sense of bad timing, Down and Dirty Pictures (2004, Peter Biskind). This one focus on the explosion of indie cinema at the beginning of the 90s. Oh, and also how Harvey managed his business during those years. A second reading brings new sides to this situation, to say the least.
Here is what Biskind said on Vanity Fair about the recent events regarding the accusations of sexual harassment against Weinstein:
“I would hear things occasionally, but they were rumors,” Biskind said. Why didn’t they merit a mention in his book? “I wasn’t writing a biography of Harvey; I was writing about the explosion of independent [films] in the 90s . . . I didn’t feel that whatever truth there was to this rumors about Harvey’s personal life had really much relevance to what I was writing about.”
This is said by the same guy who wrote Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (1998), one of the best ones when it comes to know the 60s and 70s in Hollywood and the changing of paradigms. And also who fucked who in which way. God knows I love this book too, but I can’t stop thinking about the inconsistences of the never-ending concept of the profitable asshole.
Imagine an awkward, socially aggressive, borderline reclusive, eventually predatory and/or dominant person with a set of skills that makes him profitable for other people’s economic interests. I just described half of the characters written by Aaron Sorkin (Studio 60, Newsroom, Steve Jobs, Moneyball, The Social Network, and surprisingly not Molly Bloom[i]). I just found a shortened definition of the not so American but mostly universal mindset of fascination about the new outlaws. With the cunning rascals forgotten, serial killers being a boring trend, and the downright demented genius of previous generations forgotten, or at least in a serious risk of being forgotten/being reduced to circlejerking niches, the new excess is not only the economical one, but the social one.
The “I get away with it and you don’t cause I am superior” mixed with “I can do things you won’t ever be able to” and a dose of “you jerk off crying while I fuck gods. Loser”.
Nothing wrong here, being a quasi-respectable instinct/hobby of the modern human being. If you are able to separate phantasy from reality, to say the least. Excess becomes routine. And for the minds of the wicked or the curious, routine becomes boredom. Therefore, the search for new limits.
And I am not talking about climbing the Himalaya without oxygen tanks, or going to central Asia in search of spiritual self-discovery, but the click that makes bad people into aspiring sociopaths and fulltime monsters.
And when this mindset is thrown into weak and deranged individuals, horrible things happened. And when every one of these cases goes public, everybody gasps. In surprise, in disdain, and in pure horror. What were you expecting exactly? Already deluded and powerful scumbags saying “oh, no, no, we crossed the line. No one had the balls of telling us what is right and what is wrong, but don’t worry: we know the limits here”. Come the fuck off, people. The worst thing about this whole shitfest is the fact that this is how is supposed to be. The general mindset paved the road to sociopathy, and the monsters are going in full speed. I am not throwing away blame and accusations, but giving basic context. We are not the moral guardians of anyone else except ourselves, but day after day the concept of “voting with your wallet” keeps growing in my head. What else can we do?
And yes, the generalized consent inside the industry is what make this monsters not only survive, but grow and prevail. Is it really worth it? Hollywood loves itself way too much, and while tv shows like Entourage or Californication (just to name two of them) gloats with a humorous and whimsical perspective about the dark and true nature of the industry, I’d rather see the equivalent of Network for the current generation.
[i] First movie written and directed by him, starring Jessica Chastain. A biopic about the real Bloom, who ran for years illegal poker games and became involved with the Russian mafia and the FBI. Slightly believable sources inquire that Sorkin was involved romantically/sexually/both with Bloom during the writing and making of the movie. Hmm… Regardless of this: script was great and movie looks neat.