Hollywood’s Hypocrisy, and Everyone Else’s

By now you’ve surely heard of Harvey Weinstein, the only name that can lately nudge President Donald Trump out of the news.
Weinstein is the heavyweight Hollywood movie mogul who stands accused of decades of sexual predatory behavior, ranging from mere boorishness to outright rape, and although he’s not yet been charged in a court of law he’s already been convicted in the court of public opinion. The company Weinstein founded has kicked him out, A-List actresses have come forward to corroborate the accounts of countless lesser-known accusers, some very disturbing audio has been leaked from a suspiciously-dropped investigation by a New York City district attorney, he’s issued a statement acknowledging he could have behaved better and is seeking therapy, and no one is denying that he’s long been a very sleazy fellow.
Hollywood’s constant scandals have been big news since the silent days of Fatty Arbuckle and Clara Bow, but this one comes at an especially opportune time for its culture war adversaries on the right. Over the past decades the entertainment industry has manufactured many movies and television shows that delight in the exposing the frequently scandalous behavior of self-appointed guardians of morality on the right, so it’s only fair the right should delight in a scandal that exposes the frequent hypocrisy of Hollywood’s self-appointed exemplars of sexual equality and social justice. Weinstein’s sleaziness was apparently an open secret in Hollywood for years, with only a few brave comics willing to acknowledge it, and despite the recent deluge of A-Listers piling on the entire industry is indeed implicated.
We’ll happily pile on Weinstein, as well, as we have our own instinctive and longstanding disgust for his alleged behavior as well as most of the past few decades of sleazy Hollywood fare in general, but we don’t expect it will help the culture wars come to an end any time soon. There’s yet another juicy scandal that exposes Hollywood’s social justice pretentious are utterly predictable, but we can’t deny that Hollywood’s wags still have plenty of hypocrisy on the right to work with.
A couple of weeks ago a happily little-known Republican congressman who’d run on a staunchly anti-abortion and pro-family-values platform announced he wouldn’t run for re-election after his mistress told reporters he’d urged her to get an abortion during a pregnancy scare, with the text messages to back it up, and there’s no denying this sort of hypocrisy happens all too often on the right. The fair and balanced Fox News Network has kicked out its co-founder and top-rated commentator kicked for Weinstein-like behavior, and the Republican president has been caught on audiotape bragging about how he can grab women by their wherevers because he’s a television star, with numerous women alleging he did just that and countless others testifying to his at least boorish behavior, and Republican party loyalty cannot compel us to deny it.
The real shame of it is that both the left and the right should be able to agree that all such sleazy behavior and outright hypocrisy is unacceptable, no matter which side of the political divide it lands on. The firm hand of our fundamentalist Christian mother taught us to always treat women with a careful respect, which served us well in our relationships with the fundamentalist feminists we always found ourselves drawn to, and it doesn’t seem so much a matter of left and right as one of right and wrong. These days, however, we expect that both sides and all their sleazier members will continue scoring points.
The few brave comics who dared expose Weinstein’s sleaziness included Tina Fey, the insufferably liberal but undeniably funny woman who made his sleaze a running gag on her well worth watching “30 Rock” television show, and we count ourselves among the many commenters on the right who have always acknowledged when our side has been caught in similar scandals, so we’ll hold out hope there’s still a principled middle ground most of us occupy that acknowledges you just don’t treat women with a sexually predatory disrespect.

— Bud Norman

The Bad, the Bad, and the Ugly

The two most disliked and distrusted people in American public life have somehow wound up as the presumptive presidential nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties, and this bizarre turn of events is being brought to you live and in color by what’s left of the Fourth Estate, one of the many public institutions that are even more widely disliked and distrusted. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump took shrewd advantage of this awful situation on Tuesday, luring his enrapt media scribes into an anti-press conference trap that thrilled his die-hard supporters.
By now all the “reality show” analogies have become hackneyed, and we’ve resorted to calling it a post-reality or surreality show, but there really was something undeniably recognizable about that irksome television genre on display through the whole affair. It was the part of the campaign when the “Real Housewives” of wherever tell their rivals what they really think and their fans cheer and their anti-fans jeer, or where the big mogul tells some faded B-lister that “you’re fired” on “Celebrity Apprentice,” and we must admit that the desultory end of the American experiment does make for riveting YouTube watching. Trump seems to have got the better of it, judging from the reviews on the comments sections of almost everywhere on the internet, but that’s not saying much.

Trump started out by dropping the name of basketball star LeBron James and bragging about his huge and better-than-Eisenhower-and-Reagan victories in the Republican race before waxing indignant over some press stories that had questioned whether his much-bragged-about fund-raising for veterans had actually been true, and he had some honest-to-God veterans on hand to swear in the most angry way that they’d already got their cut, and he had an unusually detailed list of donations that he claimed had been made, and at least for the moment no in the press seem to have any response. Those chastened media might come up with something yet, given the shaped-shifting nature of Trump’s detailed lists, but no matter what they’ve got it will be doubted, and Trump’s point that he has at least raised more for veterans than the presumptive Democratic nominee will still be true, and his complaint that the hated media won’t much note that fact will also be valid, so we can see why his supporters see it as another huge win by the hero who always wins hugely.
The press corps, meanwhile, was just awful. One reporter asked why Trump objected to “scrutiny,” he told her she was a “real beauty,” and seized the opportunity to note that he was being scrutinized for raising money for veterans. He further described the entirety of “the political press” as the “most dishonest people,” went on a bizarre rant about how he was accurately quoted about an ill-advised joke about the crowd size at one of his events, in keeping with his strange defensiveness about anything involving size, and described a particular reporter from the American Broadcasting Company as a “sleaze,” and no one could supply a quote-worthy riposte to any of it. At one point he asked about that gorilla that was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo, and any sympathy for the media was surely lost.
Even Trump’s most cautious fans were thrilled by it, but even with the public’s widespread disregard for the ill-defined “media” we suspect his skeptics were not impressed. As much as we loathe the presumptive Democratic nominee, and those media that have enabled her awful career, we can’t help noticing that the draft-dodging presumptive Republican nominee’s enthusiasm for veteran causes is conveniently newfound, nor forget that he regards those veterans who endured wartime captivity as a bunch of losers who got caught, no matter what heroic sacrifices they made, and all that hooey about how he hoped to keep his generosity a secret because one of his many awesome qualities he doesn’t like to brag is conspicuously ridiculous.
So far as we can tell these “reality shows” always feature such awful people, and are brought to you on-tape and in-color by at least equally awful people, and we’re dreading the season finale.

— Bud Norman