Everyone in Hollywood wants to be a libertine -- like the Marquis de Sade, who also was an amateur revolutionist -- or perhaps they wish to emulate ex-Presidents John Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Kennedy was a tolerable Catholic because Catholic dogma did not live loudly in him, and the husband of Hillary Clinton was permitted indiscretions with cigars and interns because he was a hale fellow well met with a photographic memory, whereas ordinary politicians rely on Google and an expensive staff of brash know-it-alls.
To be an artist, after all, is to be in perpetual revolt against the usual pieties, conveniently listed in the Decalogue. Marriage among the Hollywood elite, for instance, is considered but a temporary interruption of multiple liaisons, and adultery, sex outside the boundaries of marriage -- “You shall not commit adultery” -- is rampant. Andy Rooney, whom everyone will admit was a nice guy, had eight wives, the same as Henry VIII, none of them executed. Ex-Connecticut Sen. and Gov. Lowell Weicker had only four. The second commandment – “You shall not make yourself an idol” -- is in Hollywood incompatible with Oscar Night.
Few are the Hollywood twinkling stars unwilling to rally round the partial-birth-abortion flagpole. A caricaturist neatly summed up the ethos of the Hollywood mega-stardom when he said about his own profession, “What is the point of having absolute power, if you are not prepared to abuse it?”
Hollywood is here used as a synecdoche to indicate anyone, short of convicted felons, who transcends the morality of the lower orders, plebeian ethics, common sense and, worst of all, bad manners. The trouble with bad manners, Bill Buckley used to say, is that they sometimes lead to murder – or reputational suicide, as is the case with Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose fall from the starry heights was only a bit less dramatic than that of Icarus.
The New York Times is credited with bringing down Weinstein. On the other hand, former Times reporter Sharon Waxman has said that she had the goods on the serial molester as early as 2004. Her piece, Waxman said, had been gutted after Weinstein contacted the paper “to make his displeasure known.” The FBIdid put a wire on one complainant.
The prosecution fizzled out. The grapevine was full of lurid stories concerning Weinstein, but what happened in Hollywood stayed in Hollywood – until now.
Weinstein was politically connected. He contributed generously to liberal and progressive Democratic candidates: Hillary Clinton, then Running for President, white-hatted U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, then and now running against the NRA, and other prominent Democrats.
During the 2012 election, President Obama attended a money-making fete at Weinstein’s lavish mansion. Fifty people attended the event, forking over $35,800 each. Weinstein praised the president extravagantly – “Leading with your heart is the utmost for this president. Fighting for Planned Parenthood and protecting women's rights, this president has fought the good fight. Recently in Aurora, we saw him put his arms around the people that needed him the most. You can make the case that he's the Paul Newman of American presidents" – and the money furnished by Weinstein, some now suppose, inoculated him against the charges now swirling above his head.
The House of Weinstein lies in ruins. Blumenthal has now given to some worthy cause, not Planned Parenthood, the campaign donations received from Weinstein, as have other politicos, all of them professing shock and dismay. Weinstein’s Connecticut mansion is up for sale, and his wife has indicated that a divorce may be in his near future. Weinstein will be recovering from culture shock at some place in Arizona that caters to men suffering from satyriasis, an occupational hazard of both the Hollywood and Washington. D.C., cults. Even the libertines in Hollywood are shocked.
Really, who knew?
Lots of people knew, but no one came forward -- because Weinstein had taken out a social- insurance policy that had effectively protected him from exposure. Why should a starlet speak out when she knows the groper had brushed cheeks with Obama and other large political constellations and by doing so she might lose her place in line on the stairway that leads to stardom and riches?
Poor Harvey, adversity now sits on his throne. It's an old story. Even the Psalms offer no solace – only wisdom: “The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’ His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight. As for all his adversaries, he snorts at them. He says to himself, ‘I will not be moved. Throughout all generations I will not be in adversity.’”
Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based essayist.