Call Me, Harvey. I’ll Defend You
Not since Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm sitting across a diner’s table from Billy Crystal in “When Harry Met Sally” have we seen such disingenuous huffing and puffing about sex from Hollywood. The starlets are atwitter with allegations of being groped, and worse, by Harvey Weinstein, a man who launched more starlets than, well, forgive me, the Big Bang.
Really, people. Hollywood sells sex. We buy the fantasy. People get obscenely rich in the process. Is it any surprise that, assuming the allegations are at least in part true, those tiptoeing the line between fantasy and reality from time to time crossed libidinal boundaries?
Even Hillary Clinton has come out of retirement, exclaiming in horror about the accusations involving Weinstein, as though Monica Lewinsky’s dry-cleaning bills weren’t her husband’s — the former president of the United States — problem.
Let’s hope this libidinal storm passes, and soon. There’s a world of real problems that need solving. North Korea threatens to incinerate while Trump bloviates. Americans are dropping by the thousand to opioid overdoses amid suspicions that the American dream is over. The climate delivers fire, rain and death. A tired world migrates from one place to another in a desperate attempt to escape the grim logic of scarcity.
Will prosecutors really spend the intellectual and social capital necessary to haul Weinstein into court? They shouldn’t.
Young starlets flocking to the press to denounce Weinstein have stains of their own to explain. How many were willing to play to get paid? It wasn’t chance that put them within Weinstein’s reach; it was ambition. How much were they willing to give to get the stardom he and his studios could offer? You know the answer.
The courts regard sex offenses with a special horror. Rape is a close cousin to murder. It is a furtive, secretive sort of offense. Special rules of evidence, extended statutes of limitations, a solicitousness of accusers inconsistent with the presumption of innocence attend these cases.
But let’s be real: If a woman was raped, fondled, or otherwise abused in ways inconsistent with her sense of dignity, why would it take years for her to make public the outrage? Fear, you say?
Fear of what? Not getting the starring role, the accolades that come of fame?
The legion of victims all reek of the starlet’s hunger to land the starring role. What’s next, Angelina Jolie in the lead of the new docudrama — “Victim!”? The list of accusers grows with the speed of a line at MacDonald’s on a night two burgers are sold for the price of one.
An accuser — calling them victims suggests there is credence to their claims — who waits years to come forward has made a choice, a calculation. In the cold terms of economics, the marginal utility that comes of complaining is low unless and until they get what they wanted all along — fame and public solicitude.
What circumstances lead a young, attractive woman to spend time alone with Harvey Weinstein? Dare I call it naked ambition? The successful among them now live in mansions paid for by titillation.
And why would a starlet hesitate to claim that Weinstein mauled her? An obvious answer — because she got what she played for.
Prosecutors need to think long and hard about whether to pursue a claim against Weinstein. Politically correct pandering isn’t the pursuit of justice.
I envy the criminal defense lawyer who defends Weinstein against any of these claims. His accusers have dry-cleaning bills all their own to explain. Did Harvey get more pussy than Donald Trump ever dreamed of? Probably. Indeed, the starlets now claiming abuse are so brazen I suspect they’d make even Monica Lewinsky blush.
Weinstein’s defense? Consent. All of us aided and abetted.