Well, quelle surprise! There are powerful older men in Hollywood who solicit the sexual favours of younger women and promise to advance their movie careers in exchange for such favours.
The world media has been awash with reports about the alleged “sleazy” and “lewd” behaviour of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein – who gave us such fine films as Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech. In response, Mr Weinstein, aged 65, has apologised and withdrawn into private life to “address his demons”. His wife is standing by him, and many in the Democratic Party (to which he made generous donations), such as the Obamas, are saying nothing. The New York Times reports a “great silence” among the big names.
But surely the Hollywood “casting couch” is nothing new? Marilyn Monroe described the ethics of Tinseltown as being “like a brothel”, and Joan Crawford also alluded to similar norms: a pretty girl aspiring to be a movie star was expected to behave compliantly with the older men who had the power to make or break her career.
There is even a bad-taste joke about the starlet “who was so dim that she slept with the writer” – the scriptwriter, who in Hollywood has no casting power whatsoever.
And Hollywood’s morals were exactly what turned Ronald Reagan against it – and towards a political career that shaped his values. Reagan was disgusted to discover that the big studios in the 1940s kept a regular abortionist available in case any young actress should be made inconveniently pregnant as a result of this famed “casting couch”. Poor Marilyn Monroe was said to have had up to a dozen abortions as a result of studio pressure.
Mr Weinstein is entitled to defend himself against specific charges, and I’m sure he wouldn’t be associated with what so distressed Ronnie Reagan. But his lawyer has conceded that he’s “an old dinosaur learning new ways”.
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