Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Weinstein and Hollywood: same old, same old

The current scandal swirling around Harvey Weinstein and his sexual antics is nothing new in the history of show business.  It's always been regarded (and frequently has been in reality) a hotbed (you should pardon the expression) of sexual immorality, whatever the "morality" of the time may have been.  Alan Royle has noted:

... right from the beginning, morality was an issue in the fledgling [movie] industry. Regardless of their sexual persuasion, the coming together of a lot of physically attractive, young people, created a target rich environment for carnal predators, and in Hollywood there has never been a shortage of those. Add into the mix a virtual limitless supply of money, booze and drugs, and no discipline to speak of, coupled with a liberal sprinkling of European men and women who brought their own brand of ‘sexual freedom’ with them, and any semblance of maintaining even a modicum of morality tended to fly straight out of the window.

. . .

MGM had an account at The House of Francis [a Hollywood brothel] under an assumed name, so that Mayer could treat out of town guests (usually major distributors of his films) to ‘freebies’. Once he opened Mae’s, however, he closed his account and bribed the police to close the House of Francis forever. LB did not like competition.

Mayer never went to any of these establishments himself. There was no need to. Every girl he signed at MGM was first ‘sampled’ by him in his adjoining private room next to his office. He would give them his ‘fatherly’ speech, accompanied by a piece of fatherly advice. ‘I will look after you, but first you must look after me’. Most of them did, right there in his private room. Not that Mayer was alone in this regard, not by a long shot. The universally detested Harry Cohn, head of Universal Studios, verbally and/or physically ravaged every girl he signed. He would use a pencil to open a girl’s mouth so he could check her teeth. Then he would use it to lift her dress and inspect her thighs and what lay between them. If he liked what he saw, he took the lucky applicant into his private dressing-room and mounted her.

There's more at the link.

Today a commenter noted that the Weinstein scandal was "just the beginning" of what may come out about the current situation in Hollywood.  What I find most sickening about it is the degree to which the Hollywood "powers that be" stick together and cover up for each other's abuse of young, vulnerable would-be performers.  It's a very widespread problem, not confined to the movie industry alone.  It's in any and every form of entertainment.  To take just one example, the number of scandals surrounding so-called "boy bands" is legion.
    Lord Acton famously said:

    Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.

    And, on another occasion:

    Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.

    As far as Hollywood is concerned, it's a case of "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."



    Tal Hartsfeld said...

    People can always see the evil in others but never the evils within themselves.

    0007 said...

    What most people aren't aware of is that most of the early movie actresses who went on to become the stars of the 30's and 40's were generally barely into their teens when they started making movies. So what you really had going there was nothing more or less than pedophilia by the studio heads (and anyone else who could get away with it).

    Anonymous said...

    I prefer the alternate - Power attracts the corruptible.
    While there are not many like Cincinnatus or George Washington, they do exist; and walked away from power because they were wise enough to recognize the trap hidden inside.

    Anonymous said...

    If you care to you can look up the incidents child star Shirley Temple had with Hollywood moguls. In her autobiography she writes about attempted molestation by Arthur Freed, Lois Mayer, George Jessel, Samuel Engel and David Selznick. Some of the attacks were when she was still a prepubescent child.

    I had some minor (no pun intended) involvement in a Hollywood production in the early 90s and became acquainted with several members of the crew during filming. I became particularly close with a production assistant who'd been involved in the acting side of the business when she was a very young child but had ended up working behind the camera in various capacities when she was an adult. The stories she told me about the whole Hollywood culture were absolutely sickening. You think you know how utterly depraved and disgusting it is but hearing stories first hand from someone who actually experienced it is pretty horrifying.

    favill said...

    The fact the term "casting couch audition" exists is that it was ALWAYS a part of the Hollywood/acting scene.