If you meet the Weinstein on the road, kill him.
Producer Harvey Weinstein, director James Toback, photographer Terry Richardson and… the list keeps growing of media markers who, blazing down Rodeo Drive or Madison Ave, leave a wake of sexually harassed, molested and raped victims trailing out behind them.
What do these producers of our media culture have in common? If you guessed that they work in an industry where an endless stream of young, female wanna-be’s can be convinced to do almost anything to get their fifteen minutes of fame, you’re right. If you guessed that they work in an industry which preys on young, female wanna-be’s in order to supply us, the viewing public, with an endless variety of movies, videos and pictures of sex, porn and rape, you are also right.
No, we are not blaming the victims of the Weinsteins and the Mad Men of the world, but if we are serious (and that is, I believe, a big “if”) about putting a stop to predatory sexual abuse in entertainment and advertising media, then we must call out not just the perverts of the industry but also the purveyors and purchasers.
To fail to acknowledge that the depravities of Weinstein et al. have become part of what is expected on screen from entertainment media is to ensure that it will happen again and again.
And while Hollywood is crying about how embarrassed it is by the hyper-sexual behavior of Weinstein, it would be more honest of them to admit that they are in the business of producing hyper-sexual material that we, the public, demand.
Did Hollywood sexualize us or did we sexualize them? Who knows? Such “which came first” questions are of little importance while we are voluntarily wallowing up to our necks in chicken sh*t. The problem is not outside of anyone of us, the problem is us, and to fix it we need to dig deep.
Like government, we get the media, and by extension, the media producers, that we demand. While I have spent only a little time around the movie and fashion industries, I can tell you that there is plenty of “give them what they want” in most media, even humanitarian media. I have been told, point blank, by heads of major humanitarian organizations that while my photographic work is “artistic” (whatever that means) “it’s just not sad enough.” “Make it sadder,” one executive once said to me; “That’s what people want.” In each case I refused to produce what I call “pity porn,” sometimes winning the argument and the job and sometimes losing them both.
Besides the “juicy details,” what do we want from this Hollywood scandal du’jour? Do we want to get at the root of sexual exploitation in entertainment media or do we just want to get at Harvey Weinstein? Are we ready to admit that we are now powerless over lurid, sexualized media and our lives have become unmanageable, or do we want to continue to blame “those people” who do “that” to us?
If we could be honest about it, we would acknowledge that our entertainment and advertising industries will clean up their acts and stop treating women like garbage roughly in proportion to all of us curbing our appetite for filth. If we cannot take this first step, we will never get anywhere. No raging drunk has ever gotten sober by suddenly seizing a bottle and screaming at it “What have you done to me!” and then, smashing it in the fireplace, miraculously never touched another drop. Such things only happen in the movies.