HW stands for Harvey Weinstein, but it also stands for (H)olly(W)ood
By now about everyone on the planet has heard about (and hopefully been disgusted by) the numerous sorted events surrounding Harvey Weinstein. I have no intention of rehashing the developing dialogue and ongoing revealed incidents. Let others report on all that. They are much more qualified and informed. However, I have my own take on all this, which may or may not be unique or especially revealing. But somehow, I feel the need to communicate the following.
Several points first:
a) None of this should be surprising, when taking into account the societies we all live in, and of the long historical subjugation, de-personalization, and utter disregard for women on our planet.
b) Also, when people of power exert ruthless control of the people under them, there will always be problems.
c) In particular, the entertainment industry, wrapped in the world of fame and fortune, which is used by the people in power as leverage to victimize them into being willing participants in the growth of their position and power, becomes a beast that perpetually needs to be fed.
I think most of us can agree (although it should be all of us) that women in general have gotten a pretty bad deal for a very long time. Over my life I have known many women who have told me about such sexually related experiences they have had endure. I have never really known how to respond or how to help them, other than to step up if I ever saw anything like that happen. And that has only happened once in my life. In college I stopped a college girl from getting raped (it was very close to actually happening), and just that part of it was traumatic. After chasing the perpetrator off, calling the police, trying to comfort the girl who was hysterical, and talking to the police, I was spent. I could not imagine what she was going through. And no, I did not feel like a hero. I was 21, overwhelmed, angry, and saddened by the whole thing. I thought, what if that had been my mother, my sister, my daughter? How can boys, men, whatever, who are born of a woman, come back and trash women like that? Even though there are all types of explanations, emotional, social, psychological, or whatever, those reasons still don’t make real normal sense to me.
As far as the Hollywood community, I can speak to some of that. When I was younger and hungry to make my way in this industry, I used to pitch story ideas and scripts to some of the big production companies and studios. It actually was fairly difficult to get into these meetings, so when it happened you had to be on your game. It was a lot of pressure, and I didn’t like it at all. I was a writer, not a used car salesman. It was distasteful and demeaning, and you felt totally powerless. Most the time it was young, male, egotistical, and entitled story executives you had to suck up to. I was often amazed at their utter ignorance at understanding basic storytelling. Later on of course I learned how nepotistic the industry is, and how it was all about knowing the right people. Talent was supposed to be in there somewhere, but not necessarily first.
Back to the point. Oftentimes, when I came from those meetings, I felt ‘dirty.’ Like I needed a shower, or something. My intuition would rear up in those meetings at times, and I got the feeling there was something very odd about these people. These ‘Hollywood’ people were not ‘normal’ in my book. I know nowadays it is harder to define normalcy, but they seemed like they were aliens from another planet. My intuition just told me something was off here. But of course, you can’t necessarily judge or certainly convict someone of anything just because your gut, your intuition, tells you something is off. Yet, over the years, I have honed that intuition to a degree that I believe is fairly accurate, in many instances. 100% accurate, of course not, but fairly more than 50%, you can bet on it. If I was to look back now and bet on what some of those people were up to, it would not surprise me at all what they were up to, and that what we are now seeing has been ‘business as usual’ for a long time. It is just too bad that so many people have suffered in so many ways for so long. I sincerely do hope that we have reached that watershed moment when things really do change. Because they just shouldn’t, they MUST change.
And yes, I do know for a fact that I would never tolerate that type of behavior in my company, or on any of my productions … ever. That should be a normal and obvious stand to take. So it does feel odd I even have to mention it. For me, what is additionally troubling about all of this, is the power Hollywood holds over our whole society, and how it affects our culture in such a dominating fashion. So much of how our lives seem influenced by this pop culture of intense hyper-violence and hyper-sexuality, especially for our young, impressionable people. I certainly hope they are smarter than us. Because it is scary to think that those powerful Hollywood people behind the constant content fed to us, are the same people who have been and continue to be those abusive people. It makes you wonder if these are all really imaginary worlds of theirs, or are they drawing from their own sick experiences (or just sick minds?), and then feeding all that to us as entertainment? Which we of course, then buy. Are we as an audience complicit in any of this? And the even bigger picture is, are we as humans devolving instead of evolving, or are we not as advanced in the animal kingdom as we thought we were? Food for thought? Or just more fodder for our precious egos to ignore so we can just move on down the road? Sheesh, seems like there is always more to consider in all this, or maybe I’m just tripping too much on all this right now.
Anyway, one final note, about maybe the other shoe dropping. There is another depraved narrative that has been floating around Hollywood a very long time, not just in this modern era. Pedophilia rings. Yes, these have been suspected all the way back to the beginnings of the industry, as far back as the women issues we are now confronted with. I have looked at this off and on, and have heard the rumors for a while. I feel there is something to this, and wonder if this will ever be uncovered. However, I think the industry already has enough on its plate for now, because I think there is a quite lot that needs to be done for women to take their rightful place in this landscape. But someday, hopefully in the not too distant future, we can also settle that other issue once and for all.
In the end, all these issues involve an abuse of power by people who have no business in those positions of power. It is very obvious that power does corrupt, so it makes more sense for people who have no use for power, should be the ones who are in these positions. Are they exempt from those temptations? Would it make a difference? I have no idea. I do think that for the most part, creative people who are in this industry to ply their craft and art are not as interested in the acquisition of power as the management, corporate, executive types are. Does this type of abuse occur in production and on set? Sure it does, I’ve seen it. But I have noticed in the indie world it seems a lot less prevalent. Maybe because in that world everyone either feels fairly powerless in relation to the biggees in the industry, or they feel liberated by not being controlled by them and able to do their own thing. I say put us indies in control of these large entertainment enterprises and see what happens! Naw, most of us would probably not be interested in operating in that world. But it would be intriguing to see what would, and could, happen.
Author: Jerry Alden Deal
Writer – Director – Producer of Way To Go Media, LLC.
Over the past thirty years Jerry has been hired numerous times to develop and write screenplays for other production companies. During that same period several of his spec scripts were also optioned. ‘Dreams Awake’ was Jerry’s feature directorial debut. He has several other projects in various stages of development. One of which, the feature documentary ‘The Inner Sonic Key’ is currently in post-production.