I've been talking with a few friends, filmmakers and artists I've known since college more or less -all of them male- about these exposes in the media on Harvey Weinstein's career-long predation on women. After we were done shrugging over our compared notes and impressions about something that we thought everybody already knew about for years, we started blaming everybody,—in particular ourselves and here's why:
Back in the days when I worked at Film/Video Arts in the mid 1990s, this shit about Harvey Weinstein was a so-called open secret, which is to say it was KNOWN BY EVERYBODY. We had not heard about Harvey Weinstein raping anyone -at least I hadn't, but it was common knowledge that he was lecherous on a crazy fucking scale. In 1995, If you knew any actor who had a meeting, or audition, or sitdown of any kind with anybody at MiraMax, -you let her know what was up: that the Weinsteins were a couple of old-timey era throwbacks who insisted on what agents used to privately call "lay to play" and for the record -I also don't remember anybody making any distinction between the two brothers -except that a male friend of mine, -a formidably sized actor (Chime in on the comments if you want because I know you're reading this -but it's up to you) who nobody would ever fuck with, said Harvey had the potential to get very agitated and physically violent with people who worked for him on a whim (or behaved worse with people who didn't work for him, like waiters and valets), and he admitted to me that he was scared of Harvey because he was one of those big fat rich guys who walked around with that almost maffiaesque sense of entitlement (read: if he got into it with you, and you pushed back and beat his ass, -he would just get several people to come after you later.) All of this was talked about throughout the 90s here in New York amongst small-timers like me who were the location managers, PMs, script supervisors, editors, assistant editors, sound men, ADs, travel captains, line producers, UPMs et al of the no-budget independent film world -only the actors seemed to be in the dark- they were the ones we always had to tell about it.—AND I mean we HAD to tell them about it in "Scared-Straight" style theatrics, because I remember just about all of them saying something to the effect of "I know what to do if something bad happens" and which point you'd explain to them that if "something bad happens" that's too late. I got really good at having this talk by 1998, but I do remember a couple of actors accuse me of trying to be a "nice guy" (-I now know that's been codified as a new archetype pf passive aggressive beta male asshole whose altruism and friendship is all part of manipulation or guilt tripping in pursuit of sex with a girl he pretends to be best friends with. -it's quite an insult when you are literally trying to steer someone from harm.) Again it was the actors who didn't really seem to know and lately I really wonder why the hell that is or was, until I realized, perhaps it was because - it was pretty much the case everywhere:
"If every DMV office is dirty and grey; why would you think to single out any particular DMV office for being dirty and grey?"
—Every agency that wasn't run by a woman had the reputation in the 80s and 90s of a fucked up frat house - I didn't know of many production companies that were run by women in those days -just a sign of those times. If it was an agency or production company run by a Gay man, especially a closeted Gay man whose preferences were "known" -you had just as big a freak out about all your Gay friends running afoul of these agencies and companies and their resident molesters-in-chief, -and those conversations between a Straight guy and Gay guy always got fucking weird because no one in this world can get themselves into danger faster that a 20-something year old Gay man who thinks he's seen it all because he lives in New York City: Anybody, -any body can get drugged, raped, killed. This is an industry (Entertainment, music, movies, TV) I reminded a male playwright that was older than me, that literally chews up attractive young men (or even nerdy young men): I reason that if you think that's a fair trade, you're conning yourself as much as you think you're hustling your well-connected mark. Rich powerful men in Hollywood and in New York "disappear" people, lovers and friends once they get "inconvenient" and they do it simply because they can. It's curious how many young Gay -writers, -assistants, -producers, -what-have-you disappeared over the 1990s without any explanation or clue. One day you knew somebody, the next month he'd gone west and nobody every heard about him again.—Just like that.
If you knew an actor who told you she had a "dinner meeting," you let her know what was up, and on two occasions that I can remember I was asked to drop a friend off and pick them up afterward. Both women asked that I make a point of shaking the guy from office A or B's hand firmly. I certainly let them know, by staring into their eyes that there would be consequences if anything weird went off; I let them know that I was watching, that somebody knew where she was, and at what time and who with... In both cases there was nothing but pleasant dinner and a good bye reported...
but you know what?—Those women didn't get those jobs either.
Selfishly, I remember a lot of us were openly relieved that we didn't have a female friend, a sister, a cousin, or a girlfriend who was an actor or musician.
—How fucking cowardly of all of us.
In the 1990s it was like open season on women and even some young men as soon as no one was watching.
The thing is, -if I had heard this then, -about Weinstein and so many others -doesn't somebody know something now?
What open secrets are endangering lives by obscuring some obvious monster operating with the privilege and impunity of our inaction, the cover of our laziness, the encouragement of our fear?
Why is our response to whisper, gossip, and ultimately uphold the lies that allow crime and violence to continue behind closed doors?
I am talking to the men.