Those who think the trial of Harvey Weinstein was anything but political are deluding themselves. His real crimes were committed against a faddish ideology, not a bevy of young women.
This isn’t to deny he’s a revolting vulgarian who richly deserves opprobrium, perhaps ostracism. But he doesn’t deserve years in a hellhole of a prison, the insides of which he would never have seen had his trial been less politically charged.
His conviction would be regarded as unsafe in any just court unsullied by ideological bias. The trial was compromised from the very beginning, starting with the jury selection.
By the time 12 of Weinstein’s good and true peers were selected, the defendant had already been tried and convicted in the press. The prosecution itself admitted it was impossible to find 12 people who hadn’t “heard about Harvey Weinstein”.
The phrase is mendacious. It’s not just Harvey Weinstein that potential jurors were familiar with. They also had dined on the hysterical MeToo campaign that had for months regurgitated every dirty morsel, shoving it in the ears of everyone willing or unwilling to listen.
The prosecutors did their best to continue the press campaign by quasi-judicial means. They had a string of ‘victims’ sobbing on cue with professional skill and bandying about more sleaze than one could find in a brothel on a busy night.
Take Weinstein’s supposed deformity, making him a fully paid-up hermaphrodite. I must say he doesn’t look like any hermaphrodite I’ve ever seen, but admittedly the ladies involved had a clearer view of the situation.
But what was the relevance of such anatomical details? To validate their familiarity with Weinstein’s nudity? But the defence didn’t deny he had had sex with the witnesses, which made such graphic realism superfluous to the cause of justice.
As to the testimony that secured the conviction, it’s frankly risible. The key victim-witness was the aspiring actress Jessica Mann. After her alleged rape by Weinstein, she carried on a five-year affair with him, evoking Queen Berenice, whose passionate affair with Emperor Titus also allegedly started with a rape.
I don’t know about Berenice, but the mechanics of the rape in question look odd. According to Mann, she sat on the bed as Weinstein forced cunnilingus on her. How is it even possible?
I may be sexually naïve but, from what I’ve heard, the woman on the receiving end of such attentions could just wiggle her hips or simply shift her position to stop the crime. Why didn’t Mann do that?
More to the point, why did she continue her trysts with Weinstein for five years, regaling him with admiring letters along the way? After all, we’ve been taught that rape is the worst thing that can happen to a woman – worse than even mutilation or murder.
How then could a victim of that heinous crime, to which death would have been preferable, write this note to her assailer: “As always happy to see your smile and I hope to see you sooner than later. I hope some of your genius rubs off on me.”
Harvey’s genius didn’t rub off on Miss Mann. Other parts of him did, on numerous occasions.
On one such occasion, Mann and the Italian actress Emanuela Postacchini were “tricked” into a threesome with Harvey. He invited them to his hotel suite, ordered them to undress and then directed the scene, telling them what positions he wanted them to assume.
Disgusting, isn’t it? Yet the question remains: why didn’t they refuse to comply and walk out? The prosecution didn’t mention any physical coercion on Weinstein’s part, and no account emerged of him holding a gun to the women’s heads.
Mann said she was scared that Weinstein would destroy her career, or rather wouldn’t launch her on one (she never had any career in Hollywood). The fear was doubtless real, but surely that would have been a small sacrifice to make when the alternative was the worst thing that could happen to a woman/man/other?
This whole thing strikes me as a fair sex-for-favours exchange, in which both parties are immoral, but neither is criminal. That is, if we define crime as it has been defined over millennia of jurisprudence.
A woman sleeping with a powerful man to advance her career is a scenario as commonplace as one of a powerful man demanding sex for such favours. If there is a moral difference between such a transaction and one taking place between a streetwalker and a curb-crawler, it escapes me.
Hollywood in particular has always been run that way. Every year, tens of thousands of pretty girls from all over America descend on Los Angeles, harbouring hopes of stardom.
Most of them can’t act well enough to play characters. They can only play themselves, pretty girls. Inevitably they are treated as a commodity, with one as good as another and all them interchangeable.
Under such conditions, there’s really only one way they can get an agent, a screen test and ultimately a role. In a buyer’s market, they only have one thing to sell.
Even gifted actresses are thick on the ground: there are hundreds of them plying their trade in films, TV series, commercials and so forth. Not many (Hollywood insiders claim none) ever manage to bypass the casting couch on their way to stardom: even in this narrower market, the supply far exceeds the demand.
Today’s papers feature full spreads of photographs of well-established stars wrapping themselves around Weinstein, fawning on him despite his body being more dining room than bedroom.
How many of them slept with him to get roles? All? Many? I don’t know. But definitely some.
And now those women, many of whom owe their careers to Weinstein, are converging on him like howling hyenas, signalling their sanctimonious virtue and parading a moral decrepitude that in my book is worse than his.
“Women will no longer be silenced,” they scream. Have they ever been? I’ve never met a man who has succeeded in this task, although many have tried.
Such shouted slogans vindicate the title above. Harvey Weinstein was tried not for what he did, but for what he represents: an affront to an ideology. If that doesn’t make him a political prisoner, I don’t know what would.