Imagine spending decades putting in hard work to cover your ass and make yourself look innocent, only for your horrific crimes to be exposed and all that hard work to be erased.
In his recent interview with The New York Post, Harvey Weinstein makes it clear that this wasn't the way things worked in Hollywood when he was coming up. "I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I'm talking about 30 years ago. I'm not talking about now when it's vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it!" Back then it was understood that every powerful producer was wielding his position to inflict himself sexually on every young starlet with the bad luck to find herself alone in a room with him. The "good ones" were the men who at least gave those women good roles after traumatizing them, and maybe produced some nice uplifting stories that sent good political messages. Real heroes...
Not his real shirt... probably
Harvey Weinstein just wants to get back to the good old days and remind everyone how great his public persona was while he was (allegedly) terrorizing dozens of women in secret. Yes, he (allegedly) employed an assistant whose job was to lure women in with a false sense of security before leaving them alone with him. And yes, he also (allegedly) spent millions of dollars killing negative news stories and pre-empting legal cases that could arise from his (allegedly) assaulting and raping women on a regular basis. But what about the money he put into making Transamerica and the $10 million role he got for Gwyneth Paltrow years after (allegedly) attempting to force himself on her in a hotel room when she was only 22? What about that?
"If you remember who I was then, you might want to question some of this."
If you can just find it in your heart to ignore the overwhelming weight of his frequent and horrifying (alleged) predation of women whose livelihoods were subject to his whims, he actually did a lot of great things for women in Hollywood. If you can just tap into a deep well of forgiveness in order to focus on all the public work he wanted people to notice instead of listening to the dozens of women whom he (allegedly x 80) assaulted behind closed doors, that would be really great for him. And honestly, if we're all just willing to look at things through that lens, Harvey Weinstein would deserve some recognition.
"I made a success out of myself. I had no money, and I built quite an empire with Miramax and decided to give back,"
Unfortunately for Harvey, the professional virtue signaling that earned his films awards and made him the fortune he (allegedly) used to fund his toxic and evil (alleged) sexual crimes, wouldn't really amount to much next to even one credible accusation of sexual assault, let alone dozens. So while he laments feeling "like the forgotten man," that reputation is obviously far better than he deserves. People have forgotten all the nice things he did to get positive attention because we all prefer not to think about him at all. Because thinking about him requires thinking about the societal problems that allow a powerful man like him to maintain a glossy image while developing an elaborate apparatus to hide his (alleged) sexual crimes from the world.
Bill Cosby was "America's dad" for decades while drugging and assaulting young women. Jeffrey Epstein was once a celebrated "money manager," who may have built his entire career on sex trafficking. And Kevin Spacey was beloved by Hollywood primarily for his convincing portrayal of villains who could go undetected—in The Usual Suspects, Se7en, House of Cards—and is now conspicuously avoiding criminal charges for his many (alleged) assaults. Thinking about these men requires us to think about how power operates in our world. And while we, as a society, have made more of an effort in recent years to face those issues, our default is still to ignore them. It is all too tempting to look the other way.
Don't look away
So when Harvey Weinstein and Prince Andrew give interviews in which they try to paint themselves as heroes—a man "too honorable" for his own good, or an icon of feminist progress—they are giving us a gift. There is a dark comedy to watching these evil men clumsily articulate the personas they want to project—all while those shabby disguises rot and fall away. It makes it possible to look at them a little longer.
One line in the new interview tells the whole sad story: "I want this city to recognize who I was instead of what I've become." Who you were, Harvey, was a man living with many dark and horrible secrets, and what you've become is a man exposed. If it were only a work of fiction—a sick joke, rather than a sickening reality—it would honestly be funnier than any movie Harvey Weinstein ever touched.
In the interview, Weinstein also wanted to highlight his very real medical issues and took the opportunity to make it clear that he is not playing up his ailments for sympathy. Good for you, Harvey. No one cares.
With the recent rejection of a $25 million settlement—which would have avoided any admission of guilt from Weinstein and prohibited other accusers from pursuing further legal action—we can probably expect Weinstein to continue whining and pleading and making his flimsy, pathetic case for himself. If you have it in you, try to use the comic absurdity of it all to help you stomach the nauseating reality of our society's many ills. If you can, try not to look away.