Casting Stones from Casting Couches

The New York Times on Thursday published a withering expose of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s long history of sexual harassment against women. No one in Hollywood is shocked. He’s tried to get out in front of the story by stating, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.”

Well there you have it. Done.

Of course he only came forward after hiring a phalanx of attorneys in what I can only imagine was an attempt to stop the story from appearing in the first place. In Weinstein’s bizarre non-apology apology, he blamed the 1960s and ’70s—as if every man who came of age during that time turned out to be a lecher or a rapist.

But don’t worry. Weinstein, a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, was “With Her” and, despite making movie after movie glorifying gun violence, plans to spend the rest of his days going after the real enemy in all this, the NRA. So it’s all good.

Nice one Harvey. And here I thought you might spend the rest of your days learning the difficult and subtle art of how to not use your power to extort young women into having sex with you.

In other entertainment news, brilliant director and fugitive rapist Roman Polanski is “over it.” Polanski, a man to whom none other than the conscience of Hollywood, Meryl Streep, gave a standing ovation and who many Hollywood luminaries—including Weinstein himself and the ethically challenged Woody Allen—want “freed,” is “over” the nuisance of being reminded of his rape in 1977 of a 13-year-old girl.

He’s over having plied her with Quaaludes; he’s over having invited her into a bedroom “to take pictures.” And he’s definitely over repeatedly sodomizing her, despite her continued vocal objections.

Ironically, news of Polanski’s ability to move on breaks at the same time as yet another woman—the fourth—steps forward to accuse him of underage rape.   

I wonder if Whoopi Goldberg will consider this one rape-rape.

If these weren’t enough, let’s take a moment to reflect on the pharmacological stylings of Bill Cosby or the complicated family life of Woody Allen. Then there’s Jeffrey Jones, the actor who played principal from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” who, like Weinstein, apparently came of age in the ’60s and ‘70s, which must have been what led him to pay a 14-year-old boy to pose for nude photos. Former child actors complain that the industry is full of pedophilia and child grooming, yet the industry takes no notice.  As if to ensure that the trend remains current, Glee Star Mark Salling, who most definitely did not come of age in the 60 and 70’s, recently pleaded guilty to possession of 50,000 images and videos of child pornography—with victims as young as 3 to 5 years old.

But not to worry, as Harvey Weinstein himself proclaimed, “Hollywood has the best Moral Compass.”  

And if we need to know anything about the way in which the powerful in the industry view those at the bottom, we need only to look at what George Clooney said of Steven Bannon’s attempt at screenwriting. You don’t have to like Bannon to see very clearly how Clooney views the artists below him who struggle to get their work made: “Steve Bannon is a failed fucking screenwriter,” spat Clooney. “Now, if he’d somehow managed miraculously to get that thing produced, he’d still be in Hollywood, still making movies and licking my ass to get me to do one of his stupid-ass screenplays.”   

That’s right. They expect people to “lick their asses.” I’m assuming, of course, that Clooney meant that figuratively, but considering the culture of the industry outlined above, who can really say? Regardless, the powerful in Hollywood relish obsequiousness at every level. They are all too happy to let everyone in their orbit know about the power dynamic between struggling artists who are moved to create and those who have landed at the top.  And what’s more is the unspoken understanding, even the expectation, that they might use that power for lecherous ends.

Harvey Weinstein isn’t an aberration, he’s just the most prominent and current example.

I’ve worked in this industry for more than 20 years. This isn’t easy for me to write and I’m pretty sure it won’t help my career. But it must be said. I bristle at the nerve of an industry that tolerates and even praises the likes of Polanski and Weinstein having the temerity to lecture the rest of the country about morality and the meaning of a good life. It’s beyond chutzpah or hypocrisy. It beggars belief.

So when prominent entertainers and Hollywood executives stand there and lecture the rest of the country about any moral issue, it’s good to take a step back and realize who it is doing the talking.   

Every time a talk-show host, actor, producer, director, or executive opens his mouth and pontificates on this or that national moral failure, we ought to respond loudly and with one voice:


You stand there and you lecture us about morality? You tell us how to vote? Or who deserves generational and cultural praise? You give standing ovations to admitted rapists, to men that would do harm to children and women—and you would indict the rest of the country as immoral?

You peer from the commanding heights of an industry awash in sexism, racism, age discrimination, and a tacit acceptance of pedophilia; where the “casting couch” is so common an occurrence that it’s a running joke and no one within bats an eye to question it? Where the depravity of the powerful takes aim at the innocent? Where the accusations of rape by former child actors are shrugged off as “business as usual”?

You profit from irresponsible and inaccurate portrayals of guns and the glorification of falsely romanticised gun violence all the while seeking to assuage your obvious guilt by pointing fingers at the guns themselves and by indicting the millions who use them responsibly despite your product?

You work with, worship, and try to appease reprobates knowing full well their reputations for indecency and then have the gall, the audacity, to criticize anyone for anything?

Celluloid Houses, apparently, are extremely resistant to self-reflection and can only project the monsters within them onto the world at large.   

Hollywood, don’t you dare tell us what to do.


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About Boris Zelkin

Russian-born Boris Zelkin is an Emmy Award-winning composer who has written the music to countless films, documentaries, television shows and major sporting events, including the Tucker Carlson show, Bill O'Reilly, "Gosnell," “FrackNation,” Citizen United’s “Rediscovering God in America II,” Roger Simon’s “Lies and Whispers,” the America's Cup, the Masters, the World Skating Championships, the U.S. Open, NASCAR, the Stanley Cup Championship, and the theme to ESPN’s NCAA championship coverage. Zelkin received his B.A. from Colgate University and earned his M.A. in religion from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He has written extensively on the culture for various online journals and was a major contributor to the recently released “Bond Forever,” a book about the James Bond franchise. He currently resides in Los Angeles but is always looking for a way out.