Tag Archives: Hollywood

How NOT To Respond To An Old Sex Scandal (Too Late For Harvey Weinstein)

Whenever a celebrity or person of influence becomes the subject of a sex scandal, sometimes the most you can do is just pop open a cold beer, put your feet up, and enjoy the show. There’s sure to be a mix of hilarity, disgust, and anguish along the way. You might as well be comfortably drunk.

Last year, it was Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly who got caught thinking with the wrong head and that cost them their jobs. While I’ve expressed my concern about the precedent those scandals might set, I never doubted for a second that there would be more like them in the future. I also didn’t doubt those involved would find a way to handle it poorly.

Sadly, I was right, albeit not surprised. Last week, the New York Times broke a story about Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, paying off sexual harassment accusers for decades. Among those accusers are famous names like Ashley Judd and not-so-famous names like Emily Nestor, who found themselves in a woefully unequal power dynamic where Weinstein held the kind of power that would make Christian Grey envious.

For those who are fans of Weinstein’s work, which include famed Miramax productions like “Pulp Fiction,” “Chasing Amy,” and “Good Will Hunting,” these are pretty distressing allegations. This isn’t the kind of playful flirting that goes too far. This is the kind of harassment that involves luring ambitious, vulnerable women to hotel rooms and demanding massages.

Granted, it could’ve gotten much worse, as we saw with the Roman Polanski scandal. For the most part, though, Weinstein’s conduct is not that different from what we saw with Ailes and O’Reilly.

He was a powerful man who could make or end careers. He was surrounded by young, attractive, ambitious women over which he had a great deal of leverage. Some men will take advantage of those opportunities and spend decades of their lives trying to shove it under the rug.

Eventually, secrets and hush money only go so far. Just a few days after the scandal broke, Weinstein was terminated from the Weinstein Company that bears his name. Even though many of the accusations haven’t made their way through the court system, the company heard enough and isn’t waiting for the verdict.

Before you start feeling any measure of sympathy for Harvey Weinstein, I think it’s worth pointing out that he hasn’t exactly denied the allegations, nor has he made any sincere apologies. Instead, he’s been making excuses and anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows how I feel about excuses.

homer simpson fail. . EPIC AIL Sometimes, youjust have no excuse.

Shortly after Weinstein was fired, he did exactly what nobody should do in a sex scandal and started making excuses. Instead of the old, “She told me she was 18,” excuse, this is what he said according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”

In terms of excuses, this is basically the kind of D-level effort of a lazy high school student during a mid-term. He’s not apologizing. He’s not denying or asking for understanding. He’s just claiming that the times were different and somehow, harassing women like he did was okay back then.

Now, I wasn’t alive in the 60’s or 70’s. I don’t entirely know or understand what kind of culture Weinstein was talking about. I just know that in nearly every era and culture, being a dick to women is pretty frowned upon, especially if you’re in a position of power.

Weinstein wasn’t just some creepy guy following women home from bars. He was the head of a major movie company that could turn people into stars. Given the sheer breadth of people seeking stardom, and the vast majority of those who fail, it’s hard to understate how powerful Weinstein was.

It’s for that reason that his excuses come off as even more egregious. It goes beyond the “that’s just how things were” gimmick that we see glorified in “Mad Men.” This is a man who preyed on women who had dreams of being a star. He held those dreams in his hand and used them to take advantage of those women. There are just no excuses for that and his effort to make excuses just makes it worse.

Now, as bad as Weinstein’s excuses are, I also have to give him the same courtesy I gave Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes. By that, I mean I need to point out that these stories the New York Times reported are not completely verified. There is a possibility, however remote you might think, that Weinstein’s conduct wasn’t as bad as the women claim.

It may even be the case that some of Weinstein’s accusers were never actually harassed, but are seeking damages because they want to extort money from him. That does happen. Men and women are equally capable of exploiting a situation. While Weinstein’s conduct and responses have made that unlikely, there’s often a chance that the media will exaggerate the story for dramatic effect.

At this point, though, it’s too late for Weinstein. He’s effectively sealed his fate by making poor excuses and doing a pitiful job of managing the narrative. Even if the accusations were all fake, his response to them has shattered any sense of sympathy or understanding he might have garnered. He basically shot himself in the foot and tried to treat it with sulfuric acid.

It’s almost certain that Harvey Weinstein won’t be the last big mogul or media icon to get caught up in a sex scandal. It’s also fairly likely that whoever gets caught next will make the same excuses.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle a scandal, even if you’re guilty. However, the kind of people who make excuses in being dicks to women probably don’t care much about the right way to begin with. That’s not just tragic. That’s downright cold.

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Filed under Celebrities and Celebrity Culture, Current Events, Reasons and Excuses

Another (Potentially Distressing) Thought Experiment

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Whenever I pose one of my thought experiments, be they the sexy or unsexy kind, I do so with the hope of inspiring novel, entertaining ideas that get people thinking for all the right reasons. Ideally, these ideas are fun and enlightening. If they make people horny in the process, then that’s just a bonus.

Every now and then, however, it’s not enough for an idea to be enlightening or sexy. Sometimes, for a thought experiment to work, it needs to make people feel uncomfortable. It needs to create some sort of mental distress.

I know that’s something most people avoid. People come to this blog to read about erotica romance novels, sexy thoughts, and sex robots. I’ve even pointed out how our brains are wired to do anything and everything to avoid mental distress, even if it leads to outright hypocrisy.

Well, as uncomfortable as it is, mental distress has a purpose. It forces us to contemplate an idea that highlights a major problem in the world. It’s often one of those problems we know is there on some level, but avoid thinking about because it’s too daunting. For this particular thought experiment, it’s not so much that the idea is overwhelming. It’s more that it reveals something about our attitudes that we don’t often scrutinize.

So with that in mind, here’s the experiment. Think back to any action scene in any major action movie of the past couple decades. Given the glut of superhero movies and “Die Hard” rip-offs out there, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Specifically, think of a scene where a female character was kicking ass. Given the rise of strong female characters, that shouldn’t be too difficult either.

A good example comes from the memorable Black Widow fight scene in “Iron Man 2.” By any measure, it’s a wonderfully entertaining scene. It has Scarlett Johanssen kicking ass in a skin-tight outfit. What’s not to love about it? Most people who watch this scene, especially comic book fans and people who find Scarlett Johanssen sexy, would be rightly entertained.

Here’s where the thought experiment comes in. This is where it gets really uncomfortable and not in the awkward boner sort of way. Watch the scene above once as you usually would. You don’t need to know the context too much. This is just Black Widow beating up the hired goons of Justin Hammer, the primary antagonist of the movie. Use that first reaction as a baseline of sorts.

Now, watch the scene again. This time, though, reverse all the genders of the characters involved. Make Black Widow a man. Make Justin Hammer’s goons women. Let it play out in your mind, this lone male character beating up all these women. Does the scene evoke the same reaction? For most people not named Chris Brown, it probably makes you sick to your stomach.

This goes beyond the typical double standards between men and women, which I’ve talked about before. It even goes beyond strong female characters, which I’ve also touched on in various ways. This is one of those dynamics that has always been there right in front of us. We just don’t take the time to scrutinize it.

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We can watch scenes of James Bond beating the crap out of a bunch of SPECTRE henchmen and be entertained. We can also watch scenes of Black Widow, Sarah Conner, and Furiosa do the same and be entertained. Swap the genders, though, and it becomes extremely distressing. We don’t see powerful characters kicking ass anymore. We just see a man beating up multiple women.

Find a scene like the one above from “Iron Man 2” and do the same thought experiment. Look for a scene where a woman beats up a much of male thugs. Then, swap the genders. Chances are, the feelings it evokes are just as distressing.

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For a greater sense of context, I came up with this thought experiment after reading an article on Cracked.com about the way Hollywood treats men. I’ve cited Cracked before because and while I don’t always agree with them, they’re good at tackling serious topics in a humorous way, even sexy topics. This one, however, had a hard time being funny.

6 Backwards Ideas Hollywood Still Has About Men

Some parts of the article were more inane than others, like pointing out how every leading man has to be at least a half-foot taller than the average guy or how tortured men are somehow compelling. Some of those details are just quirks, blatant examples of style over substance.

Beyond the quirks, though, there are some genuinely disturbing dynamics at work. We find such entertainment in women beating the crap out of men. We also find entertainment in men beating the crap out of men. However, when it’s men beating the crap out of women, context doesn’t matter. Substance doesn’t matter. It always makes us feel disgusted and repulsed.

The thought experiment I just posed highlights that. However, it goes beyond violence as well. Rape is one of those super-sensitive issues that’s impossible to make funny or sexy. However, if you put it in the context of prison rape where men rape men, then that somehow changes things, so much so that jokes about rape will even find their way into an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.

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Then, there are the cases where women rape men. Yes, that does happen in real life. Women are capable of domestic violence against men. However, it’s still okay to joke about. Christopher Titus has even worked it into his standup. It even finds its way into cartoons that air on primetime.

The best example of this is the “Futurama” episode, “Death By Snu Snu.” In that episode, the cast encounters a planet populated by big, hulking, hostile Amazonian women, albeit not of the Wonder Woman variety. Through a series of hilarious antics that are entirely appropriate for a show that has a hard-drinking, sociopath robot, the male characters end up captured.

This is where the line between hilarity and distress blurs if you dare do the same thought experiment. Once captured, the Amazonian women decide to “torment” their prisoners with “snu snu,” which is their alien verbiage for sex. The reaction of Fry and Zap Branigan is a mix of horror and intrigue.

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Granted, it’s presented in a funny way, but that doesn’t change the actual substance of what happens. The women rape these men. They rape them and it’s portrayed as humorous. I’m not going to lie. I did laugh somewhat at how the episode played out. Most people with a healthy sense of humor would.

However, if you do the same thought experiment with the Black Widow scene in “Iron Man 2,” it takes on a very different context. Watch the episode again, but turn the hulking Amazons into men. Then, turn Fry and Zap into women. Suddenly, that scene takes on a much darker undertone.

It would push the line even for the most hardcore porn. Think about how that would play out, a group of warrior men taking a couple of women who just stumbled upon their world and deciding to rape them to death. It wouldn’t just be rated NC-17. It would be outright banned and subject to protest from every women’s group in the world.

What does it say about our attitudes, our culture, and our attitudes when we’re okay with one gender dynamic and not the other? Now, there are inherent differences in those dynamics. Human beings are a sexually dimorphic species. That means there are inherently different traits within the genders that are impossible to overlook completely.

However, the sheer breadth of the disparity here is cause for concern. If flipping the genders of a story or scene evokes such a different reaction, then that’s a serious disconnect that’s worth scrutinizing.

That’s not to say that the scenes in “Iron Man 2” or “Futurama” are wrong or not entertaining. There’s just something inherently revealing about ourselves when we flip the gender dynamics and react to the same scene. We may not like what that reveals, but it’s not something that can or should be ignored.

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Scarlett Johansson’s Views On Monogamy (And Why It Matters)

If an typical, healthy heterosexual man walked up to you and said he was a fan of Scarlett Johansson, it probably wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. You’d react the same way if they told you the sky was blue, water is wet, and expired milk smells bad.

It’s one of the few universals that most heterosexual men agree on. We find women like Scarlett Johansson sexy as hell. That means when she says something, we pay attention. That’s not to say we pay attention to her words, but we do pay attention. That has to count for something, right?

I’m not going to lie. Scarlett Johansson has a very special place on my list of sexy Hollywood leading ladies. Ever since she first put on the skin-tight attire of Black Widow and became an fixture in the seamy fantasies of superhero fans everywhere, she’s established herself as the alpha and omega of Hollywood hotness. The fact that she was the top-grossing actor/actress of 2016 doesn’t hurt her cause as well.

Whether you love her or hate her, and those who hate her rarely have a good reason, Scarlett Johansson’s words carry more weight than the rest of us. She’s successful, she’s beautiful, she’s rich, and she’s sexy as hell. She has more leverage than most of us ever will.

That’s why her recent comments on marriage and monogamy are making more than a couple of Sunday School teachers gasp in horror. For those of you who missed it and/or haven’t taken her words out of context, here’s what she said:

“With every gain there’s a loss, right? So, that’s the loss. You have to choose a path. I think the idea of marriage is very romantic; it’s a beautiful idea, and the practice of it can be a very beautiful thing. I don’t think it’s natural to be a monogamous person. I might be skewered for that, but I think it’s work. It’s a lot of work.”

Now on the surface, there’s nothing too appalling about these words. However, she’s a beautiful woman and a Hollywood star. Of course her words will be used as an excuse to love, hate, condemn her as a sign of the apocalypse. Considering how Pokemon Go was once considered a sign of the apocalypse, that might not carry much weight.

It still matters though because Johansson, like every major Hollywood star before her, lives a life in the spotlight, under a microscope, and under the constant threat of becoming an unflattering Twitter hashtag. What she does invites far more scrutiny than what the average person, be they a truck driver or aspiring erotica/romance writer, ever would.

If someone other than Johansson had said these words, most people would’ve rolled their eyes, shrugged it off, and gotten on with their lives. There would be no need to call her every horrible insult imaginable in the comments section of every article. Unfortunately, Johansson did say these words.

On top of that, her personal life is already well-known and exceedingly public. She’s only 32 and she’s been married twice. First, she was married to Deadpool actor and former sexiest man alive, Ryan Reynolds. That marriage lasted shorter than the first season of Firefly. Then, she married a French man who owned an advertising agency named Romain Dauriac. This one lasted longer a bit longer and resulted in the birth of her daughter, Rose.

However, as her comments reflected, both relationships failed. Both ended in divorce. That means she has subjected herself to the full force of the internet’s unforgiving, soul-crushing shit storm. The fact that she could date the sexiest man alive and still not make it work makes her an easy target.

I’ve seen some of these comments. They usually amount to something like this:

“Typical Hollywood elitist skank!”

“Arrogant, selfish bitch!”

“She ditches her husband because one man isn’t enough for her? What a slut!”

Trust me, this is the PG version of the comments circulating the web right now. There are some comments that are so hostile, so extreme, and so hateful that even a director on the set of a hardcore porn movie would stop the scene.

It’s not all insults, put-downs, and crude remarks about female anatomy. One other, somewhat less extreme comment that frequently comes up often goes like this:

“I’ve been married to the same man/woman for 40 goddamn years and I did it while working shit jobs and raising ungrateful kids. What’s her excuse?”

This comment, in my opinion, is a lot more revealing about us than anything about Scarlett Johansson’s personal life. It’s actually something I’ve talked about before on this blog, predating Ms. Johansson’s divorce and remarks.

I’m not saying it was prophetic. Hollywood stars getting divorced is so common and mundane these days that someone was bound to make a comment like this at some point. I’m not going to lie though. The fact that Scarlett Johansson, the Black Widow of the Avengers movies, made the comment kind of makes my day.

What exactly does it reveal though? Why does Scarlett Johansson’s remarks about monogamy matter? It’s not just because she’s richer, sexier, and more charismatic than 99.998 percent of us will ever be. It matters because she’s saying something that speaks to much bigger issues with our modern approach to romance, marriage, and relationships.

Last year, I asked whether we were asking too much of our lovers. Now that I look back on it, I think that’s an incomplete question. That’s because what we ask and expect of our lovers varies from person to person.

Some people are naturally independent and don’t need their lovers to do much. Others are more dependent and really define themselves by the relationships they forge. Expecting too much from either is bound to cause problems, strain emotions, and inspire bad sitcoms.

Let’s go back to that comment about the people talking down to Scarlett Johansson because she can’t hold down a stable marriage while other people can under far less favorable circumstances. While I’m sure those commenters feel like they’re Spartacus, being all high, mighty, and moral, they’re ignoring a few key issues.

First and foremost, Scarlett Johansson is richer, sexier, and more talented than they are. That’s not to say those commenters aren’t decent people. That’s just pointing out a clear, indisputable fact. She is a very successful, Hollywood actress who has been working hard in a cut-throat industry for over two decades. As such, her work and her life might as well be that of a sexy Martian alien.

The people who proudly proclaim they’ve been married to the same person for 40 years have probably never had the same experiences as Johansson. They don’t have people scrutinizing every second of their lives, spreading every nasty rumor on tabloids and celebrity blogs. They also don’t have attractive partners practically throwing themselves at you, begging to be your personal bitch.

If you’re successful at all in Hollywood, there’s are entire industries built around catering to your every whim and shoving every possible temptation into your face. Most people never have those opportunities. Many have a hard time resisting them. Just ask Drew Barrymore.

Take those same people who proudly proclaim they’ve been married to the same person for 40 years, de-age them by 20 years, and give them even half the success that Johansson has achieved and will they be able to make the same claim? Some might, but most won’t. That’s just how we flawed humans are wired.

Beyond the temptation and opportunities that people like Scarlett Johansson face, there’s also the nature of the work itself. It’s one thing to maintain a stable marriage and family when your job involves sitting a desk eight hours a day and listening to people bitch about their slow internet connection. Being an actress is a lot more demanding.

Scarlett Johansson, like any successful actress, has a crazy schedule that demands she work crazy hours while maintaining a crazy health regiment to ensure she stays crazy beautiful. She travels, she works out, she does interviews, and she deals with nosy media types. Somewhere in the middle of all that, she has to find time to act as well. With a work schedule like that, I’m shocked she doesn’t say more crazy things.

Very few relationships can handle a hectic schedule like that. Perhaps Johansson should’ve added that, in addition to not being naturally monogamous, human beings aren’t meant to work such crazy schedules. That still would’ve earned her plenty of vulgar comments from internet trolls, but fewer people would’ve been inclined to disagree.

Even with all that context, there still may be some legitimate substance to Scarlett Johansson’s comments about monogamy. Perhaps she should read “Sex At Dawn” too, which offers some legitimate scientific reasons as to why humans aren’t wired for monogamy. Again, that won’t stop the internet trolls from making vulgar comments, but she could at least say she has some science on her side.

Lastly, I think the comment about the amount of work that goes into marriage should be most telling. I don’t think anybody not named Homer Simpson would agree that good things are worth working for. However, if something requires so much work that it feels forced, then that should be a sign that maybe it isn’t supposed to be that way.

People like Scarlett Johansson have to put in more work than most of us will ever do in order to succeed in her business. However, even ordinary people, from coal miners to aspiring erotica/romance writers, have to be careful to know the difference between working for something and forcing it.

If I could give Ms. Johansson advice, and I know that she’ll never read this blog so I feel comfortable saying it, I would say that she should not treat her relationships the same way she treats her job. If she has to work that hard on a relationship, then that’s a sign that it isn’t meant to be.

Relationships that work are most functional when you and your partner can just be yourself. When the makeup comes off, the cameras stop rolling, and the internet trolls go to bed, the person you are and the person your lover is should complement each other. You shouldn’t always have to feel like you’re in the middle of a scene in “Love Actually.” That person is sometimes hard to find, but they’re definitely worth finding.

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