Sexual Abuse isn’t just Hollywood’s Problem

Photo by Flickr user Prayitno

2017 may well go down in history as the year that Hollywood was revealed for what it really was all along. The past few weeks have brought us a torrent of accusations of sexual abuse and harassment against some of the leading names in American show business, from beloved Star Trek alum George Takei, to comedian Louis C.K. and Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, a host of big names are now fighting to deny (or in the case of Louis C.K., to apologize for) the accusations of misconduct that have been made against them. Then there is the man who practically runs the American film industry: Harvey Weinstein.

It was an open secret for years that Harvey Weinstein would use influence to get anything he wanted, but usually this was viewed in the context of film politics. Yes, Hollywood has a form of politics all its own. Since I was a teenager, I have been paying attention to the yearly series of self-congratulatory awards shows leading up to the Oscars. I have an idea of how the studios campaign for their films. At Miramax and then his own eponymous company, Harvey Weinstein built the most formidable campaign operation that the Oscars had ever seen. His ability to get his films into the winner’s circle was so impressive, one couldn’t help wondering if he was personally visiting Oscar voters in their retirement homes in order to twist their arms. (Yes, most of the voters are old, white, and male.)

There was no question that Weinstein behaved like a strong man, and yet his power attracted the friendship of anyone who was anyone. They all knew that he was pulling the strings. Hosts at award shows would joke about it openly. No one stopped to put two and two together and think, “If this is how this man behaves in general, might he be behaving this way toward the women in his life?” Actually, they did, but they were too terrified of crossing him to say anything. Weinstein had his fingers in so many aspects of the film industry that getting on his bad side was not a good idea for any up and comer. Continue reading

Mayors Gone Wild: Canuck Edition

800px-Skyline_of_Toronto_viewed_from_Harbour, Flickr John Vetterli

The lovely city of Toronto, now home to a truly embarrassing mayor. Flickr photo by John Vetterli

There are increasing calls for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to get ouuuwwwwt of city hall.  (“Ouuuwwwwt” is how people from Ontario tend to say “out”.)

Here in the United States, we know all about mayoral scandals.  In the ‘90s, there was D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who was sentenced to six months in prison after being convicted on drug charges.  In the ‘00s, we had Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose offenses made Barry’s seem rather trivial: he was recently sentenced to 28 years in prison for a laundry list of crimes that included “taking bribes, steering contracts to his friend, extorting businessmen, deceiving donors to his nonprofit, living lavishly on the public’s dime and loading the city’s payroll with friends and family.” Continue reading