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The Sun God of Morality feasts again

October 17, 2017

If public revulsion at Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual predations was as widespread as you might think, you might also think that the newly outraged would turn on Donald Trump. No such luck, unfortunately. Those most likely to be outraged will no doubt remain so. For the rest, the prevailing view on Trump will continue to be “he might be a bastard, but at least he’s our bastard”.

For the time being, at least.

We Brits have seen this stuff before. It’s a crude parallel, but you could say that Weinstein is our Jimmy Savile. True, Savile died before he could face the music, whereas the film producer, once he emerges from his sex addiction clinic, has every opportunity to defend himself, most likely along the lines of “forgive me – I have a problem”.

Just as Savile was not the first celebrity to be revealed as a sexual predator in Britain, in the United States Weinstein’s downfall was preceded by some high-profile busts: Bill Cosby for example, and Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News.

The shaming of our creepy former icon kicked off a series of sexual abuse allegations against famous people. Some were convicted. Others were acquitted, and yet more were named but not charged, thus tarnishing their reputations forever.

Our hunting frenzy has not been confined to people in the entertainment business. Over the past three years the finger of accusation has been pointed at a former prime minister, Edward Heath, and a several more politicians who, like Savile, were unable to defend themselves because they were dead.

Weinstein will no doubt be followed in the moral dock by others in his field. He may be the most powerful executive named and shamed, but he won’t be the last. After all, the casting couch has been around since the dawn of Hollywood. We can expect a wildfire of accusations against all manner of famous people in the coming months. And I have no doubt that some of his peers who are energetically casting him into the outer darkness will themselves, like Robespierre, the grand inquisitor of the French Revolution, end up at the guillotine.

When the shame storm has played itself out, will America enter a new era in which sexual exploitation becomes a career killer? I doubt it. At least not as long as Donald Trump rules the roost, and not as long as Hollywood continues to feed the public appetite for depictions of murder, rape and sexual exploitation.

As for Trump, there’s plenty of evidence of his attitude towards women, but nothing that has conclusively proved that he’s more than all talk and no action. Allegations, yes, but videos, semen on clothes, no. Bill Clinton showed that modern presidents can survive pre-election scandals. So it has proved with Trump.

Nor is it likely that he will risk future indiscretions. US presidents are unlikely to be able to get away with bunga bunga parties, even if, like Silvio Berlusconi, they are still able to rise to the occasion.

But then again, who knows what Vladimir Putin has up his sleeve, ready to let slip at the appropriate moment?

Sadly, my best guess is that after the sun god of morality has feasted on the ritual sacrifice of Weinstein and a few others, things will return to normal, and powerful men will continue to do stuff with impunity for which the rest of us would end up behind bars.

Because they can.

From → Film, Politics, UK, USA

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