Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday & Sundry Thoughts on: The Swinish Weinstein

During the time we were away, earlier this month, the Harvey Weinstein story blew up. I didn't read anything on it until a couple of days ago. Just another power-drunk male predator whose cover has been blown - at last, I'd decided. Wondering what to blog about this weekend I wandered around a few astrology websites and blogs to discover their takes on Weinstein. I could've "bet the farm" that I'd come across beaucoup mentions of Scorpio and Pluto - and I did.

Weinstein's time of birth remains an unknown factor, limiting the amount to be gleaned from his natal chart . His time of birth would fix the exact position of natal Moon, quite probably in business-savvy Capricorn, as well as placing a sign, degree, and possibly a planet on the ascendant - i.e. whatever was coming over the horizon at the exact time of his birth. An astrologer (mentioned at rectified his time of birth to around 24 degrees of Leo - quite close to Pluto's position - very fitting, though perhaps a tad convenient. I read somewhere else (sorry, link lost) that the first degree of Virgo could, rather surprisingly, be an even better fit. Aries rising with Jupiter near to the ascendant degree wouldn't surprise me, nor would Scorpio rising with Mars on the ascendant.

There are numerous astrologers' takes on Weinstein's natal chart around the internet, most making much the same points - I'll not add to them.

I've been a lifelong fan of movies, so it's always disappointing and saddening to learn, drip by drip, of the dark side that often exists in the process of their production. Let's hope that shining a much needed light on the murkiness will help clear away some of the worst offenders, and teach a few sorely needed lessons.

Harvey Weinstein: His cinematic gifts and his bullying sway over a Hollywood he fascinated and repelled.
by Jeffrey Fleishman

(Weinstein was fired after a bombshell New York Times report published Oct. 8 detailed decades of sexual harassment accusations and settlements against the film producer.)
Harvey Weinstein, the kid from Queens with the diamond-cutter father and the determined mother, was holding court. The sexual harassment and assault accusations that have brought him down were then still innuendo in a town that ran on complicity and silence. He sauntered through the crowd, making small talk, a man of tantrums and voracious appetites who gave us “Shakespeare in Love,” “Pulp Fiction” and “sex, lies, and videotape.”

That was vintage Weinstein, a presence too big for the shadows, a force seldom obscured. ​​​​Among many of those who have dealt with him since the early Miramax days, there’s a realization that what is unfolding now is part of an untameable personality that for decades operated in the open with few restrictions.

He didn’t change, Hollywood did. He was always hiding in plain sight, whether negotiating a contract, belittling one of his staff or dressing-down a director. He loved the drama, the girding for a fight that fed a passion to transform the film business and a raw desire to be a studio mogul out of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

“He’s a two-headed monster,” said Peter Biskind, whose book “Down and Dirty Pictures” focused on Miramax and the rise of independent film. “People have to acknowledge that he put independent film on the map. There would be no independent film movement in America the way there is today if it were not for Harvey.

“But he did a lot of damage too. … The same way that he had an eye of what would sell on the movie screen, he had an eye for people’s weaknesses. He would push their buttons. To work there you had to have a very thick skin and the ability to absorb abuse.”

This cartoon from Jen Sorensen puts the scene in a nutshell

What ought to be happening, and right now, is outlined in a piece by Jonathan Cook at Counterpunch:
Harvey Weinstein and the Politics of Hollywood

SNIPS (My highlighting)

......One can understand why teenage actresses, as [Reese] Witherspoon was at the time, are fearful of speaking out in a system dominated by predatory men who can destroy their careers. One can also understand that, at the very bottom of the Hollywood food chain, they are in no position to organize against the Hollywood mogul class. But none of that is true for the now fabulously rich and well-connected Witherspoon, Jolie, Paltrow, Lawrence, and all the others who have yet to speak out – or for the A-list men who would surely want to be seen publicly supporting them.

Why are they not organising? There are many things they can do. Here is one simple idea. They could set up a union, a sort of women’s Equity, that would allow actresses, in private, to register incidents of exploitation and sexual abuse with the union, naming those who committed the abuse and their modus operandi. By creating such a database, the union and its lawyers would be able to identify serial abusers and discover patterns of behaviour. The victims could then be encouraged to come forward in a group action, knowing that they would not be facing the Hollwood elite on their own. The union would redress, at least in part, the power of these male producers and directors. They, in turn, would grow more fearful of exposure.

That would be a political act of organised resistance to the power of Hollywood moguls It would have much more impact than the trickle of stories from immensely successful actresses bewailing their past abuse. Creating such a union would be loose change for Jolie, Witherspoon, Lawrence, Paltrow and the other A-listers............

As long as these household names nurse their individual pain rather than seek to bring about change through organised action, the next generation of young actresses will face the same exploitation and the same abuse they had to endure in their younger days

I found this long article by David Carr about Weinstein from, I think, 2001 to be interesting as background detail.

The Emperor Miramaximus


Harvey Weinstein's empire is a place of beauty (Gwyneth Paltrow, The English Patient), of bullying ("These all suck, and you're morons for designing them"), of talent, bluster, muscle, and paranoia. He's definitely the largest (in all senses) cultural force in the city. But do his ends justify his means?

Despite an illness*
[Note from Twilight: another article HERE mentions his tracheotomy scar from his Christmas 1999 illness] that took him out of the public eye for three months last year, he looks robust, sitting behind a desk in a blue sport shirt divided by a parallelogram of suspenders. The neck is inferred, not seen.

His coal-hued eyes make me uneasy. They reflect—if the dozens of stories I have heard are true—mayhem in abeyance. But his eyes can also spot Zeitgeist long before it comes over the hill. Which is why a city full of incandescent fabulousness pivots around a man who looks like nothing so much as a bean-bag chair with legs.

Like most titans, Harvey has a legendary sense of self, an annunciatory way of speaking and moving that suggests he knows he's a big deal. He wants to make it clear that his illness last year and his other hobbies may have pulled him out of his sweet spot, but he has returned to making a big deal out of small movies. We play cheery peekaboo around his hiatus—"I'm not going to tell you about the insanity thing," he har-hars—

"I'm back full-time with no diversions. I'm doing all the edgy stuff that I want to do, and I am fucking going to hit some out."

It's meant as a promise, a charming one at that, but like a lot of things that come flying out of his mouth, it sounds like a threat..............

Weinstein buries me in star power and testimonials, making sure that I know he's possessed of a broad streak of altruism. As I'm walking through the Village one day, my cell phone rings. It's Paul Newman, calling to tell me that when he mentioned to Weinstein that the kids at his Hole in the Wall Gang camp needed a gymnasium, Weinstein agreed to pay for it without asking how much it would cost.

When Nicole Kidman calls and says that Weinstein paid attention to her "back when I was just Tom Cruise's girlfriend," it's going into the story, as is her observation that "I like that he gets down in the trenches. He thinks nothing of flying to London for dinner and trying to talk you into a role."

His loyalty prompts reciprocation. When Talk magazine launched, pal Gwyneth Paltrow ended up posing in S&M garb that didn't fit either her career arc or any of her personal needs. Paltrow says that "there were certain favors that he asked me to do that I felt were not exploitive but not necessarily as great for me as they were for him. I brought this to his attention, and he said, 'I will never do that again.' And he's been true to his word.

"I think that for every bad story you hear about Harvey, there are three great ones," says Paltrow. "People are complicated, and nobody's all good or all bad. And I think Harvey is a prime example of somebody who has a temper and is also incredibly loving . . . He's a human being, and all of his acts can be just sort of magnified. He's larger-than-life in every way, so his good qualities are maybe more pronounced—as are some of his bad qualities."

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