Hollywood must feel a bit different these days. The name is synonymous with movies, but it is the exploits of Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful men in town, which has now mesmerised the world. The problem is, Hollywood doesn’t like being the news; they are more comfortable commenting on it. And not just through their art – increasingly, its stars have been offering us their take on political issues away from the silver screen too.
George Clooney is a good example. He delivered the most insufferably smug Oscar acceptance speech in 2006, where he lauded Hollywood’s role in civil rights struggles, and is an active political campaigner, having hosted fundraisers for Democratic politicians and backed liberal causes such as gun control and unfettered immigration. This the same George Clooney who recently moved his family from Britain to the US, citing “security fears” after successive Islamist terror attacks in Europe. One suspects that once there, they will be provided with a private security detail, making George’s right to bear arms a moot point.
Such hypocrisy is hardly new to Hollywood, where there is a proud history of talking the talk while failing to walk the walk. Take Leonardo DiCaprio, who has been an environmental campaigner for decades, and produced and starred in the 2016 documentary Before the Flood, which presents a thesis of man-made global warming and advocates renewable energy. The problem is, the Titanic star is used to the good life, and part of his extravagant lifestyle consists in the use of diesel-burning yachts and private jets. For example, in 2014, our friend Leo took six private jet flights in just six days, and in 2016 he made a 8,000 miles round trip from Cannes to New York – to pick up an environmental award. Private jets are estimated to have a carbon-footprint of 37 times that of commercial flights. DiCaprio demonstrates that he has completely lost connection with the real world when he claims to be a “CarbonNeutral citizen”, by having trees planted in the Leonardo DiCaprio Forest in Mexico to compensate for his pollution. The idea that a multi-millionaire environmental crusader could plant trees AND take commercial flights seems not to have crossed his elitist mind.
And now, we have the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Hollywood actresses are falling over themselves to make accusations against the super-producer of lewd behaviour, and let’s be clear: Weinstein is a pig. He obviously abused his power and, if some of the worst allegations are true, committed serious crimes. But the speed with which his former friends have thrown him under the bus is testament to the desperate damage control that everyone is Hollywood is engaged in, because as details of Weinstein’s behaviour emerges it is increasingly obvious that no-one could be close to him and not have known. It is also almost impossible that he was the only high-powered Hollywood man who used his position to coerce sexual favours from fame-hungry starlets. Tinseltown has been desperately virtue-signalling about gender equality for years, but the fact that misogyny was ripe in their midst has remained unspoken of, because the price of doing anything about it would have to be paid by themselves. They raged over a comment Donald Trump made in a private conversation in the back of a bus a decade ago, yet not a word on Weinstein. Now, it is costlier to stay silent, and true to form they all speak out. It is pathetic.
This is the essence of so much left-progressive advocacy: it is aimed at coercing money or change in behaviour from other people, rather than yourself. And the more elitist your position, the simpler it gets. It is much easier to be comfortable with free immigration when you live in a gated mansion, rather than in a small village which is being transformed by foreign settlers. Much easier to be in favour of gun control when you employ private security. Much easier to control your carbon footprint when you can afford to plant your own forest. Much easier to devote a night to a marketing exercise of taking calls from people donating to flood victims, than to reach into your own pocket without any fanfare. And it is much easier to decry rape culture on college campuses than to stand up to the bullies in Hollywood, when it is your own career which is at stake, not just the future of some poor college kid who got a bit carried away while fumbling with an undergraduate in a dorm room.
Left-progressive elites moan about white or male privilege, but they are the ones who enjoy real privilege: the comfortable luxury of preaching morality to the masses from a safe distance, sustaining your good conscience from influencing others to act, rather than having to do it yourself. With the Weinstein scandal, for a moment they have been forced to look at themselves instead of berating the rest of us. It is delicious to watch, but in the end, most of them will probably manage to squirm out of the whole affair having learned absolutely nothing at all.