What the Weinstein Scandal Teaches Us About America
One of the most powerful men in entertainment, Harvey Weinstein, now stands exposed as a serial womanizer and a brazen pervert, a fitting symbol of a corrupt industry. In not-unrelated news, pornographer Hugh Hefner recently died, and was widely eulogized as a cultural revolutionary who valiantly conquered sexual repression.
Few would acknowledge it, but there is a link between these episodes and the spate of curses besieging America lately: hurricanes, wildfires, mass shootings, political chaos, social fragmentation and so on. The immorality that gave us Hefner and Weinstein is the direct cause of these effects—far more so than global warming, inadequate gun control, or systemic racism.
Weinstein had been indulging in his gross escapades for decades. He targeted dozens of women. Many acquiesced to his salacious demands, and many more caved in to his threats to keep quiet, fearing harm to their careers.
Now everyone is piling on Harvey Weinstein. Suddenly, everyone is appalled. Politicians who accepted millions of his dollars are acting disgusted and shocked. But Weinstein’s behavior was no secret. People in Hollywood say that everyone knew. Employees helped him get alone with vulnerable woman after vulnerable woman. Untold numbers—including his political connections—looked the other way. His sins were condoned and nurtured within the fetid incubator that is America’s entertainment industry. He thrived within a vast system of complicity.
Pretending like Weinstein’s perversion is some sort of anomaly in Hollywood is as phony as a Styrofoam movie prop. He was abetted by a casting-couch culture that has pervaded this industry from its earliest days.
Scripture condemns not only the adulterer, but also the one who keeps company with him (Psalm 50:18).
Nobody can be genuinely shocked at this man’s immorality. Hollywood glamorizes immorality. The fact that this powerful producer—whose movies have made billions of dollars and won dozens of prestigious film awards—could commit these sexual crimes for so long highlights the nature of the people he mixed with and the product he peddled. Tens of thousands of people in Hollywood literally work day in and day out to script, rehearse, build sets for, film, edit, polish, mass market, distribute, project and broadcast this exact kind of private vice. How can society suddenly condemn his reprehensible actions, yet not recognize the problem with the films that disseminate this culture far and wide? How is a secluded solicitation worse than one that is recorded, glamorized and distributed worldwide? Society cannot freely enjoy the latter without having to deal with the former as an ugly consequence.
Jesus Christ told us to judge by fruits, and the revelations about Harvey Weinstein are fruits by which his industry should be judged.
Since the truths about Weinstein have emerged, others have denounced him—only to be subsequently exposed for similar sins of their own. More and more women are emerging with accusations against more and more actors and industry leaders. But that’s not all. One former child star insists that sexual harassment of women in Hollywood is secondary to the greater problem of sexual harassment of children. His explosive charge was backed up by the 2015 documentary An Open Secret, which exposed the “pedophilia epidemic” inside the entertainment industry.
These are people with enormous social influence. These are people Americans subsidize and idolize. They shape society’s attitudes, change its standards, animate its dreams.
God calls America “an hypocritical nation” for good reason (Isaiah 10:6). Hollywood culture is intrinsically, undeniably and epically hypocritical. It masquerades as feminist and pro-women, while it treats women as sex objects—in private at parties and in public at the cinema. It rails against guns in the political arena but romanticizes gun violence on the silver screen. Its moral standards are as fake as its movie sets. This shouldn’t shock us. This industry’s business is playacting. Its product is image.
A lot of people are getting a self-righteous charge out of condemning one movie producer right now. The Motion Picture Academy booted him and said, “[T]he era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.” We’ll see. But don’t expect the product to change.
Romans 1 condemns those who reject God and take on a reprobate mind, becoming filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, maliciousness, deceit and malignity. But God doesn’t just condemn those who commit such things—He also condemns those who “have pleasure in them that do them.” That’s a whole lot of people in America today.
Can we then turn around and expect only blessings? “How shall I pardon thee for this?” God asks through one of His prophets (Jeremiah 5:7-9). “[T]hy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”