Belfast Telegraph

How Hollywood's 'heroines' have let down vulnerable young women with their silence over vile bully Harvey Weinstein

By Lindy McDowell

Harvey Weinstein ... how exactly did Hollywood allow that to happen? For in-depth analysis, we go over now to the red carpet outside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where the doyennes of the US movie industry are gathered, resplendent as ever in their designer T-shirts, spouting slogans about female empowerment and support for the sisterhood.

Right now, they're telling us, they're all just in awe of the courage of those intrepid women who have spoken out against vile sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, powerful movie boss and casting-couch operative.

Most are expressing surprise - shock, even - at the allegations against Weinstein.

One thing can be clarified, says Meryl Streep, former friend of Weinstein (whom she once called God), "not everybody knew".

In Hollywood? Honestly?

Given the absolute tsunami of allegations now spewing forth, it's hard to believe that Weinstein's "peccadilloes", as someone generously referred to his catalogue of sexual assault, weren't regularly the talk of Tinseltown.

He paid off eight respondents who had the guts to take legal action against him. And you're telling us that not a word about that ever got out around Luvvie-land?

The Weinstein scandal has rightly been pointed up by many commentators as laying bare the intimate connection between the powerful Hollywood establishment and party political interest in America.

A classic case of you scratch my back, I'll not ask questions if you force some vulnerable young actress to massage yours.

The so-called liberal luvvies, the Clinton connection, the Hollywood PR machine and a fawning media that didn't ask too many difficult questions - all of these played a role in enabling Weinstein (and who knows how many other movie industry pervs) to escape censure.

Weinstein should have been starring in his very own Judgement Day.

Instead he was cast in Carry On Abusing.

And the central shame of this, I think, has to be the action (or lack of it) from the older, more powerful women of Hollywood who surely had wind that something about Harvey was not entirely wholesome, yet didn't take it any further.

The brutal truth is that down the years Harvey Weinstein had just too many supporting actresses.

Some of them have, to be fair, admitted hearing "rumours" and now express regret that they didn't act upon that.

Others knew from their own grim experience exactly the sort of man he was.

Courtney Love, to her great credit, issued a video way back urging young wannabes to steer clear of him.

But generally Hollywood talked of female empowerment and the necessity to call out the bullies whilst collectively turning a blind eye to that fat party in the bathrobe coercing another naive wannabe into his hotel bedroom.

Yes, of course, it is difficult sometimes to discern fact from gossip. We all accept that. You hear stories and you have no idea if they're fantasy, exaggerated or mostly of 'smoke without fire' origin.

But Hollywood is also a small world and, given the scale of the allegations against him, people working there long-term must have had grave, grave misgivings.

Weinstein was a bully. Bullies need somebody to stand up to them, and to stand up for their victims. As an older woman, I absolutely believe we have a duty to younger women to try to do anything we can to help them - to shield them from bullies and the pervs. In whatever workplace.

If that tired old line about empowerment means anything, it has to include this.

The one aspect of the Weinstein scandal that appals me most is the thought that Hollywood's alpha females, whilst parroting sisterly empowerment, didn't and haven't made it their job to ensure that young women coming into the industry today are protected from a casting-couch culture we associate with a bygone era.

Someday Hollywood will inevitably make the movie about Harvey Weinstein.

It may be short of a few heroines.

A tribute to Belfast's stand against slavery

Google this week paid tribute to Olaudah Equiano at the beginning of Anti-Slavery week. Equiano was born in Nigeria around 1745 and, as a child, sold into slavery.

His memoir of his life as a slave and his escape to London, where he became a leading light in the anti-slavery movement of the day, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, is one of the best books I've ever read.

Promoting his book, Equiano visited Belfast, where he felt particularly welcomed by its mainly Presbyterian anti-slavery inhabitants. A fascinating story. And sadly, still so relevant.

Wedding pair show how cheap is their love

Wedding photographs have come a long way since it was just the bride and groom attacking the concrete royal icing of the cake.

This week an English couple (post-nuptials at a holy site in Greece) posed for a shot with her in full wedding dress and him with his boxers at half-mast as the pair simulated a sex act.

Greek religious leaders are understandably appalled.

And all further weddings at the site have now been cancelled.

Another pair of vile attention-seekers showing no respect for place or other people.

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