President Donald Trump shocked the world when he was caught on camera bragging to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush that he can just kiss women and grab them by the genitals because “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” He was partially right. They do “let you do it,” but the “they” isn’t the women, it’s the entertainment industry.
It’s standard practice in the business to accommodate men like Trump or Harvey Weinstein, because of their fame and ability to make money, a Hollywood executive who insisted on anonymity because of non-disclosure agreements told HuffPost.
“Morality is compromised,” the executive said. “If someone has had five billion-dollar movies in a row and they’re crazy famous, you don’t feel like you can say something.”
That Weinstein, who stands accused by more than 50 women of sexual harassment or assault, was enabled and coddled by the industry should be clear by now. His behavior was said to be an open secret in Hollywood, though in recent days most have insisted they didn’t know about the rape charges against him.
Now, many more on the inside are publicly coming to terms with how they aided and abetted someone like Weinstein. Director Quentin Tarantino, who worked with Weinstein on “Pulp Fiction,” “Reservoir Dogs,” and several other of his biggest films, told the New York Times he was aware of much of Weinstein’s behavior and did almost nothing about it.
“I knew enough to do more than I did,” Tarantino said. Others in the business have come forward and admitted they knew about Weinstein ― and did nothing.
The executive who spoke with HuffPost said that the most she felt she could do was make sure young women weren’t seated next to Weinstein or other well-known harassers at industry events and parties.
“We removed the prey, not the predator,” the executive said. “That’s kind of awful. When I think about it, I’m not really happy with myself.”
The executive said that in the case of someone like Weinstein, seating charts can’t always be arranged, anyway. “If you’re Harvey, you controlled the seating chart.”
The industry bends over backwards to do whatever the truly famous want or need ― not just scuzzy men with a reputation for what she called “getting handsy” ― but anyone with particular wants.
For men with as much power as Weinstein, it was a nearly consequence free environment, the executive said.
“Can you get away with it? Yeah, the only censure is everybody talks about you and you aren’t sitting beside anyone at parties,” she said.
She said tolerance for abhorrent behavior was normal in the industry, comparing it to the widespread acceptance of plastic surgery. ”You think those faces look normal and you’re like, ‘Maybe I should get my lips done?’ she said. “And you get home and you’re like, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’”
But despite the industry’s culture and permissiveness to abusers, the Weinstein revelations, and the reactions to them, could signal that a sea change is afoot.
“I hope this is the beginning of the end,” the executive said, noting that these days she’s grown far less tolerant of inappropriate behavior. “I really hope so.”
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.