In this column, I discuss the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment and assault scandal:
Following the news of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has reminded me of a scene from the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jordan Belfort — a real person whose debaucherous life is scrutinized over several hours of film by director Martin Scorsese — has a line that has stuck with me for years, ever since I saw it. “I’m not ashamed to admit it,” Belfort says. “When we arrived at prison, I was absolutely terrified. But I needn’t have been. See, for a brief, fleeting moment, I had forgotten I was rich, and I lived in a place where everything was for sale.”
Vast imbalances of economic power in the United States make it possible for criminals on a certain end of that imbalance to avoid suffering the consequences of their criminal acts — even when they are convicted in court.
Weinstein has faced some consequences as allegations have come forward from women that he sexually harassed and raped them in the course of working together in the movie business. He was fired from his company, just like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly were fired from Fox News.
But I’m not sure that these early retirements are really punishments. Somehow, the phrase I keep hearing whenever powerful men are outed for their sexual crimes is “extended vacation.”