The Red Carpet Code of Silence in Hollywood

Why Hollywood and the media can’t stop the abuses.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.

Celebrities are too afraid to walk the red carpet.

Stars are hanging up their tuxedos and designer dresses, and staying home from movie premieres to avoid questions about the sex abuse scandals. Not since the House Un-American Activities Committee was asking Hollywood players about their membership in the Communist Party have stars worked this hard to avoid answering a simple question. And now the red carpet questions aren’t about being reds.

Just like the HUAC era, some are naming names and others are jetting off to vacation homes in Southern France. One day there will be movies made about the heroism of those courageous stars who refused to out sexual abusers. And lefty actors will refuse to applaud the names of those who did name names at future award shows.

But meanwhile the curtain is falling on some careers.

Kevin Spacey has been cut from “All the Money in the World” in which he played J. Paul Getty. “All the Money in the World” is exactly the kind of story Hollywood loves telling. The villain, Getty, is an unfeeling sexually deviant oil tycoon who won’t even pay his kidnapped grandson’s ransom.

But then the actor playing an oil company villain turned out to be a real Hollywood villain. And had to be recast. The movie will not be recasting Mark Wahlberg’s role despite his history of violent assaults. Not until there’s a #MeToo campaign for anyone who had their jaw broken by movie stars.

Hollywood morality has finally come far enough that molesting teenage boys and raping women will hurt your career. Even if you pay them lots of money afterward. But violently assaulting random people is still okay as long as you reach a settlement with the victims.

Christopher Plummer will replace Spacey in the Getty role. Plummer is an odd choice for the part. He’s much more prone to playing priests and clergy. Playing Cardinal Law in Our Fathers got him Emmy and SAG nominations. Our Fathers was one of countless Hollywood productions about the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals: a subject that Hollywood once loved almost as much as movies attacking the Iraq War. (The production of these movies inexplicably diminished once Obama was elected.)

Doubt was distributed by Miramax. And Miramax had been co-founded by Harvey Weinstein.  In one of Hollywood’s great ironies, Meryl Streep starred as a nun suspicious of a priest’s intentions toward a young boy. In real life, Meryl Streep insisted that she knew nothing of her friend Harvey’s abuses. 

You ‘Doubt’ organized religion. But there’s no doubting Hollywood.

Hollywood loves making movies about itself. But don’t look for any movies about its own sex abuse scandals. The closest thing we ever got to Hollywood commenting on the antics of Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey were winking references on TV shows and at award shows. But there are numerous movies about the culture of silence in law enforcement, the military and the Catholic Church.

And those all happen to be institutions that Hollywood hates.

But where are the movies about the culture of silence behind the screen? Where is Hollywood’s Doubt and Tinseltown’s A Few Good Men?

Hollywood casts a harsh light on those institutions it opposes and a friendly one on those it likes. The villains of Spotlight are clergy. Its heroes are reporters. Reporters are usually heroes in movies.

Where is the media’s equivalent of Spotlight? Where is the movie that would examine how sexual misconduct by NPR’s top editor was covered up by his bosses? Or why the political director at ABC News was able to get away with his abuse of women for so many years? No ‘Spotlight’ there, folks.

There’s an institutional culture of silence in Hollywood and the media. But don’t expect a star-studded cast to take audiences into a newsroom or a studio to expose the corruption. It wouldn’t be hard to put together. Roman Polanski can direct, Harvey Weinstein can produce and Kevin Spacey can play the lead.

Hollywood and the media are the self-styled guardians of our culture and morality. They decide which compelling issues we need to discuss. And they incessantly tell us what our values should be.

But, as the Romans wondered, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Who watches the watchmen?

No one.

The corruption and debauchery that has emerged in the past few weeks is only the tiniest tip of a massive iceberg. And no one in the media and the movie industry can honestly talk about why.

Hollywood’s examinations of abuses in the military, the police or the Catholic Church inevitably diagnose the core values of the institution as the problem. The military is too focused on killing, the police only want to catch the bad guys and the Catholic Church is too caught up in religion to see its abuses.

It’s the very basis of the left’s ideological opposition to them that is revealed as their fatal flaw.

But what is Hollywood’s fatal flaw?

The religion of Hollywood and the media is leftist politics. A core belief of leftist politics is that its activists are anointed to fight racism, sexism, greed and all sorts of abuses. That’s why Hollywood makes incessant movies about the evils of oil companies, the military and organized religion. And why the media conducts its own exposes and investigations targeting the political enemies of the left.

And surely the anointed, who oppose sexism, wouldn’t go around sexually assaulting women?

It’s the same tired trope that Hollywood has deployed against the Catholic Church. Except that it’s actually true of Hollywood. Its political and creative clergy got a pass because people with the right politics can’t possibly go out and do bad things. And members of the cult were taught to keep quiet.

Ideology replaces character in collectivist political movements. Your principles don’t matter if you believe the right things. But it’s possible to believe the right things and still be a terrible person. You can donate to Planned Parenthood, produce documentaries about campus rape, endow a chair in Gloria Steinem’s name and still spend decades sexually assaulting women. Just ask Harvey Weinstein.

Character means taking personal responsibility for your behavior. But leftists take refuge in social generalities like toxic masculinity, which, like capitalism, means that guilt is collective, not personal. The abusers are also victims. All men are perpetrators. And you can buy atonement with a six figure check to the abortion baby parts ring of your choice or Hillary Clinton’s great feminist crusade for herself.

In the old America, the one that Hollywood and the media are trying to bury, character mattered. The way you behaved showed your character. In the new America, politics tops character. If you believe the right things, you’re a good person. If you don’t, you’re a bad person.

But ideology doesn’t replace the hard work of trying to do the right thing every day, hour and minute.

Communist societies in Russia and China destroyed individual morality and replaced it with collectivist mob violence (the left’s online shaming mobs came to America from China), constant corruption and a horrifying lack of respect for human life. Child prostitution thrives in Cuba, Venezuela and Hollywood.

It wasn’t just Castro’s rambling four hour speeches that attracted so many Hollywood types to Cuba.

The #MeToo purge won’t clean up Hollywood. Scapegoats will be offered up before business as usual continues. And some of those scapegoats will be back making movies in a few years.

Hollywood can’t clean itself up because it can’t diagnose the problem. Its reflexive leftist response to sexual harassment is to elevate more women. But the problem isn’t gender: it’s power. Power corrupts. It corrupts men and women: albeit sometimes in different ways. The left’s eagerness to blame social structures misdiagnoses the problem and replaces one set of abuses of power with another.

That’s what every leftist social justice movement has done. And will go on doing.

The left is too busy building a better society with abstract theories to build better people. And so America keeps getting worse, even as it’s supposed to keep getting better. And on the red carpet, our moral superiors, who tithe regularly to Planned Parenthood and the Democrats, grimace when asked about Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein. They know they’ll be working with them again someday.