I think George Clooney is trying to become the Meryl Streep of “dudes talking about Harvey Weinstein.” Surprisingly, I don’t hate it. Meryl seemingly gave actresses the blueprint for what to say about Harvey and how to say it, and some of the biggest female celebrities in the world have followed Meryl’s course. Now we’ll see if the men follow George Clooney’s path. After refusing to comment on articles being written at other media outlets, George went to the Daily Beast, an outlet which has been very friendly to him in the past. George gave a lengthy interview, he accepted follow-up questions and he really laid it all out there. As I said, props to him. You can read the full Daily Beast piece here. Some highlights:
On the history of rumors about Weinstein: “I’ve heard rumors, and the rumors in general started back in the ’90s, and they were that certain actresses had slept with Harvey to get a role. It seemed like a way to smear the actresses and demean them by saying that they didn’t get the jobs based on their talent, so I took those rumors with a grain of salt. But the other part of this, the part we’re hearing now about eight women being paid off, I didn’t hear anything about that and I don’t know anyone that did. That’s a whole other level and there’s no way you can reconcile that. There’s nothing to say except that it’s indefensible.
The “you had to have known” thing: “A lot of people are doing the “you had to know” thing right now, and yes, if you’re asking if I knew that someone who was very powerful had a tendency to hit on young, beautiful women, sure. But I had no idea that it had gone to the level of having to pay off eight women for their silence, and that these women were threatened and victimized. I’ve been talking with a lot of people about this, and I don’t know many people who knew of that.
Complicity in Hollywood, complicity of the media: “Sharon Waxman over at The Wrap said she was working on a story about Harvey over 10 years ago at The New York Times and they killed it, and if that’s true, then that’s a shameful thing because a lot of women wouldn’t have been made victims if this had come out. By the same token, I do want to say that Sharon’s been running her own influential website, The Wrap, for quite a long time, and if she did these interviews and this investigation, she didn’t run the story either, and I and a lot of other people would have liked to have known it. A good bunch of people that I know would say, “Yeah, Harvey’s a dog” or “Harvey’s chasing girls,” but again, this is a very different kind of thing. This is harassment on a very high level. And there’s an argument that everyone is complicit in it. I suppose the argument would be that it’s not just about Hollywood, but about all of us—that every time you see someone using their power and influence to take advantage of someone without power and influence and you don’t speak up, you’re complicit. And there’s no question about that.
It was a lot worse than he thought: “When you find out how much worse it is than you thought, then it’s a news story. And this is a big news story now. And I feel very bad for all of the victims. I mean, cornering a young anchorwoman in the kitchen and jerking off into a potted plant? That’s not just some rumor about Harvey hitting on a woman; it’s disturbing on a whole lot of levels, because there had to be a lot of people involved in covering that up. That’s frustrating. If politicians knew these stories, I doubt they’d have been taking donations from him at the DNC [Democratic National Committee], and I hope that they will all give the money back or donate it to good causes.
Trump vs Weinstein, and what comes next: “That is a funny part of it: In “liberal” Hollywood the guy loses his job, but then this other guy [Trump] gets elected president. There are a couple of good things that have to come out of this, because something good has to come out of this. One of those things is that victims have to feel safer to come out and tell their stories without the fear of losing their jobs, and they also need to be believed, which is a very important element of this. Also, this should be a shot across the bow that people in places of power cannot abuse that power, and if you do, you’ll be outed publicly, shamed, and even prosecuted. When it comes to most of the people that I know, where we’re shocked is by how bad it was. This is about show business but it isn’t just about show business—it’s about everything. We need to get to a place where we can call these people out much quicker before it becomes such a deeper, long-running problem. This apparently went on for almost 30 years.”
George brings up an interesting point, which I think is probably the way many men (specifically) thought about Harvey Weinstein: that they all knew he was a “dog,” that he hit on young women, but they believed Harvey understood the word “no” and that it doesn’t hurt to hit on women (young women with little power). George is saying sure, he knew Harvey was a dog, a womanizer, a cheater, a man with an appetite for an endless parade of younger women. But George didn’t know about the harassment, the sexual abuse, the payoffs. I also think George makes a great point about the casting couch rumors and how the abuse of power Harvey likely employed was weaponized against the actresses specifically.
Photos courtesy of Getty.