NYT Throws Harvey Weinstein A Good Old Fashioned Pity Party
Apropos of Harvey Weinstein's trial starting on Wednesday, The New York Times decided to run an article on Monday centered on how very sad and scared he is that he may go to prison for one or two of the many, many grotesque sexual assaults he has been accused of — not to mention how difficult it is for him to go anywhere without people looking at him like he is Harvey Weinstein or something.
While there's nothing wrong with starting out the week with a healthy dose of Schadenfreude, this was not that. Rather, it appeared to be attempting to elicit some amount of sympathy for Harvey Weinstein, yes that Harvey Weinstein, who is now mostly friendless and in the bell jar. Which, well, good luck with that.
The article, titled Harvey Weinstein's Dark Days, begins by painting a picture. A picture of a near-defeated man at the worst point in his life. The kind of man one might feel very bad for were he not (allegedly) a sex predator.
Sometimes his second ex-wife lets him spend the day with their two children. Sometimes he sleeps over at his best friend's house in Connecticut and distracts himself with idle conversations about sports and national politics.
Every now and then, often pursued by cellphone camera spies, he slips out for a meeting at Cipriani Dolci in Grand Central Terminal, or goes to see a comedy show, or does a little shopping at a Target in the suburbs.
Mostly, though, in the past year and a half, Harvey Weinstein has been holed up on his own in a rented apartment in Manhattan, reading books, watching streamed TV shows, Googling himself and nervously obsessing about the outcome of his trial.
I just can't think of anything worse. Oh. Wait. I can. Being chased around a hotel room by a pantsless Harvey Weinstein, or actually raped by him, would definitely be worse than that.
In the wake of the allegations, Mr. Weinstein, the once formidable Hollywood producer, lost his marriage, his livelihood and a large part of his fortune. Now, according to those who have stuck with him, he is anxious — even petrified — about losing his freedom, too.
"He's utterly isolated," said Jeffrey Lichtman, a New York lawyer who recently befriended Mr. Weinstein. "And he's terrified, especially of going to prison."
In an email to The New York Times earlier this month, Mr. Weinstein himself described the past few years as an "overwhelming" time that had given him the "opportunity for self-reflection and contemplation."
And yet, somehow, with all of that lonely self-reflection and contemplation, he still doesn't think he did anything wrong, he still thinks that sending off missives to the New York Post about how women should actually be grateful to him for all he has done for them in his life and career is a good idea. What is it that he's contemplating here? What conclusions has he drawn from this self-reflection?
Because I would have to imagine that if he really were doing all this contemplation and self-reflection, he wouldn't be upset about not being able to go to a comedy club without female comics getting upset. A hundred women have accused him of sexual assault or harassment and these are the selfish-ass things he feels sad about. He's not upset about having hurt people, he's bitter because he thought he was supposed to get away with it. Because he thought — and still thinks — that he had a right to do everything he did.
Those who have stayed in touch with Mr. Weinstein have portrayed him as befuddled by the swiftness and severity of his downfall. He is preoccupied with the coverage about him in the media, as well as with his image as a villain, they said. He is also struggling, they claim, to come to grips with the widespread pain and outrage he has caused.
"Harvey is bewildered by how all of this played out," Mr. [Jeffrey] Lichtman said, adding that Mr. Weinstein believes he is innocent. "He is numb, absolutely numb from all of this. He's dazed."
Clearly, all that "self-reflection and contemplation" is not doing much.
But what else is he going to do, he can't work anymore!
His film career, however, no longer exists, according to one close friend who has known him for more than 20 years. "If Harvey had the rights to a movie now, he couldn't sell them," this friend said. "The reputational issue is just too great, too risky. Everyone has turned their backs on this guy — everyone."
Perhaps this would not be quite as galling if displays of sympathy for those on trial, those in the court system, those in prison, were more common in American culture, but it seems as though the only time that happens is when the person in question is a man who happens to have a lot of money and was under the impression that having a lot of money meant that he could do whatever he wanted to women. Or, as the current president of the United States put it:
And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything.
And maybe there was a time when you could — or at least a time when there were no consequences for doing it, social or otherwise. But just because you get away with a crime for a while doesn't mean you're going to get away with it forever. And while not all of these men will be going to prison for what they've done, there is no statute of limitations on thinking someone is an absolute piece of shit.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse