One of the most surprising developments in the Weinstein sexual exploitation allegations is its effect in causing so many to come forward with similar allegations against other alleged abusers, and in particular, those in the Hollywood industry. Some have suggested that the courage of a few inspired them, but I think it’s at least as much the burden of the pain they’ve carried all these years, and the desire to be rid of it. That the industry hid it for so long has led to the avalanche we’re seeing. Many women and men have suffered and been forced to live with it, until things finally reached a breaking point where it couldn’t be stopped. If you think everyone in Hollywood is happy that this is in the public eye, you’re mistaken.
Behind the monolith are a great many people who are still saying (though quietly to one another), “What’s the big deal? It’s just sex.” It’s horrible to admit, but from the perspective of Hollywood, they’re right. Hollywood can’t explain why what Hollywood does is wrong. It’s the reason this took so long to surface; there is no moral basis for anything happening in Hollywood that clearly identifies Weinstein’s behavior as inappropriate. People overlooked it in his case, and in countless others, because they didn’t have a basis for another moral perspective. Most felt it was, but they couldn’t come up with a reason. Not in a culture where moral limits are a matter of individual choice.
I don’t doubt that Weinstein is seething under the frustration of being the poster child for an abuse that so many were complicit in. Budding starlets came to him, wanting the opportunity to become sex symbols, and he offered it to them, at a cost. The price they paid was being treated like they had no intrinsic value, as if they were commodities to be used, with no other purpose than to meet the sexual needs of men. But then again, this is what Hollywood is selling all of us. This is what packs theaters and brings in millions of dollars in ticket sales. Portraying women as valuable—as people created in the image of God, with a purpose on earth that makes a lasting difference—doesn’t hold much interest for the viewing public. And by that I mean, most men. I don’t imagine that if someone were pitching The Sound of Music to a producer, today, they would pay the slightest attention to it. Things have changed.
Our perspective today is wrong. We know that some things are morally good and some are evil, but we adopt the Hollywood perspective of life and think it’s all about what we can get, as quickly as we can get it. We live in the gap between the life we know we need and what media tells us to do. Hollywood can talk all it wants about how horrible this sexual exploitation is, but without a moral basis, all they mean is that it feels bad when our personal limits are overrun. That doesn’t go far in telling us about the kind of lives we should be living.
Christianity makes perfect sense of what is happening in Hollywood. It not only tells us that this kind of exploitative behavior is wrong, but why. It offers a rational basis for rejecting this view of women, and this path for life. If we’d all listened to the words of Jesus Christ, none of this would have happened. But more importantly, we wouldn’t be such hollow and needy people, seeking fulfillment in the picture Hollywood paints. Women wouldn’t find their way into an office or hotel room to become sex symbols. They would have options to find their value in things that matter.
Jesus foresaw all of this emptiness, and the damage the pursuit of this life could cause. He offered a different kind of life to those who trusted him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
Two thousand years later, his offer stands. He wasn’t offering a religion, but a solution. One that meets our deepest needs, and makes us the people we were meant to be. I pray some of those who have been so damaged find their way to the Prince of Peace. The current scandal shows something in clear terms—we shouldn’t let Hollywood tell us who we are any longer. We should listen to the one who made us and loves us.