For the past week, it seems that every news report, trending topic, and entertainment update has been about the fall of Harvey Weinstein.
Weinstein, along with his brother Bob, founded Miramax and the Weinstein Company. The multi-millionaire entertainment mogul has numerous Oscars and hit films to his credit. He's been politically active through donations and appearances over the years. Nevertheless, he is trending now not because of his political leanings or entertainment business prowess, but because he has been accused of numerous sexual indiscretions and harassment.
Actress and director Rose McGowan started this story trending when she went public via Twitter with how Weinstein harassed her. Once she opened this story to the public, many others have shared their stories.
However, as with any news story featuring prominent people, numerous click-bait stories are developed and responses that either totally miss the point or skew the story by making it about something else. In this case...
It's Not the Victim's Fault
Some have seen these stories on the news and online and the added public testimonies from other actresses (and some actors such as James Van Der Beek and Terry Crews) and have wrongly tried to minimize what Weinstein is accused of doing. When you hear someone say "Well, where were these women years ago?" or "Why didn't they say something earlier?" the not-so-subtle message is that the women are to blame or at a minimum, they're just joining the crowd and may not truly have a story.
Victims of sexual harassment often do not feel strong enough to go public with their story. There is shame attributed to them by the harasser. There is fear that grows - in this case, fear that careers will end and opportunities lost among other things.
To blame the victim with such statements as "Well, they were asking for it" or "It's Hollywood. That's how things are done" do nothing more than elevate sin as acceptable.
Time Doesn't Heal
Many of the stories coming out now are based on incidents that took place years prior. An abused, harassed young person can and will likely carry the memory of the event throughout life. Time may heal in the sense that it's easier to move forward, but the over-simplification of believing just existing more days will eliminate the pain is unfounded. Some of you reading this know the truth of that. You were abused, attacked, harassed at some point years ago, but even now, at times, that memory comes back. And it's not helpful.
When I was a young boy of about eight, an older teenage boy attempted to sexually attack me. I won't get into the details, but rest assured that memory of the two of us walking in a field is in high-definition in my mind. Thankfully, my vocal chords were working well and the older friend acquiesced and the stopped. It was dealt with at the time, and nothing was actually done to me, but I was scared and ashamed. Even as a child, I knew something was very wrong.
Unfortunately, there are others who did not have their incidents end as mine with no physical damage.
It's Not About Politics
Due to Weinstein's far-leaning liberal political bent and friendships with certain politicians, some have used this story to make it all about politicians and liberal politics. While I am far from a liberal politically, to stoop to using this tragic story as fodder simply for political positioning and proclamation.
Conservatives and liberals alike must understand that voting record does not determine whether sexual sin is present or not. Both ends of the spectrum have far too many abusers in their ranks.
The Church Is Not Immune
Amazingly, some have pushed back when our local church implemented stronger security measures for leaders and volunteers. Yet, there are enough (far too many, actually - and one is too many) examples and stories of pastors, evangelists, teachers, and leaders who have taken advantage sexually of others in the church to warrant such steps. We have all read stories and heard testimonies of those who were abused by conservative, evangelical pastors or Catholic priests, or liberal church leaders. The sins of those claiming their roles as divinely given resonate and must be addressed as well.
It's About Power
What do Weinstein and others like him have in common? There are numerous things, but ultimately it's about power. Whether an older teenager abusing a child, an adult doing so, a stronger man abusing a women, or a pastor, politician, boss, or media mogul, perceived or actual power over the victim leads to the abuse. In the case of Weinstein, the threat of losing roles or having one's script shelved, left some actresses vulnerable to his attacks. While many of the stories coming out now are from superstars who by their own words, escaped the hotel room of the creepy, bath-robe wearing executive without actually having been abused physically, some have shared they were not so fortunate. I fear there are many others who have yet to go public that may have been abused in ways I cannot imagine. And, what about the non-celebrities who did lose their chance by walking out?
Power can corrupt, and often does. When Tom Hanks was asked about Weinstein, he referenced a quote that rings true - "When you become rich and powerful, you become more of what you already are."
It's Ultimately About Sin
Hanks quote is true at so many levels. The Hollywood Reporter ran an interview with Bob Weinstein (here). The title states it clearly "Bob Weinstein Gets Emotional on 'Depraved' Harvey."
Harvey is depraved...and so are all of us. And that is why we need a Savior.
We all like comparative analysis to make ourselves feel better. That's human nature. I mean, "I'm bad, but at least I'm not Weinstein bad," right? Well, hopefully you're not, but that doesn't mean you're not depraved.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)
There Is Hope
That's the message of the gospel, right? Apart from Christ, the sinful heart cannot change. It cannot be rehabilitated. It cannot evolve. Apart from Christ and transformation through him, sin is excused, blame is shifted, justification of evil reigns. God's great light reveals our darkness and the fact that we cannot fix our problems ourselves. There's not enough therapy in the world to impact this epidemic.
But there is hope, and his name is Jesus Christ.
God promised his children in the Old Testament that he desires and can change the hearts of men.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV)
Thankfully, we have a chance at redemption through Christ.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
Forgiveness is available and transformation can happen. Yet, while there is no condemnation for those in Christ, consequences remain. For sins such as those being revealed, blanket forgiveness for unrepentant people is not biblical. Yet, willingness to do so is. As for consequences, if found guilty Weinstein (and others as well) must not have their indiscretions ignored or justified.
For the entertainment industry, the casting couch stories must end today.
Don't Miss the Point of These Stories
So, while you're watching the news or reading the latest trending stories on Twitter, be careful not to miss the real stories here. The world is shrinking thanks to social media. Publicists no longer have complete power of creation when attempting to paint their clients in a good light, when evidence otherwise mounts.
You may not agree with Rose McGowan's politics or worldview or even be a fan of her films, but she should be lauded for her willingness and bravery in bringing this story to light. Others have shared their voices, but many would have likely remained silent had Ms. McGowan not opened up.
She may not desire it, but I'll be praying for her and the others. These are not two-dimensional characters from films. These are real women (and men) who have suffered as victims and their voices must be heard. Prayerfully, action from those with the power to make changes will come. More than a "like" on a tweet is needed.