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We should remember all that glitters isn’t gold

“Lots of big celebrities here tonight. Legends. Icons. This table alone — Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro … Baby Yoda. Oh, that’s Joe Pesci, sorry. I love you man. Don’t have me whacked. But tonight isn’t just about the people in front of the camera. In this room are some of the most important TV and film executives in the world. People from every background. They all have one thing in common: They’re all terrified of Ronan Farrow. He’s coming for ya. Talking of all you perverts, it was a big year for pedophile movies. Surviving R. Kelly, Leaving Neverland, Two Popes. Shut up. Shut up. I don’t care. I don’t care.”

Comedian Ricky Gervais laid verbal waste to his fellow members of the Hollywood elite at the recent Golden Globes awards ceremony. His rant, to many, was a verbalization of what many have known or at least thought for a very long time. What many had thought but had not heard launched with such fervor and in the face of the very audience in question. They had at least not heard it from one of their own, or expected it, as far as I know anyway.

Conservative critics of the culture have long lambasted Hollywood. Back to the days of the “Red Scare” and the McCarthy hearings. At that time there was endless talk and accusation of communist infiltration into the film industry with the goal of corrupting the culture, morals and American way of life. Many a screenwriter, actor, etc…were brought before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee to testify and the industry drew wide criticism from conservative and reactionary alike.

Fast-forward from the 1950s to today and now Jeffery Epstein is the cause célèbre and occupies most of the talk concerning Hollywood, sex trafficking, and high profile pedophiles. Much of this is due to the cultural phenomenon of “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” meme and the internet push to keep his case, murder/suicide in the limelight. Though this is well deserved, a wider discussion and a deeper look into the history should be done to put this issue in the proper light.

Sex scandals go all the way back to the earliest days of Tinsel Town. The beloved superstar of silent film the “little tramp” Charlie Chaplin had a perverse taste for teenage girls all throughout his career where he claimed to have slept with over 5,000 women. In fact, he even married one 15-year-old lover, Lita Grey (Chaplin was 35 at the time they wed) which prompted an investigation by law enforcement. Chaplin allegedly married the young girl because of her refusal to get an abortion after being impregnated by the movie star. I guess too bad for Chaplin that Michelle Williams wasn’t a teenager at the time. What may be even darker than his seduction and subsequent marriage to the teenager was the fact he had known her since she was 8. After she became pregnant and refused abortion, they were married in 1924 and divorced three years later.

Chaplin married the 18-year-old daughter of famed playwright Eugene O’Neill when he was 53. They had met when she was 15 and she fell in love with him. They had consequently met during the time another young woman had filed a paternity suit against Chaplin.

Hollywood has long been enamored with deviants, as long as they perceive them to be talented filmmakers. Don’t let the manufactured hype of the “#meetoo” movement suggest otherwise. In fact, one the leaders of the movement Meryl Streep, who with her hypocritical meanderings found it prudent to through pervert Harvey Weinstein under the bus after years of schmoozing with the likes of him. If we can cut to about a decade earlier we can see her, among many other hypocrites cheering loudly and praising the Oscar win of admitted rapist Roman Polanski.

Polanski wasn’t present to receive his award because since 1977 he has had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in the rape of a then 13-year-old. Polanski, who was 43 at the time, took the 13-year-old Samantha Gailey to the house of Jack Nicholson to photograph her for the French edition of Vogue. It was there that Polanski gave her champagne, drugs and had sex with her. After learning his plea bargain would give him prison time and deportation he has been on the run ever since. The director of such films as Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby and The Pianist is beloved in Hollywood while being an admitted child molester, a subject that is at the heart of his classic Chinatown.

Prior to the rape incident and fugitive status of Polanski, he would moist be remembered for the murder of his then-pregnant wife by the Manson clan in the La Bianca Tate/Helter Skelter murders. Polanski had just made the film, Rosemary’s Baby. A film where a woman is impregnated by the Devil to bear a son. Not that there’s a connection between the occult and sexual abuse/deviancy. Interestingly, the role of Rosemary was played by actress Mia Farrow, the mother of Ronan Farrow who was instrumental in exposing Harvey Weinstein.

Ronan is the son of Mia and her then-lover Woody Allen. Allen who has often been the subject of talk when it comes to older men and teenage girls. Allen even married the adopted daughter of Farrow, Soon-Yi Previn after beginning a sexual relationship with her when she was 15 and he was 56. Actress Mariel Hemingway ( the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway) claims Allen tried to seduce her when she was the female lead in the film Manhattan. A film where she played Allen’s underage girlfriend.

The scandals don’t end there for Allen who has been accused of sexually assaulting his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow when she was 7. In fact, he was in therapy with a child psychologist for inappropriate behavior with Dylan before the abuse allegations were made. Scandal has followed Allen since that incident and fellow director and aforementioned child rapist Polanski as well. In fact, in November 2018 five women came forward who said Polanski sexual abused/assaulted them and they ranged from ages 9 to 16 at the time of the alleged incidents.

It has taken years but in light of all the allegations and the entrance of celebrities into the fray both Allen and Polanski’s reputations have seriously tanked. It has been somewhat concerning and disheartening that it took people within Hollywood itself to make claims before much was done, however.

Polanski, Allen and Chaplin in his day were/are moral pariahs. They deftly illustrate the disconnect between responsibility/morality and that of talent in Hollywood. They also illustrate the impossible gulf between the morality of Tinsel Town and that of the rest of America.

These three individuals are a snapshot of the crisis, not an exhaustive look. One can look to the recent cases of Weinstein, Epstein, the Bryan Singer debacle, the Kevin Spacey accusations, Bill Cosby. Jeffery Jones (who is famous for playing the principal on Ferris Buller’s Day Off) was arrested taking pictures of a nude 14-year-old boy. There were also the long-time accusations made by Corey Feldman or even back to the 1921 case against silent film star Fatty Arbuckle for the rape of a young woman.

The Arbuckle case was widely made famous by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. Hearst himself was the target of ridicule and scorn in the highly praised classic “Citizen Kane.” Hearst allegedly came close to killing the film but having private investigators compile evidence of homosexuality, affairs, illicit drug use, and child sex abuse and trafficking. The film, allegedly only won out because of appeals by Orson Welles of antisemitism and fears of Nazism. All of this is documented in the film, “RKO 281.”

There’s a long history of power and the abuse of children. There’s especially a long history in Hollywood from the beginning up until now. From Epstein and to the slew of children who have come from Disney to be maladjusted adults, Brittney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Demi Levatto..etc…etc…A history we would like to erase but one we must deal with.

Hopefully and prayerfully all that has come to light and the constant push to not let these cases die will bring about some much-needed change.