When a Scandal Blows Over

Before we decide life is improving for sexual harassment/assault victims in Hollywood, we’d better consider the power of the status quo.

The actions of Harvey Weinstein and some other people were known by insiders for a long time before their respective scandals became public.  Now, it looks as if high-profile creeps are falling like dominoes, and those guys will never work in any form of media again.

Don’t assume anything, though.

In 1997, NBC Sports announcer Marv Albert pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge after it was determined that he had bitten a woman’s shoulder.  The woman also accused him of forcing her to perform a sex act on him, but that charge was dismissed in the plea bargain.  He avoided jail time.  Although he had lost his job during the scandal, by 2000 Mr. Albert was rehired by NBC.

In 1988, film director Victor Salva pleaded guilty to multiple child sex charges after assaulting an underage actor who worked on his 1999 release, Clownhouse.  Mr. Salva served fifteen months in prison.  

By 1995, Victor Salva made a comeback, directing two films.  The one with a theatrical release, Powder, was picketed by the young man who had been assaulted by the director seven years earlier.  Mr. Salva has directed at least nine movies since Clownhouse.

On a somewhat related topic…

It wasn’t too long ago when we heard about suicides of kids who were bullied by other children.  The reports were frequent, and they constituted a series of warning flares to protect tormented children who hadn’t committed suicide yet.

When the stream of reports stopped (possibly because they may have been encouraging other troubled kids to end their lives, but maybe just because the sleazy entertainment value had fizzled out), some people must have thought schoolyard bullying was a thing of the past.  That’s very naïve, and no one with life experience should be fooled.  I vaguely recall at least two recent, smaller-scale reports of children committing suicide after being bullied.  How many other kids have died under similar conditions without the public ever hearing about it?  Bullying has not been eliminated, and don’t expect sexual misconduct in Hollywood to be eliminated — even after we stop hearing about it.

Criminal accusations against Harvey Weinstein are being investigated in at least three jurisdictions.  The outcome may depend on evidence, but it may also depend partly on politics.  Some powerful people in moviemaking want this public relations disaster to go away.

Last week, I was in Southern California.  I had practical reasons to be there, but when there was free time I stopped by Hollywood Boulevard’s so-called Walk of Fame.  I waited patiently with other tourists before having my turn photographing Donald Duck’s star on the sidewalk.

There probably isn’t much about Donald Duck we don’t know.  He’s fictional, and he has been open with nasty behavior in his cartoons.  So far, none of that nasty behavior has generated enough controversy to have him declared persona non grata in the United States for even a week, probably because of the fictional aspect (Note: In 1978, Donald Duck comic books were banned in Finland, but for silly reasons).  So, he’s in the clear.

By the way, Bill Cosby has a star very close by.  No comment.


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