The Secrets Hollywood Still Keeps

It's not just #MeToo that matters; there's also the matter of #WhoKnew?

Peter Roff

When you call your awards “The Golden Globes,” is it really all that surprising that so many boobs show up? From the self-congratulatory praise for standing up to the likes of Harvey Weinstein (finally) to launching a boomlet for an Oprah Winfrey candidacy in 2020, the Hollywood in-crowd demonstrated yet again to anyone who cared to pay attention how disconnected they are from the rest of us who live in the real world.

Those actresses brave enough to come forward with personal stories of abuse and molestation at the hands of Weinstein and others in positions of power in the motion picture industry are deserving of commendation. The indignities they were forced to endure are not acceptable under any circumstances.

If nothing else is certain it is that the mob mentality that once prevented the disclosure of misdeeds and worse still prevails. Only now it is turned in the opposite direction, toward a kind of zero tolerance that if enforced with the energy those who advocate it display could prove equally ruinous to the innocent and those who, because of allegations of misconduct, are presumed now to be guilty.

For all that – and as much fun as it is to poke fun at Hollywood when it takes itself so seriously amid mountains of fluff and glitter – there are still some serious matters needing to be discussed. You see it’s not just #MeToo that matters; there’s also the matter of #WhoKnew? As those of us who cover Washington with any regularity know full well, these things don’t happen in a vacuum. Those at the top who were the worst of offenders only succeeded for so long because of boot-licking lackeys in the industry who knew what was going on and covered for those engaged in rape, assault and the all-too-familiar bargaining away of sexual acts or the promise of same in exchange for featured or starring roles in motion pictures and television programs.

The old saw about evil’s ability to triumph if good men and women do nothing appears to have been very much in play. It feels somehow that only the surface has been scratched and that things may go deeper. It is highly possible, one may venture a guess it’s even probable, that plenty in the industry, women as well as men, are even now praying they are never identified as the abettors on whom the system of abuse relied.

Those who assisted are as guilty, almost, as those who perpetrated those acts we now call sickening and demeaning to people throughout the industry, established stars as well as starlets and wannabes. They too should be called to account for their silence, something we didn’t hear too much about on Sunday night. Preachy speeches don’t solve problems.

It all comes down to the need for thorough accountability. It needs to be established or we should all just forget the whole business happened because, without it, it is really business as usual and will remain so for some time. They must show that the intent to change things for the better is real and not just a matter of sisterhoodly empowerment of “Hollywood fakery,” as actress Rose McGowan said in a tweet Sunday night.

As one of the first – if not the first – to accuse Weinstein publicly, McGowan has taken her share of lumps long before it all became the scandal de jour. What she said in response to a post directed at her by another actress who says she was similarly victimized, noting that “not one of those fancy people wearing black to honor our rapes would have lifted a finger” had she not finally been heard and taken at her word, rings all too true. Too many in Hollywood were not only too silent for too long, many of them repeatedly sang the praises of Weinstein and others who are now accused as abusers all the while. Did they know? It’s a question deserving of an answer.



Peter Roff is a U.S. News & World Report contributing editor for opinion and longtime observer of the Washington scene. Formerly senior political writer for United Press International he writes about public policy for a number of publications and for public policy groups including Asian Forum Japan, where he is a visiting scholar, and Frontiers of Freedom, where he is a senior fellow. He has been published widely and appears weekly on One America News’ “The Daily Ledger.” You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterRoff. Email him comments at

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