Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.
In an Oct. 14 op-ed in the New York Times, the filmmaker Sarah Polley wrote one of the best new sentences I’ve read in 2017: “Harvey Weinstein may be the central-casting version of a Hollywood predator, but he was just one festering pustule in a diseased industry.”
The whole piece is excellent and well worth reading. (You can find it here: tinyurl.com/y8kwbe8z or in the Oct. 15 print edition of the Times.) Polley started out as an actress—appearing in movies as a child—like Terry Gilliam’s 1988 fantasy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen—and then as a leading lady in movies like Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead But in recent years, she’s worked more behind the camera, writing and directing. Her movie Stories We Tell is one of the best documentaries of the last decade.
She, like so many other women in Hollywood, had a creepy encounter with Weinstein, the now disgraced producer. Polley’s experience wasn’t as bad as some—partly because, in her own words, she “didn’t care that much about an acting career,” which took away some of Weinstein’s abusive power. But, as befitting a great documentarian, her essay articulates something important about this scandal: This isn’t an isolated incident or a solitary predator. Abusive behavior is systematic to the entire movie industry. And it has been since at least the days of Fatty Arbuckle.
And, of course, it’s not just the film industry. Systematic sexual abuse extends everywhere—including, as we all know, the highest office in the land. But the last few days has seen a wave of “me too” posts all over social media as people post their personal stories about sexual harassment and abuse. Here in Reno, I’ve seen stories from local bartenders, waitresses, business owners and librarians.
For cisgender straight men like me, we need to shut up and listen. Hear those stories, and remember them—let them guide how we behave.