Against the glamour of Hollywood, there is an equal amount of predation. The ‘casting couch’ is seen as an awful reality of gaining fame for women, much like climbing to the top of a mountain of shit to pick a rose. By the time you’ve got to the top, you’ve lost your sense of smell. Set that against the raw appeal of power, best espoused by the maxim of ‘poor and ugly = ugly, rich and ugly = distinguished’ and the subcultures and industries which either encourage or turn a blind eye to it. That, of course, is not to deny agency but conspiracy theories abound in every arena.
Then there’s recent events. Now, this book is the account of Ronan Farrow, who weathered criticism, surveillance and risked his career to bring the open secret of Harvey Weinstein’s multiple rapes and sexual assaults to light. Starting from when he became aware of the scale, and following his investigation, alongside a startling insight into the surveillance industry and how the media is selective in what it reports, he came across as an engaging and admirable man who did the right thing at the risk of great personal cost.
He writes about those involved with care and consideration, refusing easy answers and when events conspire to involve people he admires, there is a strong vein of integrity in how he fairly assesses that a man or woman can be more than one thing in this world. There is the journalistic attention to detail, pacing and focus which made this a book with the right balance between anger and recollection.
Harvey is in prison, which is a happy ending for civilisation, let alone the end of the book. Power is an aphrodisiac but it is also used to justify awful behaviour, and when you strip away his wealth and power as a producer, it’s a fat, insecure man wanking into a plant pot and begging for sex until his own inadequacies forced him into actions that he is being punished for. He is not the sole focus of the work, Matt Lauer, of NBC, is an odious example with the testimony of his victims warranting a castration with a pair of bricks in my opinion, but there are others. It was an involving and invigorating read, and worth your time for an insight into those who do actual journalism, which is becoming rare as hen’s teeth these days. For every Ronan Farrow, there is a Chris Cuomo, after all, but I don’t imagine the latter would write a book worth writing.