This is not a good time to be a male. Every day, we are revealed to be dirtbags.
It all began with Harvey Weinstein. Once, this Oscar-winning deal maker was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Now, he’s its leading pariah. Weinstein’s long, long history of sexually harassing and even assaulting women has ended his career, and he may yet face criminal charges. Weinstein will no longer be known as a movie producer, but the man for whom ‘the Weinstein Effect’ was named – the deluge of sexual abuse allegations against prominent men.
After Weinstein, the next big name to fall was Kevin Spacey, one of the most acclaimed actors of the past few years. In Spacey’s case, he harassed or assaulted men, some of them very young. The accusations, which he did not deny, were so numerous that his career is effectively over. His TV show, House of Cards, was cancelled (no loss there), and he was even removed from a film that he had already completed, which reminds me of how the Soviet Union doctored photos to remove leaders who had fallen from favour.
Then there was Louis C.K., the reigning god of stand up comedy. I don’t even want to get into Louis C.K.’s very creepy behaviour towards women. His appalling behaviour shouldn’t have been entirely surprising, in that so much of his act revolves around what a lousy guy he is. But he wins the award for cynical behaviour in that he was a champion of female comedians. He issued a contrite semi-apology (he never said ‘I’m sorry’), but everyone around him is running for cover. I suspect in time he will be back – a foul-mouthed comedian will be given some leeway over a politician – but not for a while.
Then of course there’s politics. Of course, there’s politics.
First there is the ongoing, sordid saga of a guy named Judge Roy Moore, and Alabama (of course) Republican (double of course). He has been accused of sexually assaulting two women decades ago when they were teenagers; about a half-dozen other women have accused Moore of inappropriate conduct. His preference for teenage girls was so well known in Alabama, that he was actually banned from a shopping mall. There is no doubt this guy is a long time scumbag, but he is denying everything. Donald Trump, the patron saint of dirtbags, hasn’t come right out and supported Moore, but he tacitly supported him by saying that Moore has denied everything, as if that makes it all OK.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Al Franken was accused of forcibly kissing a woman while rehearsing for a 2006 USO tour. Franken was also photographed pretending to grope her as she slept. In Franken’s case, this appears to have been a one-time indiscretion, and it happened before he was elected to the Senate. Franken was a cast member and writer for Saturday Night Live, where one suspects lewd, laddish behaviour was fairly common. In his defence, several women, including ex-SNLers, said Franken was never abusive.
This week came the cruelest blow of all – legendary TV newsman Charlie Rose. A man of sterling reputation as a journalist and an interviewer, the career of this 75-year-old came to a humiliating end when it was revealed that he often walked around naked in front of young female employees (did he seriously think that a wrinkled old man’s body was going to turn on a twenty-something female?), was legendarily ‘handsy’, and made suggestive remarks to plenty of young female employees. This one really bothers me. Men in Hollywood behaving badly is practically par for the course (stories about ‘the casting couch’ have been around since silent pictures), and politicians have a long history of being hypocritical a-holes. But a respected reporter and interviewer? As Donald Trump would say … sad.
There are plenty of other examples, too many to mention here. The question then is what to do with bad boys. It seems to me that we can’t apply one standard for every miscreant male celebrity. For example, the aforementioned Roy Moore is clearly a longtime scumbag, and deservers to be dumped by the Republicans, and if not by the party, by the electorate. Franken, on the other hand, apparently made a one-time mistake. Does he deserve to have an impressive political career ruined by a couple of stupid moments before he was even elected? I think not. Charlie Rose is, sadly, finished, his credibility shot all to hell, and if you don’t have credibility as a journalist, you’re finished (or you can go to Fox). There are lots of guys who have done bad things in the past that will come out. Personally, I think they have to be judged on a case-by-case basis. One indiscretion is worthy of censure after a fulsome apology. Repeatedly doing awful things calls for more severe punishment. You pay a fine for shoplifting; you got to jail for robbing a bank. A little common sense is called for here, but then there is nothing common about common sense.
On the other hand …
Andrew Scheer, the leader of the federal Conservative party, is about as far removed from the above mentioned creeps. Scheer (who looks like the guy in your neighbourhood you wave to, but don’t know) released this commercial to show what a common, everyday, non-Trudeau guy he is. He doesn’t even have his shirt tucked in, he’s so everyday! What I noticed about the commercial is that Scheer has his fists clenched, which doesn’t exactly say ‘nice guy’. I don’t know if dressing like a dad on his way to kill some time at Home Depot on a Saturday exactly screams “leader”.
And in the world of people with more money than brains …
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi went to auction recently at Christie’s in New York. This relatively unknown painting (it’s no Mona Lisa) was expected to draw some interest from the well-heeled, maybe in the $100 million range. But nobody expected $450 million worth of interest, the highest ever paid for a painting. The new owner has remained anonymous, which seems weird. I mean, if you buy yourself a new car, don’t you want to show it to your neighbours? And if you paid $450 million for a painting, don’t you want to have your friends over? Or at least sell a line of t-shirts?
In less well-known auction news, the movie prop Robby the Robot went up for auction this week. Robby (7 feet tall, build at a cost of $100,000) first appeared in Forbidden Planet (1956), and pretty much set the template for movie robots. Anyway, somebody somewhere paid $5,375,000 for Robby, eclipsing the previous record for film memorabilia – the original Batmobile and the dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch – which both sold for $4.6 million. And finally, for a little Canadian content, a painting by Group of Seven founding member Lawren Harris, Mountains East of Maligne Lakes, sold for just over $3 million this week.
Canadians are one sorry lot. Consider the following list of apologies:
• Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized for the residential schools program that sought to wipe out aboriginal culture and language;
• In 2006, Mr. Harper apologized for a head tax and other measures used to restrict Chinese immigration to Canada;
• Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for a notorious incident 103 years ago when hundreds of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu ship passengers were not allowed to land in Canada and instead returned to India, where things did not go well for them;
• Trudeau apologized to Omar Khadr earlier this year, the only Canadian held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba;
• On Friday, Trudeau extended the Harper’s residential-schools apology to former students of a similar program in Newfoundland and Labrador;
• Next week, Trudeau will officially apologize to public servants and members of the military and the RCMP who were victims of what’s sometimes called “the gay purge.”
It might just be simpler to issue a blanket apology to everyone and everything Canada has ever done to anyone, anywhere, and be done with. We’re just the sorriest damn people on earth.
And in sports …
Let us never speak of the CFL Western Final of 2017 ever again. I’ll leave the last word to my son Scott, who wrote about it here.
Owing to the fact that I somehow messed up on publishing Stuff Still Happens last week (hence the Week 44-45 headline), there are plenty of obits this week.
David Cassidy, 67, teen heart-throb from The Partridge Family TV show … Charles Manson, 83, notorious cult leader who led a murderous group of followers, resulting in one of the most infamous murder sprees of the 1960s … Della Reese, 86, singer and former star of Touched by an Angel … Mel Tillis, 85, longtime country music star and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame … Malcolm Young, 64, the guitarist and songwriter who with his brother Andrew helped found the Australian rock band AC/DC. … Ferdie Pacheco, 89, longtime boxing corner man, most famously for Muhammad Ali.