Now that Harvey Weinstein’s reign of sexual terror is over, the answer is, hopefully, several of Hollywood’s most durable, liberal, ostensibly politically correct leading men.
Until two days ago, Ben Affleck was mainly perceived as his own worst enemy. Then he issued a statement condemning Weinstein’s behavior.
“I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades,” Affleck wrote in part. “This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to others.”
Rose McGowan, who settled with Weinstein after an incident at Sundance in 1997, tweeted that Affleck had more than one chance back in the ’90s.
McGowan claimed that she told Affleck directly that Weinstein had attacked her. In a tweet directed to Affleck, she wrote: “ ‘GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT! You said that to my face. The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie.’”
Next came videos of Affleck, in 2003 and 2004, groping young female TV hosts. He apologized to one on social media and has since remained silent.
“I would also love to get an apology from Ben Affleck who grabbed my ass at a Golden Globes party in 2014,” tweeted makeup artist Annamarie Tendler, who said Affleck also “pressed his finger into my crack.” Her claims were backed up by Jen Statsky, a writer for “The Good Place” and “Broad City.”
“I was also at this party and multiple friends had this exact same experience,” Statsky tweeted.
As shocking as the Weinstein allegations are, his behavior, we’re often told, is generational. And Weinstein is the latest in a long line of old, rich powerful men — Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly — to be so publicly shamed. (Donald Trump has said — unconvincingly — that his “grab ’em by the p—y” comment was “locker-room talk.”)
Once these guys die off, goes the thinking, so will such abuse of women. But will it really?
Are the men of Generation X really any better? We see it in Silicon Valley, and we see it in Hollywood. We get our token Sheryl Sandbergs and Patty Jenkinses while sexual harassment still runs rampant — just better hidden.
Back to the Weinstein matter: Affleck’s lifelong friend Matt Damon has been accused of helping to kill a 2004 Weinstein exposé, and though Damon claims he knew nothing of the story’s details nor of Weinstein’s behavior, it’s hard to believe. If Affleck knew back in 1997, why wouldn’t he tell Damon, his best friend? Affleck dated Gwyneth Paltrow in 1997, and Paltrow soon starred with Damon in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” — a Harvey Weinstein production.
Paltrow told The New York Times that Weinstein sexually harassed her in 1994. Why wouldn’t she tell Affleck? Right after it happened, Paltrow told her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt, who confronted Weinstein and told him to stop.
So far, Pitt’s the only A-list actor to admit knowing who Weinstein really is. Pitt and Damon’s great friend George Clooney has also pled ignorance, telling The Daily Beast he just assumed Weinstein was a very powerful man with a tendency to hit on young beautiful women. (How evolved.)
Let’s not forget that earlier this year, when Casey Affleck was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, his big brother, Ben, joined Damon in campaigning hard — and their superstar aura helped scrub away the sexual-harassment claims brought against Casey by two female crew members in 2010, both settled out of court.
Casey won for “Manchester by the Sea,” which was released by Amazon; Damon produced. Brie Larson, who presented the award to Casey, refused to touch him, and on Thursday, McGowan — who’d curiously been suspended from Twitter for 12 hours — tweeted that she’d begged Amazon’s studio head not to work with Weinstein and that she’d confided Weinstein raped her. “I was ignored,” she wrote, tweeting Amazon’s Jeff Bezos directly. “Amazon won a dirty Oscar.”
In the Oscars runup, Casey Affleck vaguely alluded to the accusations. “People say whatever they want,” he told Variety. “Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you respond.” Sadly for the Afflecks and their ilk: No longer.