December 11, 2011
Hollywood would not be Hollywood without recurring scandals. Tinseltown always struggles to remain relevant, and in light of the Penn State affair, she has once again managed to keep up with mainstream American life. From Congress on down through schools, sports, Scouting, music, and of course the clergy, our country seems to be a passion pit of pedophilia. Not to be left behind, Hollywood now offers its own pedophile scandal—one which may at last open up the rampant abuse of film-industry minors here to national scrutiny.
Apart from the obvious point—if only government officials, teachers, coaches, scoutmasters, music promoters, and casting directors were allowed to marry, this would never happen—there is much to ponder here. What makes this current wave of public interest unusual is that the names of prominent victims have surfaced: the two Coreys, Feldman and Haim, beloved of 1980s audiences. Especially in the light of Haim’s death, theirs is a sordid and tragic tale. But as Feldman has said, it is far from unusual. Moreover, it melds with the ancient cinematic institution called the casting couch. As the decades have passed, that furniture item has become ever more coed. It apparently has also become more youth-oriented.
Such goings-on at the nexus of political or economic power are nothing new. Men at the top have needs, which is why Congress set the age of consent in the District of Columbia at 16. From time to time, allegations of pedophile rings among various local elites will rock different towns and cities. But Hollywood, in its self-proclaimed role as moral arbiter, is more than a mirror of contemporary norms. Earnest stars lecture us regularly on the evils of smoking, intolerance, the death penalty, animal cruelty, and numerous other societal ills.
So how about we urge Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie to embark on a new crusade to stamp out child molestation in the film industry and overturn the casting couch? Let them refuse to work with those they know to be guilty of such practices. Let them urge the public to boycott them as they might do with fur or meat.
If they prove unwilling to address such a clear and present evil on their own turf, I have an alternative for such folk: Shut up. That’s right, shut up. Spare us your maunderings about your various causes (though please continue to send them money). Make your virtuous deeds as silent as your outrage over abuses within your own industry.