Absolute gold for Big Harv haters, but perhaps a bit disquieting in some aspects. Harvey Weinstein dared to show his face in a Big Apple nightclub last night, and got called out for it — which then turned into an uncomfortable moment for everyone, including the spectators who had nothing to do with his presence.
“It’s our job to name the elephant in the room,” Kelly Bachman said at the beginning of her comic set at Downtime NYC. “I didn’t know we had to bring our own mace and rape whistles.” Bachman had noticed the alleged rapist/sex offender in the audience before her set and decided to go after him, against the wishes of management and advice from her colleagues:
— Kelly Bachman (@bellykachman) October 24, 2019
So far so good, right? One aspect of a comedian’s job could be considered as an obligation to ridicule the despicable, especially in the very presence of the despicable. Given the venue and Big Harv’s rather prominent profile, it might have appeared weird to the audience to have no mention of it at all. It might have even been viewed as tacit support, although that would have been an unfair conclusion. The audience didn’t like it, but it’s unclear whether they were sympathetic to Weinstein for being attacked or unhappy about the caliber of the material Bachman used.
What happened afterward, however, might have arguably been over the line for someone who hasn’t yet been to trial. Another woman, Zoe Stuckless, began screaming expletives (Not Safe for Work) and demanding action from the club. Stuckless got action — she got ejected:
A person named Zoe Stuckless posted video of themselves confronting Weinstein at the bar. “Nobody’s going to say anything?” Stuckless is heard screaming while pointing at Weinstein. “I’m going to stand four feet from a f—— rapist and nobody is going to say anything?”
Stuckless, who identifies as nonbinary, wrote that Weinstein was sitting in a booth surrounded by young women.
“In some ways tonight was a horrible, painful reminder of the power a man like Weinstein holds even now,” Stuckless wrote. “It was a reminder that even in this time of relative awareness it is hypnotically easy to be pulled into a culture of silence.”
The 21-year-old actor told NBC News they didn’t recognize Weinstein at first and were in complete disbelief because they didn’t think he would ever show his face at an event like that. Stuckless said they thought of their own experience with rape and all of the women who spoke out against Weinstein.
“If no one says anything, then I owe it to myself, I owe it to the survivors and to all the women that Harvey has victimized to say something,” Stuckless explained.
NBC’s Today show covered the incident, with some seeming sympathy for Weinstein:
It’s tough to have much sympathy for Weinstein, if any, who has a record of public intimidation himself. John Podhoretz wrote about it two years ago, as Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll reminded readers this morning, in a column titled “Nasty, Brutish, and Fat”:
“You know what? It’s good that I’m the f***ing sheriff of this f***ing lawless piece-of-s**t town.” Weinstein said that to Andrew Goldman, then a reporter for the New York Observer, when he took him out of a party in a headlock last November after there was a tussle for Goldman’s tape recorder and someone got knocked in the head.
Goldman’s then-girlfriend, Rebecca Traister, asked Weinstein about a controversial movie he had produced. Traister provided the predicate for this anecdote in a recent piece: “Weinstein didn’t like my question about O, there was an altercation…[and] he called me a c—.”
Auletta also related how Weinstein physically threatened the studio executive Stacey Snider. She went to Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and told him the story. Katzenberg, “one of his closest friends in the business,” told Weinstein he had to apologize. He did, kind of. Afterward, Katzenberg told Auletta, “I love Harvey.”
These anecdotes are 15 years old. And there were anecdotes published about Weinstein’s behavior dating back another 15 years. What they revealed then is no different from what they reveal now: Weinstein is an out-and-out psychopath.
So yeah, no one will lament that Weinstein‘s evening out was ruined, sauce being as good for the gander and all. This does raise a couple of other questions, one of which is already tainted for being fronted by Weinstein’s reps, but it’s still worth asking. Should we publicly shame and attempt to drive out of the public square those who have only been accused of crimes, even horrible crimes? The concept of innocent until proven guilty strictly applies only to courts and juries — the rest of us have free rein to form our own opinions with as much or as little information as we like. But is it right to act on those opinions in the manner Stuckless did? Refraining from joining the public spectacle isn’t about a conspiracy of silence; it’s a recognition that we have institutions designed to deal with these issues, and that a nightclub floor isn’t one of them, and neither is mob action wherever the accused step out into public, no matter who they are.
The second question is whether any potential injury was limited to Weinstein. Tossing an insult or two at him, either from the stage or in passing his table, doesn’t seem out of bounds, but hijacking everyone else’s evening for a shrieking demonstration does seem excessive. At some point in Stuckless’ demonstration, it stopped being about Weinstein and became more about Stuckless’ need for attention. Stuckless offers up a self-referential rationalization for her actions that does nothing to subtract from the impression that she was indulging herself rather than doing anything to rationally advance a virtuous position … and we have more than enough people indulging themselves in self-promoting displays these days.
Bachman took the right approach, even if her material didn’t exactly soar to the occasion. If Weinstein’s arrogant enough to go to a stand-up comedy club these days, he deserves what he gets from the stage — but the rest of the audience isn’t responsible for Weinstein’s presence and deserve to be left in peace.