As he launches his promotional tour for Justice League, Ben Affleck tells NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on Today that he’s “really trying to open my eyes and hold myself accountable” in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. That’s a good idea, because it doesn’t appear that the media wants to hold Affleck accountable. Guthrie opens up the interview discussing Harvey Weinstein and the sexual harassment scandal, but never quite gets around to mentioning that Affleck has faced a couple of allegations in that sphere himself.
The man wearing the Batman cape these days responded to Guthrie’s first question by saying the Weinstein scandal opened his eyes to how large the problem actually is. “It’s not just Hollywood,” Affleck tells Guthrie:
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 17, 2017
Affleck’s not incorrect in saying that the problem goes beyond Hollywood, but Hollywood is a unique environment of power with almost no accountability structures for those who wield it. (Washington DC would be another.) In the corporate world, there are at least recourses to human resource offices, other companies, or in the last resort legal channels. Over the past few decades, the corporate world has had to adapt to allegations by adopting policies and procedures designed to mitigate sexual harassment. It’s far from perfect, but at least there has been some accountability and progress in those areas.
As the recent scandals show, Hollywood is nearly unique in both the scope and scale of harassment and worse. Hollywood has little or no formal accountability, and the results speak for themselves. The industry has concentrated power in a few hands to such an extent that labor competition is relatively meaningless. One man can determine whether someone has a career or not even far beyond his own production company. Affleck has been around for long enough to know that.
In fact, Affleck makes that admission explicit:
"I knew he was sleazy and kind of a bully… but unfortunately that wasn't that uncommon."
Ben Affleck on working with Harvey Weinstein. pic.twitter.com/SclgzTC3a2
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 17, 2017
Yes. That’s the problem. And as Affleck himself demonstrated at times, not only was he fully aware of that problem, he was part of it himself at times:
Affleck wouldn’t be the first young man to lose his moral compass after falling into a bacchanalian environment, but … shouldn’t Guthrie have asked him about this, too? Affleck wasn’t an innocent bystander to the sexual harassment of women in his industry, but a participant in it — perhaps as recently as three years ago, according to Tendler. Now he finds it disturbing, which it is, but did that only change because his early mentor got publicly exposed for actions to which Affleck had some cognizance? Isn’t that a question worth asking?
Some celebrities apparently are too big to get challenged on these points, apparently, especially when promoting big-budget films. These aren’t the heroes we want, but they’re the heroes Hollywood and the entertainment industry needs, man.