Yesterday, Alec Baldwin had yet another public meltdown on Twitter and ended up shutting down his account–again. He’ll be back, of course, for another go. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that, in the comments that started it all, he made a valid point.
Let me start by saying that I’m not among the many conservatives and Republicans (those two groups are often different these days) who hate Alec Baldwin. For me, his comedic genius far outweighs his contemptible politics and questionable character. Just try, for example, watching his turn on Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” without laughing.
So maybe I’m biased. But I’m also a female, and as such was supposed to be offended by Baldwin’s comments in an interview on PBS Newshour about the (legitimate) furor over Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse of women. When asked about the mounting allegations against Weinstein, Baldwin responded, “You heard the rumor that [Weinstein] raped [actress] Rose McGowan. You heard that over and over, and nothing was done. We’ve heard that for decades and nothing was done.” The interviewer replied that “nobody said anything,” to which Baldwin responded, “Well, but what happened was Rose McGowan took a payment of $100,000 and settled her case with him. It was for Rose McGowan to prosecute that case.”
Predictably, McGowan, actress Asia Argento, chef Anthony Bourdain (Argento’s husband), and others responded to Baldwin’s remarks in a series of outraged tweets. Some rightly pointed out Baldwin’s morally objectionable friendship with director/child rapist Roman Polanski. Baldwin at first was defensive, sending out a barrage of insulting (and sometimes funny) retorts, and then ended up–again predictably–apologizing, promising to “do better in all things related to gender equality,” and “suspending” his interaction with Twitter.
Certainly much of this righteous anger at Baldwin was well-placed. But his original point was a compelling one. As he said himself, Baldwin “simply posited that the settlement of such cases certainly delayed justice.” In other words, by taking hush money in exchange for their silence on Weinstein’s crimes, McGowan and others allowed those crimes to go on. If they had made a more selfless, less greedy choice, they might have protected countless other women from Weinstein’s abuse.
I sympathize with these women’s sense of intimidating, their fear of having their reputation and career ruined by the powerful. But even so, those who took settlements cannot deny that they colluded in Hollywood’s conspiracy of silence on Weinstein and others.
We women can do better. We owe it to our fellow females, and to society at large.