#MeToo's second act is another disaster for the left

I watched with great amusement as #MeToo exposed the hypocrisy of the Democrats when it comes to feminist issues.  Harvey Weinstein's alleged behavior is as gross as the financial donations to the Clintons and other Democrats were huge.  Even better, virtually the entire Hollywood leftist claque was discredited in their posturing and hectoring of us for not living up to their proclaimed levels of virtue.  Meryl Streep, who identified Weinstein as "God," seems to have been quiet about politics of late.

Most of the other first-stage villains were also identified with progressive causes, though not all (Bill O'Reilly is the most prominent non-prog job-loser).  Some, like Kevin Spacey, have seen their careers virtually destroyed as the public rejects their work, while others who lost their jobs may be hoping for a comeback.  

But now #MeToo enters a new stage.

The hysteria has cooled, and Democrats (in Minnesota, at least) are quite okay with endorsing someone accused of physical abuse of a girlfriend, even with a certain amount of corroborating evidence.  So the victim is no longer automatically to be believed.

But it has just gotten worse.  One of the most prominent victims – one who claimed from a podium before a large audience at the Cannes Film Festival that she had been raped by Weinstein – has now been exposed as having made a large payoff to a claimed victim of her sexual abuse.


Argento claims Weinstein raped her at Cannes (ABC screen grab).

Kim Severson of the New York Times has the story:

[I]n the months that followed her revelations about Mr. Weinstein last October, Ms. Argento quietly arranged to pay $380,000 to her own accuser: Jimmy Bennett, a young actor and rock musician who said she had sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room years earlier, when he was only two months past his 17th birthday.  She was 37.  The age of consent in California is 18.

That claim and the subsequent arrangement for payments are laid out in documents between lawyers for Ms. Argento and Mr. Bennett, a former child actor who once played her son in a movie.

The documents, which were sent to The New York Times through encrypted email by an unidentified party, include a selfie dated May 9, 2013, of the two lying in bed.  As part of the agreement, Mr. Bennett, who is now 22, gave the photograph and its copyright to Ms. Argento, now 42.  Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic.

The details of the case made by Bennett are harrowing and appear to have done serious damage to him:

On May 9, 2013, the day they met for a reunion in her room at a Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, Calif., she posted on Instagram: "Waiting for my long lost son my love @jimmymbennett in trepidation #marinadelrey smoking cigarettes like there was no next week."

Mr. Bennett responded, "I'm almost there!:)"

Mr. Bennett, who has an eye condition that prevents him from driving, arrived at Ms. Argento's hotel room that morning with a family member, according to his notice of intent.

The document [a Notice of Intent to Sue] lays out Mr. Bennett's account: Ms. Argento asked the family member to leave so she could be alone with the actor.  She gave him alcohol to drink and showed him a series of notes she had written to him on hotel stationery.  Then she kissed him, pushed him back on the bed, removed his pants and performed oral sex.  She climbed on top of him and the two had intercourse, the document says.  She then asked him to take a number of photos.

Later that day she posted a close-up of their faces on Instagram with the caption, "Happiest day of my life reunion with @jimmymbennett xox," and added that "jimmy is going to be in my next movie and that is a fact, dig that jack."  That post and others were included with the notice of intent, along with three photos apparently taken by Mr. Bennett that depict him and Ms. Argento in bed, their unclothed torsos exposed. (Only one of the photos taken in bed shows both their faces.)

The two had lunch, and Mr. Bennett headed home to Orange County, where he lived with his parents.  As he was driven home, according to his claim, he began to feel "extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted."

As my colleague Monica Showalter comments, "perhaps we can say 'the victim as hero' mythology of the left is starting to putrefy."

The entire construct of identity politics, which is now the semi-official doctrine of modern leftism, including the Democratic Party, is built upon the iron law that the victim is always morally superior, worthy of deference from all, not just the presumed victimizer.

But the problem is that the entertainment industry in general, built upon the project of spinning tales and fantasies, is fertile ground for acting out base impulses of a sexual nature on the less powerful who depend on more powerful figures.  Harvey Weinstein was more powerful than Asia Argento, who, in turn, was more powerful than adolescent Mr. Bennett.

I spent a good part of my life on the fringes of the entertainment industry in various roles, and I learned the lesson about sexual exploitation in my teens, through the experience of another teen I knew.  As an adult, I used to be fairly close to a former child performer who was psychologically devastated through his career.  And for a while, I knew an adult TV star who, despite his fame and fortune, was miserably unhappy.

While there are fine people who maintain their integrity while working in movies, TV, music, and other entertainment venues, it is an environment that puts temptation before the powerful.  Human nature being what it is, too many people yield.  And people damaged by abuse are themselves at risk of enacting abuse on others less powerful.

We conservatives understand that the left's domination of both mass and elite culture is a key element of its political power.  The sooner the understanding spreads that the performing arts tend toward exploitation and corruption, the better off we will be.

I watched with great amusement as #MeToo exposed the hypocrisy of the Democrats when it comes to feminist issues.  Harvey Weinstein's alleged behavior is as gross as the financial donations to the Clintons and other Democrats were huge.  Even better, virtually the entire Hollywood leftist claque was discredited in their posturing and hectoring of us for not living up to their proclaimed levels of virtue.  Meryl Streep, who identified Weinstein as "God," seems to have been quiet about politics of late.

Most of the other first-stage villains were also identified with progressive causes, though not all (Bill O'Reilly is the most prominent non-prog job-loser).  Some, like Kevin Spacey, have seen their careers virtually destroyed as the public rejects their work, while others who lost their jobs may be hoping for a comeback.  

But now #MeToo enters a new stage.

The hysteria has cooled, and Democrats (in Minnesota, at least) are quite okay with endorsing someone accused of physical abuse of a girlfriend, even with a certain amount of corroborating evidence.  So the victim is no longer automatically to be believed.

But it has just gotten worse.  One of the most prominent victims – one who claimed from a podium before a large audience at the Cannes Film Festival that she had been raped by Weinstein – has now been exposed as having made a large payoff to a claimed victim of her sexual abuse.


Argento claims Weinstein raped her at Cannes (ABC screen grab).

Kim Severson of the New York Times has the story:

[I]n the months that followed her revelations about Mr. Weinstein last October, Ms. Argento quietly arranged to pay $380,000 to her own accuser: Jimmy Bennett, a young actor and rock musician who said she had sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room years earlier, when he was only two months past his 17th birthday.  She was 37.  The age of consent in California is 18.

That claim and the subsequent arrangement for payments are laid out in documents between lawyers for Ms. Argento and Mr. Bennett, a former child actor who once played her son in a movie.

The documents, which were sent to The New York Times through encrypted email by an unidentified party, include a selfie dated May 9, 2013, of the two lying in bed.  As part of the agreement, Mr. Bennett, who is now 22, gave the photograph and its copyright to Ms. Argento, now 42.  Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic.

The details of the case made by Bennett are harrowing and appear to have done serious damage to him:

On May 9, 2013, the day they met for a reunion in her room at a Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, Calif., she posted on Instagram: "Waiting for my long lost son my love @jimmymbennett in trepidation #marinadelrey smoking cigarettes like there was no next week."

Mr. Bennett responded, "I'm almost there!:)"

Mr. Bennett, who has an eye condition that prevents him from driving, arrived at Ms. Argento's hotel room that morning with a family member, according to his notice of intent.

The document [a Notice of Intent to Sue] lays out Mr. Bennett's account: Ms. Argento asked the family member to leave so she could be alone with the actor.  She gave him alcohol to drink and showed him a series of notes she had written to him on hotel stationery.  Then she kissed him, pushed him back on the bed, removed his pants and performed oral sex.  She climbed on top of him and the two had intercourse, the document says.  She then asked him to take a number of photos.

Later that day she posted a close-up of their faces on Instagram with the caption, "Happiest day of my life reunion with @jimmymbennett xox," and added that "jimmy is going to be in my next movie and that is a fact, dig that jack."  That post and others were included with the notice of intent, along with three photos apparently taken by Mr. Bennett that depict him and Ms. Argento in bed, their unclothed torsos exposed. (Only one of the photos taken in bed shows both their faces.)

The two had lunch, and Mr. Bennett headed home to Orange County, where he lived with his parents.  As he was driven home, according to his claim, he began to feel "extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted."

As my colleague Monica Showalter comments, "perhaps we can say 'the victim as hero' mythology of the left is starting to putrefy."

The entire construct of identity politics, which is now the semi-official doctrine of modern leftism, including the Democratic Party, is built upon the iron law that the victim is always morally superior, worthy of deference from all, not just the presumed victimizer.

But the problem is that the entertainment industry in general, built upon the project of spinning tales and fantasies, is fertile ground for acting out base impulses of a sexual nature on the less powerful who depend on more powerful figures.  Harvey Weinstein was more powerful than Asia Argento, who, in turn, was more powerful than adolescent Mr. Bennett.

I spent a good part of my life on the fringes of the entertainment industry in various roles, and I learned the lesson about sexual exploitation in my teens, through the experience of another teen I knew.  As an adult, I used to be fairly close to a former child performer who was psychologically devastated through his career.  And for a while, I knew an adult TV star who, despite his fame and fortune, was miserably unhappy.

While there are fine people who maintain their integrity while working in movies, TV, music, and other entertainment venues, it is an environment that puts temptation before the powerful.  Human nature being what it is, too many people yield.  And people damaged by abuse are themselves at risk of enacting abuse on others less powerful.

We conservatives understand that the left's domination of both mass and elite culture is a key element of its political power.  The sooner the understanding spreads that the performing arts tend toward exploitation and corruption, the better off we will be.