“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
That was Donald Trump, in 2005, explaining the world and its workings to Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush. Both men were celebrities, but one was a bigger celebrity than the other; both were powerful, but one was more powerful than the other; both were connected to the American presidency, but one—through having toyed with seeking the office himself—was more connected than the other. And yet the older man couldn’t help but boast to the younger about the happy affordances of fame: When you’re a star, you can do whatever you want. When you’re a star, you can have your way in so many ways. I moved on her. I moved on her very heavily. I moved on her like a bitch. I just start kissing them—it’s like a magnet. I don’t even wait. Grab ‘em by the pussy. They let you do it. You can do anything.
Almost a year to the day after the publication of what would become known, with polite euphemism, as the “Access Hollywood tape,” The New York Times published a related kind of revelation: Harvey Weinstein had been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct—an alleged pattern of psychological manipulation and strategic harassment that spanned decades—and, in many cases, paid them for their silence. The paper’s report was followed up with an investigation in The New Yorker that included allegations from three different women that Weinstein had raped them. The stories—and the many, many more from women who have come forward in recent days—have been met with a mixture of shock and its opposite among Weinstein’s fellow celebrities. “I didn’t know about these things, but they don’t surprise me at all,” Emma Thompson told the BBC on Thursday. She was speaking, it seems, for many in her field.