• Jeffrey Epstein Just Might Jolt Hollywood Out of Its Enthusiasm for Perversion

    Daily Surge Summary: It’s possible the Jeffrey Epstein sex-scandal might cause Hollywood to stop defending perversion, and begin rejecting it.

    Contemplating the societal fall-out from the percolating, potentially earth-quaking, Jeffrey Epstein sex-scandal, National Review’s Kyle Smith speculates the sordid affair just might turn Hollywood from its current tendency to giggle about, even encourage, the sexual abuse of young women.

    That’s plainly what he thinks ought to happen — but, as a friend of mine used to say, I won’t hold my thumb on my hind-end waiting for it to happen — it might grow there.

    Smith brings up

    perhaps the most historic, in the sense of era-defining, moment in the history of the Academy Awards … [T]hat standing ovation Roman Polanski got when he was given Best Director honors in 2003. There they are, leading Hollywood liberals, leaping to their feet to cheer for a man who, at age 43, gave a 13-year-old girl Quaaludes for the purpose of having sex with her and sodomizing her. Polanski suffered in no significant way for his crime, and today it seems obvious he should at the very least be denied the highest honor his profession can bestow.

    Then, in 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled Polanski and (and, for the record, Bill Cosby). Seems like their consciences had finally gotten to them, forty years after the Paris-born director’s crime. It had finally dawned on them he was no longer in accord with “ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”

    The writer remains unimpressed:

    Acknowledging the existence of morality is still too much to ask of the Academy. Before Harvey Weinstein, the only person ever expelled from the Academy was Carmine Caridi, an actor who appeared in The Godfather. His crime was sharing a DVD screener with a friend, who put it on the Internet.

    The Jeffrey Epstein case should end a nearly 50-year era in which the mandarins of our cultures — the intellectuals, writers, and artists — almost unanimously ignored, laughed off, or even outright celebrated sexual exploitation of girls and very young women, even in many cases prepubescent ones. Humbert somehow became the culture’s idea of a barrier-breaking hero whose predilections provided jokes such as the nickname for Epstein’s infamous “Lolita Express” jet, the one stocked with young flesh. Epstein’s habits were so unremarkable that Bill Clinton and Donald Trump were happy to be associated with him. Clinton and Trump were not outliers. They were simply symptoms of a disease.

    Hugh Hefner fired up a flare lighting the way to an almost anything-goes view of female sexuality, and it reached its apex at the 2003 Oscars. Under the regime of Hefnerism, conservative prudes and often the law stood charged with being uptight and repressive about sex involving girls just over or even under the age of consent. That Polanski became an exile from this country after his crime made him Hollywood’s favorite martyr. The Academy was eager to give him the Oscar both to showcase its view that he had been victimized by prudery and to dunk on conservatives. Attendees didn’t just applaud, they let out a mighty whoop of approval when Polanski’s Oscar was announced by a smiling Harrison Ford. Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, Weinstein, and others all jumped to their feet to participate in a chilling standing ovation…  As far as I know, no one in Hollywood had any problem with lionizing Polanski at the time.

    Smith then reminds readers of some, now-embarrassing/once-acceptable cultural anachronisms, circa the 1970s:

    — Thirty-three-year-old Ringo Starr’s No. 1 hit in which he exulted, “You’re 16, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine.”

    — An uncontroversial Woody Allen film — autobiographical? — about an over-forty television writer having an affair with a seventeen-year-old high-school student. He made the cover of Time magazine; “American Genius.” (It eventually was revealed Allen had had affairs with two teenagers around that time).

    — A young girl named Brooke Shields built a “jailbait” career,

    posing nude at age 10 for a Hefner publication called “Sugar and Spice,” then starring as a 12-year-old hooker in Pretty Baby (which began filming when she was 11), then at 14 starring in a film about two teens discovering their sexuality, The Blue Lagoon (though a double did her nude scenes). At 15, she starred in Endless Love, which as filmed initially received an X rating, before most of the nudity was cut to achieve an R.

    Those who objected to Ms. Shield’s salacious product were viewed as outdated weirdos. It was art! Thus, sanitized. A philosophically trendy but intellectually bankrupt conviction, but one that has provided cover for smut for a long time.

    The Washington Post‘s then–film critic Judith Martin dubbed Pretty Baby a combination of “titillation with finery and giggles.” Penelope Gilliatt’s New Yorker review of that movie rhapsodized: “The most beautifully intelligent picture to have come out in America so far this year … There are many scenes that buzz gently with the giggles of children in the background.”

    You see? The sophisticates and artistes were able to penetrate the flick’s pedophilic lewdness and coax out aesthetic gems.

    Smith predicts that a future generation will hear about the Jeffrey Epstein sordidness and ask: Why didn’t anybody raise the alarm?

    Journalist Vicky Ward, who profiled him for Vanity Fair, proffers the following bewilderment to the New York Times. “What is so amazing to me is how his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it. All mentioned the girls, as an aside.”

    Still and all, Kyle Smith wraps on a slightly more sanguine note:

    Epstein’s acts had deep cultural roots. But things don’t always stay the same, or get worse. Sometimes attitudes take a turn for the conservative. We should be grateful that standards have evolved in the right direction. The next Epstein or Roman Polanski will have considerably more difficulty getting people to shrug off their deeds, much less join in a standing ovation.

    So, what next for the glitterati? Will Tinsel Town one day disapprovingly crinkle its nose at abortion? Same-sex marriage? Multiple divorces? Tofu?

    Hey, decent people, along with Kyle Smith, can dream, can’t we?

     

    The views expressed here are the author’s and not necessarily those of Daily Surge.

    Image: Roman Polanski; By Los Angeles Police Department – Internet, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64126980


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