JUST MUSING: “Harvey Weinstein is not the Lone Ranger … he could have been…”

I believe.  I feel.  I know.  Harvey Weinstein would have been better served by shutting the hell up, firing all the high price lawyers and by engaging in the act of fessing up by his not fessing up.  Never saying a word, moving pass those he previously courted; allow others to issue statements; cry over his vileness; mutter prayers for his damnation.  Instead, he issued a statement, written by handlers, saying he was from a different generation, indicating he may have engaged in shameful and regrettable behavior.  Weinstein shuttled out the legal minions, relying on their names and histories in the courtroom, to threaten corporate powers, writers, and generators of the news.  I sure he thought he was playing his trump card – but – he wasn’t – he didn’t play trump.  I believe Weinstein lost his way amongst the lawyers, money and Hollywood; enhancing his doom by the failure to utilize the expertise and talents of people whose jobs are to craft real and alternative realities.  Instead of using well-reasoned behavior, he panicked when seeing the storm troopers breaching the walls.

The Lone Ranger appeared on American television from 1949 to 1957.  It was originally a radio program, appearing on WXYZ, airing in 1933 in Detroit.  The television show has been in reruns ever since.  Never refreshed, never dying, a persistent thematic comment on the culture, the Mad Men from the thrilling days of yesteryear.  Fred Hoyer was the announcer who introduced the Lone Ranger:

The Lone Ranger! …A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-Yo Silver’… The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!

During the Cold War period, in every classroom across this country, part of every student’s socialization was to present a stark difference between our society and the Soviet bloc of countries (read this as communism).  Telling us we were different, in both our form of government and in the dissemination of the news.  Casting the others as propagandist, fake news, serving the needs of the Communist elite and the government; showing images of our leaders, Uncle Sam, the flag, prior to our singing the school song, state song, the National Anthem or America the Beautiful.  No, no, don’t hear me to say I reject the socialization process.  Mythology is part and parcel of any society’s survival, creating a distinction how the given society is different than others, casting heroes, creating monuments, recounting and telling history, explaining why the citizens should be united, or even willing to fight for the greater good.  Television, movies, the arts, Hollywood, are as much a part of the mythology as George Washington crossing the Potomac and his refusal to ever tell a lie.  What on earth does any of this have to do with Harvey Weinstein?  I am getting there.

The handlers Weinstein hired did okay, doing what they do best.  They circled the wagon (no pun intended), threatened lawsuits, issued an official statement (after unsuccessfully stopping the New York Times and The New Yorker from publishing stories of their client’s past alleged transgressions), cajoled (citing those who supported him; name dropping I think this is called), quoted others, then invoked the American adage of a second chance.  I feel Weinstein’s handlers missed the mark, never fully appreciating who they were representing.

Harvey Weinstein was a man capable of creating mythologies with the means of doing so lying within inches of his fingers.  Telling the story, restructuring the theme, casting storylines, recasting if necessary, changing the theme when necessary, using the most beautiful people in the world to tell the story; always, always, always remaining in character – placing before the American public the appropriate mythology – you know – from the days of yore, much like the Lone Ranger.  Instead of saying, “I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different” (Weinstein’s opening line of his statement), why didn’t the man just buy the rights to Mad Men, play the most egregious tales about women (stories, articles, movies) on a loop, and have the rest of us guess why we are watching so many rape films, reading so many stories with women cast in a bad light, and why there so many stories on the news, in all the major news markets, are about false accusations of rape raised against men throughout history; aired before the ten o’clock news.  My logic is not a stretch.  Behavior which made Mad Men an award winning show, propelling its lead into frame, is nothing more than a celebration of the good old days, what Weinstein’s written statement feebly attempted to invoke, the days of yore.  Yes the days of yore, but it isn’t yesteryear really, we elected a president the same way, didn’t we?  Denial, attack, rely on mythology to rule the day (I’m too rich; believe me, I wouldn’t touch someone who looks like her; fake news).  Didn’t we?

There was no reason for his lawyers to get upset when the issued statement failed and others mustered enough courage to speak out, to move out of the shadows.  The lawyers’ mistake, they treated Harvey Weinstein as a mere mortal.  Lone Rangers are never mere mortals.

They were playing by the wrong rules, believing the rules of high-price lawyers played well in this new social media environment.  Lucille Ball could have told them, there are too many portals, too many past transgressions, too many chocolates moving down the conveyor belt.  The Lone Ranger could have straightened them out, instructing them to rely on mythology.  Shoot … you can shoot anyone you want (read this as touch, molest, they’ll let you when you’re famous) … play it right, muster the best voices in the history of humankind, and touch and hit (say “hit” with emphasis and a cultural twist) anything you want.  That’s the logic, isn’t it?   The Lone Ranger rides again.

Weinstein said it on tape in New York, inviting/telling/cajoling Filipina-Italian actress, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, into his room, instructing her not to embarrass him, reminding her, he was “use to that” (reference to touching her breast) (much like the candidate’s words).  His handlers failed him.  He failed himself.  His trump was the built in mythology, sexism and misogyny granted to him by the society, which has served him well for years and years.  He should have ushered his minions from the publishing, television and movie industries into a room and waited a few days, gone dark, and instructed those same minions/enablers to use the trump defense and trump the trump.  Monitor the real news, newspapers and commentators, and watch for defenses floated by allies and those unwittingly supporting his defense.  Watch how sexism plays in its many mysterious ways; keep notes, using some of the excuses, discarding the rest.  The same with social media:  flooding the web with fake news, making it impossible to discern differences between the truth, and those making their own truths.

The official statement to the press by the Weinstein team had the following additional language [absence my intentional redaction line drawn in the middle of the text]:  “I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it.  To anyone.  I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed.  I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.”  In the world of make-believe, none of the above admissions are necessary.  Redacted, eliminated, why?  Ones reliance on sexism is sufficient.  The same sexism which has allowed the same behavior to become the rule of the day, silencing victims, “when you are famous, you can do anything you want.”  Harvey’s only words, when moving from restaurant to the car, should have been utter disgust.  His lines set out on paper, and practiced, over, over, over again, “I’m disgusted.  The truth will come out.  They’re liars.”  Nothing else, before the minions closed the door, driving away and leaving the rest to the best creators of mythology the world has ever known.

Sitting in a law school classroom watching my fellow students struggle to get the point the professor was trying to elicit from them.  Moving from student to student, pointing to the front of the room, to the back, to the middle, none seeing the problem with the case.  I don’t remember the name of the case.  I do remember the setting was in the South and a negro citizen (intentional small case, “n”) was charged with attempted rape for looking at a White woman (intentional upper case,  “W”).

“What is wrong with the facts?  Why did the Court reverse the conviction?” – The professor’s questioned.

Nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have reported being victims of sexual assault at some time in their lifetime, revealing the crime is not an isolated, singular, nary a rare event.   Actually the number seems to reveal a persistent prevalence, a sickness in the society, surely not restricted to past generations.  In the June 2015, Baltimore City Paper, it was reported that “[a]mong female college students who are raped, [eighty] (80) percent never report the crime, according to a 2014 U.S. Department of Justice report.  [Eighty] (80) percent of student victims knew their attackers; another ten (10) percent did not report the crime because they did not want to get their assailant in trouble with the law.”  The article also explained these issues are compounded by race, with forty-four (44) percent of white victims reporting the crime, while only seventeen (17) percent of black victims reporting the crime.  In a paper entitled, Acquaintance Rape [Victims and Violence], the author(s) provide additional context:  “For many, the word “rape” conjures up images of a stranger behind a bush in a dark place with no one else around.  In school we are taught to recognize stranger danger and how to say no to a mysterious figure.  However, the reality of rape is very different and far more disturbing.  Rape is most likely to occur, not with a stranger, but with someone you know and trust.  According to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 55% of sexually assaulted women know their attacker.”

In the law school class the case’s problem was the government convicted a man for attempt on an attempt, reaching in his brain and discerning he had to have thought about committing a crime.  Surely the negro looked at the White woman, therefore surely he thought about raping her, was the implicit reasoning.  When I answered the case represented, “conviction for attempted, attempted rape”, my classmates looked at me as if I was mad.  The professor exclaimed I was correct.  His may have been a legal point.  My answer was less legal, more social, reading the facts as real, living the Southern mythology, understanding well what an attempted attempt looked like.  But I digress … back to Mr. Weinstein, the Lone Ranger and Lucy.

You can read this muse as being both cruel and crude.  It is not.  The muse is designed to show we have been complicit in the unwarranted and unwanted behavior, permitting the behavior to continue because of our refusal to call out the destructive mythology, ignoring how sexism has been used as an ax and a shield.  Refusing to call out our own destructive thinking, protecting those who looked like us for unwarranted behavior, laughing it off, laying waste to the victims; forever ignoring how the race continues to haunt us even in something as violent and inhuman as rape, sexual assault, and abuse.

The author, Allante Adams, in the Baltimore City Paper’s piece, had another good point:

Rape of African-American women goes back to before they reached the Americas. Slave women were routinely raped by crew members during the transatlantic voyage. There were few consequences for rapists—regardless of race. In 1859 a Mississippi judge overturned a guilty verdict from a lower court in a case involving two slaves. The victim was less than 10. The judge wrote in his decision: “The crime of rape does not exist in this state between African slaves, [because] their intercourse is promiscuous.”

Asking Lisa Bloom to tutor him, seeking out therapists, donating money – statements all derived from Weinstein’s statement to the public – misses the point.  If Weinstein was going to go full-trump and clown the rest of us, he should have used music, art, and sound to their best uses – grabbing the mythologies of today and days of yore to roll the rest of us.  Programming the cameras to move out and around, instructing the Director on cue, putting on the best show the world has ever seen.  Never denying, never admitting, calling everyone liars, coloring the words actually heard, inserting words heard in social media discussions between millions of excusers (“locker room talk”), before moving on to better things, with his enables paving the way for his transition and the second … third, fourth, fifth, sixth … no telling how many additional chances.  In my mind’s eye, the man wasted his money.  “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.  The Lone Ranger rides again!”

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JUST MUSING: “Why Jeremy Lin’s story is actually more meaningful…”

Curiously controversy continues to overtly and covertly surround Jeremy Lin’s existence as a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA).  The most recent controversy you ask; Lin’s decision to change his hairstyle.  For the unfamiliar Jeremy Shu-How Lin is one of the few basketball players in the NBA, an American professional basketball association of Asian descent.  Lin’s ethnicity is Taiwanese/Chinese.  Lin entered the Association the hard way, undrafted.  He was not deterred, and maintained a sense-of-self and a belief in his abilities in a profession where those of his ilk are not often seen.  He was cut by a number of teams before receiving a chance to prove his mettle with the New York Knicks in 2012.

Recently, Denise Young Smith, Apple’s Vice President Diversity and Inclusion, an African American female, was quoted as saying:

“There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation,” Young Smith said on-stage at the recent One Young World Summit, held in Bogotá, Colombia.

In few words Apple’s representative revealed the multi-talented nature of racism. Words spoken clearly, providing a visible dose of self-hate, laying waste to what she was hired to do, appearing more like mere caretaker for the tech industry’s woeful diversity, done in black, possessing a white-washed mine.  Words spoken clearly making it appear that she occupied the position for window dressing purposes only; speaking honestly when she didn’t realize she was speaking a bit too honestly; telling the world what she really thinks.  One of the problems with racism [or sexism] is sometimes the victims of these social diseases forget that the victims too have to check themselves, because they too are infected by the same disease(s).  Seemingly, I have digressed but I have not.   I hope I am making sense.

Once given a chance, Lin demonstrated he belonged.  Over a twelve game span, the term Linsanity was born.  Linsanity was actually larger than Lin himself, captivating Knicks’ fans, the Asian world, the imagination of those who have been told they too do not belong.   Draining game winning shots, directing the team like the next coming, lifting a moribund Knicks’ franchise for a brief period, while resurrecting – in my mind – the lives and history of the African American athletes who too looked differently when they pleaded, demanded to be given a chance to prove they belonged.  How soon we forget.

Moses Fleetwood Walker, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, ghosts of baseball’s past sins, would have never criticized Lin’s role as a first.  Charles Cooper, Nat Clifton, Earl Lloyd former professional basketball players would have likely applauded and extended a hand, recognizing when their color was a barrier to others in joining the NBA before they were given a chance.  Kenny Washington, football’s first, would have blocked for him, shredding criticism, reminding the rest of us you can’t place five white men on the court and call your decision and exercise in diversity, while the Asian ball players sit on the bench looking around, bemoaning never being given the opportunity to show their mettle.

What controversy?  After the twelve game display, comments were leveled at Lin’s way revealing a lack of appreciation for history and why Lin’s dazzlingly display, particularly in a historical context, had meaning beyond the individual himself. 
Waging criticism
of Lin’s rise to fame (his teammate, Carmelo Anthony’s remarks); purporting not having any idea who or what he was (comments by then star in the league, Kobe Bryant); expressing outrage (comments made by multiple athletes in the league at the time) when Lin was offered a contract by the Houston Rockets, even though it seemed Lin’s good fortune would benefit other union members of the Association.

Sure that time has passed.  Lin is no longer with New York or Houston.  He has in fact changed teams on multiple occasions.  Today there is no more Linsanity.  Lin is still in the league however, now on the New Jersey Nets.  One thing seems constant; the diseased mind still continues to lurk, occasionally appearing in the oddest places.

The new criticism is about hair.  Lin has elected to wear his hair in dreadlocks, ropelike strands of hair formed by matting or braiding.  Kenyon Martin, an African American, and former professional basketball player, after he discovered Lin’s choice, did what we tend to do in this age of digital miscommunication – he said what he shouldn’t have.

“Do I need to remind this damn boy his last name Lin?” Martin said (h/t Nets Daily). “Like, come on, man. Let’s stop it with these people. There is no way possible he would’ve made it on one of our teams with that bulls–t on his head. Come on man, somebody need to tell him, like, ‘alright bro, we get it.  You wanna be black.’  Like, we get it. But your last name is Lin.'”

Without engaging in a detailed debate surrounding the origins of civilization, or who did what when, the inherent racism found is Martin’s statement is readily identifiable.  First, he ignores dreadlocks, as a hairstyle, has been documented throughout history.  A quick reference to Wikipedia reveals that during both the Bronze and Iron Age, dreads appeared in “Near EastAsia Minor (considered the western two-thirds of the Asian part of Turkey), Caucasus (located between the border of Europe and Asia, situated between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea), ancient Persia (present day Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan).  Also evidence of dreadlocks was discovered among the ancient Israelites (ancient Israelites are considered to be an outgrowth of the indigenous Canaanite populations that long inhabited the Southern Levant, Syria, ancient Israel and the Transjordan region), in ancient Greece (depicted in frescoes), and  Egypt (seen with mummified remains).  Martin should have done a preliminary search before hitting send.

The charge of cultural misappropriation is dangerous in this context, in that it reaches and grabs a number of different cultures, peoples and religions, all incorporating the same hair style.   By way of example, pray tell which myth survives reality when one group attempts to claim credit for matters as common as dance, bread, alcohol beverages.

I muse because I believe Martin’s sin is not his failure to undertake a modicum of research; instead his is a greater sin, the byproduct of endemic racism.  Seemingly never wanting to give Lin his due, criticizing him for matters unrelated to his professional path.  The same way Jackie Robinson and others were criticized for anything and everything.  The faux argument over hairstyle and choice is no different, more of the same.

The website Root.com wrote about Lin’s hairstyle, missing the mark widely.  Electing to tell a joke of the incident and comments; ignoring history’s wide and encompassing clutch; the act of pretending to support Lin while burying him with faint praise.  Absolutely, Lin has complained of racism – before and after the Linsanity label – however he didn’t this time, instead asking Martin about the tattoos on his arm, which contains Chinese characters – cultural misappropriation I guess.  The same cultural misappropriation I too have engaged in when electing to purchase Chinese artwork over the years, or having bookcases made in Hong Kong years ago, prior to Mainland China opening her doors.  My suggestion – any future references to Jeremy Lin’s hair also include a visit with history’s lessons, of course, after checking our racism at the door.