Harvey Weinstein with Hillary Clinton. Photo courtesy of CNN.
For decades, Hollywood stars and celebrities of all kinds have exercised an outsized influence on American public opinion, and that’s a problem of our own making.
The accusations against Harvey Weinstein, which were followed by a raft of accusations against numerous other celebrities, sent a shockwave through America. These were the people who pushed their political and moral beliefs on Americans, through public statements, editorializing in their products and political contributions to candidates for high office.
We do not know just how this all ends, or how deep and wide the corruption and abuse runs. Already, pundits and commentators are suggesting this may be the beginning of an unprecedented wave of revelations about the Hollywood set and their peers in corporate, political and professional sports in America.
So be it.
But, the American people have to understand something about themselves as well.
As televisions have replaced family game night and smart phones have replaced quality literature as the favorite pastimes of the American family, these celebrities and corrupt leaders have been allowed to replace American parents and the great moral thinkers of mankind as the role models of American children and the arbiters of our morality.
That is the problem.
There has always been scandal and immorality. But this is different. Right now, in America, many of the same people accused of these horrific acts have been elevated to demigod status by segments of the American public because of their skill at crafting, packaging, glorifying and selling that same behavior to the American public for decades.
Why are we surprised that the people we celebrate because they glorify sex and violence have become the product that led to their success and power? What did we expect?
In an era when family came before television and enrichment of the mind occupied the space the smart phone currently does, these celebrities would have been relegated to one-off stories on tabloids at the local supermarket.
It would not feel as if America itself were being torn asunder by each new revelation.
Right now, many American kids spend more time with the products of Hollywood the new entertainment industry than they do with their parents and family.
We just learned that the United States Congress has a “shush fund” that has paid out over $15 million protecting our government leaders from sexual harassment claims. Whether it is the direct funding of this “shush fund” through American tax dollars, or the indirect funding of sexual predators through the purchase of their movie tickets, the household budgets of American families have unknowingly funded this behavior.
That vulnerability many Americans feel was opened up over the past decade, not just in recent months, regardless of how it may feel.
The only way to prevent it is for parents and community leaders to replace the Hollywood set and their peers in politics, sports and corporate America as the role models future generations look to. Tightening up on the purse strings that fund these monsters is a critical step as well.