Some will be surprised to learn that The Crying Game, Like Water For Chocolate, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, The English Patient, Good Will Hunting, Life is Beautiful, Garden State and Pulp Fiction are just a few of the large and diverse group of films that were produced by Miramax, Harvey Weinstein’s production company. And while they all remain classics in their respective genres, they unfortunately will now be forever associated with the taint, or stain, of scandal.
Because while Weinstein’s alleged conduct was inexcusable, many of those who surrounded him were apparently willing to overlook, gloss-over or ignore his behaviors to protect the almighty bottom line and their own self-interests.
Mr. Pink of Reservoir Dogs observes that “I can say I definitely didn't do it because I know what I did or didn't do. But I cannot definitely say that about anybody else, 'cause I don't definitely know.” And that’s well taken… but life isn’t cast in absolutes. And the sooner we realize that as a society we need to speak-up about bad behavior, the better off we will all be.
We need laws that increase speech protection so that defamation suits are more difficult to bring. But most of all we need people willing to publicly reject misogyny and abuse. Justice demands no less.
But calling someone or something out in public is hard, so perhaps we might want to rethink - or perhaps re-envision and re-purpose - the use of a blackballing system.
Wikipedia tells us that “Blackballing is a rejection in a traditional form of the secret ballot, where a white ball or ballot constitutes a vote in support and a black ball signifies opposition.” It’s a practice that arose in the 17th century in fraternal organizations and social clubs in which the casting of just one black ball excluded a potential candidate from membership.
This is not to be confused with blacklisting, which serves no place in a modern constitutional democracy. At its height during the 40s and 50s blacklisting was used to prevent professionals in Hollywood and elsewhere - many of whom were Jewish - from obtaining meaningful employment due to accusations of being communist sympathizers.
A contemporary version of blackballing however, instead of using actual physical balls to cast votes, would harness the power of just a single voice to call out the bad actors among us.
And it would be named Twitter.