Power and the myth of difficult talent.
The Bulwark IS refreshing!!!! Not “regular”, informing and often unsettling!!!! Thank you!!!
I cannot believe we got an Infinity Gauntlet movie that was a reasonable interpretation of Jim Starlin's comics.
I understand why that series gave them something to build towards. However, short of the OG Secret Wars series, there isn't any other of those "event" series I can see them adapting outside of things that require the X-men.
I am still enjoying the movies. As someone with a young daughter and a family member dying from cancer on their own terms, Thor spoke to me in a couple of ways. I hope we get another round with Waititi to wrap up his thoughts on the thundered.
Parr of the problem is choosing characters poorly. I appreciate the need for an Asian hero, especially when Disney was clearly planning to pander to China. But instead of Master of Kung Fu, never a great character, how about Amadeus Cho? The Eternals were always uninteresting in my comic reading time. I don't know that Kirby adapts as easily to now as Jim Starling does.
I really think Marvel's mistake was firing James Gunn at the behest of internet trolls. They lost a great point man at a critical time. They also shook his faith in them by tossing him to the curb. Noticeably, when they hired him back, it wasn't to architect the phases. That's our loss for the stories and Disney's loss for the money.
I have to say that JVL is my most favorite Bulwark writer. That said, Sonny Bunch is terrific and I very much enjoy/appreciate his insight into entertainment. Like all of the Bulwark folks he writes very well and always has a point of view that I may have not considered.
This is my favorite Bulwark newsletter
Most criminals are not especially talented, so I doubt there's even a correlation, let alone causation.
The truth is that we incentivize the Weinsteins of the world because we tell them that it's okay to do these things so long as they have the money and power to silence their victims or beat them in court. Forget Weinstein, this has literally been Trump's mode of operation since the 1980's and all we ever did about it was roll our collective eyes until that one time he came down that golden escalator.
If you don't punish excessive wealth, you encourage the concentration of it by showing men in each generation *exactly* how much they can get away with if they can afford the right lawyers and big cash settlements to victims that are like pocket change for these guys. Much in the same way that American cities deal with bad cop problems by paying off the families of innocent victims killed by police, we deal with the victims of rape and sexual harassment by having their abusers pay them off and then we call that justice. Well, if money can absolve even the most vile sins, then why not just become rich and then do whatever the fuck you want to do within the limits of the two-tier system? We're telling them exactly what they can get away with over and over and over again. We let them accrue wealth to insane amounts for said legal protections to pay off victims with, and then we get collectively upset when they keep doing it all over again? Like, PEOPLE, you can't fix the rich men problem without getting rid of the exorbitant amounts of wealth just like you can't fix the gun problem without getting rid of the exorbitant amount of guns.
Keep licking the boots of the rich folks. I promise, it's going to fix all of these problems just like you want it to.
Difficult Men by Brett Martin is a pretty good read discussing the golden age of cable TV prestige dramas, marked in the book from the Sopranos to Breaking Bad (which IIRC was either still airing or just finished when the book was published.)
The creators covered ranged from outright tyrants (David Chase, Matt Weiner) to kinda incoherent (David Milch) to argumentative-but-not-a-dick (David Simon) to genuinely affable (Vince Gilligan).
Gilligan in particular interests me- by accounts, he's a legit nice guy and he has a very interesting fill in the blank methodology (he filmed the opening scene of the final season, which turned out to be key set up for the series finale, without having plotted out the end of the series or knowing what form the ending would take. He just wrote the first ep figuring that he'd figure out what the scene meant by the time he got there.)
And he followed his smash hit magnum opus series with a prequel series that for a lot of people (myself included) has turned out to be better than the original series.
Whereas for David Chase I think The Many Saints of Newark showed where he goes when he doesn't have the elder Gandolfini to carry the production.
Wow! If Ivanka only got $14 million that's just .2% of Donald's $6 billion net worth. I'm gonna need to see those financial statements.
"But is it really the personality defects which make these people successful? Or is it more the case that one of the privileges of success is that repercussions melt away and people are liberated to be their worst selves?"
Mostly the latter. While it's impossible to Do All Good Things at once, and focusing on one's own particular "genius" can mean letting other duties slide, the neglect of other duties isn't positive abuse of others.
If you and your "genius" render yourself "indispensable" enough, others will put up with a lot from you before deciding they've had enough. Since people know this, one way to signal that you're "indispensable" (even if you aren't) is to be a massive jerk. The more those around you (especially those in charge) buy into the "nice guys can't be geniuses" myth, the more likely this con is to work. Sometimes the success of this con outlasts the lifetime of the conman.
How many aspiring whatevers have been advised that being perceived as successful is half the battle, so you should look like you're successful even when you aren't yet? Cultivating jerkitude in order to appear like someone successful enough to afford abusing others is part of this whole game, though not a necessary part. But it really works on some people.
The one person I know with extensive experience inside Hollywood says this con is endemic there. And I've witnessed firsthand its occurrence in conservative media.
Another disagreement with you, sir! MJFs article in the Atlantic is pretty good, but I used to listen to her regularly on her pod, THE NEW ABNORMAL, and I frequently thought that I had socks that were more astute than she was. It doesn’t bother me that she’s left of me politically —- I read people with whom I disagree, both left and right. And its not that she gets people’s names and their offices wrong —-its gotta be hard to do these podcasts. It’s that she is neither astute, prescient, original or anything else that would make one want to listen to her. Sorry.
You spelled "Eight Men Out," wrong JVL
“Or is it more the case that one of the privileges of success is that repercussions melt away and people are liberated to be their worst selves?“
I worked in that industry for twelve years and on the studio lot Miramax had an office. I will not and cannot condone his deplorable behavior; however, this behavior has been going on since the silent era with no condemnation. Not saying it's alright but Harvey found the industry that turned their heads and allowed this to happen. This is no different than politics or religion both that can show thousands of years off looking away.
Harvey was well known on the studio lot as one who supported the old 'studio system' of casting.
The casting couch tyrant is such a Hollywood myth, going all the way back to the early days of movies. The question has always been do people really behave that way, not just Weinstein but all the people who put up with the abuse just to be famous or work next to the famous, I guess we got the answer.
The next question, is it the whole system that is morally bankrupt? Is Weinstein an aberration or just business as usual, just what happens when we turn talent into a commodity.
Harvey Weinstein could have gone down in history as one of the truly great empresarios of stage and screen having been responsible for some of the best plays and films of the 21st Century instead he has chosen to only be remembered as a gross serial sexual predator.
And were his cultural contributions worth the pain and suffering inflicted on his victims? No. Not one.
Absolutely right that Harvey is not in the category of a Jobs or Wintour or Oppenheimer. They were all certainly tyrants at times but they were the singular focus type, using their power and ability to manipulate others in service of being the best or first or the greatest (it doesn’t at all excuse them) but Harvey is a predator through and through (Auletta’s book tracks instances of his predatory behavior back to Harvey as a kid, so it’s not something that started because of his fame and power) and he sought the status and power simply to abet his predation and alibi him from the consequences.