The past week’s headlines have been appropriated by Hollywood’s hedonistic Humpback Whale, Harvey Weinstein. Our obsession with the Hollywood hub and its eccentric raconteurs has been briefly hidden by our outrage for this man’s activities, but this brief moment reveals the phenomena of our shy politics.
As self-proclaimed ‘liberals’ we constantly mobilise our right to self-determination on an everyday basis but this comes under the category of consumerism, not any large pro-social movement. As liberals, we express our right to freedom of speech and to be proprietors of objection to illiberal events; yet we continue to consume and support the institutions and their members which go against these values.
Thomas Frank recently suggested that there is a certain ‘form’ of liberalism that allows Weinstein et al. to combine self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement – he was referring to Weinstein’s connection with political figures and their ideals – but this suggests that we are still progressing towards or hold a more genuine form of liberalism.
If one delves further into the issue, one reveals a perennial trap of hegemonic masculinity; one which is propped up by our everyday consumption of goods that enable us to live vicariously through Hollywood.
The masculine centre of liberalism is no ghost and it has been critiqued for its emphasis on a world obsessed with a market-economy – a global economy built on conflict. Feminists can be hailed for their recognition of a certain type of man – one that dominates socio-economic and racial inequalities – but this notion has been absent from the reactions to Humpback Harvey’s activities.
The grandiose individual determination that forms liberalism, precedes the competitive fight or flight nature of Hollywood’s castle of creativity, debauchery and success. And it does not stop at Hollywood’s edge.
The successful, overtly altruistic and obsessive man features in the University, the City, the Army barracks, the changing room and especially the policy arena. This type of man stands as an undesirable but intentionally revered beacon of ambition and opportunity; yet it is this element of liberalism that reinforces the misogyny of the consumer and business world.
It is the competitive world of business, education and sport that reinforces this hegemonic masculinity – both the men and women within and outside Hollywood are complicit in reinforcing this phenomenon.
Until we start to consider what we want our own existences to be – to evaluate our dependency on consuming every possible atom; to question the sources of our inspiration and to start seeing our survival as a mutual endeavour – we will continue to reinforce the behaviour of this type of man.
Words, Francis Robertson-Marriott.