The idea of Faust comes from a German legend, where Faust was a great scholar who was unhappy with his life. In a bargain with the devil he exchanges his soul for unlimited knowledge and pleasure. Faust, with the aid of Mephistopheles, corrupts those he comes into contact with. [i]
Isn’t this the storyline we see playing out in today’s reporting of the Weinstein scandal? In this case, the only question is who is playing the role of Faust and who is Mephistopheles? The news would have us believe Weinstein is Faust and he has corrupted all the women, but is that true?
The idea that actors and actresses have exchanged sex for fame was familiar to us since I was a young boy seeing the images of beautiful women on the screen. The idea of the casting couch and the role it played in securing prime roles was not a secret even to a hick from upstate New York. So, I have to ask the question; were the young men and women drawn to an industry known for its sexual proclivities naïve or where they entering into their own bargain? Who was really selling their soul for fame and riches?
Don’t mistake my question as sympathy for Weinstein. His abuse of those who were powerless to stop it is terrible. I am just pointing out he was and is a part of a much larger corruption where morality is routinely sacrificed for personal desire. We see this in the condemnations of those who now seek to distance themselves, but counted him as a friend when they wanted his money or influence.
The only innocents I see in this whole affair are the children cast to the wolves by their parents in an attempt to gain their own riches. Mayim Bialik (“Blossom” and now “Big Bang Theory”) wrote an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times[ii] where she discusses her experiences, starting as an 11-year old in an industry that objectifies women. She is being condemned by many for blaming the victims.
How better to ensure a continuation of the status quo than to hang up a single evil villain, beat our collective breasts about his sins, and then -- when the dust settles, return to business as usual. I think it would be equally effective if we just bound his hands and threw him off the castle rampart into the moat. If he drowned we would forgive him, if he lived we would repeat the process. Unfortunately, most of the castles are occupied by those who’ve made their own bargain.