Guess who runs the Motion Picture Association of America in the Weinstein era
It seems as though everyone and his publicist is commenting on Harvey Weinstein and the Hollywood sex culture, but there is an interesting exception: the Motion Picture Association of America. The scandal is not noted on its blog, nor in its news section, nor in its press releases, nor in the recent speeches by its chairman extolling the First Amendment and the institution of copyright.
One would normally expect a major trade association to be active on such a big issue, but the explanation for the silence seems pretty easy. The MPAA chairman (until the end of this year, which is five months before his current contract expires) is former senator Chris Dodd, well known during his Senate career as a pal of Teddy Kennedy in his hard-partying days – one of "two guys in a fraternity who have been loosed upon the world." Dodd, for example, was one slice of bread in the notorious "waitress sandwich" reported by many and documented by respected journalist Michael Kelly.
When Dodd did attend to his legislative duties, he helped create the subprime lending financial crisis and then produced the monster Dodd-Frank, proudly stultifying the American financial system since 2010 while enriching the big financial players who are so generous to the political classes.
One can see why the MPAA would hesitate to send Dodd out to speak about respect for women and the evils of sexual harassment. It would make too obvious the congruence between the moral and financial corruptions of Hollywood and those of Washington, described by Kelly as follows: "from all available evidence, God created our elected officials to drink and screw around." In particular, it would emphasize the similarities between Harvey Weinstein and the Teddy Kennedy-Bill Clinton-Chris Dodd view of relations between the sexes.
At the time of his appointment, I noted that the choice of Dodd was a bit puzzling, given his reputation. "Hollywood is a land of emotion and illusion, not logic and reality, and ... is fiercely self-righteous and contemptuous of all dissent," and Dodd certainly fit these job requirements. I also wondered why anyone so disliked by conservatives would be selected, and the MPAA seems to have reached the same conclusion. His canning took place last spring, long before the Weinstein affair, but according to the Hollywood Reporter, "[s]tudio insiders say they want a fresh approach at the MPAA after a sometimes-bumpy ride for Dodd. 'We needed someone who has relationships with everyone,' says one studio executive."
Dodd remains MPAA chairman for the next couple of months, though he has already been replaced as CEO by Charles Rivkin, a media veteran and former Obama administration official, with, as far as we know, a less colorful personal past. So perhaps the association will become more active on the harassment issue.
In the meantime, it seems unsporting not to send him out touring to defend the industry and its practices. Hollywood is in the entertainment business, after all, and those of us on the political right would find such a tour far more entertaining than anything available on our screens.
James V DeLong lives in the Shenandoah Valley in Va.