30 Rock joked about Harvey Weinstein and his abuse of power back in 2012:
she: “I’m not afraid of anyone in show business. I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than 3 occasions (out of 5).”
he: “Just let him do it!”
Wow. If Harvey’s abuse of power was so ubiquitous that a popular sitcom like 30 Rock could joke about it and people would get it and laugh, why the hell didn’t anybody do anything?! There have been lots of articles written about the role enablers played in Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long not-so-secret life (like this and this) but I think this skit is a shining example of how society let this happen.
This clip comes from season 6, episode 14 – ‘Kidnapped By Danger’ – written by none other than Tina Fey. She is listed on Wikipedia as the sole writer for the episode.
I have a lot of respect for Tina Fey. She’s something of a feminist icon; a woman doing it in a man’s world. I’ve read her book (Bossypants). It’s awesome! Here’s a good write up on it and her feminism in it. In 2007, and again in 2009, she made the Time 100 list – a list of the most influential people in the world selected by Time Magazine. In 2014 she was recognized by Elle Magazine during The Women in Hollywood Awards – which honor women for their outstanding achievements in film.
What I’m trying to say is that even Tina Fey, a feminist woman, who has directly struggled with sexism in her profession, and openly spoken out against it, doesn’t always get it right. Our culture of accepting these things, of ‘boys will be boys’, runs so deep that sometimes it’s hard to question it. Maybe Tina Fey didn’t realize the extent of what was going on, maybe the personal risk was too great to do anything more than joke about it, maybe the joke was her best option of bringing attention to it, I don’t know.
I wish that Tina Fey would have sure, joked about it – but also spoken about it seriously. Used humor to bring light to it. Recognized that rape culture is a thing, that powerful men abuse their positions, and that one, in particular, was doing it so serially and openly that it was well-known enough to joke about. Acknowledged that something wasn’t right.
I’m glad that five years later, in 2017, Weinstein has finally been outed. Society is on the right track. But we still have a long way to go.