Should We Boycott Hollywood Over Harvey Weinstein?

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, fellow Canadian Stefan Molyneux published a video explaining why he is boycotting Hollywood movies as a matter of conscience. In this post, I’m going to explain why I’m not going to do that. Here’s Stefan’s video for those who are interested:

The first question I have is does a lack of integrity invalidate all of a person’s good works? What does integrity mean? It is a deep concept. A person with true integrity is consistent in every aspect of his of life. Clearly, Weinstein lacks integrity, by his own admission. That doesn’t change the fact that he produced the Lord of the Rings movies, which are my favorite movies of all time. It is possible for a man who lacks integrity to produce great things. Those works, while they may have been influenced by his flaws, stand on their own merits.

The second question I have is should a man be convicted in the court of public opinion? If allegations can be used to ruin Harvey Weinstein’s life, they can be used to ruin an innocent man. Take Julian Assange: The allegations of rape made against him seem highly suspicious. He has been forced to spend years in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy rather than face extradition to a country who’s courts are arguably biased against him. I don’t know if Assange is innocent or guilty, but that there has been a smear campaign against him is undeniable.

While trading sexual favors for career advancement is repulsive, it is not an act of aggression. In other words, as long as Weinstein did not use force, what he did was unethical, but not immoral. If he did indeed rape women, he then crossed the line. In that case, he should face trial the court of law, not just the court of opinion. But even should that happen, I will still love The Lord of the Rings movies.

Weinstein’s actions are now yielding the consequences that he appears to have earned. He is unlikely to be given the chance to create another masterpiece. We must all face the consequences of our own actions. I hope that those accusing him of doing them wrong are not also taking actions for which they will have to pay the consequence in future. But though the man may have fallen from grace, his works will be his true legacy.

Getting back to the premise of this post, should we stop going to the movies because there are unethical people involved in their creation? For me, it’s a matter of your own conscience. If a product is being produced unethically and you don’t know that it is (for example, if you unknowingly buy clothing produced with child labor), you have contributed to the problem, but you’ve done nothing unethical. Just because you know that there are products out there that are produced unethically, that doesn’t mean you need to boycott all products, though you certainly may if you wish to.

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About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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4 Responses to Should We Boycott Hollywood Over Harvey Weinstein?

  1. tomehuntress says:

    “as long as Weinstein did not use force, what he did was unethical, but not immoral.” Except for this words, I agree with all of what you had said. Fornication may not be viewed by most people as immoral in today’s world, but it still is in God’s eyes. Btw, LotR is also my favorite movievof all time.

    • jimbelton says:

      My morality is grounded in the non-aggression principle. If two people are engaging in a consensual act, I don’t consider it immoral. A good example of something else like this is suicide, which for many is considered sinful. While I don’t consider either consensual sex outside of marriage or suicide to be good things to practice, and would recommend against them, I don’t think it’s my place to judge people who engage in them.

  2. john smith says:

    I have formally enjoyed your posts, but am now sorely disappointed. The bottom line is this; the sluts traded blow jobs for a shot at stardom. Just that simple. Now they are claiming victimhood in the most shallow of attempts to redeem themselves. The rule in Hollyweird is sex for screen time. Don’t make a deal with the devil and then complain when the bill comes due.

    Movies should be boycotted for the simple fact that Hollywood is a cesspool of the lowest of the low posturing themselves as the exact opposite. Bread and circuses for the illiterate. God help us all.

    • jimbelton says:

      Challenging comment. I’ll address both parts.

      First, while I agree that if consensual acts took place that it took both parties to make the deal, I would not be as quick to judge all comers. Any actress who was propositioned and turned down the proposition has a right to feel coerced, and trying to coerce someone into a sexual act is at least unethical. Unlike you, I don’t believe that the only rule in Hollywood is sex for screen time. Though the practice may be common, I don’t think things are ever that black and white.

      Second, while Hollywood has its problems, actors claiming the moral high ground is a bit rich, and a lot of what is produced is indeed crap, I still value things like the Lord of the Rings that are able to transcend the human foibles of their creators. Those who create art (and I agree, there is not much of it coming from Hollywood these days) are human. Maybe, when true art is created, they are tapping into something greater.

      You are absolutely welcome to boycott Hollywood, and my blog for that matter. I hope that you’re wrong and that there’s still some good left in Hollywood. The world would be a lesser place without it.

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