Chaos as opportunity

Some Twitter users have noticed that the great majority of celebrity predator unmaskings have happened since the election of Donald Trump. "Coincidence?" one asks. "I don't think so."

While few would claim that Trump deliberately unleashed the storm that has taken down so many prominent sexual predators the correlation is too strong to be ignored. Something has definitely occurred which has given super-powers even to marginal journalists they never had before.  Karen Morrison noted the boldness with which tabloid sleuths were admiring their new muscles.

Joke of the Week: “journalists” at Page Six and other outlets are trying to claim the sex harassment stories “show the power of journalism.” REALLY? I think it’s the women, their LAWYERS, and the public’s disdain that earned these credits. Such self absorption.

Ronan Farrow might be asking himself: did I do that? Like the Hulk, it might be well to remember the role gamma rays could have played in their sudden strength, for this new found "power of journalism" has suddenly sprung up after lying dormant for so many years.  There are probably two explanations its sudden resurgence.

The first is that the celebrity "force field" which protected them from scandal is down.  Many of the fallen were formerly protected from exposure not just by wealth and lawyers but by an aura of reputational invincibility. They were larger than life, legends.

One of the synonyms for "legend" is "icon".  As the Atlantic put it "the case of Representative John Conyers, the otherwise venerable Michigan Democrat, is a particularly complex one. It demonstrates the way that a man’s stature can protect him."  Few want to be remembered has having brought down an icon.  It is the legend, whether among groupies, cults, gangs, ideological political parties or star-struck affinity groups, which forms a large part of the Svengali's invincibility.

But now for whatever reason the auras are severely weakened. The operational difference this makes was depicted in a key scene in the 2005 sci-fi movie War of the Worlds.  When the character played by Tom Cruise notices birds alighting on the formerly invulnerable Martian tripods he realizes their defenses are down.  "No shield!" he informs the formerly powerless soldiers.  "What?" they ask.  "No shield!" he repeats. Realizing the implication the troops then fire their Javelin anti-tank missiles at the tripods with lethal effect.

We are living in the post force-field world.  For better or worse the person most responsible for tearing down the reputation of the elite -- besides the elites themselves -- is undoubtedly Donald Trump.  There was a time when news anchors were revered figures and the president was regarded with almost religious awe.  By constantly reviling the media and saying outrageous things Trump lowered the standard of dignity to the point where everyone, including himself, was open to mockery.  In atmosphere where public figures were referred to "Pocahonthas", the "Rocketman", "Crooked Hillary" and Trump himself described as "The Dotard" or the Orangutan what expectation of deference did Harvey Weinstein have?