Wiles

As they used to be euphemistically called. Of course they ain’t all feminine or all wiles. And naturally, they’re roughly as clearly defined and well understood as ‘flirting’ and ‘sexual harassment’. The precise same action or words from two different people addressed at one individual can be ‘flirting’ and ‘sexual harassment’. The individual can be upset because person A didn’t do it, and upset because person B did. It depends on just how attractive individual C finds A or B as to how they feel about it. This is important. It’s the feelings of those on the receiving end that define what it is, and how dare you question that, based on the intent of perpetrator, or the inconsistency… unless of course it is a footballer taking the knee at the US anthem. Then it is their intent, not the feelings of the offended that is important… Yeah well. It is confusing to the old empirical scientist.

Humans are nearly as confusing as English, which makes it a fine choice for communicating the nuances of human thought and emotion – a sore trial to the writer.

Now, it is true that sexuality colors a lot of that human interaction. If it didn’t this would a very brief post, written perhaps in stone, because that’s really the only comment extinct species make. Reproduction (which really has involved sex between male and female humans for 99.99999% of the species) and survival to do so, are somewhat more primal necessities, traits selected for, more than anything else, including philosophical appreciation of the color ‘taupe’. This may seem less than true if you’re shopping for carpets with your partner, but that is merely because appreciation of ‘taupe’ is necessary both for your survival and sexual success.

Human interactions with humans are shaped by these basics. Ask any carpet salesman. People – on all sides of it, often without even realizing they’re doing so, ‘play’ for their advantage – From the fellow going deep into debt for the sports car to ‘impress the chicks’, to the woman applying makeup, from the individual showing off his wealth with an expensive dinner, to the individual showing… well almost everything – a lot of this is genetic fitness signaling – and receiving of those signals. We can turn around and decry some of this (usually the bits that don’t suit us, or are coming from a person we don’t want to receive them from) – but it is like gravity. It’s there, unless you pull some very special stunts to fool it, and that’s temporary. Believable human characters in books will be shaped by it too.

So it is kind of the same level of shock as the revelation of gambling in Rick’s Casino that I read of Harvey Weinstein harassing actresses for sexual favors. It’s as surprising as Bill Clinton… And the reality is, in an environment where there are 100 (or 10 000) nearly equally qualified eager applicants for a job, and Harvey or Bill or Mary or Sally… have got the power to decide which of you gets that break, and you expect none of the deciders to use that, and none of applicants to use that either? I don’t know where you find such humans, but it isn’t Hollywood. I’m not excusing it, but let’s try and pretend we understand the basics of evolutionary genetic selection: AKA survival of the fittest. Such tactics must have succeeded-on both sides, probably with a substantial number of directors (or people in positions power, be they kings or tribal medicine men or Company directors or presidents) and substantial part of Hollywood’s A-list back when they were no-list or low-list. Let’s be real here, Harvey didn’t keep trying because he failed every single time. But maybe I’m wrong: Who knows, perhaps all those eager pussy-hat wearers who became vastly wealthy, famous and successful due to Weinstein never ever gave him what he wanted, and he just kept right on trying…

Oddly, now, many years later, some of them are complaining. None of them have yet volunteered to give back the tainted money and awards… And some of his award winners aren’t complaining, or at least yet.

Look… take the sex aspect out of it, and many an author is no less of a slut, willing to do whatever necessary to please an editor or publisher, and many an editor, publisher or agent, is not much of a moral step up on Harvey. Let’s not get sanctimonious about it. It’s mercenary, not admirable behavior perhaps, but realistically many an author faced similar choices – and not just authors. The two aspects are that the honorable mercenary (or individual of negotiable virtue) stays bought, and secondly doesn’t pretend they’re the soul of virtue. Looking at Hollywood’s A-list (and their all too public private lives) they seem to make a big deal out of telling the world – or at least those who disagree with them, just how wicked and without virtue others are. Yeah, the bimbo who had sex with something that resembles Baron Harkonnen, to get her success, with the intellect of lard, who has a personal life that resembles a psychological and social train-wreck… preaching morality. Telling the public – for example – that guns are bad, and abortion is essential.

But the scary part is…

Some people listen.

And this is where this and the author intersect. Because what you’re seeing, being shown, rather than told, is an essential part of the fantasy the reader wants. He (or she) does not want their heroine or hero to be where they are because they’d have threesome anal sex with Jabba the Hutt if that is what it took to succeed. Then they’re no hero. So we delude ourselves.

We all want to believe in things like honor and merit. They do exist, and most of us accept they’re coin of more value (even in the reproductive stakes) than wealth, fame or even good looking faces and bodies. When it comes to parental care making sure those genes get the best chance – we’d like the wealth, fame, good looks, AND the honor and the ability succeed on merit (with all the things like intelligence, ability and tenacity that go into that). So it’s no real wonder our heroes even if they only have any one of the fame, wealth and good body set – get ascribed the latter. It is wish fulfillment – and that is a large part of why people read and pay money to do so (and most of us writers are willing to take their money. Some come along later and abuse the payers… )

We’re riding a balance here: coquettish behavior is (unless you really don’t like the individual – in which case they’re not a serious contender as a hero) is as natural as breathing – and desirable acceptable to those it appeals to.  Of course… it’s harassment if it doesn’t.

No one said it was easy or made sense.

51 Comments

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51 responses to “Wiles

  1. Uncle Lar

    Brings to mind a very old joke.
    At a party a gentleman asked a sweet young thing if, theoretically speaking of course, she would consider going to bed with someone for a million dollars. She allowed as to for that sum she would at least consider it.
    He then asked if she would go to bed with him for twenty bucks.
    She responded with, “How dare you! What do you think I am?”
    And his reply, “We’ve established that, now we’re just negotiating over price.”

    • Mike Houst

      Well, at least she wasn’t for free. For some odd reason, those tend to be the most expensive.
      TANSTAAFL

    • Yep, I’ve been recalling that old story, too.
      I guess the most galling aspect is that all these pussy-hatted celebs who were having the vapors over Trump saying that if a man is rich and powerful that the ladies will let him do anything … had willingly overlooked behavior and words from Weinstein which were about a hundred times more disgusting. “Baron Harkonnen” Weinstein seems to have gotten off on bullying and humiliating women. And the one thing that I have read about Trump is that he was actually quite the gentleman when it came to women working for him, and with him. Even his ex-wives seem to get along with him. And all this time he has been in the public eye; if there was any dirt to be gotten on him, it would have been gotten long since.

      • Yep. And there ARE people who expect the ‘sex because I am in a position of power over you.’ It doesn’t require ‘rich and powerful’ – just a better position than their intended prey.

        I had a supervisor who would insist on out of office hours ‘team building hangout’ sessions, and found out later on that these were an excuse to find out which of the women would be willing to have sex with him. Apparently my refusal to participate in these outings (because I don’t like going out and drinking and spending money on superfluous stuff when I have bills to pay) enraged him and was part of the reason why his reports were mostly “She isn’t a team player” type shit when my performance was good. (CALL CENTER. Geezus.) Since I couldn’t prove any of that though, there was no way I could file any kind of complaint (and it was considered a job killer to do so.) I was usually described as ‘standoffish, snobbish, unfriendly’ because I usually rushed right home after my shift (to avoid the traffic jams and being trapped in traffic for 4-5 hours) and refused to consider something like bedspace rental in the central business district to ‘make things easier.’ I usually had to deal with upper supervisors on this kind of shit too. Crap like that is why I really, really don’t want to work in an office again.

        It’s been years and it still pisses me off. >.<##

        • Mike Houst

          I stopped going out and drinking with folks or doing the bar scene period when I got tired of not being able to hear conversations once the bar got noisy. Probably why I prefer small groups in more homey settings like out camping, at picnics, or in individual competition sporting events like martial arts, fencing, tennis, etc. Way less background noise.

          Hearing loss is a real barrier when it comes to meeting new people or interacting with large groups. You can’t amplify dead nerves. Frequency shifting has some major problems when you have normal frequencies and shifted frequencies coming in at the same time. And Cochlear implants aren’t good enough to risk what natural hearing I still have.

          But back to the Cutelildrow’s point. I never hit on anyone who worked for me. Just wouldn’t have been right. And don’t dark elves turn used up lovers into driders when they’re done with them? 😉

          • Having ragefilled driders for servants has its appeal, but it is soooo hard to get the webs off everything.

            I prefer small group sessions too, which is probably why we used to do dinner at my place. I rather miss my friends and gaming with them, but we are starting to introduce the kiddies to tabletop rpgs. Happily it seems to have caught interest.

  2. Christopher M. Chupik

    It’s become very clear that when a lot of these Hollywood types veer hard to the left, they’re overcompensating for something.

  3. I’m dreadfully sorry. I read the entire article twice, and sections of it three times, and I do NOT know what the FISH you are talking about. Or rather more exactly, I probably have a clue as to what you are talking about, I just don’t have a FLYING FISH as to the point you are making.
    It might be that I need different fonts, or something, to signal when you are writing something tongue-in-cheek. It might be that I have a horrible blind spot when it comes to quid pro quo sexual harassment and therefore things that are written with your customary sagacity and humor are just reading to me as being FISHING stupid.
    Thee is a FISHING HUGE difference between flirting & coquettish behavior, on the one hand, and sexual predation, on the other and it has to do with the power imbalance between the parties involved. It has not a FISHING thing to do with whether it appeals to anyone.
    I apologize in advance if I am, once again, being obtuse, and raining on others’ picnic.

    • mrsizer

      I read this – through the lens of comments elsewhere – as being come-onto is to be expected. The time to object is when it happens. If you submit, you are making a bargain: My submission for your favor. If you get the favor and then retroactively revoke your submission, your character is not all that much better than the person-in-power’s.

      We can argue the details (e.g. how much the power imbalance* relates to the severity of the problem), but a bargain was struck and the people who did well out of it are not covering themselves with glory by bemoaning it years, even decades, after the fact.

      If you disagree, don’t take issue with Dave; it may not be what he’s talking about (certainly not entirely). This is how I read a good chunk of it – again, based on other stuff I’ve been reading.

      *To be honest, I really don’t understand this whole “power imbalance” thing. I’ve told several bosses, “No, and if you don’t like it, fire me.” Not in a sexual come-on encounter (which has never happened to me), but in other “I’m in charge of you” situations. Apparently, it’s a fairly rare trait because I’ve had others ask me to put myself in that position for their sake since they were afraid to do it.

      • Re: the power imbalance. I spent a great deal of my career-type life in an academic environment, from major university down to middle school. The nastiest type of stuff I saw was not the gross, pinch-yer-butt, tell dirty jokes in yer presence thing; it was the person in a superior position (department head or teacher) using their personal charm and the power of their authority to seduce a student. It wasn’t a level playing field, and it is the responsibility of the person in the position of superior authority to make certain nothing gets acted on.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I think he has some subtle point.

      Probable subtle point one, there is some objective standard for the difference between flirtation and harassment.

      Two, you can’t sell enough stories about sexless robots to have them make up all of the current market, therefore, you are likely to be writing about sex. How should you write about it? The market wants heroes.

      Three, the industries where some of this exploitation is very bad are some of the same ones which are pushing ‘no heroes’ and bizarre double standards for rape, sexual harassment, etc… In a pig’s eye to them and their tastes.

      Possible fourth, these folks seem to have gone along with it then. Why stop now? Having gone along with it, what moral authority do they have to tell us that we are wrong to vote for Trump? (Not that Dave or I voted for Trump or Clinton.)

    • Pat – coquet (kəʊˈkɛt; kɒ-)
      vb (intr) , -quets, -quetting or -quetted
      1. to behave flirtatiously
      2. to dally or trifle
      Which is derived from ‘little cock’.
      As I said English is a difficult language full of imprecision and different interpretations.
      I’m not defending Weinstein – I dislike his type, and his actions intensely. However – He represents one extreme of a continuum of behavior across a range which goes from almost nothing to very exploitative… 1) there is nothing novel, or surprising or even limited to males about what he was doing. The only ‘surprising’ part is him being held accountable at all. One has to suspect he’s just no longer useful, or being pushed. 2)The behavior didn’t spring from nothing and nowhere. He didn’t try it out without any invitation and get nowhere, and keep trying for ?30 years. He undoubtedly got invitation, got reward, or at least saw the possibility of reward and made the try and succeeded. It is very unlikely that any Hollywood actor (male or female) made it to the top of the A-list without influencing decisions on sex-related basis, be it conciously, or willingly or unwillingly. They wouldn’t be human if, at the very least, they didn’t attempt to improve their chances with coquettish behavior – that’s normal. It’s also using the possibility of sex (however remote) to influence decisions. 3)one of my points is that the line between harassment and acceptable behavior is determined by the recipient. Joe-wealthy-and-handsome gives Lisa-looking-for-husband a hug and a kiss on the cheek. She’s delighted. Fred-poor-and-ugly sees this and does exactly the same thing… and is slapped with a harassment charge. Joe-the-movie director makes a pass, and gets a positive response from Cindy-the-wanna-be actress. Fred-the-janitor makes the same pass, and gets slapped. I’m relating this to writing and pointing out that its about how the audience receive it, not what you intend. And that the audience want (and imagine do for actors and actresses) honor and merit (which they ascribe to actors and actresses, mostly on the basis of the characters they play). So as a writer, writing, let’s say Francesca using her ‘feminine wiles’ – flirting with a a politician to obtain information, I need to consider whether her behavior is going to freak my audience out or not. To make it or not, I have to imbue her with other characteristics.

    • Even where the power imbalance is huge, if Tony HardAbs goes hunting to trade his youthful sexual favours to anyone willing to advance him up the political chain, Felonia Von Pantsuit wouldn’t be sexually harrassing pretty-boy McGoldigger and her come-on to him would be flirting.

      Yes, they’re both fairly grotesque in this scenario, and it’s true that he’s merely a complicit slut, while she’ could also be an abusive predator, if she propositions young interns under pressure, doesn’t change what happened between Tony and Felonia.

      Just to give a hypothetical example.

  4. Christopher M. Chupik

    Someone on Twitter summed it up perfectly:

    “Mrs. Rutter ™‏ @lindarutter 6h
    6 hours ago

    More
    Weinstein Company didn’t fire Harvey because THEY found out he was a sexual predator. They fired him because WE found out.”

    • My daughter wonders if one of the reasons for Weinstein being cut loose is that Hillary losing the election cost him and his friends a lot of money in lost donations to her cause. They expected to gain a lot, if she won … and she didn’t. And so the knives came out for him, at long last.

      • Zsuzsa

        I’ve seen a couple of variations on that speculation. One person was guessing that if the House of Clinton had managed to retake the throne, Weinstein, as a member of that court, would still be protected (though his favored candidate losing was only one of the ways the commentator believed Weinstein was losing power). Another person speculated that now that the model of “a powerful man abusing that power over his female underlings” was Donald Trump rather than Bill Clinton, it was “safe” to go after sexual harassment again.

        • Joe in PNG

          There’s also the possibility that someone else is eyeing Weinstein’s throne.

          • snelson134

            What I kept seeing is that his brother wanted to take over the company, and instigated this to get Harvey out of the way.

  5. Adding to the hilarity of this Hollywood farce, the spectacle of Meryl Streep today pretending “I knew nothing! Nothing!” about Harvey’s depredations.

    Or supposed depredations. In all this, how is it none of these “predators” got an elbow in the throat from one of their “victims”? I have known many girls who would have handed middle aged, out of shape Harvey his ass on a plate if he tried to trap them in his hotel room. Actresses, dancers, stunt women, these are not tiny helpless anime schoolgirls. Most of them are physically impressive in the muscle department, these chick lift. Some fat old guy is not going to have his way unless they all let him.

    I think Trump said it best. “You can grab them by the [body part]! I mean, they let you do it!” What’s funny is, he was amazed by it. Couldn’t believe these super fancy women were being that way.

    That’s why one of these Shannon Tweed-sized amazons didn’t mangle good ol’ Harvey, and why Hollywood is filled to the brim with more like him. It is a bargain. You get to grab my [body part] and I get a movie deal. Or maybe they just get to enjoy the excitement of getting their [body part] grabbed by Famous Guy. Don’t know, don’t really care.

    But, to me it is a problem because of the kind of movies guys like Harvey Weinstein make. This week the biggest movie out there is “It” which starts with the horrific murder of a child. Spoiler, the monster pulls the kid’s arm off on camera. It ends, spoiler, with children beating the monster to death in a big long drawn out scene of violence.

    Or Pulp Fiction, a culturally uplifting Weinstein film celebrating the very best in Humanity. [hint for the clueless Lefty types I know secretly read this blog, that was heavy sarcasm.]

    Pretty much it boils down to morally degenerate assholes and outright mentally ill perverts controlling the entire media industry from top to bottom, producing really quite horrible films, “art” and stories. Because that’s who they are, and that’s what they’re about.

    All the while deploring Trump for -saying- something about women allowing him to grab them by the [body part].

    Thank God for Drudge Report, is all I can say.

    • Robin Munn

      Sometimes it’s a bargain, sometimes it’s succumbing to a threat. “Do what I want, or else” is not usually considered a bargain by the person on the receiving end. Those actresses all knew that if they had “handed middle aged, out of shape Harvey his ass on a plate”, as you eloquently put it, he would have proceeded to use his influence to blacklist them so that they’d never get a Hollywood role, ever gain. With, I’d add, the effective backing of the vast majority of that sordid industry.

      Yes, in some cases an actress who goes along with the “casting couch” scam knows what she’s getting into, in which case she’s essentially a prostitute who’s taking payment in a form other than currency. But in other cases she’s naive and doesn’t realize that this kind of thing goes on, in which case she’s essentially a rape victim, where the threat wasn’t to her life but was, nonetheless, to something she desperately wanted to keep (her dreams of being a star).

      It really depends on the situation, and it’s usually quite hard to know which is which since the “prostitute” type will usually claim to be the “rape victim” type once someone finds out about the bargain. Which then leads to accusations of blaming the victim, and so on. Yet in some cases, the actress involved really was a victim and shouldn’t be blamed for being raped. It’s usually best to be cautious in one’s judgment in situations like these.

      • “Sometimes it’s a bargain, sometimes it’s succumbing to a threat. “Do what I want, or else” is not usually considered a bargain by the person on the receiving end.”

        Absolutely true. I think the thing is that what we’re looking at here is a whole culture of corruption, not one guy. Harvey Weinstein can’t, by himself, say “you’ll never work in this town again!” and make it stick. He needs the cooperation of a host of other people. People he knows, and also people he does not know. That’s what we see here with the New York Times, people he doesn’t know and can’t control, covering for him voluntarily. Makes you wonder what’s in it for them.

        Then there is the “everybody knows” issue, This type of corruption is very broadly based. A woman would have to be borderline mentally deficient to not know what she was in for, if she made it all the way up to Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room. There’s a lot of steps in between Schwab’s Pharmacy and the Beverly Hills Hilton. What 20 year old wants to do it with the ugly old fat guy, right? One that wants a movie deal.

        That said, Rose McGowan is pretty pissed off this week on Twitter, so maybe I’m completely wrong. Could be.

        The one thing we know for sure is that the corruption is wide and deep, probably goes back to the origins of film, and I think definitely affects the movies and TV we watch. That’s why I don’t watch most of it. Its gross and perverted. Ew. Let them all go out of business, and make the world a cleaner place.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Rose McGowan said that she was ashamed of Hollywood in her other community. Wiki suggests her other community is LGBT activism. Which adds a certain dimension to those of her tweets that I saw. She can still be correct even if her mechanism is wrong.

    • Robin Munn

      I should add that I completely agree with you on the hypocrisy of those who claimed to be offended by Trump’s statement, but aren’t saying a thing about Weinstein’s behavior. And I have two thoughts on that subject:

      1. The silence on Weinstein speaks volumes. If they had even the slightest belief that he was innocent, they’d be denouncing the accusations as slanderous.

      2. Most of those who were taking public offense at Trump’s statement were “conveniently” omitting its second half. If you just quote the “grab them by the [body part]” phrase, then you can plausibly claim that he was talking about sexual assault. If you actually quote the second half (the “I mean, they let you do it!” part), then it becomes clear that he wasn’t talking about sexual assault at all. Rather, he was saying out loud, in a crude fashion, what almost everyone knows but doesn’t say out loud: that there is a common mate-selection strategy used by certain kinds of women, who pick and choose which socio-sexual boundaries they will enforce based on the wealth of the man they’re interacting with. (The politest term for those women is “gold-diggers”, and there are ruder terms).

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I wasn’t particularly fond of that statement of Trump’s, but I thought his vote for Obama more fully disqualified him from fitness for the office of the Presidency. I had good, solid arguments against him*, because I wasn’t try to apply them to Clinton’s benefit. Folks who were trying to elect Clinton didn’t have access to many strong attacks on Trump, because of her sheer awfulness. Even his erratic qualities aren’t that bad compared to Clinton. Hence relying on his crudeness and womanizing. Which didn’t work, because did the differences in coverage between Romney and Trump reflect their differences in quality as candidates? Of course, even after having lived through the Clinton years, I had somehow thought that some of those objections to Trump might have been sincere.

        *Albeit in hindsight much weaker than I thought they were.

        • The Trump thing, what’s interesting there is how hard they had to dig even to get that much.

          Its an off-the-cuff comment made in casual conversation on an open mic, and made many years ago. That means that somebody sifted through every second of video every made of Donald Trump. A whole team of them. They probably called up every old girlfriend and mistress of his, back to fricking high school, looking for dirt. So, for a skirt-chaser, he hasn’t behaved too badly over-all.

          As a President, Obama was worse. Trudeau the Younger up here in CanaDuh is far worse. Say what you want about Donald being a spray-tan rodeo clown, he’s not trying to deliberately destroy the family farm and the institution of inheritance. The Trudeau Liberals are definitely doing that.

          I can’t even imagine what Clinton would be doing right now. Doubling down on Obama, most likely.

    • I don’t care if they lift weights, a guy 2x her mass is not going to be shifted even by a 5’10” karate-trained Amazon. This is a complete fairy-tale. Unless she has a CCP and is willing to to take the consequences that come from using deadly force her only useful option if Jabba the Weinstein is blocking the way out is her words.

  6. Well, going waaay back, as in the late 700s early 800s, there’s more than one reason why Charlemagne is referred to as “the father of Europe.” At least among the Franks, tribal leaders were almost expected to spread their offspring around, so to speak. There’s some pretty decent evidence that most people in Western Europe have Charlemagne in their ancestry.

    Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had a number of bastards (whom he acknowledged) who turned out to be very competent assistants to his legitimate children. Don Juan of Austria is the most famous, but there were others. So trading favors for power, or demanding favors for benefits (the infamous Hollywood casting couch) is very, very old. Complaining about it in public and having a majority of people decry the practice seems to be rather new, in duration-of-species terms.

    • “So trading favors for power, or demanding favors for benefits (the infamous Hollywood casting couch) is very, very old.Complaining about it in public and having a majority of people decry the practice seems to be rather new, in duration-of-species terms.” This. One wonders what will go forward.

      • Mike Houst

        Well, even though it would be uniquely honest if you stated up front as part of the employment job requirements that you have sex with the boss, that would be considered prostitution. I suspect the government keeps that illegal not just because of the moral majority, but also because trying to tax that is just as hard as trying to tax any other form of barter.

        And by not stipulating that up front, it’s 100% proof of dishonestly, corruption, and unfair labor practices. So I don’t have any problems with roasting the SOBs who can be proven to be engaging in such coercion.

  7. Joe in PNG

    I would say in these cases, what you see is a type of preference cascade.
    No one wants to be the first off the ice floe, less they get castigated as a fame hungry golddigger who will never work in this town again.
    Imagine Hillary after you, and she’s taking it personally.
    But, get enough stories out, and blammo- nobody likes that bum. The Left is usually pretty quick to underbus someone if it looks like the charges will stick.

  8. I’m not surprised there’s a Hollywood scandal. My only surprise is that he’s hetero. I thought he was gay all these years.

    • snelson134

      From some of the comments, he was more like “a hole’s a hole”.

    • Yup, he went after handsome guys, too.

      And given how much he loved beating up, or ambushing, straight men who objected to his nasty behavior, I wouldn’t be surprised if beating people up was also sexual for him.

      • Heck, the threats and coercion of women probably were sexual for him, too. There’s no financial or status reason for him to have gone after the unwilling; so it must have been the unwillingness and the helplessness that got him excited. That’s what makes him a “sexual predator” instead of just a horndog with an expense account.

  9. pst314

    “Oddly, now, many years later, some of them are complaining.”
    Some of them complained when it happened, which went far beyond “wiles” into coercion. They reported intimidation and assault, but their complaints fell on deaf ears, and so we are only hearing about Weinstein today because of the complicity of so many in Hollywood and the news media.

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