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Willful Blindness

When people don’t see what’s right in front of them

Bill & Elliott Rothstein in “The Last Ride of the Elephant Princess”
By John Leake – Courageous Discourse – November 3, 2022

Author’s Note: The following post is Part I of a series on Willful Blindness, Ideological Blindness, and other failures of perception.

According to Wikipedia:

Action is an American dark comedy series about a Hollywood producer named Peter Dragon, who is trying to recover from his last box-office failure. It aired on Fox during the 1999–2000 season. The series was critically praised for its irreverent and sometimes hostile look at Hollywood culture.

Peter Dragon’s Vice President of Production at Dragonfire Films is a former child actress named Wendy Ward, who also works as a high end courtesan for wealthy Hollywood denizens.

Episode 13, “The Last Ride of the Elephant Princess,” was shot in 2000. Action was cancelled before it was aired, but the episode was released on DVD and posted on YouTube. In this episode, Peter desperately needs to acquire a script, and is distressed to discover it is owned by Bill and Elliott Rothstein—extremely boorish brothers who have a knack for spotting and acquiring valuable properties.

Peter visits them at their favorite restaurant and offers to purchase the script. They tell him to have his cute Vice President, Wendy Ward, deliver the check to their house the following evening. Being an exceptionally good sport, Wendy decides to go into the Lion’s Den. Though she succeeds in her mission, she is so traumatized by her encounter with the Rothstein Brothers that she leaves Hollywood forever. As she puts it: “I’m through with this, Peter. I called a cab and I’m gonna go home and pack and I’m gonna move some place, some place clean.”

It now seems astonishing that such a brutal depiction of Hollywood was made for what was intended to be a popular television series. It also seems obvious that Bill and Elliott Rothstein are modeled after Bob and Harvey Weinstein. The habits, manners, and appearance of the former strongly resemble the latter.

A few years later, at a 2005 comedy event, Courtney Love was interviewed on the red carpet by comedian Natasha Leggero, who asked her if she had any advice for young girls moving to Hollywood. “If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party at his Four Seasons [hotel room] don’t go,” she said.

As “The Last Ride of the Elephant Princess” and Courtney Love indicated, it was no secret that being alone with Harvey Weinstein was a grave occupational hazard for a young woman’s body and soul.

Human affairs are more complicated and messy than we are often comfortable acknowledging. We all want things, and much of life is about gauging how much we are willing to accept and tolerate in order to get them. When Gwyneth Paltrow thanked Harvey Weinstein at her Academy Award acceptance speech in 1999, and Meryl Streep thanked him at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards by calling him “God,” both women were probably being perfectly sincere. During those moments, they were thinking about his extraordinary talent as a film producer, and not his terrible reputation with women.

Willful blindness—averting one’s gaze from bad conduct—is usually done with a simple calculation—namely, I can’t object to this conduct because doing so would prevent me from receiving a benefit I really want.

Most of us occasionally engage in some degree of willful blindness. It would be wildly impractical to go through life protesting every bit of bad behavior we encounter. However, it seems to me that—since around 2000—willful blindness on a spectacular scale has been endemic to American business, culture, and politics. The corporate scandals of the early 2000s, the Iraq War under false pretenses, massive fraud on Wall Street leading to the Financial Crisis, the Federal Reserve bailouts of the same people who caused the crisis. Then there was the Russian Collusion Hoax and the related, swamp of US government corruption in Ukraine—now a full-blown orgy for arms dealers and money launderers. Last but not least, the stupendous fraud and homicidal bad faith of the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex and its friends in Washington during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

All of the above could only happen because thousands of people in an array of organizations and institutions found it expedient to turn a blind eye to the innumerable signs they were participating in corrupt enterprises. It reminds me of a (perhaps apocryphal) quote attributed to Cicero: “Rome is made out of marble but it’s built on a sewer.

November 3, 2022 - Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Russophobia, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , ,

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