I can’t say that I have a lot of interest in the Harvey Weinstein affair, so to speak. Like most folks out here in flyover country, I’ve always assumed that Hollywood is filled with broken people doing terribly broken things to each other. Which is not to say that I don’t have any sympathy for the women involved. None of them deserved to be abused or raped. But there is also some evidence that many of them considered it a hugely miserable but nonetheless unavoidable part of the job, the same way that wearing the yellow jersey of a Tour de France leader likely means you’ve been exposed to the kind of drug, training, and behavior regimes that aren’t even approved for use on farm animals. Presumably there are plenty of would-be actresses (and actors, this isn’t just something that happens to women) who see their first casting couch and run screaming back to Minnesota — but you’ve never heard any of their names, for the same reason that you’ll never hear the name of those first-rate road cyclists who have an unconquerable fear of large-bore needles.
There was, however, something in Jessica Mann’s testimony which caught my eye — and it wasn’t her remarkable assertions that Weinstein had no visible testicles and a male organ which needed to be drawn out using another kind of large-bore needle. I think the “deformity” is just a case of Weinstein being grossly obese. All the stuff’s in there, it’s just hidden by six or seven inches of “FUPA”. It’s true that society is generally more accepting of men who wander outside the MetLife height/weight charts (thank G-d) but there’s a point at which you’re not really fit for service, so to speak. There is something fascinating about the fact that Weinstein apparently had sex with nearly every major leading lady in Hollywood but he couldn’t be bothered to stay healthy enough to do it with some kind of needle. Maybe that’s the ultimate expression of power: to make something as unpleasant as humanly possible for your victim. Like O’Brien making Winston see five fingers instead of four.
But I digress. The truly interesting part of Ms. Mann’s statement to the court is a matter of language, not lingam.
Mann also said Weinstein “smelled like shit — excuse me, sorry, like poop. He just was dirty.” His stench wasn’t the only thing foul about Weinstein, however; “He would talk very dirty to me about fantasies and things, and compare me to the other things actresses that he said were doing kinky, dirty things with him,” Mann testified. “He always wanted to film me. I never gave him permission.”
Let’s take it as read for a moment that Ms. Mann was under tremendous stress. It cannot have been easy to come out against Weinstein, even this late in the game. And while she has a chance of a handsome civil settlement to come, there’s also a very real chance that Weinstein will beat the rap, assume his former position in Hollywood again, and blacklist her until the end of time. Even if Weinstein is convicted, one has to think that Mann will be less likely to find work as a result of her testimony, if only because ol’ Harvey is far from the only snake in the proverbial shed.
With that in mind, I don’t expect eloquence in the testimony… but that sentence “like shit — excuse me, sorry, like poop” is very telling. At the age of 29, is it possible that Ms. Mann doesn’t know any other words for human waste? Even the Wu-Tang’s GZA has at least one other grownup term for it in his arsenal:
What’s that in your pants? Ahh, human feces!
Throw your shitty drawers in the hamper
Next time, come strapped with a fuckin’ Pamper
To be fair, however, GZA is an amateur physics enthusiast who has spent a reasonable amount of time attending (and giving!) lectures at MIT and Harvard, so maybe he’s not the best example of mid-literacy out there. No matter. There are a remarkable number of synonyms for shit; no need to list them all here just in case you’re eating a meal at the moment, but they are out there. In Ms. Mann’s shoes, I’d have said “human waste” or possibly “a bowel movement”, but there’s also the old-reliable “ejecta”. Presumably that would have elicited a clarifying question from the attorney.
“He smelled like… an ejector seat? An ejaculation?”
“Uh… that too.”
Given world enough and time, Ms. Mann probably could have come up with another word, but I’m guessing she only ever uses “shit” and “poop” in her daily life. Which is a remarkably common practice with her generation, even among people who claim to be writers. They know all the basic swear words and use them with numbing regularity on social media and in their work product. Deprived of those words, they will drop back to a sort of babytalk. Which explains why your average online writer can only call something “FUCKING AMAZING” or “SO GOOOOOD”. Their screen resolution has been turned all the way down. They don’t possess any other tools.
Yesterday I read on Twitter something to the effect that “YA fiction isn’t really for teenagers — it’s for the 29-year-old restaurant workers they will inevitably become.” Many of today’s Extremely Online writers are only one missed paycheck away from returning to the service industry they so recently left. I in no way wish to disparage people who work in a restaurant; it’s hard, honest labor that is only occasionally enlivened by having random sex with another short-future-time-orientation individual. (When I worked at a restaurant, scrubbing pans and operating the dishwasher, I didn’t even have that to look forward to. But I am told by people who would know that everybody in every restaurant is having sex with everyone else — everyone, that is, but the 14-year-old wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt to run steel wool over five hundred pizza pans between the hours of midnight and 2 AM.) I do, however, wish to emphasize that you don’t hear a lot of elevated discussion in the back of house, so to speak. It’s shit or it’s poop. Those are your only options.
There’s another, far more cynical, take to be had on this affair: Jessica Mann is a classically educated woman who knows ten English words for “stool” and three Latin ones, but the prosecution advised her not to come across as all hoity-toity and big-word-using. You really don’t want to break out a third syllable on any American jury, trust me. Perhaps Harvey’s odor wasn’t that simple. Maybe it was a fascinating olfactory symphony of multiple-stage decay, illness, and lapsed hygiene. Such a thing could only confuse twelve California residents with no other pressing engagements. Best to make it plain. As Snoop Dogg, a man who understands the Golden State better than anyone else, once sang:
I’m talking real shit to you, baby!
For Hagerty, I argued that the Red Barchetta scenario will become reality sooner than we think.