That most Hobbitty of actors, Elijah Wood, may never be invited to party in Hollywood again. But then again, he may never care to.
And I’ll bet he’s glad his mum stopped him going to those parties when he was young, because some of the child actors who did have paid a huge price.
Wood has just reminded us that Tinseltown, the place in which dreams are made, is also the place in which, for all too many young actors, nightmares are created too. Nightmares that never go away, and in the case of young stars such as the late Corey Haim, end with death.
What has Wood said that might upset the luvvies? Well how about this, as reported in The Australian newspaper today, lifted from the UK’s The Sunday Times:
Sitting in a Los Angeles restaurant to promote his latest film, The Trust, Wood compares revelations of child abuse in Hollywood with those that surfaced in Britain after the death of entertainer Jimmy Savile. “You all grew up with Savile — Jesus, it must have been devastating,” he said. “Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood. It was all organised. There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind. There is darkness in the underbelly — if you can imagine it, it’s probably happened.
Wood goes on to say:
“What upsets me about these situations is that the victims can’t speak as loudly as the people in power. That’s the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people: they can be squashed but their lives have been irreparably damaged.”
Now where have we heard this story before? Why in the Hollywood financed, directed and promoted Spotlight, the movie that won the Best Picture Academy Award this year. I watched Spotlight recently, and it’s a brilliant, searing and mature insight in the systemic abuse going on into the Catholic Church in Boston – and beyond, as we find out in the sobering credits. Brilliant, yet so, so disturbing.
In a city such as Hollywood you would think they could come up with a movie about it, wouldn’t you? Yes, you’d think they’d make a movie about it wouldn’t you? Except they did. It’s called “An Open Secret”, and it will never see the light of day. The movie is the work of Academy-nominated director, Amy Berg.
Here’s The Sunday Times again:
Matthew Valentinas, its executive producer, has said: “There was major interest at Cannes [in 2014]. They’d say, ‘We love it, don’t show it to anyone else.’ But then someone on the business side would step in and all of a sudden there was no longer interest.”
The film failed to find a distributor and apparently never will. It can be found on YouTube.
The best line from Spotlight will stay with me for a long time: “It takes a village to raise a child. And a village to abuse a child.”
Villages, towns, cities, countries. What do they have in common? Institutions that have self-preservation at heart. Institutions for whom it is easier to turn a blind eye on evil, than to turn a spotlight on it. The common theme in child abuse is not religion, much as many would like to say it is, it’s the sheer self-preserving interest of institutions.
That’s why the BBC turned a blind eye to Jimmy Savile, despite the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten outing him to the BBC back in the 70’s. When he did so, the BBC told him they would never allow his music to be played again on the BBC. And, in a kind of twisted honour, they were true to their word. No more Johnny Rotten to corrupt the morals of our young people, the BBC trumpeted, all the while giving Savile safe-haven for his actions.
That’s why the production teams of Australian sit-com Hey Dad turned a blind eye when the TV dad star of the show, Robert Hughes, was abusing young cast members. It’s the longest running sit-com in the world. So what if a fake dad is doing real sex with a fake daughter?
Whether it’s Woody Allen, Roman Polanski or some nameless priest in Boston, the issue is the same; the institution’s self-interest that will turn a blind eye to evil and injustice.
Wood’s indictment is worth repeating:
What upsets me about these situations is that the victims can’t speak as loudly as the people in power.
And with religious institutions having handed cultural power over to the behemoth that is the West’s entertainment industry some years back, this may have some time left to play out.
But play out it will. And even if not in this age, one day a Light stronger than any human spotlight will shine on such evil, and the cockroaches won’t have anywhere leave to scurry to. May that day come, and soon.