Willful Blindness

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

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@ryoji__iwata

John Leake

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 modelled 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.