Of Panderers

Posted by jlubans on October 24, 2017

Caption: Mabel Potter begs to differ with movie-mogul Schnellenhammer: It’s "wuckoo-wuckoo", not "cuckoo-cuckoo"!

That ye olde English word, panderer – derived from Chaucer - is missing from the press reports on the Harvey Weinstein outrage. Panderer is the term for those followers of Harvey that procured and set up starlets for him.
Harvey’s M.O., it is alleged, was to have a subordinate – usually a woman - invite a young woman to meet Harvey for “business”.
The subordinate was to be part of the meeting thereby keeping it on the up and up.
But, after a short time, the subordinate would withdraw – Simpering, no doubt, “I’ll be right back”- and leave Harvey alone with the aspiring actress.
That’s what sexual panderers, procurers do.
Why would anyone do that? Why would a woman/man do that to another woman/man?
Would you say the subordinate – the panderer - was an effective follower, just following orders? Or, as bad or worse than Harvey?
It is said, “everyone knew” of Mr. Weinstein’s vicious behavior and yet were silent, aiding and abetting.
P.G. Wodehouse was under contract in the ‘30s in Hollywood as an over-paid scriptwriter with a major studio. He came away with bundles of cash and reams of material for novels and short stories.
Wodehouse, being Wodehouse, spent no time on the sleazy sex angle but mercilessly spoofed the bullying behavior, the arrogance, and the stupidities of the movie biz.
His comedic novel, Laughing Gas (1936) exposed Hollywood's abuse of child stars.
“The Nodder” (1935) is more relevant to Harvey. The co-producers - Mr. Schnellenhammer and Mr. Levitsky of the Perfecto-Zizzbaum Corp. – are Harvey-esque.
They’re not overt lechers, but you get the idea they could well be.
All the movie moguls laughingly pilloried by PGW had supporting casts of hundreds - all on the pay roll and all in step with the boss – or else!
Just like Harvey.
Wilmot, the male protagonist and a lowly Nodder (a subspecies of Yes Man), goes along to get along until Schnellenhammer fires Wilmot’s fiancée (Mabel Potter) over a dispute about the sound of a Cuckoo’s call.
(Yes, Mabel – Schnellenhammer’s secretary - had been a vaudevillian bird imitator).
When Wilmot stops nodding and roars in disagreement, Schnellenhammer’s eyes bulge, his face turns bright red and steam escapes from his ears, but Mr. Levitsky intervenes. Levitsky suspects that our Wilmot may have discovered - while on a drunken binge with their studio’s child super star Johnny Bingley - that Bingley is actually a “midget from Connolly’s Circus and an elderly hardboiled midget at that” not America’s child idol dressed in a Lord Fauntleroy suit.
Apparently, none of Harvey’s panderers had this kind of “dirt to dish”, to say No! to doing Harvey’s dirty work.
And so it can be outside of Hollywood.
My work world did not have “casting couches” but that did not impede would be harassers, male and female.
I recall the nefarious “Pincher”. He was infamous among the women in my profession as someone that would pinch young females in elevators.
Everyone knew – he was chuckled about for this “harmless” quirk - and no one stopped him.
He lost no job; he lost little prestige in the profession. As far as I know his pinching lasted until he tottered off into oblivion.
There were other bad bosses in my business who were enabled by silence but let’s leave it at the Pincher.
There is, of course, an exchange between boss and panderer. The boss prospers and the panderer keeps his or her job and maybe gets a bonus, a promotion, a bargaining chip.
That’s why the best followers – the independent-minded and ethical ones – suffer. They get sidelined or fired.
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© Copyright 2017 John Lubans
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