There’s so much more to the allegations than whether our favourite actors or directors are implicated
The story about Harvey Weinstein allegedly assaulting and harassing numerous Hollywood actors, has sparked many survivors to come forward and share their own stories of abuse within the film industry. Since then, fans have been dreading any allegations coming out about their favourites. The sentiment though makes light of the serious nature of the revelations so far.
The allegations around Weinstein have marked a shift. The sheer number of people making complaints against him and others are forcing Hollywood to take action. Yet, many favourites have had allegations of abuse around them for decades and their careers have not suffered. Woody Allen has had allegations of sexual assault and yet is one of the leading directors in Hollywood. Roman Polanski has been in exile (although a considerably more comfortable one than Assagne) as he avoids jail time in the US after admitting statutory rape. Since then, others have come forward alleging assault by Polanski. Earlier this year, Casey Affleck received the Best Actor Oscar even though he has in the past been accused of sexual harassment. Given his win, it also means that Affleck is due to present that same award at the next Academy Awards ceremony. Johnny Depp has been accused by his then partner, Amber Heard, of domestic abuse and yet still featured in one of the biggest franchises around as he gained a role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Even responses from celebrities have shown that nobody is innocent. Matt Damon has faced repeated questions about exactly what he knows. Quentin Taratino is perhaps the most revered director of all time, and yet has admitted he knew about Weinstein and did nothing. Two of the main stars of teen drama Supernatural have faced backlash for making rape jokes, and joking about Cosby this week.
Hollywood’s culture is a cesspit. Almost everyone will be implicated in some way and it’s not for fans to get defensive over their favourites, as though that even matters. What does matter is that survivors of abuse get justice and get taken seriously.
“What does matter is that survivors of abuse get justice and get taken seriously”
By worrying about our favourites being implicated, we’re worried that we ourselves will have to take responsibility either by boycotting their product or supporting their downfall in the career which means we miss out on their work. It is the very least we can do. We must demand a culture of accountability and stop rewarding people who have allegations of abuse surrounding them. It’s not fair for the survivors to see men they claim abused them to be worshipped by fans.
The fear that our favourites will be exposed also reveals the insidious idea that we hold onto, which desperately only wants bad and those without talent to be abusers. Abusers can be immensely talented and seem utterly charming. Indeed, it is how they can get into positions to be able to commit abuse in the first place. Abusers can be people we respect, admire and idolise. But we must accept that. We cannot find reasons to shirk responsibility from our own accountability of giving platforms to people who have allegedly committed abuse. Even now, many are looking back at Spacey’s American Beauty and wondering whether he was hiding in plain sight. It was a film that Spacey won awards for. A film that explored a sexual obsession with a teenager. Audiences, and the film establishment, bought into it.
We need to stop giving platforms to people surrounded with allegations of abuse, but we also need to demand that men stop creating products which aren’t feminist. Films that depict women as nothing more than focal points for men’s power, urges to control and of their desire have no place within the film industry. Some people won’t boycott such products, and will demand a separation from artist and art, but if that’s so then they can at least acknowledge that our favourites are abusers. Abusers walk among us every day. They’re in every realm and all the good people everyone admires and laugh at could have allegations about them. That’s the nature of abuse; it works hard to silence critics and doubt, even when in some cases, it is an open secret.
It doesn’t matter if our favourites are exposed next. What matters is how fans react. The need for justice has to be greater than how much we adore a creator.