Does Talent Trump Abuse In Hollywood?
Following her 2016 Best Actress Oscar win for her portrayal of a sexual abuse victim in Room, Brie Larson had to present the award of Best Actor at the 2017 Oscars to alleged sexual predator, Casey Affleck. It was thought that to prevent another uncomfortable encounter, the Academy would take abuse allegations seriously when considering the 2018 recipients. At the end of 2017, the #MeToo movement brought attention to the long-lived issue of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood and, since then, there has been a particular focus on exposing predators and attempting to stop awarding them. Despite this, at the 2018 awards in light of the influx of support and recognition for the #MeToo movement, a number of sexual predators were present and praised on the night.
Ryan Seacrest, who hosts the red carpet of the Oscars for E!, did not step down from his role despite sexual misconduct allegations suggesting that he would. The #MeToo movement founder, Tarana Burke, told Variety that he should have stepped aside due to the allegations, out of respect. Unsurprisingly, none of the women who were nominated for lead actress stopped to talk to Seacrest and those that did often met him with a scorned attitude. Taraji P. Henson even went as far to stroke Seacrest’s chin, saying that the “universe has a way of taking care of the good people, you know what I mean”, which many took as a nonchalant dig at the host.
Winners of the night include Kobe Bryant and Gary Oldman, both of whom have previously had abuse allegations made by women. Bryant won Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball despite his previous arrest for sexually assaulting a 19-year-old girl in 2003. Oldman won Best Actor for his performance as Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour. His victory comes despite allegations of domestic abuse against his ex-wife in 2001 and his defence of Mel Gibson’s infamous anti-Semitic tirade. Although many adopt an “innocent until proven guilty” attitude, it seems to be incredibly backward to continuously award Hollywood men that allegedly abuse women. The current system seems to put talent and experience ahead of morals.
The Oscars have often been criticised for their praise of sexual abusers. Director Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in 1977, yet has been nominated for 2 Oscars since his conviction and won one for The Pianist in 2003. However, there has been a somewhat noticeable attempt, particularly recently, by the Academy to keep sexual predators out of the Oscar spotlight, which is particularly evidenced by alleged sexual predator, James Franco, missing out on a nomination for his work in The Disaster Artist. Nevertheless, it seems that this attempt has been futile when taking the 2018 winners into consideration as it is so ingrained in Hollywood culture that even the influence of the #MeToo movement cannot prevent predators from receiving accolades.
Although many adopt an “innocent until proven guilty” attitude, it seems to be incredibly backward to continuously award Hollywood men that allegedly abuse women. The current system seems to put talent and experience ahead of morals.
It is not merely the Oscars that has an issue with punishing sexual predators. When Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Depp came under fire for domestic abuse allegations against his now ex-wife Amber Heard, there was a mixed reaction. Fans of Depp were quick to deny the allegations simply because they love his work, despite shocking video evidence of said abuse. Many started to accuse Heard of being a lying gold digger, rather than focus the blame on the abuser. Depp has a relatively unscathed reputation despite this and remains the face of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as well as recently landing a large role in the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film. It highlights our cultural issue where the easiest thing to do is blame the victim.
Hollywood stars face little or no consequences of their actions, particularly when it comes to their acting or directing careers, even with the influence of #MeToo and other similar movements. Many focus on talent and think it to be more important than the crimes and issues rife in Hollywood and it is time that the victim blaming culture comes to an end and abusers pay for the crimes which they commit, rather than them being brushed under the carpet and ignored.
(Image: The Daily Beast)