Movies, Pop Culture

Why does Hollywood keep rewarding predators?

The line has to be drawn. 

Casey Affleck is a sexual predator.

Two women who have worked with Affleck have filed lawsuits against him for sexual harassment. They describe an incredibly hostile work environment, where they have alleged that Affleck and his crew brutally sexually harass them.

The women alleged that Affleck frequently spoke about his sexual exploits in front of them, talked about how much he wanted to sleep with them, and frequently suggested that they sleep with members of the crew.

According to the lawsuit, on multiple occasions, Affleck coerced them into sharing rooms with him and the crew and on one occasion one of the women awoke to find Affleck in her bed with his arms around her, reeking of alcohol.

This is the man that the Academy decided to grace with their most prestigious award. In dong so, they made it clear that they are willing to ignore his abhorrent conduct toward women because of his privilege and talent.

Hollywood has a long track record of looking the other way and handing out awards to sexual predators.

Director Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. When he was convicted he fled to Europe to escape prosecution and now lives there in luxury. Since he was convicted he’s been nominated for two Oscars and won one for “The Pianist” in 2003. Dylan Farrow has given detailed accounts of how director and actor Woody Allen sexually assaulted her when she was just a child. Woody Allen has been nominated for several Oscars and has won two since the sexual assault was made public, most recently winning in 2012.

In all these cases, the Hollywood stars faced little or no consequences for their actions, especially regarding their careers. Casey Affleck settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. His acting career was completely uninterrupted and until recently, his reputation barely suffered because the media barely covered the harassment. Roman Polanski moved, and continues to produce and direct films from Europe, which Hollywood continues to promote and applaud. Woody Allen was never even brought to court and he his work has been prolific.

Hollywood never even thought about disrupting the careers of these men, even though they’re despicable criminals.

Why does it matter that these men continue to win Oscars?

Because it tells other men that there are no consequences for harassing, assaulting, and raping women. Because it sends the message that a man’s career and his future are more important than a woman’s life and her future. And most importantly because sexual harassment, assault, and rape are all illegal and deplorable acts, which should be punished harshly regardless of the status, wealth, or fame of the perpetrator.

There is a recent example of a Hollywood star’s career suffering on an account of sexual assault, but that case reveals more layers to this complicated issue. Last summer, while Nate Parker was doing press tours for his critically acclaimed movie, “The Birth of a Nation,” the press revealed that Parker had been prosecuted for rape when he was in college in 1999. Parker had been acquitted and to this day claims that the sex was consensual, but the reports from the victim indicate otherwise.

The victim stated that she had gotten drunk with Parker and his friend Jean Celestin and gone to stay at their apartment.

She fell asleep in Parker’s bed, alone, but when she woke up Parker was having sex with her. She passed out again and when she woke up again Celestin was having sex with her. Both men claimed the sex was consensual, but it’s clear that the victim was in a state where it was impossible to give consent.

“Birth of a Nation” was highly lauded at Sundance and a clear Oscar hopeful, but it was not nominated. An Academy official even said that she wouldn’t see the film as she wouldn’t be able to separate the film, which contains a rape scene, from Parker’s murky past.

So why did Parker’s career take a hit when Affleck’s did not?

The obvious answer is that Affleck has not been accused of raping anyone. Unfortunately this country has a ‘sliding scale’ when it comes to sexually abusing women. Sexual harassment isn’t as bad as rape, so the perpetrator shouldn’t face the consequences. While it is certainly true that sexual harassment is not rape, harassment is still incredibly damaging to the women being harassed, and the perpetrators should face consequences.

Race is certainly another factor in Nate Parker’s case. When black men are accused of sexually abusing women they are dealt with more harshly, both in the courts and in the court of public opinion. The media has persistently portrayed black men as sexual predators, which impacts how black men accused of rape are perceived compared to white men accused of the same crimes.

I’m not saying that Nate Parker’s career shouldn’t have been impacted.

It should have. But Affleck’s career should have suffered as well.

The line has to be drawn.

No more Oscars for sexual predators.