Hollywood Loves White Men: #NowWhat
Something disappointing happened at the Oscar’s last weekend, and, no—it has nothing to do with “La La Land” not winning best picture. (Yay, “Moonlight!”)
White male privilege wins again
Casey Affleck, writer, director, and one of those alleged, gross, white men, won best actor at the 89th Oscar Awards.
Affleck’s win indicates that Hollywood truly gives zero fucks about the implications of honoring a man who has been accused of sexual harassment by two women.
Affleck’s win isn’t surprising—plenty of commentators predicted he’d win. But it’s the fact that actors and actresses alike were willing to vote for a man who allegedly harmed female coworkers that upsets us.
In 2010, a female producer and cinematographer for “I’m Still Here”, a film directed by Affleck, accused the actor of sexual harassment. The women filed lawsuits that alleged Affleck made sexual comments and inappropriate advances (they were civil suits, not criminal).
Affleck first threatened to countersue both his colleagues, but later decided to settle the lawsuits out of court.
Throughout the 2016/2017 award season, Affleck has managed to dodge questions concerning the allegations, and still won what’s considered the industry’s top award.
Since Affleck’s win, he’s made a public statement regarding the harassment situation that’s further irritated his critics.
“I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else,” Affleck told the Boston Globe in a post win interview.
“There’s really nothing I can do about it… Other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.”
Oh, there’s nothing else you can do? We can think of a few things… Like, why not speak out against sexual harassment or make a donation (or lots of them) to domestic abuse survivor charities?
But I suppose if we’re being honest, we can’t be that surprised that Hollywood and Oscar voters are willing to cast aside a few allegations against a famous white guy.
Hollywood has always celebrated white men who prey on women.
Woody Allen has received support from the industry even though the writer, director, and actor has been accused of assaulting his own child (and marrying another).
Hollywood professionals routinely hire and support womanizing male writers and directors. The industry also has a habit of paying female actors less and not supporting female directed films.
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What will it take for the industry to change?
Well, for one, people could choose to not watch films that support white male jerks. Now, granted, Affleck’s accusers settled out of court and never filed criminal charges against Affleck, but like Lena Dunham’s character on HBO’s “Girls” pointed out last week (aptly the same night Affleck won the award), why would a woman make up accusations if they weren’t true? Accusing a high profile celebrity abuser can ruin the lives of the victims more often than the abuser. Their accusations elicit hate mail and death threats from devoted fans. It’s nothing short of a nightmare for the victims, which is inherently why women have been so hesitant to call out their abusers. Just look at what happened though when victims of Bill Cosby’s abuse started to stand up and be counted. It gave others the courage to share their story even though they’ve been dragged through the mud.
Sure, it stinks that it’s up to “us” to change an industry. But it isn’t difficult to patronize films written and directed by people who respect women, co-workers, and their audience. Because, let’s be honest: when a celebrity abuses anyone, it affects all of us. We’ve just got to be willing to stand up and say so.
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