OUR VIEW: Falling out of love

The dominoes have toppled. All along, you’ve cheered on the bravery of women speaking up, the journalists exposing the coverups and secrets that allowed these assaults to happen right under our noses. But the next domino has fallen; the person you never thought would fall: the person wearing a Time’s Up pin, the man who called himself a feminist, the woman who declared herself to be an ally. You think back to the hours of your life you spent listening to their music, the nights you spent watching their stand-up on Netflix, or the clothes you’re wearing that they designed.

While sexual assault is not something new, the voices of women and men who have experienced sexual abuse have been exceedingly amplified over the last few months. The reach of sexual assault is present within many aspects of society, but the spotlight is currently shining on the entertainment industry, as it has been receiving far more media attention. However, as celebrity culture is so important in America, it is necessary to address the repercussions of these incidents and how it impacts the things that we consume. Is it okay to continue consuming entertainment created by now-outed sexual predators?

This year’s award season was kicked off at the Golden Globes in a sea of “Time’s Up” pins and all-black attire in solidarity of the movement, full of inspiring and empowering speeches. Throughout the ceremony, there were shots of James Franco sitting at his table, clapping along with everyone else, following the night’s presumed dress code in his all-black suit and a “Time’s Up” pin on his lapel. Ironically, it’s been a mainstream news story over the past few years that Franco has been accused – and continues to be accused – of sexual assault, misconduct, and predatory behavior toward a minor by a multitude of women. While Franco was called out for his hypocrisy at the Globes online and in-person, he continues to be celebrated and win awards for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in the film The Disaster Artist. What Franco did was completely inexcusable, and he, like all sexual predators, should not be given the privilege to reap the benefits of any product of the entertainment industry. While it’s correct that seeing films such as The Disaster Artist does unfortunately financially support Franco, we must keep in mind that these films are also the main financial lifeline for hundreds of innocent cast and crew members. Franco, and other sexual predators, should not be given the reward of being the face of the collaborative effort that is a film. This does not mean that the actions of predators, like Franco’s, should be erased, either. We must continue to support those who are innocent, but ensure that those who engage in predatory and inappropriate behavior face their deserving repercussions.

It should go without saying that it is time to end the careers of those who have a well-documented history of abuse but are only being “revealed” to the public as of now. Woody Allen and Roman Polanski have had a decades-long history of sexual assault and pedophilia, and even Kevin Spacey’s predatory behavior was an open secret within the Hollywood community. However, actors involved in the work of these creators, such as Timothée Chalamet, who appeared in an Allen film last year, and Ridley Scott, who directed Spacey in the film All the Money in the World, have begun to spend their money and time rectifying their actions, by donating their salaries to nonprofits or even re-shooting their films to erase traces of disgraced predators. Exposed predators are still given the opportunity to work and create content, but there has been progress to save the livelihoods of many people who don’t deserve to go down with a sinking ship. For example, the next season of House of Cards will be shot without Kevin Spacey and the next season of Transparent will be shot without Jeffrey Tambor.

This is the first time that people across all industries are having the majority of their claims taken seriously, although there are still those that have their doubts, despite the fact that according to several reputable studies, only between 2-6 percent of sexual assault accusations are false. However, there is still so much work to do, both to support victims and pay more attention to women and men who aren’t in the spotlight: people of color, the LGBTQ community, and those not in the entertainment industry.

The question we must ask ourselves is where do we draw the line when it comes to who we support? We encounter a dissonance between the standards to which we hold our morals and the people whose content we continue to consume and admire. This moral dilemma occurs outside of the film industry as well – can we still listen to rappers such as Kodak Black and musicians like Melanie Martinez with a clear conscience despite their rape allegations, or are we complicit by continuing to support them?