When Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault in October, it created a deluge of Hollywood actors and producers coming forward with their own experiences of misconduct, making cinephiles around the country re-evaluate their admiration for these moguls and their films.
As immensely famous actors and producers were being accused of these crimes, I was faced with a dilemma: Do I watch the entertainment that the accused have worked on or shun them to show my opposition of their actions? Does watching Louis C.K.’s comedy indirectly mean I like him, despite the claims of him exposing himself in front of women? By boycotting Pulp Fiction, am I truly taking a stand against Weinstein’s years of dehumanizing behavior? Where is the line between holding these media stars accountable for their actions and still being able to enjoy the classics?
One thing to remember is that a character is not the actor who plays it. Ultimately, characters and movie plots are products of fiction, and while they can seem real in the excitement of the screen, they do not truly exist. Consequently, having an attachment to Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects does not equate to supporting his alleged predation of young men and boys. While it is important to be aware of the background of the actor and recognize the potential harm and realities happening when the cameras are not rolling, there is also a need to differentiate the movie from the actor.
The media and the public cannot keep quiet about this unveiled sexual abuse in Hollywood, and even politics. The more we hold these accused rapists and sexual harassers accountable for their actions, the less normalized this behavior will become. Consequently, there needs to be a method for the people to get away from this harsh reality. Entertainment has been a part of the American culture for generations. From movies to TV shows to music, these creative arts have been a way for a variety of people to come together and share a common appreciation, as well as a temporary escape from the harsh pressures and realities of life.
Boycotting films solely because one person plays a role in them discredits the years of work and passion that others have dedicated to the production. And for those who cannot overlook what these actors have done and must stick with their morals, I respect you. However, in a time where the idolization of manipulative and powerful moguls is woven into our everyday lives, we could use a cinematic escape from reality.
~erica gudino, editor-in-chief