When it comes to scandals and sexual assaults, mum’s the word at the Academy Awards
Awards season is well underway, but critics and fans alike are already predicting who will take home the golden statuettes in February when the 2017 Academy Awards airs.
From Damien Chazelle’s La La Land to Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, the films and performances being considered for Oscar nominations this year are quite diverse. However, the controversies surrounding some of the potential nominees are being ignored by the Academy, as well as the media.
The Oscars are not new to scandal—just last year, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite dominated social media platforms after the Academy neglected to nominate any actors of colour, prompting many to boycott the show. This year’s debacle? Two potential nominees have been accused of sex crimes and no one seems to be talking about them.
Casey Affleck—brother of Ben Affleck and frontrunner for the Best Actor award for his role in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea—has two separate sexual harassment allegations against him, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In addition to Affleck, director of the critically-acclaimed drama The Birth of a Nation, Nate Parker and his longtime co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin were accused of rape back in 1999. According to entertainment website Vulture, Parker was acquitted of all charges, while Celestin was sentenced to two to four years in prison. He ended up only serving a little over a year, according to Vulture. Last summer, entertainment magazine Variety was the first to report on the allegations, just as they started promoting their film, which features—SPOILER ALERT—a scene in which a female character is raped.
Critics and moviegoers are questioning how they can watch the film knowing the director has been accused of rape and frankly, so am I.
If news of these allegations seems shocking, you’ll be sad to learn that the ignorance of sex crime allegations against male actors has been going on in Hollywood for decades.
According to the New York Times, in 1992 actress Mia Farrow, who was then married to revered director Woody Allen, alleged that their daughter, Dylan, told her she had been sexually assaulted by Allen. That same year, it was revealed that Allen was in a relationship with his step-daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, who was just 19 at the time. They married several years later.
The claims haven’t hurt Allen’s career, though—at 81, he has written and directed nearly 100 films and has worked with some of the best actors in Hollywood.
Last month, a 2013 interview with The Hollywood Reporter with director Bernardo Bertolucci resurfaced in which he confirmed that the use of a butter stick in the rape scene in his film Last Tango in Paris, starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider was not consensual. Schneider, who was a teenager at the time, was not made aware of the fact that Brando would be using a stick of butter to simulate the rape, and Bertolucci admitted in the interview that he conspired with Brando to keep that information from her, saying: “I wanted her to react as a girl, not as an actress. I wanted her to react humiliated.”
In a 2007 interview with the Daily Mail, Schneider said she “felt a little raped” after filming the scene and did not receive apologies from her director or her co-star.
Schneider went on to work steadily until her death from cancer in 2011, but she certainly did not have the same career as her co-star Brando, who won his second Best Actor award for his work in The Godfather the year after they filmed Last Tango in Paris.
While Schneider did not reveal her true feelings regarding the rape scene until 2007, Brando has been accused of sexual assault by several other women, including actress Jackie Collins, who said Brando pursued a relationship with her when she was still a teenager, according to The Telegraph.
The allegations against Affleck, Allen and Brando speak to a greater issue. When a man—predominantly a white man—is accused or convicted of a sex crime, he can still get work. He can still be on the cover of magazines, he can still be on every late-night talk show. He can still be a movie star. He can still be elected President of the United States.
Parker, on the other hand, has not been able to escape the backlash and it has affected his film’s box-office success. Not only are his chances of winning an Oscar now slim to none, The Hollywood Reporter predicted that the film will lose an estimated $10 million for its production company, Fox Searchlight.
Meanwhile, Manchester by the Sea is not poised to lose any money due to the allegations against its main star.
But let’s be blunt—Manchester by the Sea, a film that has been described as an “all-American family drama,” is much more appealing to audiences than Parker’s film, a historical account of slavery and racism in America, written and directed by an African-American director.
There may not be an #OscarsSoWhite hashtag this year and #OscarsSoFullOfMenAccusedOfSexCrimes might be too long for Twitter’s word limit, but it is important, as the consumer, to be conscious of where your money goes.
Your dollars speak volumes. Use them wisely.