The Oscars just completed their 89th show. Casey Affleck won Best Actor for his role in Manchester By The Sea. The Internet swiftly fell upon Mr. Affleck for sexual abuse of two women during filming of “I’m Still Here”. In the process Mel Gibson’s brutal abuse of his wife, also seven years past, returned to the surface, and Hollywood was pushed to answer for awarding men who’d abused women–Mel Gibson’s Hackensaw Ridge was nominated for various awards: winning Best Film Editing and Sound Mixing. How should we as a society respond to abuse by celebrity?
Mr. Affleck and Mr. Gibson raise a serious question: when a single human being abuses another what measures should a society take in distancing themselves from such acts when justice has not ruled them guilty? (This question I answer in the podcast)
Mel Gibson was accused of physically and emotionally abusing his wife in June of 2010. He was charged with misdemeanor battery, and pleaded no contest –in California this means the defendant is not contesting the charges and is viewed as guilty in the eyes of the court, although often with a lighter sentence.
In 2010 Casey Affleck, and the studio –Flemmy Productions- which made I am Still Here– were sued by Magdelena Gorka for failing to fairly compensate her and creating a hostile work environment. The allegations are harrowing, and didn’t gather much sympathy because they deal with mental anguish and not physical damage. Amanda White, a producer, also filed suit against Affleck and Flemmy Productions, many of the similar abuses were detailed in her account. We cannot see how a persons mind is hurt, but we can see bruises and missing teeth.
Mel Gibson was accused of causing cosmetic damage to his wife’s face, and Casey Affleck was accused of causing great emotional distress, which led to anxiety and sleep deprivation. Both of these men received awards for their craft this year. The abuse these men dealt these three women -though separate in accounts- is significant.
Hollywood has a way of overlooking abuse: Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year old girl in Jack Nicholson’s home home. Polanski would win Best Director for The Pianist. Woody Allen is accused -by his step daughter- of sexually assaulting her when she was seven years old: the case was thrown out, and Mr. Allen denies the allegations. This is an obvious case of silencing someone due to the age. Woody Allen won Oscars before the truth came out, however, he has continued to direct, and recently wrote and directed the TV show Crisis in Six Scenes.
Casey Affleck and Woody Allen made art for upstart Amazon Movies. We see the same disregard for abuse in sports. Ray Rice was caught knocking out his fiancee in an elevator, it was only after public outcry over the abuse that the NFL and Baltimore Ravens took action: Ray Rice was a superstar prior to release of the video. Money is a motivator: Amazon is banking off Mr. Affleck’s win, and the are going to make money off Woody Allen’s cult following. Mel Gibson has been giving more than three strikes in this ball game, and keeps making studios money. Yet, the women abused by these men have disappeared into a the shroud of darkness.