The take: should you boy­cott this film?

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

It took just one ac­cu­sa­tion and Kevin Spacey’s rep­u­ta­tion as one of the world’s best-loved ac­tors crum­bled overnight.

Last week, Star Trek actor An­thony Rapp claimed the 58-year-old had at­tempted to sex­u­ally assault him in 1986 – when he was 14. Spacey promptly apol­o­gised, in­sisted he did not re­call the ‘drunken’ in­ci­dent and re­vealed he was ‘now [ liv­ing] as a gay man’ – the crass­ness of which was swi­fly con­demned.

But there wasn’t just one vic­tim. In scenes that are now de­press­ingly fa­mil­iar, Rapp was fol­lowed by oth­ers, in­clud­ing US film-maker Tony Mon­tana, who claimed he was ‘force­fully’ groped by Spacey in a bar in 2003 (and lef with PTSD for six months). An­other man claimed the actor had whis­pered, ‘It’s big isn’t it?’ as he flashed him. A third told the BBC he woke up with the actor on top of him as a teenager.

Days later, the actor Dustin Hoff­man was al­leged to have sex­u­ally ha­rassed a 

17-year-old girl in 1985. Brett Rat­ner, who has 115 di­rec­tor and pro­ducer cred­its to his name, was ac­cused by mul­ti­ple women of sex­ual ha­rass­ment ( he de­nies the al­le­ga­tions). There will prob­a­bly have been more rev­e­la­tions, about even more men, by the time you read this.

Last week, Net­flix promptly sus­pended film­ing of the sixth series of House Of Cards fol­low­ing the claims about Spacey. The In­ter­na­tional Em­mys an­nounced they would no longer be hon­our­ing Spacey with the Founders Award this month, given to an en­ter­tain­ment pro­fes­sional ‘whose unique cre­ative ac­com­plish­ments con­trib­ute to the qual­ity of global tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion’. Even a $90 on­line act­ing course de­signed by the actor was pulled.

All of which is clearly to be ap­plauded. And yet, I can’t be the only one who felt some­thing akin to guilt af­ter the Spacey rev­e­la­tions. This time last month, I’d have prob­a­bly said he was one of the best ac­tors of his gen­er­a­tion, lauded his per­for­mance in House Of Cards or told you his ver­sion of Richard III at the Old Vic is still the best thing I’ve ever seen on stage. As with all the re­cent rev­e­la­tions pour­ing out of Hol­ly­wood, I’ve found it dif­fi­cult to grap­ple with the no­tion that some­one so tal­ented stands ac­cused of be­ing such a mon­ster be­hind closed doors.

Which is why it’s now so dif­fi­cult to know what to do when faced with his work. My first thought is that we should stop watch­ing any­thing in­volv­ing Spacey, We­in­stein, Hoff­man and Rat­ner. But to do so would mean ig­nor­ing un­de­ni­ably bril­liant (and award-win­ning) films and TV. Worse, it would also mean pun­ish­ing the other ac­tors in them.

If we had known what we do now when We­in­stein pro­duced Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book, would we have re­fused to see the film and de­nied Jen­nifer Lawrence an Os­car? When he made Shake­speare In Love, would we have skipped it and served Gwyneth Pal­trow an­other blow af­ter We­in­stein as­saulted her aged 22?

What about all the other bril­liantly tal­ented women who have worked with We­in­stein: Emma Wat­son, Kate Winslet, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett? Should we pun­ish them too? If we turn our backs on House Of Cards, we also risk ma­lign­ing Robin Wright. As Time mag­a­zine’s film critic Stephanie Zacharek wrote, ‘ To re­ject the movies them­selves amounts to pun­ish­ing the vic­tim. It un­der­cuts the fine work that so many women – and de­cent men–have put into We­in­stein-pro­duced movies over the years .’

And yet, by con­tin­u­ing to sup­port the work made by We­in­stein, Spacey, et al, these men en­dure no such pu­n­ish­ment. In­stead, we hand them back the very power that al­lowed them to get away with their be­hav­iour for so long. That ex­tremely dan­ger­ous power which lies in pres­tige and tal­ent. It’s what has al­lowed Mel Gib­son, af­ter ac­cu­sa­tions of ho­mo­pho­bia, an­ti­Semitism, racism and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, to walk straight back into Hol­ly­wood ( he won a Best Di­rec­tor nom­i­na­tion at the Os­cars this year). It’s also pre­sum­ably what We­in­stein was bank­ing on when he begged the film industry for a ‘sec­ond chance’ as he traipsed off to re­hab last month – be­fore leav­ing af­ter a week.

Later this year, Woody Allen – who was ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing his step­daugh­ter, Dy­lan Far­row, in 2014 – will re­lease his most re­cent film, Won­der Wheel. Its star, Kate Winslet, has al­ready been ques­tioned for her de­ci­sion to work with the di­rec­tor. Her re­sponse per­haps be­trays her own tur­moil: ‘It’s just a dif­fi­cult dis­cus­sion. I’d rather re­spect­fully not en­ter it to­day.’

It is a dif­fi­cult dis­cus­sion, but it’s one we do have to en­ter into. I’ve loved Woody Allen films in the past, in­clud­ing An­nie Hall and Man­hat­tan. But I won’t be go­ing to watch this one. To do so would sug­gest that, if you have enough tal­ent, ac­cu­sa­tions of se­ri­ous crim­i­nal be­hav­iour don’t mat­ter. Case in point: Casey Af­fleck’s Os­car’swin­ning per­for­mance in Manch­ester By The Sea – a film I watched in spite of ru­mours he had sex­u­ally ha­rassed women in the past (claims he de­nied but paid off ). I re­gret it and, months later, I still wish I’d been a bit more like Brie Lar­son, who re­fused to ap­plaud him af­ter an­nounc­ing his win.

Women, and now men, are com­ing for­ward about preda­tory, pow­er­ful men, not just in film but in pol­i­tics, the mu­sic industry, the me­dia, fash­ion. They have cre­ated a sea change, a world in which be­hav­iour like this will no longer be tol­er­ated, re­gard­less of who the per­pe­tra­tor is. Just look at Pink, who re­vealed she re­fused to work with pro­ducer Dr Luke af­ter al­le­ga­tions of abuse made by Ke­sha last year. Or the women in Paris last week, protest­ing out­side the open­ing of a ret­ro­spec­tive for the film di­rec­tor Ro­man Polan­ski, who is wanted in the US for sex­ual abuse of mi­nors.

Let’s be a lit­tle more like those women. Surely, that’s more im­por­tant than a cou­ple of hours’ en­ter­tain­ment at the cinema?

It’s a dif­fi­cult dis­cus­sion, but one we have to have

Clock­wise from left: Har­vey We­in­stein and Gwyneth Pal­trow; Spacey with Robin Wright in House Of Cards; Dr Luke and Ke­sha

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