When Casey Affleck rose to accept his Oscar for Best Actor on Sunday night, viewers across the world were all likely thinking along the same school of thought: What about the sexual assault claims made against him?
That mindset reflected in the Best Actor presenter and last year's Best Actress winner Brie Larson's actions; she simply handed Affleck his award and stepped to the side of the stage without applauding along with the audience. (Whether or not Larson's actions were purposeful or coincidental remains to be seen.)
In case you're not aware, in 2010, two female employees from Affleck's mockumentary I'm Still Here sued him, claiming breach of contract, emotional abuse and sexual harassment.
One of the women, producer Amanda White, alleged that Affleck insisted they share a hotel room, and says he sent her aggressive text messages when she refused.
Magdalena Górka, a cinematographer, says she woke up in her private hotel room to him "curled up next to her in the bed wearing only his underwear and a T-shirt." Gorka claims that after she kicked him out of the room, he rallied crew members to harass and bully her until she quit.
The accusations were settled in 2010 out of court for an undisclosed amount. Affleck has always denied the claims and said that people think that "it’s perfectly fine to say anything you want" about famous people.
While the settlement prohibits Affleck, White and Gorka from talking about the suit, he did "wearily" tell the Boston Globe that he's fed up with the controversy.
"There’s really nothing I can do about it, other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time," he said.
By all means, Affleck isn't the first Hollywood star in this situation. Take Mel Gibson, who was seated in the front row at Sunday's festivities. Remember the tape recording of Gibson telling his now ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva that she looked like a "pig" in her outfit and that "if you get raped by a pack of n------ it will be your fault"? Or what about the time he admitted to hitting her while she was holding their daughter?
In a sworn statement, Gibson admitted that he slapped Grigorieva “with an open hand” because she was allegedly shaking the baby, while Grigorieva claimed Gibson flew into a violent rage, striking her and delivering a concussion as well as chipped front teeth.
He received three years probation for that, but that didn't stop him from being nominated for Best Director.
And then there's Woody Allen, who was accused of raping his 7-year-old daughter Dylan Farrow. In 2014, Best Actress winner Cate Blanchett, who won for her role in Allen's Blue Jasmine, praised his script during her acceptance speech — despite the fact that Farrow had just published an open letter in The New York Times about the 1992 abuse. 2014 was the same year Allen received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes.
Let's not forget about Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty to and was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl — before he fled the country, of course. That was back in 1978; at the 2003 Oscars, Polanski won Best Director for The Pianist. To a standing ovation, Harrison Ford accepted the award on behalf of Polanski — since, you know, he was in hiding and couldn't actually attend the award ceremony.
The fact of the matter remains that celebrating allegedly abusive men like Affleck not only robs the women they hurt of their dignity and legitimacy, but it also allows the abusers to gain more power, legitimacy and control over future victims.
When it comes down to it, by validating and forgiving abusive men (especially those who show no remorse or responsibilty), are we telling women that their pain is less important than some guy's accolades?
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