By Allison Kirste
As Americans, we pride ourselves on justice and fair treatment. When someone is in the wrong, we like to think that they’re punished for their actions. However, this could not be farther from the truth, and today’s pop culture is proof.
Celebrities are often exempt from blame because of their excessive fame and wealth. Those with hateful rhetoric and violent tendencies are often frowned upon, but still relatively successful (see Chris Brown). However, with rape and sexual assault, one of the most egregious faults of them all, celebrity perpetrators often get by unscathed.
Casey Affleck’s nomination for Best Actor came as a shock to everyone, his win an even bigger one. Furthermore, it was hard to ignore the sad irony in Brie Larson, who played a sexual assault victim in “Room”, awarding the Oscar to somebody who was the defendant in a sexual harassment suit in 2010. Should we separate his talent from his past actions? Why are we letting him move on from this? We love to pretend that he didn’t harass the cinematographers that he was working with, because to do so would be to acknowledge that we support someone who was in the wrong. Casey Affleck’s win at the Oscars is a reminder that rape culture is alive and well, and that, despite what any judge says, no amount of accusations or charges will affect a man with power.
Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a woman in 2003, though the charges were eventually dropped 15 months later. Are we to assume that Bryant didn’t pressure the victim with money and threats to drop the charges? This is a prime example of a victim blaming mentality, one that cares more about the future of the offender than that of the victim. Even today, fans like to forget about Bryant’s past of sexual assault, and when they’re reminded, they often say that it’s “okay,” because of his talent and contributions to the league.
However, we cannot excuse anyone’s actions because of their talent or fame, and we certainly should not forget about said offenses. What kind of example do we set for young people when we do that? That their actions are excusable if they’re famous? That they’re exempt from punishment and scrutiny if they provide entertainment to the public? By providing a platform on which these accused sex offenders can speak, we are partially at fault. We have overlooked their actions and offenses for our own selfish purposes, and if we are not standing up to them or standing behind their victims, we are no better.
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