Fans are outraged that Casey Affleck won the Best Actor Oscar at the 2017 Academy Awards amid his sexual harassment accusations. Whether the claims are true or false, his win is sending a bad message.
When Affleck won his Oscar for Manchester by the Sea he said, “Man, I wish I had something bigger and more meaningful to say.” Well, there were plenty of people who did have something to say. Many took to Twitter because they were so upset that he won. B.J. Novak even tweeted after the Best Picture mix-up that he wanted producers to “check Best Actor again” too.
So what did Casey Affleck do? Back in 2010, Affleck was accused of harassing two women who worked with him on the fake Joaquin Phoenix documentary I’m Still Here.
Amanda White, a producer on the film, claimed that she faced constant harassment on set. Affleck reportedly told a crew member to take his pants off and show White his penis. He also allegedly referred to women as “cows,” talked about his sex life, and more.
The director of photography, Magdalena Gorka, has a similar story. She claimed Affleck and others said she should have sex with a camera assistant. And she alleged that she once woke up with Affleck in her bed. She allegedly told him to leave, and he got angry and slammed the door. Gorka quit the movie as a result, so Affleck reportedly didn’t give her credit on the film or pay her fairly.
For his part, Affleck has denied the claims. He settled the cases and has said he can’t talk about what happened. He told The New York Times, “It was settled to the satisfaction of all. I was hurt and upset – I am sure all were – but I am over it. It was an unfortunate situation – mostly for the innocent bystanders of the families of those involved.”
He also told Variety that people can say anything about him because he's well-known. Many then accused him of making himself the victim.
Whether the allegations are true are false doesn’t really matter. What matters is the message the Oscars – and society – are sending about sexual harassment and assault. Time and time again we’ve been told that women lie about sexual assault to hurt men’s careers. And time and time again that's been proven wrong. In reality, these allegations don't hurt celebrities at all.
This was true even before Affleck won his Oscar. We’ve seen Donald Trump, a man who bragged on camera about assaulting women, get elected President. We’ve seen Woody Allen, who was accused of raping Dylan Farrow, Roman Polanski, who raped a 13-year-old, and Mel Gibson, who hit his wife and said she deserved to be raped, receive constant praise.
People have said that they look at the art, rather than the artist, when it comes to things like the Oscars. But that claim isn’t even true.
There was one person noticeably missing from the 2017 Academy Awards: Nate Parker. For him, people couldn’t separate the art from the artist. At one point he was a top contender for The Birth of a Nation, but he faced terrible backlash once his past rape allegations came out.
Sure, Parker’s allegations were different than Affleck’s. He was accused of rape while Affleck was accused of harassment. Affleck settled a civil suit out of court while Parker was part of a criminal trial. (He was ultimately acquitted partly because he and the victim had consensual sex in the past.) Parker’s reported victim also committed suicide. And Parker handled the backlash differently than Affleck.
But there’s another major difference that hasn’t gone unnoticed: Parker is black. So what message is this sending? If you’re a white, rich, well-connected, talented man, sexual harassment allegations don’t matter. Women who have been victimized also see that their allegations against these men have few consequences.
Do you think it was wrong for Casey Affleck to get the Oscar? Let us know your take in the comments section below!