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COLUMN: Actors shouldn't work with sexually abusive directors



Sexual assault in Hollywood has been thoroughly exposed lately, with many famous actors and directors facing allegations. One would hope this would harm their careers, and we are fortunately seeing this happen with a number of actors. 

For example, Kevin Spacey was fired from Netflix's "House of Cards," and the show will continue without him. For directors, we are seeing a bit of a different narrative unfold, as many actors still choose to work with them despite their history of assault. 

This choice is disrespectful toward all of the victims of assault under these directors.

In 2014, Woody Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow detailed alleged sexual assault by Allen that occurred in 1992. Despite this, many extremely famous actors continue to work in his films, including Blake Lively, Steve Carell and Scarlett Johansson. 

His newest film, "Wonder Wheel," stars Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake. When asked why she chose to work on his film, Winslet said: “As the actor in the film, you just have to step away and say, I don't know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false. Having thought it all through, you put it to one side and just work with the person.”

Winslet’s argument is incredibly popular with celebrities in defense of the people with whom they choose to work. 

Actor Armie Hammer was recently interviewed on the podcast "Happy Sad Confused." The conversation took a turn into the current state of sexual assault in Hollywood, namely because in 2016 Hammer worked on the film "Birth of a Nation" with Nate Parker, a director who was accused of raping a woman who has since committed suicide. 

The case was not public knowledge at the time the movie was being filmed, so Hammer and the rest of the cast were unaware.

After this news came out, the movie did incredibly poorly amidst the controversy. 

In the interview, Hammer was asked if he would ever consider working with a director like Roman Polanski, who was accused of the molestation of a 10-year-old girl. Hammer said, “The idealist in me would like to think, like, OK, I'm not working with Polanski the person, I'm working with him as an artist, and this is a new thing that he's doing and I think that he is a talented artist or whatever. It’s a gray area.”

Many of his fans were hurt by this statement, including myself, but, as columnist Miranda Garbaciak wrote in her Nov. 16 column, it is important to hold your favorite artists and celebrities accountable for their actions. 

I do not think Hammer’s statement is necessarily coming from a place of bad intentions, especially because he is not actually working with someone like Polanski. It just proves that he comes from a place of privilege and does not understand the insidious power dynamic of sexual assault in Hollywood. 

Hopefully, he will realize his mistake and apologize.

The underlying problem with his statement is that you cannot separate Polanski the "artist" with Polanski the "person." 

Polanski the "artist” is still a rapist, and willingly working with him is incredibly disrespectful to not only Polanski’s victim, but also victims of sexual assault everywhere. The same goes for actors still working with Woody Allen – they are furthering a culture of normalized rape and sexual assault.

emmagetz@indiana.edu
@emmaagetz

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