Ever since The New York Times published the story revealing Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, victims have started to speak out about the issue, with many celebrities such as Kate Beckinsale and Cara Delevingne sharing their own alleged experiences with Weinstein. In the aftermath of the Weinstein story, Anthony Rapp, an actor known for his work on Broadway, revealed his own experiences as a sexual misconduct victim. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Rapp revealed that in 1986, at the age of 14, a 26-year-old Kevin Spacey took sexual advantage of Rapp.
Rapp recalled the incident saying that at a party in Spacey’s apartment, in which he was the only minor, Spacey picked him up bridal style, placed him on the bed, and then laid down on top of the teenager. Rapp said that he managed to push Spacey off, but the incident shocked him. Ever since 1986, Rapp had been haunted by this terrible memory.
After the Buzzfeed article came out, Spacey released a statement apologizing to Rapp for the incident, which he said he doesn’t remember, and then, as if to distract from the fact that he allegedly molested a minor, publicly announced that he identified as gay. People immediately took to social media to speak against Spacey’s statement, with many accusing him of coming out to deflect the accusations.
The act of coming out is a very courageous act, but Spacey managed to use his sexuality as a justification for his crime. The actor was accused for pedophilia, and to respond to this by saying that he is a “gay man” is completely inappropriate. By coming out in the same statement in which he addresses sexual misconduct, Spacey is blaming his crime on his sexuality. He is a perpetrator because he abused a 14-year-old boy, not because he is gay.
Many headlines focused mainly on the fact that the actor had finally addressed his sexuality, and some headlines even ignored the sexual allegations. E! News, for example, had a headline in which they mention Spacey’s sexuality, his apology to Rapp, and his past inappropriate behavior, but they do not say the words “sexual misconduct.” Many articles’ headlines don’t even mention the fact that Spacey’s alleged actions are of pedophilic nature. Not only was Spacey 12 years older than Rapp, he was an adult allegedly seducing a minor.
For a moment, it seemed as if Spacey would join the many celebrities who have been accused of similar actions whose careers have remained untouched, such as Woody Allen (alleged child predator) and Johnny Depp (alleged domestic abuser). However, days after the article and Spacey’s statement was released, this was not the case.
In response to the accusations, Netflix, the service which streams House of Cards, and Media Rights Capital, a production company in charge of House of Cards, released a joint statement announcing that production on the show’s sixth and last season was being suspended to review the current situation. Additionally, Netflix representatives said, before announcing the suspension, that Spacey was not working on set.
Another company which reacted to the allegations was the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The company announced on its Twitter account that it will not be honoring Spacey with the 2017 International Emmy Founders Award, which he was scheduled to receive next month.
After the Spacey allegations and the Weinstein scandal, it seems that Hollywood is finally being uncovered, with some issues of sexual misconduct, abuse, and assault being taken seriously. It is refreshing to see how formerly beloved celebrities who belong to an industry which for years has ignored these types of issues are finally suffering the consequences of their actions. One can only hope that other celebrities accused of similar crimes, such as Woody Allen, Johnny Depp, Terry Richardson, John Travolta, Britney Spears, Jeremy Piven, Sean Penn, and many others, will also receive the criticism and undergo the consequences that their actions are deserving of.
That being said, Hollywood has a long history of ignoring these types of cases because of the victim’s status. For example, Rapp is a famous Broadway actor, and the survivors from the Weinstein scandal are almost all celebrities. In the cases of Spears and Travolta, for instance, the alleged victims were a bodyguard and a cruise ship worker respectively, and both of their cases have been overlooked. So, there seems to be a trend of which cases get the most attention and are the most impactful.
It is wonderful that sexual harassment and abuse cases are coming to light. However, one can only hope that all alleged perpetrators receive the same attention that Spacey and Weinstein have received, and that all other cases receive the same awareness without a consideration of which survivors are more important than others.
Oriana Gonzalez is a second-year literary journalism major and a gender and sexuality studies minor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.