Amongst all the drama at this year’s Oscars, one moment stood out for all the right reasons: Brie Larson’s refusal to applaud Casey Affleck. Her silent protest raised an important question: Why do we continue to support artists who have been accused of sexual violence? Larson, an advocate for sexual assault survivors, presented Affleck, who has been accused of multiple cases of sexual harassment, with his Best Actor award. She then stood back, completely still, her silence deafening among the cheering crowd.
We need more people like Larsson to stand up to those accused, as this is not the first case of its kind. Take Chris Brown, for instance. He has been found guilty of violence against women, yet he remains working and continues to gain support from him fans. Actors continue to work with Woody Allen despite the multiple allegations of sexual abuse against him. The same goes for director Roman Polanski, who has been charged with rape. The reasons for turning a blind eye against their offences vary, but none of them are good enough.
Why should we celebrate an artist when we know they have done wrong? It is not enough to judge them purely based on their art. They should be held responsible for their actions, and not be allowed to hide behind a new movie or album. It is one thing that fellow artists choose to work with the accused, but they have their reasons, albeit them selfish ones. However, what we should be asking is how do these people continue to have the support of fans who are fully aware of what they have done?
It is true that we listen to musicians or watch actors because we like their songs or we like their films. We don’t necessarily have to like the artist behind the work, in fact, sometimes it is best when we let the art speak for itself. However, disliking someone’s personality is distinct from condemning them for sexual violence. By supporting their art, we are inadvertently telling them that what they’ve done is okay, we will allow them to continue working. Because they are just so talented. They’re talented enough to let some history of sexual abuse slide. Just keep making art.
Furthermore, victims who have spoken out about their abuse, such as Kesha, have not been treated fairly. Whether this is through the lack of support they’ve received from their fellow peers, or by their fans continuing to support their abuser, there is more often than not a blind eye turned to their accusations. Perhaps it’s not good for someone’s image, or they’d like to work with that producer one day, even if what is said about him is true. Maybe it will help their career.
More often than not, artists are allowed to get away with the abuse they inflict. Because they’re artists, and you really liked him in that one film. So it’s okay if he hurt that woman. He’s Casey Affleck. Correction, he’s Oscar winner, Casey Affleck. Which makes it all okay, right? We need more Brie Larsons to stand up to the Casey Afflecks. We need to start supporting the Brie Larssons and not the Casey Afflecks. We need to stand up and say, no, your Oscar does not make this okay.