Awards shows should stop honoring those accused of sexual assault

Awards shows should stop honoring those accused of sexual assault

This year’s Academy Awards were a stage for activists and actors to come together and give a voice to some of the biggest social problems in our world today.  Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek and Annabella Sciorra spoke of Time's Up; Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani spoke up for Dreamers while presenting; and Common and Andra Day stood with some of today’s most prominent activists and their platforms in their performance of “Stand Up for Something” from the movie Marshall.

They also honored several men who have been accused of sexual assault. 

The night began with an E! News red carpet show, hosted by America’s golden boy and the bane of my existence, Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest has recently been accused of sexual assault by a former personal stylist, who was fired after reporting the assault to human resources. E! didn’t want to highlight this, so they put Seacrest’s interviews on a delay so they could filter out anything that might be said about the allegations.

Kobe Bryant, basketball legend and now Oscar winner, was recognized for the short film Dear Basketball, which he wrote. Bryant was arrested for raping a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado back in 2003, but the trial ended after evidence was tampered with and his accuser refused to testify in court. He apologized to his family, and it wasn’t spoken of again until the #MeToo movement.

And then there’s Gary Oldman, who took home the top prize for his performance of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. While he is one of the most recognized actors of his generation for years of work and iconic roles, he’s also one of the most hypocritical. Oldman’s ex-wife accused him of abusing her, and when she tried to call the police, he hit her in the face with the phone and choked her in front of their children. Oldman claimed these were lies, no charges were filed  and a judge awarded him full custody of his children after the divorce. 

While the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have highlighted many problems with sexual assault in Hollywood and other industries, they aren’t going to flourish until bigger organizations, like awards shows, support them. And the best way to do this? Don’t honor those who sexually assault people.

It seems like an easy fix: exclude those who have been accused of sexual assault from even being considered for awards. But it becomes more complicated when you look at the makeup of the Academy: women only make up 28 percent of the Academy’s voters. Not only is this terrible representation (over 50 percent of moviegoers are women), it also gives women less of a platform to stand up against sexual assault.

These movements gained momentum last year, after over 60 women accused Hollywood producers Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. Since then, they’ve grown tremendously, including women from all work sectors and giving them support as they stand up for themselves. But the momentum is starting to stall, and that’s a problem.

Harvey Weinstein can’t be the end of this movement. He’s only the beginning. And if the movement is going to continue, it’s going to need the support of committees like the Academy. 

The best way the Academy can do this? Increase its female representation and stop honoring the perpetrators of sexual assault.

Sara Bolin is a sophomore majoring in journalism, political science, and anthropology. Her column runs biweekly. 

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