Two online petitions are asking the Academy to prevent Casey Affleck from presenting at the 2018 Academy Award ceremony. In the last few weeks, Hollywood has certainly been rocked by scandals. After over forty women accused Harvey Weinstein of various sexual assaults and ongoing harassment - going back decades - the floodgates opened. Weinstein's brother Bob, talent agent Tyler Grasham, director James Toback, producer/director Brett Ratner, Andy Dick, Jeremy Piven, and Kevin Spacey were all publicly accused of sexually mistreating others in the business. And for what seems like the first time in Hollywood's history, they are seeing some real consequences because of it.
Accusations of sexual assault and harassment are not new to the movie business. However, in the past it always seemed like the accused men were rich, powerful, and successful enough to not only continue working in the business, but sometimes even to thrive. Director Roman Polanski was arrested in 1977 for the rape of 13-year-old Samantha Gailey. Polanski was indicted, but fled the country to avoid serving time in prison and has since continued his Hollywood career, winning the 2002 Best Director Oscar for The Pianist. Woody Allen was accused of assaulting his own daughter when she was a small child, and continues to make award-winning films, winning his own Oscar 2011 for Best Original Screenplay for Midnight in Paris. And earlier this year, Casey Affleck won the Best Actor Oscar for Manchester by the Sea - in spite of two complaints of rampant sexual harassment by crew members of the film I'm Not There.
Traditionally, the previous Best Actor winner presents the award for Best Actress. But with the Oscar ceremony only a few months away, plenty of people want to make sure that Affleck is not allowed to do so, because of the allegations against him. Pajiba is reporting that two online petitions have been formed asking the Academy to break with tradition and bar Affleck from participating in the Oscar ceremony. The petitions can be found here and here.
There was a lot of public outcry when Affleck was nominated for the Oscar last year, but he still took home the statue. According to cinematographer Magdalena Gorka and producer Amanda White, while filming I'm Not There in 2009 Affleck pursued them aggressively. Both women sued the actor for his behavior, which they said included inappropriate language, outbursts when he was rejected by them, abusive text messages, crawling into bed next to Gorka, and other misconduct. The cases were settled out of court.
But the tide seems to be changing in Hollywood. Harvey Weinstein was removed from the Academy, as well as his own company. Grasham was dropped by his agency, Ratner lost his relationship with Warner Brothers, Dick was fired from a film, and Kevin Spacey has been fired from House of Cards, had his Netflix biopic Gore shelved, and there will no longer be an Oscar campaign for his performance in All the Money in the World. Consequences are being seen for the men who were accused in the last month, but many also want to see consequences for those who have been accused in the past. Perhaps if Affleck is barred from participating in the awards ceremony, that could be the second turning of the tide - where those whose stories were already known before Weinstein's dive from grace face their own fallout.