By Megan Bianco
Not even a month after the Harvey Weinstein allegations became public, more and more famous men in the movie industry are being exposed as multiple accusers come forward. Filmmaker James Toback (The Pick-up Artist (1987), Bugsy (1991)) has over 300 women accusing him of harassment or assault, and blockbuster director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour (1998), The Family Man (2000)) has eight women naming him.
Ben Affleck, Andy Dick, Jeremy Piven, Ed Westwick and Steven Seagal all have received unflattering reports from women’s encounters with them, and Alec Baldwin defended his friendship with Toback rather rudely to a female journalist. Even acting legend Dustin Hoffman was outed by two women recounting inappropriate experiences with him in professional settings. But the biggest blow to the public was probably A-list leading man Kevin Spacey. He is a two-time Academy Award winner, Tony Award winner and now reportedly a pervert and predator.
Last week child performer turned character actor Anthony Rapp claimed that when he was 14, then 26-year-old Spacey made a pass at him verbally and physically. In response, Spacey made a questionable statement that included him coming out as gay and claiming he had a drinking problem. Since then a handful of men, underage and legal at the time of their incidents, have shared their stories of Spacey’s aggressive advances as well.
For years there were rumors of Spacey being gay and dating younger men, but this was a huge blow. First, for the young men who felt taken advantage of and had to deal with the trauma they may have felt afterwards. And second to the viewers who had enjoyed Spacey’s performances for almost three decades and had no idea something this sinister could be going on behind the camera.
Unlike Toback or Ratner, who have a lot of crap productions on their resumes, or Weinstein, who is
only a name off screen, Spacey was the star of numerous popular and acclaimed plays, films and TV series. Working Girl (1988), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), The Ref (1994), Swimming with Sharks (1994), Seven (1995), The Usual Suspects (1995), L.A. Confidential (1997), American Beauty (1999), Recount (2008), Margin Call (2011), Horrible Bosses (2011), and more recently the TV series “House of Cards” (2013-17) and Baby Driver (2017). He won Best Supporting Actor for Suspects and Best Actor for Beauty, one of the few actors to win two for two. But now, is it even possible to watch these great movies the same way without thinking of the recent accusations of harassment and assault by Spacey?
I think Roger Ebert and I are two of the few film fans to have never cared for The Usual Suspects, and when I revisited American Beauty while I was in college, I found the drama to be pretentious and problematic despite my obsession with the film as a teen. Not to mention it’s one of a string of features where Spacey is paired with a teenage girl, now taking the mood to an even creepier level. Glengarry Glen Ross and L.A. Confidential might be the biggest hits for me. The writing of Ross is spectacular as is the ensemble cast and same is true for Confidential. But are we terrible for still liking Spacey’s good movies?
I’ve seen the argument that it shouldn’t matter in the long run because he’s just an actor and not writing or directing his own films from a personal perspective. But then, you have publicly scorned filmmakers like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen who still manage to keep part of their fanbase. Phil Spector has spent the past eight years in prison for second degree murder, but is still acknowledged as one of the most influential pop music producers of all time. Then you have glam rockstar Gary Glitter, whose public image was completely tarnished after he was arrested for having thousands of files of child porn on his computer and later arrested again for numerous episodes of suspected obscene sexual behavior with pre-teen and teenage girls in Cambodia and Vietnam.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to Spacey’s filmography, or Affleck’s or Hoffman’s, but I think it will probably be a long time before most will feel completely omfortable watching Spacey on screen again.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.
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