Harvey Weinstein’s sexual deviance blew the lid off Hollywood’s history of abuse.
Celebrities had enabled him for decades, then had the nerve to lecture America about sexual misconduct during this year’s Golden Globes.
Now another celebrity who worked with Weinstein finds himself caught up in the #MeToo movement.
Casey Affleck, younger brother of Ben (who was also ensnared by harassment claims), is bowing out of presenting at the Oscars for fear of being skewered in light of his recent sexual harassment lawsuit.
Casey Affleck will not present the award for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars, according to a new report. Per Deadline, Affleck has informed the Academy that he won’t be attending the ceremony because he “did not want to become a distraction from the focus that should be on the performances of the actresses in the category,” and that he “was in a no-win situation, with all the attention surrounding the #metoo movement.”
This “no-win situation” refers to the fact that Affleck — who won the Oscar for Best Actor in 2017 for his role Manchester in the Sea — was sued in 2010 for sexual harassment by two crew members on the set of I’m Still Here, the faux-documentary he directed. As my colleague Constance Grady wrote last year after Affleck’s win:
One of his accusers, Amanda White, alleged that Affleck instructed another crew member to flash his penis at her and routinely referred to women as “cows.” She also alleges that Affleck tried to convince her to stay in a hotel room with him, and when she refused, he tried to intimidate her by grabbing her, later sending her a stream of angry and abusive text messages.
The other accuser, Magdalena Górka, described waking up in the middle of the night to find Affleck in bed with her: “He had his arm around her, was caressing her back, his face was within inches of hers and his breath reeked of alcohol.” According to the lawsuit she filed against Affleck, he left the room after she told him multiple times to do so, “slamming the door in anger” — but “she did not know where he had touched her while she was sleeping.”
Both lawsuits were settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Oscar tradition has the previous year’s winners in the acting categories presenting the opposite gender’s category the following year, meaning that Affleck was slated to present this year’s Best Actress trophy to either Sally Hawkins, Frances McDormand, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, or Meryl Streep. Given his history and the ongoing catastrophic fallout following Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuse coming to light last fall, it’s been unclear how exactly he or the Oscars might handle that tradition this year.
Now it appears as though Affleck has elected to step aside entirely. We’ll likely never know for sure whether it’s because he, as Deadline describes it, wanted to make a “proactive move” to avoid distracting from the women being honored, or because he simply wanted to avoid putting himself in an uncomfortable position. Either way, the optics of whatever happens next is in the Academy’s court now.
The spate of sexual misconduct scandals in Hollywood should be a clear signal that celebrities need to spend less time preaching to all of America and more time getting their own house in order.