Lawson: More than one Oscar night controversy


The 89th annual Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 26. 

Angelica Lawson

Sunday night at the 2017 Oscars included some highs, and then some lows. The wrong winner of Best Picture was announced, and, not quite as publicized, a man who has been accused of sexual harassment was awarded for his art.

The Oscars are a time-honored tradition where the Academy awards actors, actresses, producers, directors, makeup artists, costume designers, musicians and any other profession that is related to the film industry for their year’s past work.

Casey Affleck won the 2017 Oscar for Best Actor for his part in the film “Manchester By The Sea.” Affleck, who has been accused of sexually harassing two women from the set of the 2010 film “I’m Still Here,” seemed to be unperturbed by the allegations brought against him.

Affleck’s victims have described allegedly similar experiences, in that they both refused his advances, and then things got ugly. In the first case brought against him, Affleck was accused of entering one woman’s bedroom and lying next to her in his shirt and underwear, trying to convince her to engage in sexual activities with him. After she managed to get him out of her room, he enlisted the help of his fellow cast mates to intimidate and harass her to the point where she quit the project. 

In the second case, a woman who worked on the same film with Affleck as the first victim refused to share a hotel room with Affleck. She later received abusive texts from him and also quit the project.

The problem that arises from this situation is how can someone who leads such a disgraceful private life be awarded in his professional life? Why is it acceptable to separate one aspect of a person that is dark from their success? Affleck, like many other men in the Hollywood lifestyle, are not held to the same standards as non-public figures, and that’s not OK.

It is not OK to reward these people who choose to victimize their co-workers, their partners or any other human being.

Affleck is not the only man to receive this special and biased treatment. Mel Gibson, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski and Eminem have all been accused, convicted and yet still rewarded for their deplorable life choices. Gibson repeatedly verbally abused his ex-girlfriend, and those tapes were released, but he still won. Polanski was convicted of raping a child and won, and despite rapping repeatedly about the abusive relationship between him and his ex-wife, Eminem won. Allen, who has been accused by his daughter of raping her, won as well.

It is no longer acceptable to turn a blind eye to the actions of men who choose to be disgraceful and violate those who are around them. Hollywood has done this for too long, and it is time that it holds these people accountable in the same way we would hold any of our neighbors accountable.

I know right now that if my roommate, father or friend knew someone who had been accused or convicted of any of these types of crimes, they would be exiled from our community, no longer accepted and removed from all contact. Why do we allow these people into our homes still, and why do we ultimately praise and support them by paying for their products? Because they are good actors? It is not enough to excel at a craft to be forgiven of all of your past indiscretions.

It is time that Hollywood sends a message to its leading men that if you cannot be worth our time offscreen, then you are not worth being on-screen. Separating art from the artist is a cop-out and should have never been introduced as a defense. You are what you do; there is no slicing pieces of yourself off and only being judged for the good parts.

The Academy should take these things into consideration when it hands out these awards, because there are certainly people who have held Oscars that don’t deserve the prestige and career boost that comes with one. You can make your voice heard by not watching these films and speaking against the crimes that have been committed. Let them know that there is no separation of private and personal when you are a public figure, and that they must be held to the same standards as everyone else.