Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, and Abuse in Hollywood

It began almost quietly and quickly exploded into a firestorm. In past weeks, allegations of past sexual abuse have risen against some of Hollywood’s most famous faces. It started with Woody Allen – a writing piece by his daughter Dylan Farrow revealed the filmmaker allegedly* (we’ll get to that later) molested her at the age of seven. The Internet was ablaze with comments, some not believing Farrow’s writing but also defending Allen by citing his professional life.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. In the weeks to come, another famous face would find himself in the forefront of this swirling controversial topic – Bill Cosby. Something of a father figure to many in the Black community, it is almost impossible to think of this friendly face as an oppressor or abuser. But alas, there have been several women coming forward with allegations of sexual abuse from Cosby, with the total coming to thirteen.

Many people would stop here and begin a debate on who is lying and who is being truthful. But whether or not you personally believe the hype, there is a crucial thing to notice about the pink elephant in the room – Violence against women is nothing new. It is in our everyday lives, beyond statistics and hearsay. Statistically, one in three women will be abused or sexually assaulted at some point in her life. One in three. That number is sobering, staggering, and when you think about it, completely on the mark. Through my own experiences, I have come in contact with a variety of beautiful, dynamic women who also have harrowing stories of violence from those closest to them.

What angers me most about these stories of Allen and Cosby are that people are quicker to defend and excuse past actions, whether or not they have occurred, than they are to side with survivors. Sexual assault, a way to assert power and oppress those deemed unworthy, has been around longer than most are willing to admit. Sean Penn kidnapped, abused, and raped Madonna for over twenty-four hours. Charlie Sheen.. I won’t even get into detail with the horrendous things that he has done (be warned: a Google search will not be pretty) and yet, his career has used these actions as material to further his career. But these are just two examples of how Hollywood excuses abusers against women because they are still within the cycle of oppression.

Yes, I avoided an infamous name because there is another point of this vicious cycle that needs to be addressed. Yes, Chris Brown was involved in domestic violence against Rihanna. That stain will never leave his public image, no matter how much he redeems himself. But what needs to be noted is that while it has been six years since the incident occurred, Brown is still being negatively affected from it. Meanwhile, his white counterparts that have committed, quite frankly, worse offenses are able to not only revive their careers but come back with a vengeance. Yes, color plays a huge part in the perception because white masculinity exists completely different from Black masculinity. It’s the same reason that even when Black people are the victims of violence (Rihanna, Trayvon Martin), it is excused in the same way that we forgive white abusers.

Violence against women is a reality that has been swept under the rug for decades. It has been scoffed, excused, laughed at, and ignored as a serious issue overtaking our global community. And while it’s extreme to suggest having a zero-tolerance attitude for abusers in Hollywood and elsewhere, it should also be known that consumers hold the power. The next time you purchase a Woody Allen film or give money that endorses philanthropy from Sean Penn, realize that you are silently showing your support for these individuals and saying that you are accepting of them not being held accountable for their actions. Instead, be aware of what you support. Be aware of the oppression around you. And be aware that instead of debating on the legitimacy of the accusation, realize the larger problem that it exists in.

Be aware.

About these ads

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s