At the annual Oscars luncheon in February, John Bailey, the Academy president, claimed the film industry had confronted its “worst abuses.”
But the 2018 Academy Awards ceremony told a different story.
Viewers were stunned when NBA player Kobe Bryant collected an Oscar for best animated short film on-air during the height of the #MeToo Movement.
Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault in 2003, when a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado accused him of rape.
“She said he then grabbed her by the neck, bent her over a chair and violated her as she cried and protested,” wrote Sylvia Moreno for The Washington Post in 2004.
Initially, the married NBA star lied to authorities and repeatedly denied he had sex with his accuser. Bryant was only willing to cooperate with authorities after they disclosed she underwent an exam to collect his semen.
Bryant then claimed that the sex was consensual, and publicly apologized to his wife, Vanessa.
The case was dropped after his accuser refused to testify in court. He apologized to his victim in court via a statement read in court by his attorney that said, “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
Still, after last night’s Oscar win, Bryant was glorified in the media. “Bryant is working hard to change the narrative of his legacy,” NBC Sports wrote, characterizing his latest career accolade as a shrewd marketing tactic.
But even the most prestigious award in Hollywood cannot erase Bryant’s tainted past as an alleged rapist.
Adding insult to injury, Gary Oldman won the Oscar for best actor amid the recent resurfacing of alleged domestic abuse. In their divorce case, Oldman’s ex-wife, Donya Fiorentino, accused him of assault in 2001, according to papers she filed in L.A. Superior Court.
“As I picked up the phone to call the police, Gary put his hand on my neck and squeezed,” she alleged. “I backed away, with the phone receiver in my hand. I tried to dial 911. Gary grabbed the phone receiver from my hand, and hit me in the face with the telephone receiver three or four times. Both of the children were crying.”
Oldman has denied her allegations and refuses to comment.
In the weeks leading up to the prestigious award ceremony, the media speculated whether publicists would allow their clients to be interviewed by producer and broadcaster Ryan Seacrest on the Oscars red carpet. The E! News host has been shrouded in controversy since allegations of sexual misconduct were revealed in February. Diane Warren, Whoopi Goldberg and Viola Davis were among the A-list stars that refused to stop for interviews.
On a recent appearance for The View, #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, warned the public to be wary of those the media positioned as leaders of the movement who are not true activists working in service of survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Before being condemned for transphobic statements, actress Rose McGowan criticized the Creative Artist Agency’s involvement in #TimesUp, calling it a “PR move” after several CAA agents were accused of sexual assault.
While it was wonderful to see some of Weinstein’s most outspoken accusers onstage honoring #MeToo and #TimesUp, heartfelt montages and impassioned speeches by revered famous actors are not enough to fix a problem of this magnitude.
Ashley Judd idealistically spoke of this year’s promise of “equality, diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality,” but the Oscars awarded the least amount of women since 2012.
From permitting avoidable red carpet controversy to awarding known abusers, the Oscars failed #MeToo and proved an industry notorious for harboring sexual predators cannot be entrusted to combat misogyny and change rape culture.