Thursday 22 August 2019

Pat Stacey: Why Kevin Spacey's career may not be over

Allegations of sexual abuse don't always end stars' careers

Kevin Spacey in Netflix series House of Cards
Kevin Spacey in Netflix series House of Cards

Pat Stacey

We can expect to see quite a few headlines in the coming days offering slight variations on the theme of House of Cards collapsing. In fact, there’s one on top of this very column.

According to Netflix, the decision to pull the plug on the series after its sixth season, due early next year, was made months ago and has nothing to do with the allegations against Kevin Spacey.

Still, the timing of the announcement on Monday, less than 24 hours after Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey made unwanted sexual advances to him 30 years ago, when Rapp was 14, will be lost on nobody.

Nor will the news, reported in Variety, that Netflix is already considering a number of House of Cards spin-offs, including one focusing on Michael Kelly’s character, political aide Doug Stamper, and quite possibly a solo outing for Robin Wright as Claire Underwood.

This, plus the swiftness with which Netflix and Media Rights Capital, joint producers of House of Cards, moved to announce they were “deeply troubled” by the allegation and eager to ensure the cast and crew “continue to feel safe and supported”, suggests they’re trying to put some distance between themselves and their tainted star, while at the same time protecting their precious product in the long-term.

It’s also indicative of the panic sweeping through the Hollywood TV and film communities as the number of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein increases, virtually by the day.

Forget cards collapsing; this is more like dominoes falling, as one famous name after another finds their alleged sexual transgressions in the past dredged up.

A recent name in the frame is Ben Affleck, who’s also been the subject of allegations of inappropriate behaviour since Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and all those other wonderful, courageous women blew the whistle on Weinstein.

But back to Spacey. Rapp’s allegation was quickly overshadowed by Spacey’s response to it on Twitter. He apologised, saying he had no memory of the incident but that if it had happened, it would have been “deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour”.

In the next paragraph, however, Spacey took the opportunity to come out as gay. If this was intended to deflect attention away from the allegation, it backfired.

Not only was it self-serving, it also handed ammunition to every homophobe and bible-bashing fundamentalist who equates being gay with being a threat to children.

The monstrous lie that all gay and bisexual men are potential paedophiles or pederasts has been used to justify their persecution, imprisonment and murder for generations.

Harvey Weinstein, whose own wife and brother have turned their backs on him, would appear to be finished as both Hollywood’s biggest player and its biggest swaggering bully and sexual predator.

While the backlash against Spacey’s ill-judged response is in full swing, don’t expect his career to be sunk — or for that matter, Affleck’s.

In the past, Hollywood has shown itself capable of a remarkable degree of forgiveness mixed with industrial quantities of queasy hypocrisy.

Remember Mel Gibson’s “the Jews are responsible for all the wars” rant after being arrested for DUI?

If ever the old line “You’ll never eat lunch in this town again” applied to anyone, it was Gibson. But after a period in the wilderness, he was back in the fold at this year’s Oscars as a best director nominee for Hacksaw Ridge.

Roman Polanksi can’t set foot in America because he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in California in 1979. This didn’t stop Hollywood coming to him.

When Harrison Ford made Polanski’s Frantic in France in 1988, nobody in Tinseltown batted an eyelid. There wasn’t much of a fuss in 2002, either, when Polanski won the best director Oscar for The Pianist.

The truth is, the TV and film capital of the world was knee-deep in sleaze and double-standards from the beginning. Charlie Chaplin was a genius. Charlie Chaplin also liked to have sex with girls as young as 15.

His enemies succeeded in kicking him out of America eventually, but only because they thought he was a damn commie, not because he was a pervert. That’s entertainment.


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