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SOCIETY Will the Hollywood scandals affect viewing figures?

Published 18 Jan 2018 11:23AM

Words by Martha Glaister | Staff Writer

Hollywood has been rocked by scandals that have rippled into the real world and made everyone stand to attention and cry ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up.’

With James Franco and Aziz Ansari both winning Golden Globes and being accused of sexual harassment in the same week, it seems that every day there is a new case to discuss. Will these allegations be acted on in terms of viewing figures? Will the public vote with their feet?

When Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct late last year, ties were immediately severed. Filming on House of Cards was suspended and the season was shortened, with Spacey removed from the cast Netflix went on to totally separate from the actor. With Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World due for release a couple of months later the drastic decision was made to cut him entirely from the film and be replaced. With such a short turn around reshoots ended up costing $10 million.

The fear of people no longer wanting to be associated with Spacey, or that no one
would want to see the film, meant that in a rushed nine days and for millions,
he was totally recast and erased.

Similar calls have been made to do the same to Johnny Depp in upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Accused of verbally and physically assaulting his then-wife Amber Heard, the decision to not recast Depp left some fans furious. Many took to Twitter to say they won’t be watching Fantastic Beasts 2 as they will not support an abusive man. If Ridley Scott could do it in such a short space of time, there was certainly time to recast Depp.

Director David Yates said about the casting: “With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something. I can only tell you about the man
I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see. Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.”

Less than 24 hours after the women went public with their accusations against comedian Louis C.K., the distribution company The Orchard, announced it wouldn’t release his new movie, I Love You, Daddy. His upcoming appearances were cancelled and Netflix announced it wouldn’t produce Louis’s planned comedy special. FX also announced it was breaking all ties with the comedian, ending its overall deal with him and removing him as executive producer on their shows.

Should directors and companies carry on as normal if an actor is accused, seeing them for their work and who they know them to be? Or take the Ridley Scott route and erase these men and their projects? If the latter were the case there may be no films left to see… Should the hard work of the hundreds of crew, cast and production teams be written off because of the acts of one person, should they be punished - their work going unseen, because of one man's actions?

Vote brigading - coordinated online voting to boost or decrease ratings artificially, has proven popular before with the disgruntled public. Ghostbusters 2016 haters took to IMDB to give the film one-star reviews, thousands of these before the film was even released, and the trailer is the most downvoted in history. Both of these protests were before any audience had even seen the film.

Birth of a Nation 2016 had a similar fate, Director Nate Parker was accused of rape in 1999 and in a possible response to this allegation, again IMDB saw hundreds of one-star scores before the release of the film. A candlelight vigil was even held outside the ArcLight theater in Hollywood to support the alleged rape victim.

Could vote brigading and protests happen more frequently now with audiences not wanting to watch alleged sexual harassers on screen? How will Fantastic Beasts 2 do in online rankings?

But we can’t live in a world of suspicion, you can’t have a favourite film one day and then feel you can never watch it again the next as the main actor has been accused. Who's next? Can we not enjoy any films anymore, ‘just in case’. Shall we throw away all of our Kevin Spacey DVDs? Mel Gibson went from a racist who no one wanted to work with to Oscar-nominated within 10 years.

Woody Allen and Roman Polanski are still hailed as classic filmmakers and their movies studied and enjoyed decades later. Does time heal the public's memory or is the creator's behaviour irrelevant to the work?

Since the Weinstein floodgates opened, there has been a big shift happening in Hollywood. The Golden Globes saw actresses and actors wearing black to the awards as a symbolic sign of their support of the Times Up movement, to voice their opposition to sexual harassment and gender inequality.

All the Money in the World didn’t end its controversy at Spacey. Mark Wahlberg earned 1,500 times Michelle Williams’ paycheck for the reshoots required. Wahlberg announced he would donate the $1.5 million he received from the reshoots to the Times Up movement.

People are taking a stand, taking notice, they’re protesting, they’re boycotting online votes. Can art and artist be separated, as it has been for years, or will there be a tipping point now of audiences voting with their feet, no longer content with toxic masculinity seeping onto every screen?


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