Role Models in Hollywood

Gina Quatrino, Production Editor

In light of recent allegations in the entertainment industry, the question of whether celebrities can be judged separate from their art is hard for many to wrap their minds around. Many of the celebrities that have been called out for misconduct have been “role models” in Hollywood for a long time– long enough to build a massive following that is willing to defend their every move and sadly, every mistake. While it is understandable that nobody wants to accept that their favorite person on screen has made wrong decisions, the truth is that the majority of the time these mistakes are not something they can just sweep under the rug.

Actors such as Johnny Depp, Aziz Ansari and James Franco have dominated the entertainment industry within the past year. Depp was featured in the new addition to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, “Dead Men Tell No Tales.” Ansari has been making large strides with his stand up comedies and his Netflix Original show, “Master of None.” Franco was just highlighted in, “The Disaster Artist” and won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. These men have been creating content that has catapulted their careers into the massive world of fame. Followers of all ages have been looking to these public figures as role models. But the hard reality is that all three of these men have been accused of sexual misconduct. These celebrities that many young people consider mentors have been accused of abusing their ex-wives (Depp), not asking for any form of consent (Ansari) or exploiting women for many years in the industry (Franco). And they are not the only ones who have been called out. Infamous actress Lena Dunham has been accused of normalizing sexual abuse with children and victim blaming co-workers when they speak up. This brings back the idea of consequences in Hollywood.

Can you punish the actors separate from their work? Can you dislike the person but still enjoy their content? Where does one draw the line between supporting and opposing? For many, the line is completely blurred. And in order for change to happen, there cannot be a gray area of indecision. Society needs to come up with a set standard for repercussions in the entertainment industry.

Many argue that refusing to watch a film that features an actor with a list of allegations is not the right decision because it will not only target the said actor. Dropping sales will hurt the entire team that worked on the movie rather than pinpointing that artist. The combating idea is that if these people continued to work with someone who is accused of misbehavior, they too are part of the problem. There are plenty of other movies worth seeing that do not benefit a person who cannot treat others with respect. Both arguments are valid and in order to decrease the gray area, there has to be a combination of the two ideas. If the allegation came out after the movie had been released, there is no right for society to blame all other entertainers involved in the film, as many of them probably had no knowledge of the events. However, in situations where an actor was outed and others continue to book them for jobs, then there is a problem. This action is deliberately funding their careers despite them being an alleged sexual predator in the media. Unless they are willing to carry the title of a supporter of sexual abuse and misconduct, they need to stop hiring these people. It is that simple. There are so many up and coming actors and actresses willing to do the job right. There is no excuse. There has to be consequences for these people.

As tough as it may be to comprehend, there cannot be a separation between the art and the artist. Hollywood really needs to think about their actions while moving forward in the new age of the media. Society is not backing down from the hard topics anymore. And it is not just the women speaking against men. It is all genders, ethnicities, political views, ages and backgrounds. Victims of abuse are finally using their voices and stepping up to the plate by calling out big name celebrities. These “role models” are not the people you need to be looking up to anymore. They have committed crimes and have hurt many people. Depp, Ansari, Franco and Dunham are not the only ones involved and they sadly will not be the last. It is time to stop giving these figures a pass because they are just ‘so talented.’ Owning up and apologizing is only half of their battle. One apology does not cover the damage. A simple Band-Aid will not fix all the pain they have caused. They need to take the time to earn their second chance and Hollywood needs to make sure of that.