Misconduct in Hollywood may be treated differently based on race

Many of Hollywood’s biggest stars have siblings following in their footsteps, also trying to make it big. Ben Affleck—America’s worst Batman—has such a sibling, Casey Affleck. Affleck has been painted as Hollywood’s underdog since he started appearing in small, independent movies that counteract his big brother’s blockbusters. While he is a talented actor, his personal life proves he is not the perfect man from the movies.

While making “I’m Still Here,” his 2010 mockumentary, Casey Affleck allegedly sexually harassed two women under his employment. Both women sued, and the two cases were settled out of court. It is still unclear what the settlement was and if the stories have truth to them—Affleck has carried himself like they do not.

On Feb. 26, the Academy Awards will have its 89th show. Among the ranks of grand actors nominated is Casey Affleck. His movie “Manchester by the Sea” is nominated for best picture, actor in a leading role, supporting actor, directing and writing.

He is the frontrunner for the award— can you see the headlines now? “Underdog Casey Affleck wins!” It’s not uncommon for allegations against celebrities to be swept under the rug, often to help them keep living the life they do; see Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump etc.

What is the difference between Casey Affleck and Nate Parker? Chances are that you’ve heard of one of their movies and not the other. Nate Parker co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in “The Birth of a Nation.” If that titled rings a bell, that’s because it was named after the 1915 film of the same title. The 1915 movie was about the KKK as a heroic group and portrayed black men as unintelligent criminals.

Nate Parker, a black man, made his film with opposite intentions. It is based on the true story of Nat Turner, a slave who led a rebellion in South Carolina. While this film quickly gained success and prestige at Sundance, a dark cloud was cast over it when journalists discovered the past rape allegations against Nate Parker and his co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin.

While he was not found guilty, like Casey Affleck, this was not the only time Nate Parker was accused of sexual misconduct. His co-writer, Jean McGianni Celestin, was found guilty but never served time. On paper, the stories of Casey Affleck and Nate Parker mirror each other in many ways. However, one individual has won a Golden Globe and the other has a failed film. While “The Birth of a Nation” has more issues than just Nate Parker, what caused one film to go onto commercial success while the other was boycotted? Some are saying race.

Casey Affleck is white and Nate Parker is black. Nate Parker’s checkered past killed the success of his film, while Casey Affleck’s star keeps on rising. This is not an appeal to treat Nate Parker with the same respect and blindness-to-impurities as Affleck. I believe both should not be able to reach great heights when multiple women accuse them of indecency and rape. Race or status should not privilege you to get away with anything.

The problem with celebrities with checkered pasts (and presents?) is that there is no warning label on the works of art they create. When watching a preview for a Woody Allen film it doesn’t say, “From Academy Award Winner and known pedophile, Woody Allen.”  Anyone who has ever talked to me about movies knows I have a deep and passionate hatred for Woody Allen.

It was placed there by my mother, and there it will stay. I have been encouraged to separate the artist from their work. Some people can separate life from art. But I can see an artist in everything they ever create. Making a beautiful movie doesn’t make you a beautiful person. Always try and stay educated about the content you take in and who is creating it.

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