Kevin Spacey scandal indicative of larger societal sexual violence

Maddie Boone and Sam Rosenblatt

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With Hollywood already reeling from the revelation of producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual assault, actor Kevin Spacey now finds himself engulfed in a similar controversy.

Actor Anthony Rapp from “Star Trek: Discovery” accused Spacey on Oct. 29 of making sexual advances toward him in at a party in 1986. At the time, Rapp was just 14 years old and Spacey was 26.

In a highly criticized response to allegations on Twitter, Spacey apologized for this behavior, alleging that he did not remember the encounter. Spacey said that if Rapp’s description was true, it was because of “deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”

Spacey came out a gay in the same statement, explaining that he wanted to deal with the situation “honestly” and “openly.” He claimed that Rapp’s story had encouraged him to speak about “other things” in his life and subsequently stated that he will now “choose to live as a gay man.” Many have expressed their anger at Spacey using sexual misconduct allegations of a child as his chance to come out. Some even claim that this has set back the gay community and reopened “old criticisms and conspiracies” as Vanity Fair movie critic Richard Lawson tweeted. Moreover, this controversy suggests that sexual violence is not simply a heterosexual issue; it can unfortunately affect anyone.

Such a scandal makes us wonder how many other Hollywood figures may be covering up dark histories of sexual violence. While many had suspicions towards Weinstein’s behavior, the Spacey scandal has caught many off guard. Spacey’s reputation as an actor, at least for some, is tarnished. Tragically ironic, his shadowy personal history mirrors the backstory of Spacey’s signature character Frank Underwood on the Netflix drama “House of Cards.”

This scandal, like Weinstein’s, is another small glimpse into a much larger, systemic issue in Hollywood. Dustin Hoffman, “Entourage” star Jeremy Piven, and “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner have been also been accused of similar allegations. Hopefully, Rapp’s story, as with the countless others who have shared, will prompt victims of sexual assault to speak out, share their experiences, and seek justice. Such violence is unacceptable and as a society we need to work to build a community that not only encourages open and honest discussion of such pervasive issues, but actively works to solve them.

Ultimately, we should also be more cautious than to think our pop-culture icons are immune to such immense controversies. Hollywood has an inherent dark side, and we are acting too complacent if we believe that the film and television industry is impervious to the tragedy of sexual violence.

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