We're about to enter the second, equally painful phase of #MeToo, in which all of the accused start trying to make their comebacks. All of those debates about which allegations were actually proven, and which guys weren't that bad -- we're about to have all of them again, plus a bonus round of "Hasn't he been punished enough?"
I'm not saying that none of these men should ever work again, but let's be honest here. PR pros know celebrities can survive most scandals by just laying low for three to six months. (That's seriously the guideline. You can see them reference it here and here.) That means we're going to have to decide which of these people truly turned their lives around and which just took a time out for things to blow over before going back to making giant piles of money.
I probably don't have to catch you up on what Weinstein did, as Ronan Farrow's article on his exploits recently won a Pulitzer Prize. Allegations from 85 women included everything from rape to exposing himself to crushing the careers of those who rejected his advances. He also had an entire spy network of former Mossad agents dedicated to his dick.
The sexual assault factory Weinstein built speaks to a man with some serious problems, so naturally he headed to rehab for sex addiction, which he ... checked out of without completing. Sorry, according to his representative, he completed the 45-day program early. Apparently there are two things Harvey Weinstein is great at: sexually assaulting women, and rehab for sexually assaulting women. Sure, the allegations against him span 20 years, but that less-than-a-fucking-month-and-a-half stint in rehab really cleared his head.
OK, maybe that's not a fair assessment of the situation. Not only has he graduated early from rehab, but he's also seeking additional therapy for "anger management, nutrition, and several addiction related behaviors." Nutrition? That clears up so much. You guys, Harvey Weinstein went on a juice cleanse, and now he doesn't force women to watch him shower anymore! I thought it took years of therapy, apologies, and financial compensation for the victims, but it actually just took some pomegranate water.
A New York Times report from March says that Weinstein has been attempting to put together a documentary that would tell his side of the story and pave the way for a comeback. I'm assuming his side of the story will be something along the lines of "I'm not Harvey Weinstein. I'm his twin brother, Marvey Weinstein. There's been a terrible misunderstanding."
He's currently hiding out in a luxury apartment in Arizona while fighting multiple lawsuits in New York, LA, and Britain. Although he's certainly going to try to make a comeback, I'm not super concerned about seeing him wield real influence in Hollywood again. The difference between Weinstein and some of the other men you'll see on this list is that he was accused by some of the most influential women in the world, including Lupita Nyong'o, Uma Thurman, Cara Delevingne, Angelina Jolie, and many more. We find claims by famous women more credible because we feel like we know them and they wouldn't lie, while the non-celebrity population is ... not so lucky.
Unlike most on this list, Louis C.K. was known as a champion for women for most of his career. He helped promote female comics' careers, and built much of his act around how difficult it is to be a woman in this world. Then it was revealed that multiple times, he had cornered young female comics and masturbated in front of them. This should've derailed his public image and career for at least half a year, right?
Well, three to six months is the rule, so four months after the New York Times article about his sexual misconduct ran, he emerged from hiding to take a walk around New York with his friend Parker Posey. This is something a lot of these men have been doing, making sure they are seen in public with influential people, especially women in their industry. This way, Posey doesn't have to come out and say she supports C.K., but by being seen with him, she's obviously lending her support to his public image.
When the allegations came to light, C.K. confessed that they were true, and said that he would "step back and take a long time to listen." It seems that by "a long time," he meant roughly five months, and by "listen," he meant quietly waiting for people to be able to justify his actions because they miss his jokes. Remember, the women C.K. exposed himself to in 2002 had to live with that for 16 years, watching as anyone who spoke out about him was called a liar.
A few weeks ago, The Hollywood Reporter did an article promoting his comeback. It's full of positive quotes about growing and healing from prominent male comics who sound like they're applying for a jobs as Gwyneth Paltrow's part-time guru. Another story in the The Villager about C.K. hanging around a comedy club carries this quote from fellow comedian Gene Getman: "... in a lot of cases, it was mostly consensual, and what people are really criticizing is a fetish he had. They're essentially slut-shaming him about his sexual preferences."
Wait, is this how we're doing it? Just rewriting the history to make it sound like it's the public masturbation part we were mad about, and not the captive audiences who didn't think they had the option of refusing without repercussions? See, this is why the Comeback Phase of #MeToo is going to get so messy. Louis C.K.'s redemption is going to be a two-pronged assault of "He's a changed man!" and "Was what he did really that bad?" and anyone who bristles at the last part will almost certainly feel the wrath of his fans. "He said he was sorry! What more do you want?"
And it's going to be even messier for cases like ...
James Franco has always been the kind of stand-up guy who tries to pick up 17-year-olds on Instagram. After appearing at the Golden Globes proudly sporting a "Times Up" pin, many female former students from his now-closed Studio 4 acting school felt compelled to speak out about ways he had made them uncomfortable during his classes and film shoots. This included removing plastic guards when simulating oral sex and flying into a rage when two of them refused to do a topless scene.
He's also accused of at least one instance of offering to give a young filmmaker script notes and then pressuring her into giving him oral sex. But he did a Tommy Wiseau impersonation FOR VIDEO GAME CHARACTERS, Y'ALL, so most of the people on Earth instantly forgot about all of that other stuff.
Franco responded to these allegations on The Late Show like a four-year-old who doesn't want to admit to knocking over his mothers lamp, saying, "If I have done something wrong, I will fix it -- I have to." No additional word from him yet on whether or not he has done something wrong, so no steps have been made to fix it.
Franco currently stars in the acclaimed HBO series The Deuce, which is a look at life in New York during the 1970s, when porn and prostitution were rampant in Manhattan. Which ... seems like the kind of show that puts him in a position to very easily do the things he's been accused of again? And while HBO seemed to want to take a hard stance against working with men accused of harassment (they dropped Louis C.K.'s stand-up specials and removed his show Lucky Louie from the service), when the Franco allegations came around, someone must have walked by them playing a very loud tuba. They've greenlit The Deuce for a second season, with Franco continuing in two lead roles.
Oh, and Franco's IMDb page shows that he's in 13 movies and shows set to come out in 2018/19, which is actually slowing down a bit, considering he had an astounding 15 credits in 2017 alone. So ... that's it, I guess? The accusations, a vague acknowledgement that they exist, and the guy continues to appear in about 40 percent of all Hollywood productions? You can argue among yourselves about what should or shouldn't have happened to him, but it's pretty clear there's not a lot of consistency in how we decide who gets ostracized.
There's a good chance Kevin Spacey will never be in movies again. Like Harvey Weinstein, he is contending with multiple legal battles. Plus, some of his accusers were very young at the time of the incidents, most notably Anthony Rapp, who says he was 14 when Spacey made unwanted advances on him.
Spacey's allegations highlight the fact that the #MeToo movement wasn't just a women's issue. It's a people with power vs. people without power issue. Spacey preyed mostly on young actors and other people who worked around him in the film industry. He didn't try to hide his identity when he was out picking up young boys to bring back to his apartment; he used it as a smokescreen to make them comfortable, and ultimately to make sure they wouldn't talk.
Also, Kevin Spacey will continue to be wealthy beyond any of our wildest dreams for as long as he lives.
Yes, he was let go from the final season of House Of Cards, but his contract with Netflix supposedly didn't have a morality clause, which is super weird. It's almost like he knew there were some unflattering things about his personal life that might come to light someday, and he wanted to cover his ass in the event of that happening. The lack of a morality clause means that Spacey was likely paid his full $6.5 million salary for making Season 6 of House Of Cards without all of the hassle of actually making Season 6 of House Of Cards.
On an even sadder note, costar Robin Wright publicly crusaded for equal pay with Spacey last year, and according to her, she never got it. So it's entirely possible that Spacey is getting paid more than Wright to not star in a show that she's still in.
Spacey was also edited out of All The Money In The World, and his Gore Vidal biopic was buried by Netflix. Both projects had completed filming, so he was still paid for both of them. It's possible he has learned something from hearing the stories of his victims brought to light, but it's unlikely we'll be able to tell, as we probably can't climb to the top of the mountain of money he's currently reclining on.
It's been four months since Mario Batali included a cinnamon roll recipe in his apology for compelling a female employee to straddle him and grabbing a female chef's breasts after offering her a job, among other things. It's good to know that he took his apology as seriously as I take a good brunch.
Since the PR-mandated waiting period is now over (four months), Batali has been popping up at popular New York restaurants, painfully not incognito in his signature bright-colored shorts and Crocs. His main purpose seems to be being seen with popular chefs and prominent people within the food industry. Again, it's the tactic of being forgiven by association. And there's even a favorable article in The New York Times about Batali "eyeing his second act." I mean, his first act barely ended, and the intermission wasn't even long enough for me to take a pee break and get some Twizzlers from the concession stand, but OK, I guess we're doing this already.
The Times article even includes a quote from a woman who runs a bunch of New York City homeless shelters saying, "I do give Mario credit for reaching out to people like myself and not calling for us to stand with him." As if by meeting with him and basically telling The New York Times what a great guy he is, she isn't standing with him? It's painfully obvious that Batali has a full PR team grinding away 24 hours a day to get him back on TV as quickly as possible, and there'll no doubt be an audience waiting, eager to have this terrible gap in their lives filled.
Fox News announced on April 19th of 2017 that they would be firing Bill O'Reilly for, oh my god, just so much sexual harassment, you guys. O'Reilly made the turducken of sexual harassment -- a little masturbating on the phone with female co-workers, stuffed inside some forcing women to listen to his sexual exploits, all wrapped up in threats that any woman who complained would "pay so dearly that she'll wish she'd never been born." His behavior sparked multiple lawsuits from women who worked with him, one of which took $32 million to settle.
Since then, O'Reilly has started his own website and released a book. Oh yeah, and almost exactly four months to the day after his firing from Fox News, he started an Instagram that exclusively features pictures of his Corgi. Do these guys just set up alerts on their phones that tell them when to begin the comeback? Is there an app just for this? This makes me angry for two reasons. Number one, dogs are pure, beautiful creatures that don't deserve to be used as pawns by some old pervert. Number two, this tells me that O'Reilly totally thinks that someday, the general public will like his cute dog pictures more than they dislike the fact that he referred to a black female co-worker as "hot chocolate."
Meanwhile, he still has a lucrative book deal, with the next title due in September, and fans can hear his thoughts on his subscriber-only podcast.
If all that happens to these guys is that they get, at most, a six-month vacation and some expensive horse meditation therapy, what does that say to their victims? Why come forward? What does it say to them about the ease of doing the same thing again? The #MeToo movement could end up doing more harm than good if all that it proves is that the general public will forgive literally anything after a few months if they like someone enough.
Don't bother looking at Bill O'Reilly's corgi when you can just get a calendar of corgis instead.
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