Hollywood is full of hypocrites.
This isn’t a particular surprise because most people involved in public politics, if they stay involved in public politics long enough, end up loaded down with hypocrisy. That’s how Hollywood could defend Bill Clinton’s sexual misfeasance with women while losing their mind over Donald Trump’s. And it’s also how Harvey Weinstein could become a prominent feminist political supporter while sexually harassing prominent women in the town for decades. Harvey’s politics were the right kind.
There are all kinds of hypocrites, but the ones I take aim at most frequently on this site are hypocrites who claim to be morally outraged by behavior, but wield that outrage hypocritically and selectively.
And, right now, that’s a Hollywood specialty.
So last night I tuned into the Oscars expecting to see Donald Trump, Mike Pence, guns, Republicans, and the usual liberal targets get whacked by Jimmy Kimmel, who got famous hosting a show with girls with big boobs he called juggies jumping on trampolines, into the leader of the #metoo movement.
Hollywood loves nothing more than to praise itself for bravery while sharing the same exact opinions that everyone in the theater shares — question, wouldn’t real bravery have been accepting an award or presenting an award and flashing your NRA membership in the process? Or saying you think Trump’s tax cuts will stimulate the economy or that you think, all things considered, Trump isn’t doing that bad of a job? I’m not big on the “bravery” required to say something your entire audience already agrees with, but maybe that’s why I live in Nashville and not Los Angeles.
But, regardless, this year was the #metoo Oscars, the one where Hollywood elite who have spent decades covering up for Harvey Weinstein’s sins because he makes good and profitable movies, suddenly express outrage over his behavior. The spillover of Weinstein’s sexual harassment allegations this year was so substantial that Ryan Seacrest, currently dealing with his own sexual harassment allegation, was spoken to by only four of the twenty biggest nominees on the red carpet; James Franco was refused an Oscar nomination over allegations of sexual harassment despite a stellar performance, and Casey Affleck was pressured not to show up and present an Oscar award because eight years ago he settled a sexual harassment case with two women.
So you can imagine my surprise when Kobe Bryant, who managed to get nominated for an Oscar despite being charged with rape in 2003, actually won an Oscar at the #metoo Oscars. Predictably, Bryant didn’t just win an Oscar, he said he wasn’t going to just shut up and dribble in his acceptance speech and Kobe was then mobbed at the after parties to get his picture taken with all the actors and actresses who were speaking out against powerful men who have sexually harassed or sexually assaulted less powerful women.
Now some of you are reading this, saying, “Clay, it was consensual! She wanted to have sex with him! And it was so long ago!”
To which I would say this — it wasn’t that long ago compared to many of the Weinstein allegations. And I’d also say that an investigative body in Colorado disagreed it was consensual since they charged him with rape. (As a general rule multi-millionaires with incredible defense attorneys do not get charged with rape unless there is ample evidence a crime was committed. ) The evidence suggests Kobe might still be in jail if he hadn’t paid millions of dollars to persuade his victim not to testify in the criminal case and settle the civil case.
What’s more, Kobe issued this statement back in 2004, which I’d like all of you to read right now.
“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
Hold up, read that statement again.
Kobe Bryant, in his own statement, said he understands this woman doesn’t believe she consented to their sex. Do you know what we call sex that a woman didn’t consent to?
Read that emboldened statement again. Back in 2004 Kobe Bryant, who never missed a basketball game despite being charged with rape, essentially admitted to rape in his own publicly vetted and released statement. Read it — he admitted he had sex with a woman who wasn’t consenting to the sex. That’s the very definition of rape. Kobe can’t believe their encounter was consensual if he now knows she didn’t consent.
Of course we’ll never know anything else about this encounter because Kobe, just like Harvey Weinstein, paid this woman millions of dollars and had her sign a nondisclosure agreement to ensure nothing else about their relationship ever went public.
The biggest difference between Weinstein and Kobe? Yes, Harvey Weinstein has multiple sexual harassment accusers, but unlike Kobe he’s never been charged with an actual crime. From a criminal perspective, Kobe’s behavior has actually been worse than Weinstein’s. Plus, who knows how many other nondisclosure agreements Kobe might have signed over the years for sexual allegations.
At an absolute minimum, if Hollywood stars aren’t speaking to Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet because of sexual harassment allegations and they aren’t nominating James Franco, a man who once hosted these same Oscars, because of sexual harassment allegations, and if Casey Affleck isn’t being allowed to present an award because of public pressure about sexual harassment allegations and if they have publicly banned Harvey Weinstein from his membership in the academy, is it too much to ask that you NOT GIVE AN OSCAR TO A MAN CHARGED WITH RAPING A POWERLESS WOMAN?
Doesn’t that seem like the least bit of logical consistency that Hollywood could follow here?
Of course that didn’t happen.
There are many theories for why that might have happened. Maybe it was that Kobe played for the Lakers and even the Hollywood elite are starstruck in his presence. Maybe it was because Kobe is black and it’s easier for #metoo to pretend that only white men are evil, particularly when Hollywood liberals aren’t really that inclusive with their billions. Maybe Kobe just seems like too nice of a guy to have committed rape and it’s easy just to pretend it never happened.
I don’t know what justification the Hollywood elite will cite for their failure to treat Kobe like everyone else this awards season, but I do know this — all of them are bullshit.
The truth of the matter is this — it was hypocritical in the extreme for Kobe Bryant to manage to get two different jerseys retired in the Staples Center and to win an Oscar in the same year Harvey Weinstein has been banished to west coast oblivion. That’s not equality or justice or Kobe’s time being up, it’s inequality and beneficial treatment for a rich and powerful man.
So maybe we need to modify the Oscars hashtag this year.
#metoo meet #metoounlessyouregoodatbasketballandblack
Because it turns out, not everyone’s time is up.