This year’s Oscars were possibly the most diverse ever. With wins for Coco (a movie set in and celebrating Mexican culture), Guillermo Del Toro as Oscar’s second Mexican winner in the Best Director category, and Jordan Peele’s historic win as the first Black person to ever win for Best Original Screenplay for his social horror movie, Get Out, the show was a watershed for many cultures and racial groups.
And in a year with such stunning diversity, women were front and center, with appearances by social activists like Taranna Burke and Janet Mock, and an incredible moment of validity when actresses (and high-profile Harvey Weinstein accusers) Ashley Judd and Salma Hayek were joined onstage with Annabella Sciorra to introduce a video montage discussing how Hollywood is celebrating diversity and protecting women in 2018.
But for all the talk of diversity, and all the historic wins, Oscar celebrated at least two men — Kobe Bryant and Gary Oldman — accused of violence towards women. Not only were these men’s checkered pasts not considered, but the accused were awarded for their work in 2017. In the era of #MeToo and Time’s Up, why does there remain such a disconnect in Hollywood?
In 2003, a 19-year-old hotel worker in Colorado accused basketball star Kobe Bryant of rape after she visited his hotel room at his request. Immediately after their encounter, her colleagues noticed her shaking and crying. She was bloody, and her blood was found on Bryant’s clothing.
Bryant admitted to cheating on his wife, but not that the encounter wasn’t consensual. He eventually paid the woman an undisclosed amount in order to avoid going to court. On Sunday, Bryant won an Oscar for the animated short he produced, Dear Basketball.
In 2001, Donya Fiorentino, the now-ex-wife of actor Gary Oldman accused her then-husband of domestic abuse. Fiorentino says that Oldman beat her and strangled her with a phone receiver and cord, as well as verbally abused her. Fiorentino also claims that Oldman hurt her in front of their children, who were toddlers at the time.
“I backed away, with the phone receiver in my hand,” Fiorentino said at the time. “I tried to dial 911. Gary grabbed the phone receiver from my hand, and hit me in the face with the telephone receiver three or four times. Both of the children were crying.”
With Oldman’s Best Actor Oscar win for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, his ex’s allegations have gained new traction, and Fiorentino even called out the Academy’s choices for winners this year. “Congratulations, Gary and congratulations to the Academy for awarding not one, but two abusers with Oscars,” Fiorentino told TMZ. “I thought we had evolved. What happened to the #MeToo movement?”
Even E!’s emcee, Ryan Seacrest wasn’t slowed down after allegations of abuse by a former staffer gained new ground leading up to the red carpet. There was even talk of putting a 30-second delay on the live-to-air portion of the pre-show gala in order to protect Seacrest from any celebs who may say something outright to the mega producer.
So, while there’s been so much progress in Hollywood, and a new day may be coming for gender equality, allowing accused men such big leeway in the face of a cultural tide shift shows that there are still miles to go before we can truly say it’s a job well-done.
And like host Jimmy Kimmel said during his opening monologue, “we can’t let bad behavior slide anymore. The world is watching us.”
“We need to set an example and the truth is if we are successful here, we can work together to stop sexual harassment in the workplace,” he joked, “if we can do that, women will only have to deal with harassment all the time at every other place they go.”
We hope not.
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)