News & Politics

Should Hollywood Creeps Be Erased from History?

James Franco attends the world premiere of "Why Him?" at the Regency Bruin Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

It’s been less than four months since Harvey Weinstein went from “That guy looks like a creep” to “I had no idea any human being could be such a creep.” Not even four months! Can you believe it? Feels more like four years. And it looks like the fallout will spread wider and linger longer than anybody could’ve imagined.

Consider the news this morning that James Franco was photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the latest issue of Vanity Fair, along with Oprah and Tom Hanks and a bunch of other Hollywood celebrities, but was photoshopped out of the group shot at the last minute. Over the past few weeks several women have accused Franco of sexual misconduct, so now he’s being erased from reality.

Then there’s Casey Affleck, who was scheduled to present the Academy Award for Best Actress next March. He too has been accused of inappropriate behavior toward women, and he has now canceled the appearance. He’s deleting himself before anybody else can.

You know who will be at the Oscars, though? Christopher Plummer. He’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor in All the Money in the World, which he only filmed a couple of months ago, after replacing Kevin Spacey in the role of J. Paul Getty. Spacey had already filmed all his scenes, and he even appeared in the first trailer, but then he turned out to be a huge pervert so he had to be scrubbed from existence. I’m sure Plummer is good — Plummer is always good — but that sure was quick. It’s almost as if Hollywood is rewarding him for helping get rid of the evidence on such short notice.

Spacey was also fired from House of Cards on Netflix, the final season of which will now focus on Robin Wright’s character. And Netflix has canceled all future projects with Louis C.K., after a bunch of women accused him of being exactly the same guy he told us he was in his stand-up act for years. HBO went even further, immediately pulling C.K.’s work from all of its on-demand services.

Poof. Gone. Just like that. Did you want to check out Lucky Louie to see if it was as bad as you’d heard? Nope. It no longer exists. He no longer exists.

CK has even been redacted from an appearance in the Disney Channel cartoon Gravity Falls. Here was his cameo, which aired in 2015:

And here’s what it sounds like now:

I guess they decided that having Louis C.K. yell “Get inside my mouth!” at a little kid was no longer a good idea.

Now they just need to edit out all the Louis C.K. scenes in Louie. That’ll leave a lot more time for commercials.

On the whole, I think it’s good that men who abuse their wealth and power are getting their (pardon the term) comeuppance. I have no problem believing that a lot of these guys have been getting away with this stuff for a long time, that the “casting couch” is a real problem, and I’m glad the victims are finally being heard.

But it concerns me that our impulse as a society is to try to airbrush these guys out of history. It’s not enough to end a creep’s career; we have to make him an unperson. It’s a form of totalitarianism. We can’t just condemn a person’s actions and show sympathy for the victims. Now we’re complicit if we even partake in the accused’s work.

If I think of a Louis C.K. joke and laugh all over again, now it’s like I’m an accomplice. Can I still enjoy The Usual Suspects? Am I a misogynist if I watch Shakespeare in Love again, since Harvey Weinstein produced it?

(Just kidding. I would never watch Shakespeare in Love again. Yuck.)

If you want to remain ideologically pure even on movie night, now there’s a site called Rotten Apples that tells you if any of a movie’s cast have been accused of any shenanigans. You just type in an actor or a movie title, and it tells you how “rotten” your evening’s entertainment is. For example, now The Godfather is bad because Marlon Brando allegedly committed rape on the set of Last Tango in Paris. Is the allegation true? Hey, better safe than sorry, right? You’d better just forget about Don Corleone, everybody.

Nah. I reserve the right to appreciate art and entertainment even when it was created by people I don’t like. Even if they did something terrible. I can separate the art from the artist, and I’m willing to let everybody else make that decision for themselves.

We don’t need to be coddled. We don’t need to be protected from dangerous ideas. Enough of this digital form of book burning.