Adéle Haenel / Portrait of a Lady on Fire trailer / YouTube
Adéle Haenel, star of critical hit Portrait of a Lady on Fire, was one of the first major French actresses to come forward about sexual abuse in the French film industry - two years after the #MeToo movement took the world by storm. In an interview with the New York Times in February, Haenel said that she believed that France had “completely missed the boat” with regards to the #MeToo movement.
Later that month, Haenel made headlines again when she walked out of the César awards (France’s answer to the Oscars) after Roman Polanski was given the award for Best Director for his film An Officer and a Spy. Videos of Haenel storming out of the event, yelling “Shame!,” and “Well done, paedophilia!” quickly went viral - bringing in equal amounts of support (protests against recognition of Polanski’s work were already rampant throughout France) and criticism.
Amongst the critics, a prominent casting director threatened that this would be the end of Haenel’s acting career. In his statement, Olivier Carbone promised: “Given my sources Haenel, you will have a good surprise very soon, with a good omerta, a well-deserved dead career that hangs in his face. Haenel you are minuscule compared to the talent of Roman!” before going on to describe Haenel and other protestors as “fat whores who behaved like hyenas with Polanski."
You know the drill: if you’re a man, you can apparently admit to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old and (allegedly) sexually abuse other women and children, and still win awards. If you’re a woman and you walk out of an awards ceremony because you don’t want to celebrate someone who has sexually abused a child, your career is over. Makes perfect sense!
Of course, this isn’t just a French problem.
The two main concerns that seem to be brought up time and time again in conversations about the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements are “His career will be ruined!” and “Can we not separate the art from the artist?!” (Not, of course, “We should do what we can to support those victims”).
Let’s be real: how many prominent men have been destroyed by sexual assault allegations? Have they been universally decried, or do they have a large group of fervent supporters who insist that their victims are liars? Have they managed to bounce back? Do they still win Oscars and sell records and sell out theatres? Has the entire world stopped listening to “Thriller”?
Let's take Dr. Luke, the music producer who was accused of sexually, verbally and emotionally abusing Kesha, for example. Dr. Luke currently has a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, having co-written and produced Doja Cat’s “Say So,” while Kesha has been repeatedly blocked from exiting the contract that ensures her alleged abuser receives a percentage of her music’s royalties (plus interest!).
What about Louis CK? The comedian was accused of sexual misconduct by five women in 2017. This year, he's performing shows to sold out crowds..
Michael Fassbender’s career has never once faltered - starring in superhero films and earning Oscar nods - despite the fact he was accused of domestic violence by an ex-partner in 2010.
James Franco is still making movies, despite the allegations of five women. Morgan Freeman remains one of the most respected working actors, despite the allegations of eight women. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, despite the allegations of at least seventeen women.
So, tell me, what does it take to kill a man’s career?Support Villainesse