If Morgan Freeman loses his Honorary SAG Award, Then Dustin Hoffman Should Lose His Oscar
What’s considered justice in this confusing climate?
The #MeToo movement is justifiably cleaning house and with the latest arrest of Harvey Weinstein who managed to afford the hefty bail amount to protect his lavish existence until justice is served — there’s no stopping the wave of change that’s sweeping over the industry.
I have to admit that as much as I admire this climate of progression — there’s a nagging fear that I might be the only one who’s confused about the mechanisms that help decide how perpetrators are selected for permanent banishment.
And since then — there have been varied testimonies from both men and women — who are bravely stepping forward for the opportunity to be heard and validated — after accommodating fear and frustration without the hope of being satisfactorily unburdened.
As someone with first-hand experience with sexual assault and sexual harassment — I try very hard not to allow what I went through to affect how I receive what others share — and that part is embarrassingly hard. I find myself subconsciously comparing notes and figuring out whether or not my more harrowing episode should limit their threshold of pain.
Of course I know that’s an unacceptably selfish instinct — but — again — I’m trying to be porous enough to respectfully internalize this new normal — and all the lessons to be learned from the unveiling of high-profile cases.
The latest one to fall under the pressure of allegations is veteran actor Morgan Freeman — who has recently been hit with results of an exhaustive investigation conducted by CNN — which concluded that Freeman is guilty of not just not “creating unsafe work environments” — but also a long history of “sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.”
Multiple women have shared their unfortunate episodes with the actor — which transpired “on movie sets” — “media junkets” — or at his own production company — Revelations Entertainment.
16 women gave CNN detailed information about how the 80-year-old Academy Award winner made inappropriate comments either directly at them or in their presence.
Since the allegations went public — there have been several videos circulating the web that showcase Freeman flirting with journalists during promotional tours. There’s no doubt that his choice of words — coupled with “the stare” — serves as proof of the provocative atmosphere he’s being accused of creating.
Freeman’s reaction to the claims was apologetic at first — but as the consequences begin to take hold — in the form of losing his gig with Visa and the possibility that his Lifetime Achievement Award from SAG-AFTRA — that he garnered in January might be revoked — the embattled actor is now sharing his frustration.
“All victims of assault and harassment deserve to be heard.” “And we need to listen to them. But it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor
“I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women — and men — feel appreciated and at ease around me.“ “As a part of that, I would often try to joke with and compliment women, in what I thought was a light-hearted and humorous way. Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended.”
“But I also want to be clear, I did not create unsafe work environments. I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. Any suggestion that I did so is completely false.”
Look — there’s no way to excuse Freeman’s cringe-worthy behavior — but there’s also the realization that while he’s undergoing the ritual of public disgrace — and the agony of anticipating his punishment — some of his revered counterparts who’ve also been accused of the exact thing — seem to be quietly flourishing.
One glaring example is Oscar-winner Dustin Hoffman — who spent the holiday season immersed in controversy after author Anna Graham Hunter — who worked as a production assistant on the set of the 1985 TV movie — Death of a Salesman —accused Hoffman of sexually harassing her.
She was only 17 at the time — and she actually curated a journal for the benefit of keeping her sister abreast of what was going on — and managed to make copies in case she would need the evidence published in The Hollywood Reporter.
The long and engrossing read exposes Hunter’s burgeoning writing skills — as she craftily presents the incidents where Hoffman crossed the line in ways that would make anyone that young and impressionable — incredibly uncomfortable.
Hoffman addressed the allegations by releasing a statement via the publication that put him on blast:
“I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”
But weeks after the actor was hit with these allegations — it seemed like it was back to the business of living — as Hoffman received an honorary tribute at the 2017 Gotham Awards on Nov. 27.
Then a month later — the Kramer vs Kramer actor made an appearance at the 20th anniversary screening and panel discussion for the political film Wag the Dog — which HBO’s Last Week host John Oliver moderated.
Oliver caught Hoffman off guard during the discussion by forcing him to confront the allegations — and to accept that he offered up a “cop out apology.”
“It’s ‘not reflective of who I am’ — it’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off.” “It is reflective of who you were. If you’ve given no evidence to show it didn’t [happen] then there was a period of time for a while when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘It wasn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”
The infuriated actor responded by emphatically denying the incident ever happened — and asking the HBO host if he believed the allegations were true — to which Oliver admitted that he did believe the accuser because “there’s no point in her lying.”
And then that was it.
Hoffman faded away as the #MeToo and Time’s Up initiatives began to issue the blueprint for how victims of sexual assault and harassment can be rescued from the physical and emotional turmoil — exacted by their often times powerful and influential tormentors.
We’re witnessing the downfall of heavyweights who were once the beacon of excellence — and as the list grows by the week — there’s victory in the fact that those who’ve helped to funnel the cesspool of dysfunction are finally paying for their misdeeds.
But — there’s also the daunting task of keeping up with all the shit that’s coming at us at full speed — and accepting the messiness that will take hold — which translates into celebs like Hoffman — slipping through the cracks.
I’m not eager to take sides or make comparisons — but I firmly believe that if Morgan Freeman loses his honorary SAG Award — then Dustin Hoffman should lose his Oscar.
We can’t pick and choose the ones we’re comfortable persecuting as if it’s a popularity contest or a game that switches rules without warning or reasonable intent.
There has to be a sense of consistency across the board as a way to maintain the integrity of the cause — and the victims who risk it all to expose their deepest secrets to the world.
The women accusing both Freeman and Hoffman should all be compensated accordingly instead of one group getting the attention — while the others are all but forgotten because the accused is no longer trending — and has inexplicably escaped the worst case scenario.
Anna Graham Hunter described what her life is like decades after her encounter with Hoffman:
“At 49, I understand what Dustin Hoffman did as it fits into the larger pattern of what women experience in Hollywood and everywhere. He was a predator, I was a child, and this was sexual harassment. As to how it fits into my own pattern, I imagine I’ll be figuring that out for years to come.”
Maybe my need to revive this is to serve the point that if we go after alleged abuser s— we need to get them all — leaving no stone unturned.
It’s an exhaustive process — but it’s the only way to give #MeToo and Time’s Up — the permission to effectively operate in the best interest of everyone concerned.
Justice needs to be fully defined without question marks or missing spaces — and we need to begin with the mysterious disappearance of Dustin Hoffman.