Kevin Spacey’s House Of Cards has been an entire success for Netflix, earning the show and the actor a lot of awards, including Emmys. What could go wrong when an ending was already rumored? Usually, when series end they get the most recognition as a way to give them a farewell; but this time it could be the other way around.
I decided to wait a day to write and actually post about this because the headlines had to be about the allegations and not about what actor Kevin Spacey said, especially in the second paragraph of his statement, and the implications of the case I am making here. But now that the issue is well known, I wanted to give my words on what does this kind of scandals and revelations mean to the audiovisual world, the one we, the creators, belong to.
Side note: the objective of this post is not to distract the discussion of sexual abuse, harassment or something like that, but to give an opinion regarding the Kevin Spacey issue —just like the one regarding Harvey Weinstein and more— and how they affect the audiovisual world. If you want to read about what happened with Kevin Spacey and basically how I see the entire situation, read this article by Vox.
Given the recent accusations against many celebrities, including Harvey Weinstein, the world has seen an increasing volume of people not being scared of speaking up against the culture that has existed in Hollywood for a very long time, if not since the beginning. Even though the public most likely didn’t know exactly what has been happening all these years, it was evident by seeing film history that women have always been objectified to attract audiences, while men have always been the hero kind; actresses didn’t have the chance to play diverse characters since they were framed into the diva stereotype and actors had to maintain their status as gallants. The exemplifications are vast. And although this might sound as an innocent result of the [American] culture, it was actually more than that. It is not hard to imagine and know that sexual harassments have been happening since forever in the entertainment industry, involving not only actors but producers, directors and basically any member of the cast and crew.
This is an issue that needs to be addressed and fought in the most general way because even though these scandals involve Hollywood right now in the public eye, it’s obvious that such things happen in other businesses and daily lives of many people around the world.
What happens though, is that Hollywood’s power is bigger than many realize and there’s where the issue lays stronger. Whether we like it or not, films (and in general audiovisual content) have always been a way of escapism from our real lives. And so when these sort of things happen there’s an implication in what the entertainment industry is doing and its impact in society; whether it’s good or bad.
As a producer, I dare to say that this kind of situations deeply affect the way the industry functions and the way it is perceived by the audiences. Movies, series and overall any audiovisual content are made to sell, and therefore the election of the casting involves hiring someone that not only fits the part but that also brings recognition to the project. A cast sells, period. But in the wake of this, it’s more than evident that creators need to step up and make a definite change right now. The casting can’t be made solely on talent and recognition, but in what the actor or actress represents with his/her morals and actions. There’s no space for second chances when the first mistakes have not received justice and even less when an apology doesn’t seem honest and tries to change the conversation to something else, affecting not only the victim but also a group of people that still fight for their rights.
Viewers won’t see the series the same way they used to, and that’s a problem for the culture’s evolution because this kind of content is a way for viewers to see reality and act on it, or imagine one that is better than the one they live in, as a relief. This is a punch in the guts to fans of the content but also of the actor, because this society creates heroes out of normal people. And lastly, it probably lowers hope from people who expect to have in —or thanks to— screens a different world.
What is the responsibility that content creators have now?
As I mentioned before, there’s a bigger task in choosing the cast and crew that work in a production. But there’s the goal of improving the stories we tell as well so that this kind of acts and scandals don’t happen again, not because they will stay hidden but because there won’t be anything to hide. Stories have more power than many of us sometimes imagine, and so here’s a chance for content creators to take down the myths that Kevin Spacey just reinforced: that gay people are more prompt to commit sexual assaults or harass others, that being gay is a trend to deviate the conversation from actually scandalous topics, that Hollywood is a machine of fake, superficial and immoral artists, and that this world can’t change the bad it still has in it.