Harvey Weinstein. Woody Allen. Louis CK. Kevin Spacey. The list of older men who have had their careers majorly hindered by accusations of sexual misconduct goes on and on. Regardless of the progress made by recognizing the obscenities committed by these men, we continue to look past mistakes of the same nature made by younger, more attractive perpetrators.
When we’re not invested in an actor’s career and life, it proves remarkably easy to denounce their name from the top of the rooftop, telling everyone near how horrible and wicked the accusee is. Patting themselves on the back, many of these people denouncing people such as Weinstein or Allen view themselves as true activists, standing up for victims everywhere. However, the minute an accusation appears against a celebrity they’re a fan of, they’re quick to either stay silent, or speak out against the victim.
Cole Sprouse is just one of many examples of a highly idolized actors whose controversial behavior has been largely ignored due to both media silence and fan “loyalty.” Sprouse has accusations regarding both his views towards racism and his past relationship with an ex-girlfriend. While opinions differ, it is commonly believed that “white racism” is just a copout white people use to attempt to paint themselves as more of a victim and less of a perpetrator in the complicated topic of race relations. Sprouse discussed reverse racism on his Tumblr, arguing, “One doesn’t need to be in the position of power to be racist…of course white men have the most power, I never said they didn’t, does that mean I’ll allow ethnocentric racism directed towards me? No… turn to the teaching of MLK Jr. and I’m sure he’ll be in agreement.” Although Sprouse is consistently painted as “woke,” his words tell a very different story, but are often ignored. Aside from this, Sprouse’s ex-girlfriend has indirectly posted about emotional abuse, and, when asked, has not denied that the posts are about the actor, but fans of the actor have been quick to shut the victim down by citing how nice he seems to be.
James Franco has recently faced five separate accusations of sexual harassment, and the public seems to be finally realizing the type of person Franco is. However, this sudden turn on the actor is long, long overdue. In 2014, Franco admitted to knowingly chatting back and forth with a 17 year old girl, once asking her if he should “rent a room” for the both of them. In his defense, Franco cited “bad judgement” and said, “I’m embarrassed. I’m just a model of how social media is tricky.” While social media is broad and can be complicated, in no way is its “trickiness” an excuse for his conduct with the minor.
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Another prevalent example of the media and fans turning a blind eye to their favorite actors’ behavior is the case of Emma Roberts and Evan Peters. A highly publicized and admired couple, the pairing of Roberts and Peters is constantly looked up to and labeled as “goals.” However, all is not what it seems when you do in-depth research into the relationship. In July of 2013, Roberts was arrested for domestic abuse against Peters, leaving him bloodied and with a black eye. Peters decided to not press charges, and her representative described the situation as “an unfortunate incident and misunderstanding.” While many believe that those two factors end the issue, it’s important to think about how you would react if it were Peters who had hit Roberts. It’s easy to assume that Peters’ career would have ended immediately, and, if they stayed together afterwards, fans would constantly and rightfully demean and criticize the relationship. It’s the perfect example of a double standard. Because Roberts doesn’t fit the ideal example for an abuser, people are quick to let the situation go, which is unacceptable.
These examples, although highly detailed, are just a small aspect of the issue. Frequently, we fail to truly understand the people we support, or ignore the facts because of the initial impression the person gives off. It seems as though everyone today has some sort of accusation against them, so it may seem impossible to avoid. However, it really is just as simple as searching the celebrity’s name followed by “controversy” or “sexual harassment.” If you want to call yourself an advocate, you have the obligation to research before you support. If not, the word “advocate” does not belong to you.