Covering the Coverage: Kevin Spacey is Cancelled Edition
Our take downs and take aways
Kevin Spacey, double-Academy Award winner and your
favourite former favourite on-screen President, is facing serious allegations of sexual misconduct. On Sunday night, Buzzfeed News published an interview with actor Anthony Rapp, in which he recalls an uncomfortable encounter with Spacey in 1986. Rapp was 14; Spacey was 26. The story starts with an invite to an “adult party,” and it ends when Spacey entered the room, “picked [Rapp] up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold,” and made a sexual advance.
Shortly after the article broke, Spacey responded. “I’m beyond horrified to hear this story,” Spacey posted on Twitter Sunday night. “I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour.” The now 58-year-old actor then publicly announced his homosexuality for the first time. In the same same tweet.
So this wasn’t just one big story, it was four: the accusation, the apology, the coming out and what the heck is going to happen to House of Cards. The problem for journalists it that it only takes one headline to break this news. Everyone else has to settle for posting a hot take (or, ahem, commenting on the hot takes…)
Who’s doing buzzy POVs the best? Here’s a roundup of articles that have commented on the controversy, and the temperature of their 🔥 🔥 🔥 take.
THE TAKE: “Is this an attempt to suggest Spacey’s attraction to underage men is intrinsic to his homosexuality? Those who endorse such existing and discriminatory stereotypes will be eager to read it as such. In that context, a statement that even hints at such an association merits only condemnation. Few prejudices have done more damage to gay people than the myth that there is any link between sex with or sexual assault of a minor and same-sex attraction.”
THE TEMPERATURE: Ding ding ding. Coming out is not how you deflect accusations of molestation, it’s a cowardly attempt to change the narrative. What’s worse is that in connecting these two stories, Spacey contributed to the age-old misconception that homosexuality is somehow linked with the sexual abuse of underage boys. It’s okay to struggle with your sexuality, and to keep your private life out of the public eye. It’s unfair to shame Spacey for staying in the closet for all these years, because that’s his choice. But with his statement, Spacey played right into the hands of a harmful stereotype about gay men. And that’s just not cool.
THE TAKE: “Spacey is being accused of sexual assault of a minor, which is obviously serious, illegal and beyond taboo. Most of us who would never dream of doing such a thing would respond with a rather forceful denial. Spacey, on the other hand, makes it clear that he’s not sure if the assault happened, but apologizes if it did.”
THE TEMPERATURE: In case, you know, you also get called out for preying on teenage boys. I think we should be concerning ourselves less with Spacey’s bad apology, and more with his bad behaviour. Sure, his statement wasn’t perfect, especially the coming out part, but after Weinstein tried to excuse his behaviour because he grew up in the 70s, and James Toback denied having the ability to assault any of the 238 women who have accused him because he has diabetes, Spacey at least seemed penitent (see above) — the only thing worse than an alleged sexual predator is a lying sexual predator.
THE TAKE: At the 2000 Oscars, Spacey took home Best Actor award for American Beauty, in which he plays a middle-age man infatuated with his daughter’s best friend. Here’s the transcript of his acceptance speech: “To my friends, for pointing out my worst qualities. I know you do it because you love me, and that’s why I love playing Lester, because we got to see all of his worst qualities and we still grew to love him. This movie to me is about how any single act by any single person put out of context, is damnable. But the joy of this movie is that it is real beauty, and we found real beauty in this extraordinary script by Alan Ball.”
THE TEMPERATURE: When the hot takes are hard to find, there is always YouTube. No, there is no hint in this speech. That’s some confirmation bias right there. But it is true that watching American Beauty might be hard—although the pretentious floating bag didn’t make it especially easy viewing either. The real story here is that people have suspected Spacey of sexual misconduct for a long time. And yet, similar to the dozens of cases in the Harvey Weinstein scandal, nobody spoke up. (Or they did, and nobody listened.) The Telegraph article cites Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre, via BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Kevin Spacey would be one of the people that people have had concerns about” for years.
THE TAKE: “Deep in the throes of Spacey-gate, Netflix is figuring out how to move forward with House of Cards. The network already announced that next season will be the show’s last, stressing that the decision to ax the political drama came months before Kevin Spacey’s sexual misconduct scandal broke—though the announcement came just one day after Spacey was accused of sexually pursuing a teenager. Now word is out that Netflix is also considering a more traditional Hollywood fix—a spin-off.”
THE TEMPERATURE: Netflix is tossing Spacey from the fictional White House amidst accusations of sexual misconduct? These political dramas are getting way too real. But also: we all need a Claire Underwood spin-off series right now. Hasn’t this been her show for the last two seasons anyway? Nothing but respect for MY president.