How To Respond to “Beloved” Sexual Predators

The latest addition to the list of sexual predators in Hollywood whose victims are coming forward is Kevin Spacey.

Sexual harassment lawsuits against Bill O’Reilly surfaced this spring and Fox News dropped his show after years of ignoring the millions of dollars he spent to silence his victims. Then, last month, “The New York Times” reported that Harvey Weinstein, a well-known film producer, was facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

Many film stars came forward with their stories, tracing a long history of sexual harassment. Now, Kevin Spacey has joined the list of sexual predators, with several victims coming forward to talk about their experiences.

So, why is this happening now, and why does it appear to be everywhere? Several years ago, similar allegations regarding many well-known YouTubers surfaced in the same manner.

The outpouring resulted from victims seeing other victims coming forward with their stories and finding the power to do so as well. This is the same trend: even if their predator is a different actor or person in the entertainment industry, victims who see other victims talk about their experiences feel more comfortable and able to do the same.

It is easy to forget the power and influence these people hold. These predators are beloved, watched by hundreds of thousands of people, followed on Twitter by millions, quoted on a daily basis and have fan fiction written about them and fan accounts dedicated to following their daily lives. The sense of adoration people have about Hollywood personalities—about celebrities in general— give them protection they sometimes exploit.

One of the hardest parts of the allegations against YouTubers was watching fans excuse and forgive the behavior of longtime sexual predators.

Although some of the YouTubers admitted to committing crimes on camera, people would post on Twitter supporting the culprit — and, in some cases, attacking the victim. Their sympathy was with the YouTuber, not the victim.

It is easy to think one has a connection with someone they watch every week or even every day. It allows for a one-sided connection which might convince them to think they know this person, that they care about them like they care about a friend of even a family member. The inclination to excuse this behavior stems from this “connection.”

However, it is also the general behavior of society to excuse sexual predators. Blaming the victim, not believing people when they come forward and allowing sexual predators to continue having such influence and power is not a new trend. But it is a trend that needs to be stopped.

This has started happening. Netflix has broken the mold of networks ignoring allegations by cutting ties with Kevin Spacey, halting production on the sixth and final season of “House of Cards,” one of their biggest shows. They will not be making money for the sake of other people’s safety and comfort.

Audiences’ responses should mimic Netflix’s. Instead of getting lost in the stories and entertainment that sexual predators represent, we should be able to say, “Stop.” People who hurt others should not be allowed to continue as if nothing happened. They should lose the trust of viewers and suffer through the consequences of their actions.

I imagine there will be people out there who will be mad that their favorite show got canceled, that they will not be able to see Frank Underwood being brilliantly evil anymore.

While that might be upsetting, what is more upsetting is that some people may be inclined to think that is more important than Kevin Spacey’s harmful actions.

I like “House of Cards” and I think it is one of the best political dramas written in years. However, I will not be watching it from now on. I will also be not watching or supporting Kevin Spacey in any way.

My gaze, as an audience member, is powerful.

If we continue watching and supporting Kevin Spacey and sexual predators like him, that will say to the entertainment industry that we don’t care about anything but getting a new episode. That will make Hollywood and everywhere less safe simply for the sake of us, the audience, having a good time.

Excusing this behavior will allow others to think they are also invincible as long as they are able to please their audience, and they will continue to behave as if their actions won’t ever catch up to them.

It doesn’t matter if I like Kevin Spacey’s impressions on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” It doesn’t matter if I like “House of Cards.” It doesn’t matter if I think Kevin Spacey is funny or talented.

He is a sexual predator and he doesn’t deserve the power he has because he will only exploit it further. That should be the only response that any sexual predator ever receives.