Celebrities and public personnas have the ability to influence and affect us. They are the people we look up to and the people we aspire to be. We are mesmerized by the greatness of their achievements and fascinated with their success. Sometimes we are even ready to forgive their flaws and their scandals to allow their legacies to remain untainted.
We are enthralled by their talent and their influence so we forget they’re human. We forget humans are flawed. It is embarrassing to learn the dark pasts of the men in the spotlight. It is even more shameful to realize the extent of the (sexually) abusive crimes committed by the famous men. Their reputation and their fame, sometimes, provides them with the shield that protects them from any (legal) repercussions.
There is a historical trend of well-know men getting away with violence, abuse and assault (against women) for long periods of time – Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville, Bill Cosby, to name just a few examples. These men have used their authority and their fame to destroy lives and inflict pain. They were allowed to get away with their crimes because of who we are (or were) as a society. People around them were aware of their crimes but, for various reasons, allowed them to continue.
There is also an inconsistency in repercussions and consequences on the careers of famous men, who have been accussed of sexual violence and abuse. Why are some men disgraced by the public, while others continue their success? Celebrities like Roman Polanski, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Sean Penn, Mike Tyson and many more are as influential-as-ever; some of them are even regarded as heroes or ‘Gods’ or champions etc. We are ready to forgive because we love and admire them but where do we draw the line of what is acceptable and what is not? Why are we ready to champion those who have committed evil acts?
The recent allegations of sexual harassment against Alfred Hitchcock by Tippi Hedren are just the latest news in the long history of sexual violence against women by the famous men. Why are more and more of our heroes falling from greatness? Perhaps we cling onto their achievements and overlook their failings because we (desperately) need heroes; maybe we realize that if we acknowledge the flaws (and crimes) of famous people, we will have no heroes to look up to.
So what does our forgiveness tells us about ourselves? Is it the resemblance of our society and its flaws? What do these allegations and crimes say about the gender equality; historical and cultural misogyny that is still present to this day; what kind of message do we express to our children and the future generations; what does it say about us individuals?
It simply is a personal moral rhetoric and concern. Who should we choose to support and should we forgive?