Sunday, January 19, 2014

Saying Bad Things vs. Doing Bad Things

I've been pondering the reaction to well-know people saying unpleasant things versus the reaction to them doing unpleasant things.

By reaction, I don't mean from individuals in general, but from the press and from showbiz types.

Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty made some sexually graphic comments about not seeing what dudes saw in other dudes when ladies were available and spoke of his religious belief that homosexual behavior is a sin. He also said that black people seemed happy to him under segregation. Which I suppose it is possible it may have seemed that way to him, he probably wasn't spending a lot of time with any black know segregation and all. But you would think he might have picked up that wasn't the case when people began to protest.

Then this Juan Pablo guy from the Bachelor gave an interview where he said that he didn't think gay guys would work for the bachelor because "gays were more pervert" and people wouldn't accept it. He later blamed the comments on his poor grasp of English, saying he was looking for a word that meant inclined to public displays of affection. Again, it's possible. I don't know how well he grasps English. I find just about everything about The Bachelor to be pretty icky, so I don't know what would cross the line for Bachelor Viewers.

But the reaction from the people who employ these guys was pretty swift. Robertson was suspended and Juan Pablo publicly rebuked. And they both got a ton of criticism. Robertson was reinstated after a backlash from fans who argued that everybody is entitled to an opinion and that they have crazy old people in their family as well.

Then I look at the reaction to Woody Allen. Here's a dude that took up with the sister of his children, the child of his current girlfriend. She had just turned 18 at the time, but it appeared the relationship had been going on prior to that.  His girlfriend Mia Farrow discovered the relationship when she found nude photos of the girl at his apartment. The dude was having sex with a girl, who for all intents and purposes was his stepdaughter. Allen never denied it, in fact he went on to marry Soon-Yi Previn. He's also never showed an ounce of remorse for his behavior.  In fact, he's always seemed puzzled that anyone would care.

The reaction? He's still a highly respected director whose work gets nominated for Academy Awards. In fact it's his children who no longer speak to him who are criticized. Allen and certain circles seem puzzled as to why you'd quit speaking to your dad just because he married your sister.

His daughter publicly claimed that he molested her when she was seven. Did people call for boycott of Allen?  Should cable networks pull Woody Allen movies?

What about Roman Polanski. He was accused of drugging and raping a 14-year-old girl. He was charged with statutory rape, but if you've ever read the complaint, there was nothing statutory about that assault. But the girl had previous sexual experience and the D.A. thought that would hurt her in court, so they got Polanksi to agree to a lesser charge in exchange for a guilty plea. The he fled the country. He's continued to make critically acclaimed movies, win awards and spend time with a lot of young women.

The reaction from most of those showbiz types, is "Why is law enforcement picking on such a talented artist? Why can't he come back to the U.S?

Huh?   Is saying bad things somehow worse than doing bad things?

I'm tempted to wonder if it's because The Bachelor and backwoods Duck Dynasty guy aren't considered high-class and Polanski and Allen's work is. Or more disturbingly is it because Allen and Polanksi's behaviors involved young women and maybe they don't take that particularly seriously. Hollywood is all about sexualizing very young women.

Take the Mel Gibson example. He was pulled for driving drunk and went on a bizarre manic rant about Jews and also dropped the N bomb. When the audio of that arrest was made public, it launched TMZ and also hurt Gibson's career.  It wasn't the DUI that had Hollywood angry. If stars went employable because of DUI arrests, sets would empty.  It was the awful things Gibson said.

Now this can't be because Mel was considered low-rent. He was a well-respected actor and director. He was fired from a planned cameo in Hangover 2 and replaced with...convicted and generally unrepentant rapist Mike Tyson.

I don't mind coming down hard on people who say bad things. Free speech doesn't mean freedom from the reactions of others.  And a network like A & E will also have to deal with viewer reactions if it does something like suspending Robertson. That's how the free speech thing works.

But is doing awful things somehow not as bad as saying them. You might say that Allen didn't do anything illegal (well that depends on how old she was when he took those photos), but neither did Phil Robertson, Juan Pablo or Paula Deen.

And Polanski certainly did. Yeah, I know he wasn't convicted (cause he skipped town), but he's never denied sex with a 14-year-old, he just didn't like the sentence his plea-bargain was going to bring.

In this day of social media, it's impossible to make any kind of comment anywhere without having it go anywhere. And being short on money and staff, news outlets love to whip up controversy by taking something like a Tweet or a Facebook post and then just getting reaction to it. Save a lot of time on leg work.

It's certainly not like I'm saying that people who say bad things don't deserve bad reactions. I'd just like a little uniformity in the system. Does great talent get you a pass for the kind of behavior that would cause you to disown a relative?

Is there some point where people should forgive and forget assaulting a kid and never paying any kind of legal price? 

I'm just askin'.... seriously... I don't have the answer.

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