The sudden unmasking of years of long-hidden alleged sexual abuse in Hollywood has claimed another famous name: former child actor Anthony Rapp accused two-time Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey of attempting to seduce him after a party in 1986, when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26. I won’t go into the details; they’re at the link if you want them.
Spacey responded in a statement that he didn’t remember it, but if it happened as Rapp described it, then he owes Rapp “the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior” and for causing the feelings Rapp has carried all these years. He then ended years of rumors and speculation about his private life by saying that while he’s had relationships with both men and women, “I choose now to live as a gay man.”
This story presents Hollywood with a dilemma. Spacey is very respected and well-liked in the show business community. As we saw with director Roman Polanski, if you’re talented and popular enough, they’ll overlook you drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl and give you an Oscar and a standing ovation (Trivia note: the petition drive for Switzerland not to extradite him back to America to face justice was led by Harvey Weinstein.) Plus, Spacey has pulled out the “gay man bravely coming out” card. Those two things usually wrap a celebrity in a steel cocoon of identity politics protection.
However, in this case, it might backfire. Gay activists who have spent years lobbying for rights such as adoption and being Scoutmasters are furious at Spacey for once again associating gay men with child molesting (they’ve also not happy about him describing being gay as a choice.) In Hollywood, where careers are made or broken by sucking up to the right people and saying the right PC things, I’m sure a lot of anguish is taking place right now over which side to suck up to and which comments to be supportive/outraged about.
I’m glad I live out in “Flyover Country,” where things are not so morally ambiguous, nuanced and “problematic.” Here, we think that getting drunk and trying to force yourself sexually on a 14-year-old is just dead wrong, no matter the circumstances or the perpetrator’s “sexual identity.” Sorry to be so simplistic. But at least our moral code isn’t a house of cards, waiting to collapse the second someone opens a window.