By Duke Staff
Following the scandal surrounding the mounting allegations of sexual assault against film producer Harvey Weinstein earlier this month, more victims have been inspired to come out and speak about their experiences within the hushed world of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry. The latest allegations come from Anthony Rapp, a Broadway and film actor, against fellow actor Kevin Spacey. According to Rapp’s in-depth interview with Buzzfeed detailing the incident, the alleged assault occurred in 1986 when he was only 14 years old after a party at Spacey’s Manhattan apartment. Spacey was 26 at the time.
Several other men have come forward with their own stories of sexual misconduct involving Spacey since the article surfaced. On Nov. 1, a man who wished to remain anonymous discussed an encounter with Spacey similar to Rapp’s on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire program. He was 17 when it occurred. Mexican actor Robert Cavazos also shared his story of Spacey attempting to grope him in a bar in London in a post on Facebook, adding that “It seems the only requirement was to be a male under the age of 30 for Mr Spacey to feel free to touch us.” All of the shared accounts seem to have one thing in common; the victims that have come forward were all significantly younger than Spacey, adding to the already disturbing nature of the issue.
Perhaps one of the most unnerving incidents to happen following the accusations was Spacey’s public response. Citing “inappropriate drunken behavior” as a motive and saying that he had no recollection of the encounter, he proceeded to confirm the rumors that have surrounded his career for years: Spacey stated “I now choose to live as a gay man.”
To quote a tweet by actor Billy Eichner following the controversial statement, “Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before; a bad time to come out.”
This was clearly an attempt to bait the public away from focusing on the allegations, and unfortunately, in many cases, it actually worked. Many news outlets even took the bait, posting links to stories with variations of a lede focused on Spacey’s statement. ABC posted their story titled “Kevin Spacey comes out in an emotional tweet,” and New York Daily News more simply titled theirs “Kevin Spacey comes out as gay.”
It should go without saying that the media should be careful and conscious when prioritizing the most important part of a story. It is 2017; by now, a public figure revealing their sexuality should not be treated as shocking. What is shocking is the fact that Spacey used his power in the industry to prey on young boys, ultimately traumatizing them and getting away with it for decades.
Anthony Rapp and all others coming forward about Spacey’s vulgar actions deserve to be heard and validated, rather than taking the angle of a gossip site and hyperfocusing on Spacey’s sexuality the way he intended with his superficial statement. One of the priorities of the media is to give a voice to the voiceless, not to amplify the voices of those with an already large audience.