Morgan Freeman, one of the most revered Hollywood legends is the latest high profile figure to find himself enmeshed in the ignominious wave of sexual harassment accusations. No less than eight women have pointed a finger at the octogenarian, stating that at one time or the other, he has acted inappropriately towards them. And while the elderly actor’s response has been swift, in an attempt to set the records straight, it remains to be seen whether this is the beginning of the end for yet another well-respected thespian.
Only one month ago, fellow black actor and octogenarian, Bill Cosby was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. An offence he is believed to have committed over a decade ago. And now, Freeman is caught in the #MeToo movement. On the one hand, it’s reassuring to know that the long arms of the law can catch up with transgressors long after a crime has been committed. However, not a few people are worried about the sudden rise in the number of women who claim to have suffered sexual abuse in the hands of prominent society men.
Since top shot Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct a couple of months ago, the floodgates of allegations relating to inappropriate sexual proposition against powerful men in the entertainment industry have been on the increase. More and more women are finding their voices. And while it’s a welcome development because no one deserves to bear the burden of untold assault, some apprehension has arisen in what on the flip side is beginning to appear as a deliberate attempt to bring all the years of painstaking hard work and deserved recognition to disrepute.
Fans of Bill Cosby the world over are yet to come to terms with the reality of their favourite Hollywood dad facing jail time. And now, with the uncomplimentary report about Morgan Freeman, theories are beginning to emerge about the unflattering demystification of legendary African-American entertainers. Not a few people believe there’s a deliberate plot to bring black actors down. The question on many lips now is who’s next? Denzel Washington? Djimon Hounson? Will Smith?
In describing what constituted the inappropriate behaviour Mr Freeman was believed to have exhibited, one of the alleged victims was reported to have been embarrassed over his comments regarding the length of her dress. At the risk of downplaying the effect of suggestive comments on an individual, it’s hard not to wonder if it’s enough reason to drop someone who has had a stellar career so far as a potential brand ambassador or consider stripping of them of their Life Achievement Award.
It’s also time to begin to probe what acts exactly count as sexual harassment beyond a blanket dictionary definition of the phrase; seeing that the line between harmless flirtation and unwelcome sexual advances is blurring by the day. It’s a pertinent question because these days, a wink or handshake deemed to have lasted more than a few seconds can be considered sexual harassment.
Again, with the flurry of allegations and accusations recorded in recent times, there’s the possibility of abuse. A scorned ex or partner may exploit the wave of the moment to get even with an innocent person, and measures must be put in place to deter people from toeing this path. Stiff penalties must be instituted and enforced against false accusers.
Unfortunately, the reality right now is that Morgan Freeman is in danger of losing all that he has laboriously built for decades. Worse still, over accusations that have yet to be substantiated. And who know’s who’s next…Denzel Washington? Djimon Hounson? Will Smith?
It’s one of the reasons I feel sorry for celebrities and notable persons in general. Aside from living a life that’s constantly under microscopic scrutiny and virtually giving up their right to privacy, they are almost always one scandal away from losing it all. Again, this scandal may or may not be due to any fault of theirs. It’s the price they pay for being famous.
And while the rest of us covet the popularity and perks that come with their lifestyle, they are all too aware that things are not nearly as rosy as what the outsider imagines.
Even for the regular individual, it takes almost a lifetime to build an enviable career, family life and reputation. And the thought of anyone pulling down all we have spent years of sweat and blood to build is a proposition many of us would rather not think about.
Of course, if anybody is actually found to be guilty of committing an offence against humanity, they should be brought to book regardless of highly placed they are.
Nevertheless, famous people are easy targets for campaigns of calumny, it’s rather unfair, but it’s the way the ball bounces.