When Casey Affleck picked up his Best Actor gold statuette last night, the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood may have exploded into rapturous applause but social media had other ideas. ‘Casey Affleck is avoiding eye contact with every woman in the room,’ viral website Clickhole tweeted as the awards unfolded: a subtle nod to an alleged sexual harassment story that many industry bystanders are handling quietly, cautiously and nervously. And yet, despite this, an ongoing Twitter tidal wave continues to pose uncomfortable questions about the Oscar winner’s private life – and whether he should have been nominated at all.
On the face of it, Casey Affleck’s Oscars win last night is the kind of underdog story we all ravenously lap up during awards season. Ben Affleck’s kookier younger brother is a reluctant star, visibly uncomfortable in the limelight. He’s always sat inconspicuously alongside his A-list older sibling over the years, quietly accruing thought-provoking roles that have steadily impressed the critics instead of wowing the box office. Quietly, that is, until now. Affleck’s performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s family saga Manchester by the Sea has finally pushed Casey centre-stage along with certain skeletons, too. Only hours after his Hollywood win, questions began to surface again.
The Casey Affleck allegations – which we should underline are exactly that: allegations – first surfaced in 2010 when two women who worked on the set of his experimental documentary film I’m Still Here filed sexual harassment suits against the star. As detailed by celebrity websites such as The Daily Beast, over the course of filming his producer alleges Affleck repeatedly harassed her, the disturbing details of which you can read about here. Alongside White, the film’s director of photography Magdalena Gorka described her treatment by Affleck as “the most traumatizing of her career” claiming the actor, alongside other production team members, openly harassed her and subjected her to innuendo and unwelcome advances that was actively encouraged.
Although Affleck denied all charges and both claims were settled in 2010, these complaints can’t be erased and they still serve as unsettling reminders in the aftermath of Trump’s Presidential win – a brutal outcome not least because it occurred in spite of a tape that legitimised the grabbing of women by their genitals.
At the end of the day we will never truly know if Affleck is guilty of the sexual harassment claims he was accused of in 2010 – but we couldn’t help greet Casey Affleck’s acceptance speech with a world-weary groan at our TV screen. Turns out we’re not the only ones who feel let-down by Affleck’s alleged sleazy antics and Hollywood’s very public shrug off. Last year’s Best Actress winner, Brie Larson, was required to hand over Affleck’s Best Actor award and even she struggled to conceal her disdain as she read out his name.
Cut to Chrissy Teigen who managed to nap throughout Affleck’s entire acceptance speech sparking many of us to hail Teigen an all-sleeping, all-protesting hero…and as for Denzel Washington? Well, check out this Mashable GIF and make up your own mind.
Perhaps what we need now are celebrities who are willing to speak out about Hollywood’s double standards, not just refrain from clapping. Fresh Off the Boat actress, Constance Wu, did just that when she tweeted her sarcastic rage at Affleck’s nomination last month. We’ll leave the last words to Wu:
“Boys! BUY ur way out of trouble by settling out of court! Just do a good acting job, that’s all that matters! Bc art isn’t about humanity, right?” [SIC]