People In Power Get Away With So Much
By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew, Jeffrey Epstein and a trafficked 17-year-old. Prince Andrew has since stepped down from royal duties, but he’s not been completely cut off from the royal family. His family has refused to comment, and that in itself is evidence enough of his guilt. But Prince Andrew isn’t technically being held accountable for his actions; whether the allegations made by Virginia Roberts are true or not, Prince Andrew still maintained a friendship with Epstein. Yet, because of his status, he’ll stay on the palace payroll and soon this story will be buried.
It happens all the time. People in power get away with so much because they have the power and the money to make it go away. They become infamous, but that also keeps them in the spotlight for longer and further enhances their fame. Think about Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky; that’s all she’s ever known for, whilst Clinton maintained his beloved status as President. Lewinsky should never have had the affair with Clinton, yet she wasn’t the one that was married with a child. She wasn’t the President. But because of her lack of status and power in the debacle, she’s been vilified for her involvement.
There are plenty of actors who fit the infamous role; who’ve gone on to gain more roles possibly because it adds to the press of the project. When famed director Woody Allen was found to have been part of the many Hollywood big leagues to sexually abuse hundreds of people, some actually came to his defence. One of those being Scarlett Johansson, who’s surely used to controversy by now.
Johansson was first caught up in controversy when it was announced she would star in Ghost in the Shell, an English language adaptation of the popular Japanese manga comics. It was argued by many that Johansson’s role should be recast and played rather by an actor of Asian descent, as the series, and the character are Japanese. The problem was further exacerbated by Screencrush publishing a report noting that Paramount and DreamWorks had tested a post-production visual effects technology which was said to make Johansson appear more Asian. Although Johansson has stated she would never play a character of another race, she did have the option to drop the project and allow the studio to find a more suitable fit for the character. Ed Skrein, who was originally cast as Ben Daimio in Hellboy stepped down from the role after educating himself on the origins of the character, stating he didn’t want to ‘obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the arts’ and noting, ‘I feel it is important to honour and respect that’ (the character was later recast with Daniel Dae Kim as Daimio).
Yet Johansson’s reputation seems untarnished. She was announced as the highest paid actress of 2019 and has two major films coming out within the next few months. However much I love Marvel, and although I believe Black Widow is long overdue, I’m aware that Johansson’s career should have
suffered a knock for the comments and controversies she’s been in the headlines for. Her status is continuously growing and she gets away with the comments she makes, even when they are comments which anger many.
In turn, Marvel have rehired James Gunn for the third instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy after his own allegations of sexual assault came to light. To an extent, it feels as though Marvel had set a stopwatch between firing Gunn and rehiring him for the amount of time they thought it might take for people to forget the allegations against Gunn. To an extent, it worked, and many have praised Marvel for reinstating Gunn’s title as director for the franchise. Again, a celebrity not being held accountable for their actions and rather being rewarded for their infamous controversies.
We hold celebrities on a pedestal in our society and it’s become incredibly damaging, because having money and status these days seems to exempt you from being held accountable for your actions.
There are plenty of working-class people who have had to suffer long sentences in prisons for crimes the rich are able to pay their way out of. Between the college admissions scandal in America when Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were held accountable (for which Huffman served 12 of the 14 days she was sentenced to prison) and the Brock Turner case (for which Turner – who was convicted of three charges of sexual assault – was sentenced to only six months in jail following a $150,000 posted bail), the rich and famous get away with a lot.
Being held accountable for our actions is important. Arguably from the track record, more important for the rich and famous. Yet, if you have enough money and enough power, you can make anything disappear. The fact that scandals make celebrities infamous but somehow also richer is disgusting. Being a celebrity or having more money than you know what to do with shouldn’t exempt you from the law. If you make a mistake, you ought to be reprimanded and suffer like the rest of us.
Celebrity culture is far more corrupt than I think we often remember. Though that doesn’t mean that millionaires deserve a cop out clause.
They should pay their dues like the rest of the world.
By Tirion Davies