A little past midnight on Oct. 30, Buzzfeed released an article that shook up Hollywood’s already crippling stance on sexual assault. The flurry of sexual assault and harassment accusations that followed the Harvey Weinstein scandal truly showed how common of an occurrence sexual assault is. However, it’s how people handle the news that matters.
The Buzzfeed article detailed actor Anthony Rapp’s experience with Kevin Spacey in 1986 while they were both at a party hosted by Spacey. Rapp was 14 at the time while Spacey was 26. Rapp recalled that Spacey came into the room visibly drunk, picked him up, put him on the bed and then laid himself on top of him.
Rapp then got out from under Spacey and left soon after that and has not talked to Spacey since.
In response Spacey took to Twitter to apologize for, “what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior” and the feelings Rapp has had to deal with because of it. He then went on to say that the situation encouraged him to talk about other things in his life and how he now chooses to live as a gay man.
This is big news. A well-known, well-accredited actor has come out as gay after living an incredibly private life and avoiding all speculations. I’m happy for Spacey and the fact that he doesn’t have to live closeted anymore.
However, I am furious at the fact that he used this specific moment to do so. It is just a little too convenient for him to announce that he is gay at the same time a major scandal is breaking out around him over sexual assault allegations.
As Zachary Quinto said in a statement on Twitter, “Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him.”
This is wrong. The media is already showing support for Spacey for coming out, but that is not the real news here. The news is that Spacey sexually assaulted a minor at his own residence. Did they forget that fact? Rapp was only 14 at the time of the assault while Spacey was 26.
This is what the media should be talking about; this is the news. Spacey being gay is not news, it’s a ploy to keep his name in a positive light.
But, as more allegations come out against the House of Cards actor, this news is getting pushed further and further from the front page. Understandably, more accusations against him are more important news. But we can’t forget what he did in order to divert attention away from the bad press. It was a cheap move and one that shouldn’t be let go so easily.
The power in ending sexual assault and harassment all lies in how we respond to it. We need to speak up against Spacey and those like him who only pretend to take responsibility for their actions.
We need to listen to every victim and survivor and preach out their stories so their voices are heard. We need to avoid distraction from other news that’s purpose is to pull our attention from the real topic at hand.
Speak up. Listen. Be attentive. Only then can this type of situation cease to exist.
Katie Ryan is a fourth-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at KR822409@wcupa.edu.