The well-deserved fall of convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein impacted far more than the Oscar-winning producer. The MeToo Movement that followed caught many Hollywood-types in its path.
Hollywood scoundrels left and right faced similar repercussions, well before any trials could commence. Director Brett Ratner, Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Jeffrey Tambor of “Transparent” fame and more found their careers short-circuited following Weinstein’s exit.
Even stars facing a single accuser, like comedian Aziz Ansari and Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick, saw their careers come to a screeching halt.
Now, stars accused of similar transgressions are finding work again after modest down time.
Previously Canceled Stars Are Finding Work Again
On June 1, Johnny Depp famously defeated ex-spouse Amber Heard in one of the most sensationalized defamation cases in recent memory. Her spousal abuse charges didn’t land with the jury even though many insist he’s guilty.
Even a whiff of guilt could prevent stars from working at the height of Hollywood’s MeToo movement.
Now, weeks later, Depp is back before the camera. He appeared at the MTV VMAs telecast and is set to direct his first film in 25 years, based on the life of Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani.
James Franco similarly saw his workload evaporate after he was accused of being sexually inappropriate with female students at his acting school. Last year, Franco admitted he slept with several students and shared his battle against a number of addictions.
He also settled with several women out of court.
Franco will soon star as Fidel Castro in “Alina of Cuba,” and the only outrage that casting decision inspired came from actor John Leguizamo. The “Encanto” star complained Franco wasn’t Latino and shouldn’t be playing a major Latino figure.
And then there’s Shia LaBeouf. The actor, who has been open about his troubled childhood, faced accusations in 2020 that he sexually mistreated ex-girlfriend FKA Twigs. She sued the “Honey Boy” star, alleging serial abuse.
Another ex-girlfriend, stylist Karolyn Pho, described similar accusations against the star.
Yet LaBeouf can be seen in director Abel Ferrera’s “Padre Pio,” which debuted at the illustrious Venice Film Festival. Directing legend Francis Ford Coppola also tapped LaBeouf to co-star in his upcoming film, “Megalopolis.”
What Happened To The MeToo Movement?
Let’s start with the Depp trial, which showed millions that some accused males may not be as guilty as they seem. That had a powerful impact on the culture, with Depp’s star rising even higher following the case.
Hollywood’s willingness to play politics with MeToo accusations also diminished the movement’s clout. Stars raged against President Donald Trump regarding serial sexual abuse allegations against him over the years.
They similarly screamed at future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, nominated by Trump, over the flimsiest of accusations.
Yet when Joe Biden prepared his latest run for the White House the assembled stars stood down. They ignored serious accusations made by former Biden staffer Tara Reade that he had sexually assaulted her in 1993.
Celebrity, Inc. also stayed quiet when 11 women accused then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexually inappropriate behavior.
That dramatic double standard meant the industry’s moral high ground on matters of sexual abuse got left on the cutting room floor.
Sexual predators should face serious consequences. The MeToo movement makes it less likely a potential predator will attempt vile behavior behind the Hollywood scenes.
That remains a positive outcome from the movement.
Still, the return of Depp, Franco and LaBeouf shows an industry willing to forgive and forget … or one that used up its moral clout in record time.