According to convention, the most recent Best Actor Oscar winner, Casey Affleck, is currently scheduled to present the award for Best Actress in next year’s ceremony. In light of the many sexual harassment accusations that have been made against him, many feel that Affleck is unsuitable to present such an award and should not be given such a prestigious honor.
In the wake of a tidal wave of sexual assault and harassment accusations against film industry titans such as Harvey Weinstein, who has since been expelled from The Weinstein Company and most major industry organizations, including the Oscars’ Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), animosity towards Affleck has regained steam. Multiple petitions against Affleck have gained traction online, the largest being a Change.org petition entitled “Don’t let Casey Affleck hand off the 2018 Best Actress Oscar,” started by filmmaker Cameron Bossert, which collected a total of 19,663 signatures.
A second petition, started on the social action network Care2, cited that one of the main reasons that Affleck should not be allowed to present is his history with Brie Larson during the 2017 ceremony. Larson, who won Best Actress for her role in “Room” the year before, presented Affleck with the Best Actor award but did not clap for him. “I think that whatever it was that I did onstage kind of spoke for itself,” Larson told Vanity Fair when asked about whether her reaction had to do with Affleck’s reputation.
The controversy surrounding Affleck dates back to 2010, when cinematographer Magdalena Gorka and producer Amanda White both filed lawsuits against Affleck after working with him on the mockumentary “I’m Not Here.” Both cases were settled out of court for undisclosed amounts, though Affleck continues to deny the allegations.
As Bossert’s petition details, the two women alleged that Affleck “sent them threatening texts, demanded that they share a hotel room with him and locked one of them out of her room so that he and Joaquin Phoenix could use it to have sex with two other women.” For this reason, the petition concludes that, “with these credible accusations against him, the Academy should take action and rescind the privilege [of Affleck’s presenting Best Actress] this year.”
Though Bossert’s Change.org petition has now closed, the Care2 petition is still accepting signatures, as it is still approximately 300 signatures short of its goal. The Academy has yet to respond to Bossert’s petition or to the general animosity surrounding Affleck as a presenter, but following their statement that the expulsion of Weinstein was intended to “send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over,” a failure to address these concerns would be extremely hypocritical. In Affleck’s case, the Academy has the opportunity to either reaffirm their commitment to the condemnation of sexual harassment and assault by removing him or risk painting themselves as makers of empty promises and creating yet another horrible PR day for an organization still trying to shake off the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag which began two years ago.