This article was originally published in ZU News.
Kevin Spacey, the star actor from “House of Cards,” has been under scrutiny after allegations arose last week that he sexually assaulted actor Anthony Rapp over 30 years ago.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Rapp said that Spacey invited him over to his house for a party in 1986 when they were working together on Broadway shows. He said that Spacey picked him up and made a sexual advance on him. Rapp was 14 at the time while Spacey was 26.
Spacey issued a statement on Twitter after the story, saying that he did not remember the incident.
“I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior,” Spacey wrote.
This is where the second part of the controversy started. Spacey continued in the statement to come out of the closet.
“As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women,” Spacey wrote. “I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”
Thomas Parham, the Executive Director of Screenwriting in APU’s Cinematic Arts department, said that he was deeply saddened when he heard the news.
“I’ve admired Spacey’s acting,” Parham said. “I actually worked with Anthony Rapp on a sitcom back in the ’90s, called Big Brother Jake, at the Family Channel. I’ve been talking with my cinematic arts ethics class about a variety of topics. We’ve been dealing with rape culture. Right now, this could possibly just be the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more potential for stories like this.”
Parham was not the only one who was upset about Spacey. Freshmen public relations major Paige Kauffman said she was infuriated by the news.
“I was outraged. The fact that these allegations against powerful Hollywood men are becoming common breaks my heart and frustrates me at the same time. I’m proud of the victims stepping forward and being vulnerable,” Kauffman said. “Maybe Rapp should’ve stepped forward sooner, but as a victim I completely understand why he didn’t. It takes so much courage to step forward, especially when someone’s afraid of backlash.”
Parham did not approve of Spacey’s decision to come out in the apology.
“It was absolutely spin and it was a poor decision. He has taken a lot of heat from the LGBTQ community for that. It doesn’t excuse his behavior,” Parham said. “It’s two separate issues. They’re not linked. Trying to link them and use it as cover was just tacky and wrong and reinforces negative stereotypes. He’s on a lot of people’s unhappy list right now.”
Junior animations major Sandra Elhachem agreed with Parham.
“I think he could have chosen a different way to come out because he did it over the wrong reasons,” Elhachem said. “He did it over cowardice, not through a sense of pride and acceptance.”
Rapp was not the only person who Spacey allegedly sexually assaulted. According to an article by Vox, Spacey allegedly assaulted an anonymous 14-year-old-boy, an anonymous 17-year-old-boy, an anonymous 23-year-old-man, director Tony Montana, actor Robert Cavazos, bartender Daniel Beal and eight people who work on “House of Cards.”
Spacey’s story is having a number of repercussions, including Netflix stopping production of “House of Cards.”
“Netflix initially said that they were going to end “House of Cards” after the season that was being filmed. However, they’ve stopped production. There’s serious doubt as to whether they will resume production on this season, and if so what that will look like,” Parham said.
Netflix is weighing its options for the future of the show. According to an article by the Huffington Post, they may kill Spacey’s character off. If Netflix cancelled production of this season entirely, it would have unintended consequences.
“The sad thing about all these scandals is that when a project gets cancelled, it’s not just the star actor who is affected, it’s everybody who works on the show. In some situations, some people are high enough in the Hollywood food chain, where it’s called ‘pay for play.’ Whether they make the episodes or not, they get paid,” Parham said. “But the below the line crew, the average worker bees, they’re never ‘pay for play,’ so they’re losing work. That’s the unintended consequence of all these productions that have been cancelled.”
Parham, who was a fan of the first two seasons of “House of Cards,” said that he thinks Netflix can still salvage the show.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a way to salvage this season, perhaps with minimal participation from Spacey. They might rewrite the scripts or take a production hiatus and start the spin-off earlier than they had planned. Netflix is aware of all these crew people who have done nothing wrong,” Parham said. “It kind of reminds me of what happened when the lead actor in ‘Spartacus’ got cancer. They delayed season two and did a mini-series, a prequel, to keep the production running. I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix finds a way to keep the crew engaged.”
House of Cards was one of Netflix’s first original shows. It has won several Emmys and paved the way for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon original shows to become more popular than traditional TV. Spacey was a large part of this success, as he played the main character, Frank Underwood, in the show.
However Netflix decides to handle Spacey’s case, this is only one of many cases of sexual assault that’s popping up.
“With the #MeToo campaign, there’s a groundswell of people coming forward to share their stories. It’s coming from a place of pain and it’s not easy for them,” Parham said. “It’s not just Hollywood. Several female politicians have come forward to share their stories. One of NPR’s news directors was forced to resign. Society at large, not just Hollywood, is saying ‘enough.’ I think there will be more cases coming forward in other professions. Hollywood is an easy target to focus on because it’s high profile. I think there’s more to come overall.”