Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn tweeted this morning in response to the first charges in Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, connecting the “opportunistic traitors” in DC to the “sexual predators” in Hollywood, calling the two stories one narrative.
We are being given an opportunity to build a better world. 2/2
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) October 30, 2017
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Manafort’s longtime business partner Rick Gates were charged with 12 counts including Conspiracy Against the United States, Conspiracy to Launder Money, Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Principal, False and Misleading FARA Statements, and eight different counts of Failure to File Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts between 2011 and 2014. The ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia to influence the presidential election is expected to yield more charges in the future. You can read the full indictment here.
Meanwhile, Hollywood is experiencing something of a forced spring cleaning, with dozens of sexual assault and harassment charges, some decades old, being aired against some of the industry’s most powerful men. Harvey Weinstein, Roy Price, and Chris Savino, to name just a few, have been hit with accusations in the last few weeks that have cost them their jobs and seemingly their positions of power. Accusations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood are nothing new, but in a remarkable change of pace, the accusations seem to be sticking this time, with widespread outrage forcing most of the men involved out of their jobs, and criminal investigations involved in some cases. The high profile status of many of the victims, combined with the sheer volume, has seemingly made ignoring the victims or falsely labeling them as attention-seeking liars impossible.
The accused du jour is Kevin Spacey, who has found his name in headlines today after responding to accusations of attempted sexual molestation of then 14-year-old Anthony Rapp by coming out of the closet as gay. To be clear, being gay has nothing to do with the attempted sexual molestation of children. In his statement, Spacey neither confirmed nor denied the charges, instead claiming not to remember the incident from 30 years ago and apologizing for “what would have been” “inappropriate” and “drunken” behavior “if I did behave then as he describes.” In the wake of the allegations, Netflix announced that they’re canceling House of Cards after next season.
Spacey finds himself in the unique position of both being a powerful man of Hollywood accused of sexual abuse in real life, while playing a powerful man of politics who engages in sexual abused on TV on the Netflix show House of Cards. Spacey is like a bridge between two worlds, coming together in the spirit of James Gunn’s tweet. In another coincidental connection, Russian trolls recently revealed that they watched House of Cards as a means of familiarizing themselves with American politics in order to influence the election by trolling comment sections.
Gunn has spoken previously about the sexual predator situation, claiming to have known about James Toback’s alleged behavior for years and speaking out about it on MySpace and Facebook. And his statement today holds merit. The problem of powerful men using their position to abuse women (or other men) sexually isn’t unique to the movie business. And politicians are finding themselves caught up in the same fury sweeping the entertainment industry.
Former President George H.W. Bush has been accused multiple times of groping women in the past several weeks. Former President Bill Clinton survived multiple rape accusations relatively unscathed in the 1990s. And of course, the most obvious connection is President Donald Trump himself, who was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women in the months leading up to the election, and was even captured on camera admitting to sexual assault when he said that his celebrity status allowed him to grab women “by the pussy” with impunity.
Trump won the election despite these scandals, as perfect an illustration of how willing people have been to ignore reports of sexual abuse, even when coming directly from the accused in a recorded conversation, as any. But the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia could threaten Trump’s presidency, just as a reckoning seems to be coming for sexual predators in power everywhere.