On Sunday Night, Casey Affleck stood on the stage of the Oscars wearing a very nice suit with and a very nice beard and a very nice ACLU ribbon on his jacket, and accepted the Academy Award for Best Actor.
A great number of journalists have written detailed accounts of Affleck’s sex crimes of intimidation, harassment and physical assault against Amanda White and Magdalena Gorka on the set of his 2012, I’m Still Here. You can read the entirety of Gorka’s lawsuit here, and an excellent analysis of the controversy here.
Whether or not you knew that Casey Affleck was a sexual predator, the members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences assuredly did, and still decided that his profoundly ok performance as a very sad janitor was worth more than women’s dignity.
Personally, I am still waiting to see a film so good that it is worth legitimizing sexual violence in order to reward it; a movie more compelling than my own humanity. If there were such a film, I think it would likely star Kate McKinnon and Ellen Page and Issa Rae and Meryl Streep and Quvenzhané Wallis and tell a tense, wrenching story about complex networks of female affect, intimacy and emotional labor, maybe through the lens of a staff at a nursing home or the crew of whaling ship. However, remarkably, none of those actresses have sexually harassed anyone, and cool female-driven movies like this don’t get produced by Hollywood, so this situation is an impossibility!
When we artistically knight men who commit sexual violence, we spit in the face of all women, but especially the women who are victims of it. Most of all, we spit in the faces of women artists who are victims of abuse at the hands of their male colleagues, and whose art is apt to be denied the recognition we hand to their abusers as a result of the same power imbalances that ordained their humiliation.
Art made by men who commit sexual violence should not get Oscars. I actually cannot think of any art less deserving of important, powerful awards — and our big terrible, glitchy world is literally brimming with both bad, terrible, disastrous art, as well as luminously mediocre, undistinguished art.
So, I have taken it upon myself to compile a not-even-remotely comprehensive list of some of the terrible and mediocre art that is still more deserving of an Academy Award than sexual abuser, Casey Affleck’s performance in Manchester By The Sea.
1. Ray Romano as Manny in Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Who doesn’t love that big grumpy condescending mammoth!? Unlike Affleck in Manchester By The Sea, Romano showed extraordinary emotional range in this role, as Manny progresses through his characteristic stubborn arrogance and pride, the anxieties of being a new father, tender vulnerability when his family is threatened, and compassion for his friend Sid, a sloth trying to raise three young dinosaurs.
2. Alexander Skarsgård as Meekus (one of Derek’s roomates who dies in the freak gasoline fight accident) in Zoolander.
Skarsgård briefly explores the life of a deeply hedonistic and arrogant young model, Meekus. His performance is brief, as Meekus dies in a freak gasoline fight accident 7 minutes into the iconic film, but poignant — provoking questions about the inherent fragility and degradation of human life.
3. The hamburger phone in Juno
This sweet piece of kitsch honestly just sat in Juno’s bedroom for most of the film, arriving at its moral climax when Juno uses it to phone her local abortion clinic. But you know what, it got the job done and didn’t sexually harass anyone on set.
4. January Jones as Jeannie in Love Actually
January Jones slays this corny-as-hell role as a British fuckboy’s fantasy of a midwestern American dreamgirl, Jeannie, from her nail-biting to shoulder-shrugging to that perfect giggle — I was convinced. Unfortunately, we only really get to empathize with Jeannie through her brief flirtation with fuckboy Collin at a bar in Wisconsin. She spends most of her screentime asking Collin to pronounce words like “table” and “straw” in a British accent, but I think her character really could have had potential, if the film returned to her and explored her feelings of rejection after Collin ultimately chooses Harriet to be American dreamgirl bride. Oscar for January.
5. Orlando Bloom as Paris in Troy
Orlando Bloom spends the entirety of this campy, swords-and-jock-straps, two-and-a-half-hour long fantasy porn flick with a look of mild confusion on his face and profound blankness in his eyes, is entirely upstaged by Eric Bana (Hector) and Brad Pitt (Achilles), and serves largely as a set of abs in the narrative arch of this extremely long bad and profoundly historically inaccurate film — but Bloom didn’t crawl into anyone’s bed and demand sex from them during its filming! Give that boy an Oscar!
6. The child demons who murder everyone in David Cronenburg’s 1979 body horror, The Brood.
The creatures of The Brood are the embodiment of a woman’s anger and trauma as the result of her childhood abuse — whenever she gets emotional, she gives birth to a new monster that terrorizes anyone her rage is directed at. While this is a deeply sexist narrative, these actors perform as the embodiment of trauma, which, when you think about it, is some avante-garde shit that has gone tragically unrecognized in the film world. The brood creatures >>>> sadboy sexual predators!
7. Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace
That kid can’t act for shit but he probably didn’t refer to women as cows or ask them why they weren’t married yet on the set of The Phantom Menace.
8. Hayden Christenson as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Hayden Christenson’s performance as Anakin Skywalker is some of the most cringeworthy, most overwrought, college-drama-class acting I’ve ever seen on the big screen, or the high school auditorium stage. Watching his blank rat-tailed face, I always get the sense he’s about to forget his line, and just barely remembers at the last second. He tells his girlfriend, Queen Amidala, “that’s wonderful!” when she tells him she’s pregnant, and I do not believe that shit for one second! He sounds like a man who wants the hell out. When he says, “No, no, it’s because I’m so in love with you” with weird emphasis on the “with” and then laughs his creepy-supposed-to-be-charming laugh, I can feel my body literally recoil. This role is the product of one of the worst casting choices of all time, which someone probably got fired for, but as far as I know, Hayden Christenson didn’t threaten or humiliate his women co-workers!
9. Ron Orbach, as the guy who gives Cher her DMV test in Clueless
Orbach berates Cher in a New York accent for a few minutes on-screen as she weaves across lanes of traffic, but as far as I know, respected Alicia Silverstone’s humanity and bodily autonomy.
10. Pierre Coffman, voice of the minions, in the Minions movie.
Coffman speaks in squeaks and nonsense to voice the characters of a squeaky nonsense mass-marketed cash-cow of a children’s movie but his is still among the nearly infinite pool of performances more deserving of an Oscar than Casey Affleck.
Jael Goldfine is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Objectivity Bites appears alternate Thursdays this semester. She can be reached at email@example.com.