By Shruti Sunderraman
My initiation into good cinema began with Kevin Spacey. American Beauty changed my life. Off-screen too, I’d always loved how hilarious, well-mannered and fiercely private Spacey appeared to be. So, news that the man I put on a pedestal made advances at a 14-year-old Anthony Rapp in 1986 broke my heart a little. Then, immediately filled it with anger. Because not only did Spacey blame his behaviour on alcohol, he also chose his apology as a convenient time to declare his sexual orientation as homosexual. A distasteful Frank Underwood (his power-hungry, manipulative character in Netflix’s House of Cards) move to distract the world’s attention from his past crime. It also unfairly associates homosexuality to a crime, a stereotype the LGBTQIA community has been trying to relentlessly fight.
So I was right behind Netflix when it announced the end of House of Cards, a show that won Spacey several awards for his character. The announcement of the end of the show amid public outrage against Spacey is peculiar. According to a report, Netflix officials were deeply disturbed by the allegations against Spacey. But a Netflix spokesperson also said that the move to end the show after its sixth season had been made long before the allegations surfaced. Maybe, the pre-planning is true and maybe it isn’t. But Netflix just chose to cash-in on the controversy surrounding Spacey to make it sound like they were making him pay for his actions by denying him work.
But all over the internet, people have been under the impression that the move to end the show is to throw a punch at Spacey. Even if this were true, it has a problematic heart. If Netflix was to can the show to severe ties with Spacey, it would not just be Spacey’s career that would have been affected. It would also deny work to Spacey’s co-star Robin Wright, who also won awards for her portrayal of Claire Underwood in the show. Not to mention, the entire crew would lose out on work. Sure, Netflix would have seen to it to not leave its people hanging dry after a show gets cancelled, but the collateral damage stays.
When you cancel a show to teach a lesson to the king bee, it affects the entire beehive. If a power move is what the entertainment industry hiring the likes of Spacey and the Affleck brothers want to do, then firing them from their on-going projects or denying work specifically to them packs a better punch. Take, for example, the way Charlie Sheen was fired from Two and a Half Men following reports of his drug abuse, unprofessional behaviour and unmanageable attitude. The show carried on with Ashton Kutcher, however horribly.
At least, this way, it wouldn’t affect the livelihood of other crew members, many of them being women, however temporarily. As a side bonus, it would also make way for a House of Cards with only Robin Wright taking forward her Claire Underwood to the Oval Office as President of the United States.
October 31, 2017 at 1:53 pm
With that logic Woody Allen should continue to make movies. Two and a half men was a homophobic and quite misogynistic show which should have been cancelled anyway. Yes maybe HoC should continue but if Netflix thinks that cancellling the show helps ensure everybody understands their stance on sexual harrassment then I am all for it. If they cancelled it for any other reason then this argument is totally moot.