Constance Wu Is Right -- Casey Affleck's Oscar Nom Sends the Wrong Message

Maressa Brown

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters / Splash; SH / Splash NewsThis week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Casey Affleck was nominated in the Best Actor category for his performance in Manchester by the Sea. In response, Fresh Off the Boat star Constance Wu called out the Academy for recognizing "men who sexually harass women." Although it's quite likely you haven't heard about it 'til now, two women sued Affleck for sexual harassment in 2010.

Producer Amanda White and cinematographer Magdalena Gorka alleged that Affleck verbally and physically harassed them throughout filming of a mockumentary called I'm Still Here, according to New York magazine.

In her suit, Gorka called her experience on-set "the most traumatizing of her career" and detailed an incident in which Affleck climbed into bed with her while she was asleep. When she awoke, "he had his arm around her, was caressing her back, his face was within inches of hers and his breath reeked of alcohol," the complaint notes.

White alleged that Affleck discussed his "sexual exploits" with her and once attempted to get her to stay in a hotel room with him, but when she refused, he "grabbed her in a hostile manner in an effort to intimidate her into complying."

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The actor, who denies the claims and even threatened to countersue, ended up settling both suits out of court. As he's been thrust even more into the spotlight to promote Manchester, a handful of outlets -- the Daily Beast, Mic, and Mashable, to name a few -- have reminded readers of the women's accusations. Yet, other media outlets, like CBS Sunday Morning, haven't even touched on the suits.

Now, although he told the New York Times that "[the allegations were] settled to the satisfaction of all," it's become abundantly clear that Affleck can't just hide from the accusations, especially since Wu tweeted up the following storm on the issue.

Wu is right: Affleck can be seen as having given a "great performance," but "context matters." The chilling allegations against the actor paired with the horrifying political climate we face as women as a blatantly misogynistic man and his administration take power makes for the perfect storm for a case against Affleck's taking home an Oscar.

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Of course eyebrow-raising allegations of mistreating women should always be taken into consideration by an awarding organization like the Academy, but right now, we're really at a turning point as a country. This troubling new era is forcing us to define who we are as Americans, what we stand for, what the repercussions of our actions will mean months and years from now. What does it say about what we believe in as a country when we elect someone like Donald Trump? And what does it say about Hollywood and art if we honor someone who may have sexually harassed his female coworkers?  

A nomination is not just a nomination. Winning an Oscar is not just winning an Oscar. As Wu points out, these awards -- especially the top honor in Hollywood -- mean so much more. It's an endorsement of the art, the message, and the person or people behind both.

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This past Saturday, American women and our allies all over the globe took to the streets to send the message that they want a better world for our daughters. Millions of women marched to stand up to a demagogue who truly has anything but "respect for women." The fight for our daughters to maybe, one day, live in a world where they are treated respectfully, as equals, and do not have to fear sexual harassment, rape, or violence is one we continue to fight in and out of courts, in offices, and on Hollywood movie sets. Every single day. The Academy should not pretend none of this matters when they look down at their ballots and consider Casey Affleck as Best Actor.

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celebrities, award shows, women's issues