How do you deal when your favorite celebrity is accused of rape?

UMich students react to sexual assault allegations in Hollywood

There's a new wave of both men and women coming forward to share their stories of sexual assault, some more recent, some dating back several decades.

The list continues to grow as victims of assault are seemingly motivated by the actions of those who spoke up before them. The alleged accusers have been long thought of as some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Ed Westwick.

These tragic stories of abuse have affected victims and allies across the world, the hashtag #MeToo on Twitter being used as a method of spreading awareness for the gravity of this problem. Celebrity icons such as Gabrielle Union, Lady Gaga, Reese Witherspoon, Viola Davis, among countless others, have stood in solidarity to both support the victims as well as to search for a solution.

A unique problem, however, is faced by a society that has been previously enamoured with the work of these people:

How do we use the information we have now when it comes to watching the movies and shows that we love so much?

The students at the University of Michigan have some very mixed opinions about the issue at hand.

Antonio Whitfield, a former Michigan football player and Michigan alum, told The Tab that continuing to consume past and future media by the alleged perpetrators is okay, and that “to allow the transgressions of a few to negatively impact the lives of full cast…is inappropriate and quite unfortunate.”

Whitfield also mentions that though the accusations are “horrible,” they have not been proven, and due to the increasing amount of accusers coming forward, it “makes you wonder” if the stories are true or if they are “just part of a media movement.”

Josie Oren, a junior, finds the public response “disheartening” and does not observe a public change in consumption habits, using the older example of Woody Allen continuing to enjoy success “after his pretty disgusting scandal."

Oren sees public neglect of sexual assault problems in the entertainment industry as evidence that “the public doesn’t seem to have a lot of morals when it regards what they consume.”

As for her, she plans to take deliberate actions to avoid consuming anything media related to the accusers “out of moral protest and because I wouldn’t enjoy them much knowing what those people did."

She is pleased with the actions taken by their studios and projects that plan to cut ties. However, Oren is disappointed with the public discussion of the validity of women’s accusations, but not men’s.

Matthew Gingerich, a senior, has a harder time forming his opinion about how to process the allegations. He sees connections between how to deal with the sexual assault accusations and the current task on our campus of deciding whether to separate the “racist and evil actions” of C.C Little, former UMich President and eugenicist, and the “reasons [he] was originally honored by the University.”

He seems contemplative on whether we should celebrate these people or not. “I don’t really have an answer,” he said. “but I think it’s interesting how the two issues are linked.”

When asked about how his personal consumption of media associated with these people will look in the future, Gingerich said, “I suppose I generally would watch the show, film, whatever, anyway, but educate myself on why it’s controversial.”

He believes it is a complicated issue because eliminating the media way eliminate wrongdoings and lessons from those actions, but he doesn’t “want to financially support him,” potentially paying lawyer bills to avoid paying for his abuse of power.

“So yeah, it’s complicated,” he said.

University of Michigan