Netflix and Kevin Spacey

In this April 27, 2015, file photo, Kevin Spacey arrives at the Q&A Screening of House of Cards at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif. Netflix says Spacey is out at House of Cards after a series of allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Netflix says in a statement Friday night, Nov. 3, 2017, that it's cutting all ties with Spacey, and will not be involved with any further production of House of Cards that includes him.

By Michael Brown Published on November 5, 2017

I hope Kevin Spacey gets the help he needs, and I appreciate Netflix severing ties with him for now. But why didn’t Netflix act earlier?

According to Fox News, after the initial accusations against Spacey were raised, crew members from his hit show House of Cards began speaking out.

“Allegations against the actor continued to mount as eight crew members reportedly came forward with assertions about sexual harassment and groping on the set of the streaming drama.”

Eight crew members? If this is true, then these were hardly isolated incidents. Indeed, “CNN reported Thursday that eight people close to the production … have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct from Spacey that allegedly made working on the set a nightmare.”

Why wasn’t action taken earlier?

“All eight accusers have chosen to remain anonymous, but claim that the behavior was very well known on set and that it created a difficult work environment.” Notice these descriptions: Stacey’s abusive behavior was allegedly “very well known on set” to the point that “working on the set [was] a nightmare.”

Shades of Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood: His abuse of many women was an open secret, but Hollywood chose to look the other way.

In Spacey’s case, both Netflix and MRC, the production company for House of Cards, “claimed they had received no reports of any widespread misconduct.”

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If this is to be believed, it would mean that others within the production squelched the reports. Otherwise, if so many crew members were harassed, if the harassment was so widely known, and if working on the set was a nightmare, why did neither MRC or Netflix ever hear about it?

According to Netflix, “When the allegations broke about Kevin Spacey on Sunday night, in conjunction with MRC, we sent a representative to set on Monday morning.

“Netflix was just made aware of one incident, five years ago, that we were informed was resolved swiftly. … Netflix is not aware of any other incidents involving Kevin Spacey on-set.”

Two Possibilities, Neither Pleasant

We are left with two possibilities. One: Netflix and/or MRC are lying, seeking to cover their tracks. Two: Those within the production itself have been looking the other way for years. (Again, if the allegations are true). Either way, it points to a very serious, ongoing problem in Hollywood. There’s indignation and action once the public finds out. Until then, it’s just part of the industry.

And what are we to make of a scene in a 2005 episode of Family Guy? “The scene features baby Stewie running naked through a shopping mall screaming, ‘Help! I’ve escaped from Kevin Spacey’s basement!’” Were Spacey’s alleged abusive actions an open secret back then?

And what of Spacey’s 1999 Oscar speech for Best Actor in American Beauty? In that film he seduces and kisses a teenage girl. As he said in his acceptance speech, “To my friends, for pointing out my worst qualities. I know you do it because you love me, and that’s why I love playing Lester, because we got to see all of his worst qualities and we still grew to love him.

“This movie to me is about how any single act by any single person put out of context, is damnable. But the joy of this movie is that it is real beauty, and we found real beauty in this extraordinary script by Alan Ball.”

What did his friends know? And how much is being covered up in Hollywood right now with the hope that it won’t get exposed? Really, there’s not much virtue in confessing to a bank robbery when you’re caught with the money in your hands.

Again, I hope Spacey discovers a new way of living and I’m glad Netflix severed ties with him for now. God can bring redemption. My question remains: Is this too little, too late?

Matt Taibbi

Consider Matt Taibbi, a leading contributor to Rolling Stone. In 2000, Taibbi, along with co-author Mark Ames, published a memoir titled The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia. As John Nolte reports, “To this day, using Amazon, you can open the first few pages of The Exile and find yourself reassured that ‘This is a work of non-fiction. While all of the characters and events depicted in this book are real, certain names and identifying details have been changed.’” (Nolte’s emphasis.)

In the book, Taibbi and Ames chronicle their abusive treatment of Russian women in graphic, despicable detail, including Ames’s tryst with a 15-year-old girl. (Nolte’s article contains direct quotes from the book that are NSFW.)

Today, both authors now claim that the accounts were all made-up. It’s just “satire,” they say — despite stating explicitly at the outset of the book that it is non-fiction and that “all of the characters and events depicted in this book are real.”

Why wasn’t there any outrage when the book came out? And who writes such abusive stories about themselves?

One Amazon reviewer gushed, “Given Taibbi’s brilliance as one of today’s most insightful and entertaining writers about banksters and criminal financiers, I have suspected that there was more to [Taibbi’s] early years than sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and this book contains the key.”

A 2013 Amazon reviewer states, “matt taibbi is a god among writers and this book shows his burst from the eggshell.” A reviewer from 2002, “As the subtitle might indicate, this is not a book for the faint of heart, nor is it a straight-up history, though the portrait it paints of post-Soviet Russia from the early ’90s to 1998 is pretty vivid in all its pornographic, bloody, vomitous, sexist glory, making it a pretty d—-d good history anyway.” The reviewer gave the book five stars.

So, the book was all the rage a few years back and Taibbi was a rock star. Now, however, that some in the media have turned against Taibbi, the tone of Amazon reviewers has changed. One one-star review states, “Misogyny at its finest! Up until the Weinstein scandal broke — the book was a work of non-fiction. However, today its authors say it’s a work of fiction.”

A Wholesale Reformation

This is a microcosm of the larger Hollywood scene. The trade secrets were not outrageous until they became known to the public, at which point they became outrageous.

If Hollywood is really serious about making amends for its misdeeds, it’s going to have to go far beyond offering up a few sacrificial lambs. Instead, it will require wholesale reformation.

Does Hollywood have the stomach, not to mention, the morals, to do it? And if so, how much will be left standing after Hollywood cleans house?

We will see soon enough.

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