Opinion: Hold Celebrities Accountable For Their Actions

By Megan Hastings

Media Production Team

TW: Sexual assault, rape

Last month, singer-songwriter Steve Lacy threw a fan’s camera, breaking it instantly after they gave it to him while performing. The fan previously tried to give Lacy the camera by throwing it at him, though it bounced back. He walked off after saying “Don’t throw [things] on my stage.” Many argued that Lacy was in the wrong. One Twitter user wrote, “[He’s] ruining his reputation before his career even takes off properly.” Others say that he was justified in his actions, with another user saying, “I’d probably break that [camera] too.” Lacy himself believes he shouldn’t have to apologize and addressed the situation on Instagram, saying, “I don’t believe I owe anyone an apology.” Regardless of whether or not Lacy’s actions were justified, many viewers were quick to point out that his actions would be mocked in the news had he not been so famous.

While less serious, this situation reminds me of the privilege celebrities have which enables them to get away with serious offenses, like when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock. During the 2022 Oscars, host Chris Rock made a joke about Will Smith’s wife, who suffers from alopecia. Smith, angered by the joke, came up and slapped Rock in front of the audience. Security did not escort him out and Smith didn’t issue a proper apology until five months later. After the fact, many considered Smith’s actions to be assault. The fact that Smith faced no repercussions from the Oscars or the law was shocking to many. Had this been a regular civilian, security would have escorted him out or detained him. But because he was a celebrity nominated for an award at one of the most distinguished award shows, Smith avoided assault charges and failed to do the bare minimum by saying sorry. 

Celebrity privilege helped Steve Lacy and Will Smith evade consequences for their offenses, but it has also helped other celebrities evade consequences for more serious crimes. Film producer Harvey Weinstein worked on iconic movies like Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting. Weinstein’s revered career came to a sudden halt in 2020, when a judge convicted him on two counts of committing a criminal sexual act and one count of third-degree rape. This didn’t come as a shock to many, as Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct traces back to the 70s, almost 50 years before his official charges. One of the earliest accusations of rape came from Asia Argento, an Italian actress, who told The New Yorker that Weinstein forced himself onto her in 1997. How did he get away with abusing his position of power and assaulting young actresses for so long? Celebrity privilege. Celebrity privilege leads fans around the world to put people on pedestals, like Harvey Weinstein. He thought he was untouchable because he was a celebrity. The law, the industries, and we at home need to hold celebrities accountable for their actions, just like we would do with anyone else.

Categories: Opinion

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