After setting Sundance ablaze, actor turned writer-director Nate Parker had hype buzzing around him like bees to the hive, but he is now feeling the sting more than we ever thought he would due to a resurfaced rape allegation from 2001. Parker is now 36 and has since been acquitted but accused of reprehensible acts (whatever those are). After Parker’s directorial debut scored applause at nearly all major film festivals, the hype has gone just as quickly, and Academy voters are expressing their newfound lack of interest in seeing the film.
Specifically, Marcia Nasatir, an Academy voter, has been quoted saying; “Do I want to see a movie from someone who has committed an assault against a woman and who I do not think recognizes his guilt? Right now, based on what I’ve read, I would not go to the movie.”
Is it fair if other members of the voting circles follow her suit? I can’t say you’d be wrong in saying yes because rape and even allegations are something to never be taken lightly with or without someone being found guilty in this case, but it only got worse when the supposed victim killed herself in 2012. What was originally going to be a topical film in a time in America where black men are being treated a certain way (often negatively), this can put a damper on what could have been a prominent change in not just the “Oscars So White” discussion, but diversity in general. The new question I have to ask myself is not about diversity, but when is it right to separate an artist from their past or present wrong doings?
Let’s not be hypocritical here, I know of tons of great films that have won awards before and after controversy surrounding the stars or directors, whether for better or for much worse, and we have to make sure a standard will be set for these artists guilty or not. As far as these films winning Oscars, it is at those moments we have to step back and respect everyone else who worked hard on the film while recognizing their efforts in a way that translates to awards. Woody Allen is still making movies and directing people other than himself, but should Cate Blanchett have not won for Blue Jasmine just because Woody Allen directed it? I won’t even get into Roman Polanski’s story because he’s a guilty sick bastard who fled the country (America) to not go to jail.
The subject of rape should never be taken lightly in any regards in any situation. Period. I just want us as a society to figure out a standard for situations like these. Parker’s best friend and co-writer of the film was the second supposed rapist in the past case and served six months in jail for it before the charges were overturned. If that’s the case, can we breath a sigh of relief or are we holding our breaths in the disgust of the outcomes? It’s blurred when it shouldn’t be, but if we are being shallow and strictly focusing on dividing the art with the artist, it can be damn near impossible, but if we’ve done it with other criminals and assholes out there then we have to divide the art and artist or the double standards we fight will only split us apart even more.