The 2023 Cesar Awards, also known as the “French Oscars,” announced that invitations would not be extended to any persons convicted for, or even under investigation for, violent crimes. Specific mention was made, most importantly, to crimes of sexual assault and harassment.
This comes as a presumed precaution against the backlash the awards’ organisers, “Académie des César,” faced in 2020 following the nomination and presentation of awards to Franco-Polish director, Roman Polanski. The award-winning filmmaker is a fugitive from the United States, having fled imprisonment for the drugging and sexual assault of a minor in 1978.
This year, speculation is focussed on French actor Sofiane Bennacer, who is currently being investigated for alleged sexual assault. The 25-year-old actor has condemned the Academie for superceding the systems of justice and forgoing the “presumption of innocence.”
The Sordid Recent Past
Arguably, however, there is a larger context here, rooted in the very first waves of the #MeToo movement. Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was recently found guilty of a second set of charges of sex crimes, following another guilty verdict from 2019.
This would bring to a close the first, most public, and most harrowing sets of accusations of the 2018 origin of the #MeToo movement which saw many women speak out. It will be recalled that the term and social media hashtag #metoo was sparked off by Alyssa Milano, a Weinstein accuser herself.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
The past two weeks have seen another media personality arrested on sex trafficking charges (not imprisoned, but detained) as well: Andrew Tate. Keen users of the Twittersphere would have seen the self-proclaimed “King of Toxic Masculinity” engage in a social media feud with teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg.
I have 33 cars.
My Bugatti has a w16 8.0L quad turbo.
My TWO Ferrari 812 competizione have 6.5L v12s.
This is just the start.
Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions. pic.twitter.com/ehhOBDQyYU
— Andrew Tate (@Cobratate) December 27, 2022
Reportedly, in the video he recorded and tweeted in order to bully the 19-year-old Swede, he ordered pizza boxes that he wouldn’t recycle. The pizza boxes were from a Romanian chain, which gave local authorities proof that he was in the country so that they could arrest him. He has publically stated that his move to Romania is because “Rape laws are more lenient there.”
yes, please do enlighten me. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org https://t.co/V8geeVvEvg
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 28, 2022
It is clear, from the above, that the media and public conscience were still very much attuned to public figures using money and influence to carry out patterns of heinous criminal behaviour.
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As mentioned previously, The Cesar awards faced their own scandal in 2022 with director Roman Polanski, facing walkouts, public protests and damning statements from members of the French film industry and polity alike. In a fortnight rocked with scandal and shame for such figures, it could be seen as justifiably prudent to ban such people.
Workplace Sexual Harassment in 2022
Consider that film and the media industries are merely the most visible of work environments where workers are victimised in such a way.
Gallup, less than a month ago, published a study that found that 23% of adults worldwide were abused or harassed—verbally, physically or psychologically. This would translate to 750 million employed adults worldwide subject to the mental and bodily wounds of a workplace.
In similar studies, Pew finds, unsurprisingly, that, in and outside the workplace, women are nearly twice as likely to have been assaulted or harassed, and their main concern is not the firing, but the lack of accountability of the perpetrators
Well in keeping with modern understandings of intersectionality, Mckinsey finds that LGBTQ+ women and women of culture are significantly more likely to receive these patterns of behaviour and attacks.
The aforementioned visibility of the film industry, alongside the social media culture of community condemnation of a celebrity – “cancel culture” – also plays a big role in decisions like those of the Cesar Awards.
Gen Z, as it has become increasingly obvious, are consumers of a company’s morality as much as its products. This, in tandem with the fact that this more conscious generation of consumers will soon possess half of the world’s buying power, makes any industry, from film to footwear, understandably anxious about how they are perceived by these consumers.
The Academie, alongside the Oscars’ Academy, and the Golden Globes’ Hollywood foreign press are, by definition, comprised of industry practitioners and interests. As such, they have much to gain in influence and capital alike, from taking a more “woke” stance than not.
In summation, it cannot be said for certain whether this move by the Academie is a step forward or backwards. It is, most importantly, an effort towards progress, which is deserving of praise.
The statement clearly lays out that this move is “Out of respect for the victims (even presumed in the event of an indictment or conviction).”
Sensitivity to victims being the foremost concern rather than naming and shaming might just be the most tactful way to deal with this issue, one of recent relevance, but stemming out of a long, storied and pained past.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Film Reels. Featured Photo Credit: Denis Jans/Unsplash