The Oscars are less than two months away, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences still has a big question to answer: Will Casey Affleck present the Best Actress award?
More: A Look at the Casey Affleck Sexual Harassment Claims From a Legal Standpoint
It’s a time-honored tradition for last year’s Best Actor and Best Actress winners to present the Oscar to the winner in the opposite category the following year. That’s how we got the epic faces from Brie Larson at the 2017 Oscars; she had no time for Affleck because she was disgusted by his 2010 sexual harassment allegations.
Larson admitted in March 2017 that her lack of enthusiasm for his win for Manchester by the Sea was no accident.
“I think that whatever it was that I did onstage kind of spoke for itself,” she told Vanity Fair. “I’ve said all that I need to say about that topic.”
In 2010, two women who worked on a film with Affleck sued him over sexual harassment. He settled both cases.
In the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, it’s unacceptable for the Academy to even think about having Affleck present the Oscar to this year’s Best Actress winner. It would be a slap in the face to every actress in Hollywood who has bravely come forward and talked about her mistreatment in the industry.
It would also be hard for Affleck to walk the red carpet and try to avoid any questions related to sexual harassment. He skated through last year’s Oscar season, but he won’t be treated the same way this year.
It’s also possible that his Best Actor chances would have been hindered if his Manchester by the Sea nomination came one year later. Would the Academy voters all feel the same way about his performance this year? Even though the award is based on performance, it’s human nature to be influenced by personal thoughts and opinions.
As of November, the Academy was definitely hesitant to include Affleck in the Oscars ceremony, which will be held on March 4.
When CEO Dawn Hudson was asked whether the Academy was mulling over having Affleck present the Best Actress award at Variety’s Inclusion Summit, she responded, “Yes, we are. Of course, we are. We’re giving thought to all of this.”
A petition on Change.org, which has been circulating since the fall, asks the Academy to exclude Affleck from presenting duties this year. As of this week, it has more than 19,500 signatures.
The good news for the Academy is that this is the 90th Annual Academy Awards, so they can switch things up. In anniversary years, the Academy often brings back former winners from different decades — and this is the year to do it for the Best Actress category.
Whether the Best Actress award is presented by one former winner or five former winners honoring the five nominees, like the Academy did in 2009 when Kate Winslet won, it’s time for a change. In many ways, being honored by the female winners who came before would be more meaningful than Affleck handing over an Oscar anyway — with or without a cloud of sexual harassment allegations around him.
Each award show has its own tone this year. The Golden Globes launched the Time’s Up movement and an all-black dress code, and the SAG Awards had all female presenters and its first female host ever, Kristen Bell. It’s time for the Oscars to make a strong decision and find a way to make this work. Having Affleck present as expected would be a really bad idea.