Making Choices: A Lesson From Casey Affleck and Nate Parker

The Oscars was this past Sunday and barring the jaw-dropping-are-you-freaking-kidding-me snafu at the last minutes, it was pretty...uneventful. Okay; Queen Viola and King Mahershala  snagged themselves well deserved awards. But something or someone stood out though. It was the winner of the best actor award—Casey Affleck.

Now you will have to excuse me because until Sunday, I had no idea who homeboy was. Apparently his brother is Ben Affleck; he grew up a couple of blocks away from and is best buddy with Matt Damon; until recently, he was married to Summer Phoenix; and thus his brother in law was Joaquin Phoenix. If there was ever a case of deep connections or as my people call it—long legs, this was it.

But we are not here to talk about his lineage although you will need that context to understand this entire essay.

So why was everyone Black Twitter so furious he won the award? And who is Nate Parker? Why are their names popping up together? I'm here for you. Just come with me on this rabbit hole I too found myself on Sunday night/wee hours of Monday morning.

It turns out both men have been involved in sexual assault/harassment allegations sometime in the past. But that's not all they have in common. Both men starred in major and Oscar-worthy films this past year. Affleck in Manchester by the Sea and Parker in Birth of a Nation. A quick internet search will tell you both of those films are really good. I wouldn't know; I rarely watch movies. So how come only one eventually made it to the Oscars? And not only did the other not make it to the Oscars, it has been somewhat shunned? Well the answer is somewhat behind the main guys I have just mentioned above.

When Nate Parker was in college, he was accused of rape. From what I read, not only did homeboy allegedly rape this poor girl, he invited his pal to join in. Now Parker was eventually acquitted, but his co-conspirator was charged. In a devastating turn of events, the victim took her own life from terrible depression after that sad incident. Turner would then grow up to be an actor. Unknowingly, and well not surprisingly (to me) his recklessness and callousness would come back to bite him in the back. He had been in Hollywood for a while but like a lot of black actors, he just had not made it BIG. Nonetheless, he has been working hard and grinding, and when the time came, he decided to go for this movie that would give him the push. He hustled to get a sponsor for this movie and gave his blood and sweat to see that this movie made it big; writing, directing, and starring in it. And it was on its way to the world's stage...Oscar buzz for the movie had begun. Then came karma and its sexy wings. People got whiff of the past allegations. Thus, his reckless, juvenile, and despicable actions from the past crawled back into limelight. The movie eventually took a plunge and was a "financial disappointment". A the only reason tbh huge part of this was because of Nate's past. In an ironic twist of fate, the film itself depicted rape. See, Nate Parker did everything to deflect and defend his past. No bueno. His co-star Gabrielle Union, herself a victim of rape spoke out both in criticism of his past and to reiterate the importance of the movie. Because let's face it, the story of that movie deserved to be told. It really is a good movie. No. People were not having it. It received no Oscar nod.

Not that I would ever, ever advocate or even give an excuse for any kind of sexual assault, but the fact is Affleck was never accused of rape. He was accused of sexual misconduct. While on set after filming a movie seven years ago, he allegedly climbed into bed with a co-star and was angry when she immediately demanded that he leave. He would also [allegedly] often make sexual jokes at her and demand for sex. (Christ, some people are vile). He eventually settled out of court.

So yes in magnitude, one can say Affleck's situation was less than Parker's, but just as disgusting, and misogynist, and outright WRONG. Still Affleck's movie was not shunned. Affleck was rewarded for his movie.You see, Parker is no Casey Affleck. Unlike the latter, Parker has no cushion of Hollywood and white privilege to fall back on. Parker is not white. But most importantly, Parker [allegedly] did violate that woman. I don't care if he was 12 or 10 or 40. There is no excuse for such actions.

Theirs is a huge reminder that we are responsible for the choices we make. Our actions today can make or mar us tomorrow. I know it feels like Affleck got away with it. After all, he did get an Oscar? Wrong. For the rest of his ENTIRE life, each time his name is Googled; those allegations would stand in bold contrast to every other thing, albeit good he might have done or would do. His children's children's children would see and know that daddy, granpa, great-granpa was a perv, or at least was accused of being a perv. Parker? Well need I say more? He lost what could have been and probably was the biggest opportunity of his life to shine. Not only did his selfishness and irresponsibility cost him his good name, it's effects spilled on others too. I mean think about his costars in that movie that could have used it as an opportunity to spring up. And most of all the victims of these men whose lives (and families) would never remain the same. Do not let one night, a couple of drinks, the need to "have fun" ruin your life.

Take charge and be responsible. Make the right decisions, because what might look like a night of fun today can have ripple effects for years to come.



P.s: I'm sorry for how long this was. Also; this was a detour from my usual posts haha.

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