Toppling the ‘House of Cards’

Eugene Ko, Staff Writer

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So this is how 2018 begins. Not with a bang, but with a flood of sexual harassment stories. 

The end of 2017 highlighted the full extent of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, with many celebrities sharing their stories. Allegations against actors such as Kevin Spacey led to rallied boycotts of movies and shows. People declared, on social media and in real life, that they would refuse to watch “House of Cards.” 

But some asked themselves, “Am I a bad person for continuing to enjoy Spacey’s performances?” 

I would like to say I refuse to watch movies for which the producers and actors were accused of sexual harassment. But just like most people, it’s a struggle to abstain from watching a favorite TV show, even after learning the work’s creators committed inexcusable actions.

Appreciating a piece of work isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We can’t control what we like, but we can control what we support. Even if we enjoy a TV show, we have to boycott watching it because fans cannot support a show without supporting its actors and producers. Creators cannot be separated from their works.

Following the allegations against Spacey, a chorus of “House of Cards” fans denounced Spacey’s actions but gave continual support to the show. Admitting an actor’s actions as inexcusable is not enough — we are contributing to the issue of sexual harassment by continuing to support creators and justifying our actions by saying, “I’m just watching a show.”

Victims of sexual harassment would condemn the public believing the harassers’ films or songs could be supported despite their actions. Fans shouldn’t believe Spacey’s work is excusable just because he’s a good actor.

The initiative of movie director Ridley Scott and Netflix is an applaudable start. Netflix has announced that the final season of “House of Cards” will continue without Spacey. It’s not acceptable to let an actor continue to act because “the TV series should finish” or “they were the perfect cast member.” If directors or music labels fail to condemn sexual harassment, then what comes after the Hollywood allegations is what came before.

Boycotting is refusing to be complicit in supporting a creator’s actions. Giving money to watch Spacey’s movies is symbolically supporting him, letting him profit in the face of his victims. A person can’t support the movie or show without supporting the actor. 

It is time for us, as an audience, to be more critical of what we support when we delve into a TV show or an album. Even if it’s awkward at first to address the problematic parts of a show, we can’t be afraid of pointing out its problems. It’s the first step to stop indirectly supporting sexual harassers. We can’t help if we enjoy a production, but we need to put our values above the enjoyment of a TV show or movie. It’s difficult, but it is necessary to better our communities.

Admittedly, a complete boycott of everything we find offensive isn’t feasible nor enjoyable. We’ve all slipped up and said something distasteful, but we can’t overlook criticism entirely. Maybe one day, we’ll be able to watch “House of Cards” when its cultural context is gone. But that’s in the future.

We have a mountain of issues we need to face in our media. The sexual harassment allegations have started a conversation — what comes after will be up to us, the audience. 

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Toppling the ‘House of Cards’