Should America Forgive Hollywood's Abusers?

Actor Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame has always struck me as a thoughtful guy, not that you can tell much about people who literally don personas for a living as if they were outfits hanging in the closet. But as Hollywood types go, he seems like a better-than-average egg.

And so I’m willing to agree with Emily Zanotti of the Daily Wire here that Cranston’s “approach is the more merciful one” when he says that maybe — just maybe — Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, with proper therapy and contrition, can be welcomed back to Hollywood in due time.

“If they were to show us that they put the work in and were truly sorry and making amends and not defending their actions but asking for forgiveness, then maybe down the road there is room for that. Maybe so,” Cranston said.

“We shouldn’t close it off and say, ‘To hell with him, rot, and go away from us for the rest of your life.’ Let’s not do that. Let’s be bigger than that. Let’s leave it open for the few who can make it through that gauntlet of trouble and who have reclaimed their life and their dignity and their respect for others,” he added.

Forgiveness is, indeed, an action requiring grace and strength, and is asked of Christians in particular as a part of their faith.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

However, forgiveness — real forgiveness, the kind that allows people back in the fold in the way Cranston suggests — generally requires some form of acknowledgement that harm was done on the part of the offender; and usually, someone who is truly contrite, would never ask to be let back into the fold. They wouldn’t think they deserved it. Real acknowledgement of bad action has a way of humbling you that way. And I have a hard time believing that kind of humility has struck the hearts of Harvey or Kevin. As Zanotti reports:

Weinstein spent about a week in inpatient “sex addiction” therapy, where he reportedly dozed off during sessions and continued to make contact with the outside world, even as he was supposed to be re-learning how to integrate into polite society. Spacey is also in “rehab” at a similar location.

That just sounds like going through the motions, checking the “rehab” box so they can get back to work and (ugh) play. Louis C.K. paved the way for them with his “apology” following allegations he also sexually harassed several women:

These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.

I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.

Just read the whole thing at the link above. He never actually apologizes and instead spends a lot of time talking about his own feelings and suffering because (and likely only because) people found out what a jerk he is. Is that the behavior of someone worthy of another chance? Does anyone believe Spacey and/or Weinsten are any less self-involved? As Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey, who had her own unpleasant encounter with Weinstein, said of C.K.’s apology (language warning):

Too right.

Narcissists are notoriously difficult to treat because their particular disorder doesn’t allow them to think there’s anything wrong with their behavior. They are just better than other people, you see; and the rules don’t apply to them.

Personally, I’ve seen no evidence that there’s any real acknowledgement of harm inflicted and am therefore inclined to disagree with Mr. Cranston, as sweet and (I hope) sincere as his words are. If you’ll forgive the term, America has an a**h**e problem and it’s infecting every aspect of our culture, from entertainment to sports to politics, and right down to a whole generation of self-loving millennials who think socialism/communism (the pinnacle of elitist philosophy) is just fabulous.

So, with apologies to Mr. Cranston, until these gargantuan egos that prowl around behaving as if they can treat anyone any way they please figure out that there are consequences for their behavior, I’m fine with their shunning from polite society.