David O. Russell just one of many famous forgiven abusers

It is a running trend in Hollywood that abusive male artists tend to be forgiven or have their actions ignored despite obscene and offensive behavior. Sean Penn has a history of violence that had him charged with domestic assault against his then-wife Madonna, yet years later he went on to win accolades and awards for his performance in Milk. Mark Wahlberg in his teens assaulted a middle aged Vietnamese man with a large wooden stick while shouting a racial slur at him, and later that day he performed a similar act which resulted in the victim being blinded permanently in one eye; he also went on to achieve much success. His former wife Mia Farrow and son Ronan Farrow accused Woody Allen of molesting her adopted daughter Dylan while she was still very young, and yet at the recent Golden Globes he was rewarded with a lifetime achievement award. Roman Polanski fled the country decades ago after charges of sexual assault and multiple members of Hollywood, from all walks of life, have been vocal about wanting to see him be exonerated of his crimes.

Winona Ryder was caught shoplifting years ago and it just about ended her career.

And now there is another abuser who is being heralded with misplaced acclaim: David O. Russell, the director of movies including  Three Kings, I Heart Huckabee’s, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and most recently American Hustle.

It is not rare for these types of men to be forgiven for their actions due to their “art,” but it is the most recent and therefore the most infuriating. Russell on all counts should not be allowed the chance to direct another movie, to win another award, to work with young actors and actresses and to impress upon the world his lack of innovation and by-the-numbers filmmaking style. But because he is a white, straight man in Hollywood who has had a successful movie or two, he can get away with just about anything. And he has.

Photo by Flickr user david_shanloane

He was accused of groping his 19-year-old transgender nieces’ breasts in a gym in Florida. There were no charges pressed upon him despite his admission to the crime. He was quoted on a report saying that his niece “was acting very provocatively towards him,” shifting the blame to the victim of the assault.

On the set of his film I Heart Huckabee’s, he was caught on video screaming at his cast member Lily Tomlin during two occasions, one of which caught him yelling misogynistic slurs at her, imposing himself physically into her space by trashing the set, as well verbally attacking her for minutes on end. It is a disgusting portrayal of what happens to the egotistical, power hungry and how it is taken out on the bystanders. Of course, despite the evidence, he was still able to take on more projects.

On the set of the 1999 film Three Kings it as reported by star George Clooney that Russell embarrassed a camera car driver in front of the entire set, he made a female script supervisor cry and then at the peak of tension he threw an extra down on the ground, kicked him and then shouted at him to do the scene as he was told. This is when a physical altercation broke out between Clooney and Russell with Clooney stating that it was the worst experience of his life.

Over a decade later his film American Hustle is high in the running to win Best Picture at this year’s Oscars and he has been nominated for Best Director.

Hollywood has always been corrupt; it is sexist, racist and opportunist and everyone is always thinking about money and influence. The discrepancy between female and male representation is a large and divisive one and it is never more apparent when you compare the actions and longevity of male artists compared to their female counterparts. If a female director ever threw a tantrum in the way that Russell threw his she would never be hired again, instantly losing all credibility. If a young female actress had an insidious past she would be passed over for another young, guileless actress rather than put into the spotlight and allowed to continue on with their violent and anger induced tendencies.

Russell will not be the last corrupt male to inflict himself upon the world all in the name of his “art,” but as he is the most recent he is the one that we can actively take a stand against. Do not pay for his movies; it is as easy as that. By saying you can support the art without supporting the artist you are perpetuating the idea that Hollywood can get away the gender biased mindset they have committed themselves to.