I read today that Luc Besson has been accused of rape and that French authorities have opened an investigation on him (SOURCE: The Verge). As a fan of his movies, it’s sad to see someone whose work I admired could be capable of doing such a heinous act. I should preface this by saying that I will not be passing judgment on Besson, or be attacking the accuser. Rape is serious, and we should wait until the investigation is done.
Luc Besson, for the uninitiated, is a film director who has made films such as the recent Valerian and the city of a thousand planets, as well as classic cult films such as Leon, and my favourite film ever, The Fifth Element. I have a copy of that film right above my head as I write this post. If you watch any of his films, all of them are visually appealing, be it the inner city of New York in Leon, or the fantastic ships and aliens in The Fifth Element and Valerian.
Besson is only the latest in a string of major directors or high profile people in the film industry to be accused of rape, assault, and general nastiness against people. Roman Polanski, Woody Allen in the past were accused of being creeps, and with recent things such as the #Metoo movement, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and many others I could name were outed for heinous acts. Besson being accused of rape, while horrible, also sadly doesn’t shock or surprise me as much as it should have. Besson has had a bit of a history with women, specifically younger women. He has been known to date and marry women years his junior, meeting his first wife when he was 32, and she was 15. While age gaps in themselves are not necessarily illegal or wrong, it certainly strikes a lot of people as unusual, or creepy.
If found guilty, he will be another mainstay of Hollywood who has been outed by the #Metoo movement. While it is good that people are speaking out against heinous acts, a word used multiple times in this post, it is so disappointing that someone I and many others admire could be capable of doing this.
This does raise, however, an interesting point. Can you be a fan of work from such figures? My Mum is still a fan of Kevin Spacey, as are many other people I know. People will still buy Weinstein movies because he has financed and produced hundreds of well known and well-received movies. This is not even limited to the cinema when we look at the legacy of people such as John Lennon, a man who was known to have beaten his wife and abandoned his son. We remember him as a figure of peace. It’s hard. Do you continue to admire the work of such horrible people, and continue to fund them?
Its tricky. When I was younger, I was a big fan of Alex Day, you tuber and musician. I said he was the future of pop, talked about him on early blog posts; and proclaimed that he should be the man behind our next Eurovision entry. When he was outed for manipulation and sexual assault of girls, I gave my CD’s to charity, even ones with other artists on them as well, including Chameleon Circuit. 3 out of 5 of them were innocent and had done nothing wrong. Should they be part of a boycott? No. It is hard when other people worked hard on things that had bad people behind them. In my experience, take it on a case by case basis. I will keep my copy of the fifth element, regardless of what happens. I may never buy another Besson film, but to reject the work of others because of one man’s alleged crimes would be wrong.