by G. Brown
In basketball lingo, there is a full court press to keep Kobe Bryant from getting his hands on an Oscar. An Oscar isn’t easy to come by, just ask some of Hollywood’s hardest working actors. So imagine the disbelief when 18 time NBA all-star Kobe Bryant was nominated for Best Animated Short with his”Dear Basketball”. Bryant collaborated with one of the most accomplished composers in Hollywood to give a musical voice to his film. John Williams style has created some of the most memorable music for films like “Star Wars”, “Superman:The Movie” and the “Indiana Jones” franchise. After 20 years of playing the game he loved, Bryant had reached the day where his NBA career was ending. For two decades he had poured all his emotion into the game, on the eve of his retirement, Bryant poured all that passion into storytelling. What started as a poem ended essentially as a love letter to the game.
While Hollywood never saw the five time NBA champion coming as a contender in the film making business, no one was perhaps more surprised than Bryant himself who shared his joy with fans…
The man who’s timing guided him to excel on the court couldn’t be worse for being in the Hollywood spotlight. His rising joy of an Academy Award nom would soon be eclipsed by a Hollywood reckoning that’s been brewing for one-hundred years.
His NBA record isn’t the only record to follow the retired pro-baller. Fourteen years ago, Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a 19 year old hotel employee . Bryant says it was a consensual sexual encounter. The woman dropped the criminal charges claiming she was receiving death threats from Bryant’s fans, but she filed a civil lawsuit. Bryant issued an apology and settled the suit out of court.
As some of Hollywood’s once seemingly untouchable, powerful men have been felled by the #MeToo campaign, Bryant’s nomination has caused some to add his name to the list of men who need to be publicly called out and forced to face up to their actions.
A petition launched on online at community activism website Care2 was at this writing just a few hundred signatures away from reaching its goal of 17,000 names to convince”…The Academy to rescind this nomination because Kobe Bryant is a known rapist.” The petition page continues noting, “An important conversation has been started about sexual assualt[sic] and harassment, so why is Bryant being honored for best animated short if Time really is Up?”
This is where the waters get murky for the sexual assault movements. There are people like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and others who have reportedly been long time predators, but never been accused, charged or forced to pay for their alleged sins. Then there are those who have been charged and dealt with or are being dealt with by the judicial system like Bill Cosby and Bryant. However the legal system plays, do we trust the scales of justice to be balanced, or do we want to see men charged, tried, found not guilty and still be condemned by society? If we don’t accept or agree with the courts , then we do we all become vigilantes extolling justice as we deem fit?
This is in no way a defense of Bryant or any of the men accused. But because this movement is so new and the crime is so old battling it has been somewhat chaotic , confusing. The predatory behavior is as varied as the the accused predators. No degree of sexual assault is acceptable, but there are different degrees under the law of those crimes. Matt Damon was almost burned at the stake for saying patting a women on the butt isn’t the same as rape or molesting a child. He was actually right, but we seem to be working in a mob mentality that every man is guilty. After decades of injustice for victims who were often ridiculed and abused in their quest for justice, the mania to see justice is understandable. Now that the pendulum has finally, languidly begun to swing the other way women can’t let their determination descend into a dogmatism equally as vile as the wrongs they are trying to right.
What do you think…has Bryant paid for his crime according to the justice system even if we don’t agree with the outcome? Did he get off easy by allegedly paying millions to his accuser? Should the Academy rescind his nomination?