Arts, Column

Cassell: Brad Pitt, Hypocritical Hollywood, and the Enabling of Corrupt People

Hollywood is known for A-list superstars, blockbuster movies, and hit TV shows. Something else it’s notorious for? Defending bad men.

At the Golden Globes Awards on Jan. 10, there was a lot to celebrate. But hiding behind award announcements and comedy sketches, there was one large elephant in the room.

Brad Pitt.

Pitt is currently in court for verbal and physical abuse allegations from his children, as well as actress and his former wife Angelina Jolie. But why is this not a bigger story in the media? An alleged abuser is hanging around Hollywood and rather than protecting the woman, society defends the man and saves him from intense negative press.

In fact, many celebrities at the Golden Globes praised Pitt or mentioned him in their speeches despite the horrendous claims made about him by his children, who each testified against Pitt in court. 

From Austin Butler declaring how much he loves him to Quinta Brunson pausing her speech and saying hi to Regina Hall referring to herself as Mrs. Pitt, the Hollywood elite ignored the fact that Pitt is an accused abuser. 

Hollywood is a place of power and misogyny that condones—or at least turns a blind eye to—those who use their fame to control others. Hollywood worships so-called “icons,” such as Jerry Seinfeld and Milo Ventimiglia, who both have dated barely women barely 18-years-old. As much as we adore the work of these people, there is a glaring truth staring us in the face.

Lots of beloved actors and artists have abuse allegations or predatory age gaps with their partners, which the Hollywood elite brushes under the rug. I am a huge fan of Ventimiglia as Jess in Gilmore Girls or Pitt as The Narrator in Fight Club, for example, but their pasts should not be glossed over. 

Hollywood can be classified as a safe haven for corrupt men. Even with the #MeToo movement, harmful men still thrive in the industry. This isn’t to say that all men in Hollywood are abusers. Or even to say these issues are solely perpetrated by men. Women in Hollywood are also guilty of predatory behavior. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and his wife, Sam Taylor-Johnson, have a 23-year age gap and met when he was just 18 and she was 42.

Hollywood excuses such heinous behavior because it is a place of power, wealth, and privilege. The cover-up of abuse in Hollywood is a slap in the face to fans and consumers of the art Hollywood produces. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t love the TV show Seinfeld because Jerry Seinfeld is a creep in real life. Or to stop watching Fight Club because of Pitt. Rather, we should be more conscientious about the so-called “idols” we worship. 

Because of misogynistic and patriarchal values, the art we consume is unfortunately influenced by bad men. We can appreciate their art, but we must acknowledge they possess a disproportionate amount of wealth and power. Victims of these elite abusers are real people, and their abusers are often praised and continue on a path to success. 

During the night of the Golden Globes, #BradPittisanabuser trended nationally on Twitter. Outside of the Hollywood elite, the broader public is thus clearly taking steps to hold celebrities accountable for their past actions. 

While the hashtag is a start to holding Hollywood accountable, there is still a continued corruption that undermines the entirety of Hollywood. I believe Hollywood and fame itself are founded on the detriment and harm of others. There is an unsettling quality to how the Hollywood elite brushes Pitt’s allegations under the rug, allowing itself to publicly idolize someone who allegedly abused his children and former wife. 

So, consider exactly who you’re applauding next time you turn on the Oscars or Grammys. 

January 25, 2023