Jaws dropped this week when horrific allegations were leveled at successful Hollywood director Bryan Singer. Singer, best known for directing films like The Usual Suspects and X-Men, is being sued for allegedly raping and drugging a minor in the late 90s. This revelation about Bryan Singer, which bears noting is a scandalous allegation, highlights a history of abuse in Hollywood–particularly, it seems, in the case of minors.
Unfortunately, young men and women in Hollywood have a history of being taken advantage of by older, powerful Hollywood men. In this case, the suit claims specifically that Singer and several other influential men in Hollywood had a system wherein they would find young men, break them into the business, and invite them to lavish parties. Their motive was to ply them with drugs and have sex with them. Singer’s lawsuit implies this happened with lots of underage men, all of whom were young enough to easily be controlled and silenced.
This sexual scandal against Bryan Singer highlights the history of abuse in Hollywood. Young actors or actresses are often pushed beyond an appropriate limit. Troubled former child star Corey Feldman recently confessed that he and his friend, and frequent costar Corey Haim, were both repeatedly invited by powerful Hollywood producers to lavish events when they began their careers. Feldman explained that the men were incredibly influential and managed to convince the boys, who were certainly too young to give legal consent, that this was how the business worked if they wanted to be actors. Like the Singer accusation, drugs were also frequently involved, and Corey insists that he went to police and made reports, however nothing was done about it. Interestingly, the Singer accuser also has avowed that he went to the police and was not helped in any way.
These predatory behaviors towards minors happens to males and females alike. In fact, one of the most famous instances was decades ago when a famous Hollywood director, Academy Award winner Roman Polanski, was accused of inappropriate relations with a minor. The case against Polanski accuses him of taking topless photographs of a 13-year-old girl. Echoing the Singer case, Polanski allegedly coerced the young girl with alcohol and drugs, afterwards having sex with her, despite her repeated protestations.
Similarly, this sort of behavior does not just extend to filmmakers. Famed Hollywood photographer Terry Richardson has been faced with accusations of taking advantage of impressionable young women time and time again. The allegations include Richardson making the models engage in sexual acts, or exposing himself to them, and oftentimes the young women are too afraid to say “No” or stand up for themselves.
This power dynamic is clearly a key role in what provides powerful men in Hollywood to take advantage of minors. Youthful and unsure of what to do, these minors were often pushed too far and are not able to speak out. For example, Polanski claimed that the sex was consensual, but there is a reason that minors cannot legally consent to sex. The power balance between adults and minors is too uneven, and there is no way for proper consent to take place. Whether or not the accusations are true, it is clear that the Bryan Singer tale highlights a long line of Hollywood abuses.