You know that old cliché “never meet your heroes”? There is actually a lot of wisdom in those words. Star Wars actor Adam Driver has come under fire lately as allegations of abusive behavior towards fellow cast member Lidia Franco while working on (and off the set of) the 2018 film “Who Killed Don Quixote.” Franco alleges that Driver committed a “camouflaged assault with a chair [that had] nothing to do with the scene.” She discusses other toxic behavior that he displayed on set and how despite her complaints to the film crew, they claimed there was nothing they could do.
While it is unclear exactly what happened as details are sparse in the English translations of the interview, I think it’s fair to say that these allegations came as a shock, and I know I speak for the whole team at Fanatic Media when I say that we stand with Lidia Franco and applaud the courage it took for her to come forward with these allegations.
Unfortunately, this issue extends far beyond Adam Driver. To claim that abusive behavior by powerful people in Hollywood, especially men, is anything less than an epidemic is just irresponsible at this point. While not every instance of this abuse of power is as drastic as a physical abuse, or a sexual assault, we hear all the time about actors doing things on set that if we did at our jobs we would be immediately fired. Unfortunately this problem extends far beyond just actors and Hollywood. We hear whispers all of the time about behaviors like this from athletes, musicians, YouTube and TikTok stars, etc.
There is a huge problem with accountability in our celebrity culture, and it extends far beyond how we respond to abuse allegations and, in my opinion, makes the modern celebrity culture a breeding ground for abuse.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time with a toddler knows that kids will push boundaries until they are stopped. Most of the time those boundaries aren’t being pushed because the kid is evil or bad, but because it’s how we’re wired as people. To over simplify, our natural inclination is to push boundaries as far as we can and see what the limit is of what we can get away with. It doesn’t take a PhD in psychology to know that if a person frequently repeats the same behavior without negative consequences they learn that behavior is “ok.”
You and I are not going to go into work today and throw chairs out of frustration or demand that anyone who looks at us while were working be fired (as Franco alleges that Driver did). Why? Because we know that there will be immediate repercussions.
In my experience, these behaviors don’t escalate that quickly, they come from years and years of never being told no, or being told that what you did was wrong. Or, in many cases, being told that what you did was wrong but not getting any consequence beyond a wagging finger. It starts with small things, maybe being rude to an intern, and escalates from there.
Before you think this is some “spank your kids” rant, none of what I’m talking about has to do with parenting. We as a society put the power in these people’s hands, and it’s actually quite simple how it happens.
Money drives everything, or maybe better said as incentive drives everything and so far money is pretty universally recognized as the best incentive out there. When we commodify people, when their name and image alone have value because of our obsessions, we inflate the power that they wield.
Movie studios, pro sports teams, etc. are driven by profits. They always have been, and they always will be. Because of the commodification of people like Driver its a simple equation for these execs. The value lost from upsetting Adam Driver is greater than the gains from holding him accountable to his actions. In the same way celebrities continue to push boundaries until they cross the line, so do these execs. When they aren’t held accountable, they are taught that they can get away with their behavior.
So what do we do? Simple, we acknowledge it. Before you call it “cancel culture” it really isn’t. There is a huge difference between silencing everyone whose opinion you don’t like, and saying that if we don’t start holding these people accountable by refusing to give them our money, or fawn over them on social media, or calling them out on their behavior then this will never get better. Stop giving them a pass because they play a character you like, or are on your favorite team.
I love Star Wars, I really enjoy Kylo Ren/Ben Solo as a character, so far I’ve enjoyed a lot of Adam Driver’s work, but no amount of enjoyment is worth continuing to allow someone to create the kind of environment that he did while working on “Who Killed Don Quixote.” We as a culture need to do a better job of setting boundaries with our celebrities, but also holding to those boundaries when people cross them.
So if there is one thing to take away from this, even though they are still just allegations at this point (in a legal sense) acknowledge that you stand in support of Lidia Franco until the truth comes out. If it turns out that these allegations aren’t true, admit your mistake and move on, but if you’re going to make a mistake, err on the side of supporting a victim.