The 84-year-old Jude Dench came forward to defend the work of Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and men like them as Weinstein’s sexual assault trial draws near. Though she doesn’t in any way condone sexual harassment, she believes viewers should still appreciate their life’s work – and she has quite a solid argument!
Dench spoke with Radio Times and appeared on the cover of its latest issue, saying that their work should not be tossed aside and unappreciated just because of accusations that have been brought against them. "What kind of agony is that?" she asked.
"Are we going to negate 10 years at the Old Vic and everything that he did? How wonderful he's been in all those films? Are we just not going to see all those films that Harvey produced?" she continued.
Dench worked with Weinstein multiple times, one of the most renown being the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love. She compared what happened to the 17th-century painter Caravaggio to the present-day situation. The man has sentenced Death on account of murder, yet his work is still venerated and hung in Roman churches and museums.
"You cannot deny somebody a talent," Dench said. "You might as well never look at a Caravaggio painting. You might as well never have gone to see Noël Coward ."
After The New York Times' 2017 exposé that recorded nearly two decades of allegations of misconduct, almost 90 women came forward to accuse Weinstein of harassing, sexually assaulting, or raping them.
The charges he’s now facing are for two of those, one of which is an incident in which he allegedly forcibly performed oral sex on a woman in his New York apartment in 2006. The other is a 2013 altercation where he allegedly raped a woman in a New York hotel room. Weinstein, whose trial is expected to begin on September 9, has denied these allegations and pleaded not guilty
Spacey, the former House of Cards star, has been charged with the indecent assault and battery of an 18-year-old boy in July 2016, and he has also pleaded not guilty.
This is not the first of such accusations being made against him as in 1986, the actor Anthony Rapp, who was 14 at the time, claimed Spacey made sexual advances. Spacey didn’t remember such an encounter but apologized anyway.
With the #MeToo movement going strong, many men have faced accusations like these as well as much ridicule and criticism.
Yet, there are some defending men’s "freedom to pester" women. In France, for instance, one hundred women signed an open letter criticizing the #MeToo movement and the criticism men have had to deal with as a result.
Catherine Deneuve, a French movie star, gathered writers, businesswomen, academics, and performers to sign the letter, denouncing the "hatred of men and sexuality." The letter was printed in the French newspaper Le Monde.