A few days ago several young women publicly accused Morgan Freeman of sexually harassing them, at least one of them during the making of Going in Style back in 2015. The new allegation came almost immediately in the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein surrendering himself to answer rape charges in New York earlier this week.
As usual, Freeman has blatantly denied the accusations, frustrated that his many decades of groundbreaking work in entertainment are in danger of being undone. Sadly, the effects of the allegations are already hurting him. Visa Canada announced days ago that it was suspending any of its advertising featuring Freeman, and TransLink has decided to cancel his voicing of the public service ad campaign he was set to do for Vancouver-area public transportation.
All of this is the result of brand new allegations.
Sexual assault, sexual harassment—hell, assault and harassment of any kind, really—is absolutely disgusting and should always be taken seriously. I applaud authorities and the businesses in Canada for treating the allegations as serious business and not brushing them aside or trying to downplay them. I have no issue with that at all. I think it sends a bad message whenever a potential victim is silenced or ignored, especially when a high-profile celebrity is concerned.
In a way, I can even understand why Visa and TransLink decided to “pause” their relationship with Freeman. Undoubtedly a great many women use public transportation in one of Canada’s biggest cities, and silencing his voice would send a message of support to victims of similar crimes. It’s a great show of public service.
Overall, though, I disagree with how it has been handled. So far these are only fresh allegations. There has been no action by lawyers or police or any investigation of any kind, save a few news interviews. All that there is so far are people coming out in public and saying that Morgan Freeman did this or that to them. I think it is way too early for businesses and organizations dropping Freeman. What kind of message does that send? That a mere allegation of wrongdoing can destroy or greatly damage a person’s career, even if in the end the allegation is retracted or the person is found innocent of any wrongdoing.
I’m aware that Canada is not the United States, but one of the things we (at least in the past) have prided ourselves on is our justice system and the belief that a person is INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty. Visa and TransLink, even if their intentions were only temporary ones, have already handed Freeman a guilty verdict and there is nothing fair about that. If the same kind of response was taken after police come out and say that a criminal investigation is underway or that charges have been filed, that is something different entirely. But so far that’s not the case, and I feel bad that he has lost out on this potentially great voice-over deal on account of these accusations.
I am anxious to see where this new chapter of the #MeToo movement goes, and if any of these allegations end up being true or not. Only time will tell.