Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Spacey Between Us


Kevin Spacey was the celebrity that I least expected to ever see associated with a scandal.

I've been a fan of his for nearly 20 years, ever since I watched American Beauty in a hotel room while on a business trip. To say that the past few weeks have not been an easy time for Kevin Spacey fans is an understatement. At many times it has felt like a nightmare that I cannot wake up from.

I'm sad, and confused. I don't know what to believe. I'm at a loss as to what to do with the DVDs of his movies I own. I can't bear to toss them and yet at the same time it's going to be a while before I can bear to watch any of them again.

I don't know how much I'm allowed to say about the allegations against him here on this blog only because the AdSense police have already flagged my site a few times for content that violates their terms and conditions. There's no need for me to rehash it all here anyway; everyone knows why Kevin Spacey could be in serious trouble.

The conflict for me is that the allegations are just that: allegations. There's no concrete evidence as of this writing that anything Spacey has been accused of has actually taken place. Some of the incidents also supposedly occurred over 30 years ago. And yet there's so many of them, too many to not believe that at least some of them are true. Not to mention he checked himself into rehab, which seems to indicate guilt and acknowledgment that he has a real problem.

In a matter of days, an entire career that was built up over decades was demolished. He was even removed from his next film to be released, All the Money In the World, replaced by Christopher Plummer. It's one of the biggest Hollywood scandals to date and we're all witnessing it.

I'm shocked because as a fan who followed Spacey's career during the past several years, I can tell you of the numerous humanitarian work the man has done when not performing. He has always cited his mentor, Jack Lemmon, with "sending the elevator back down" or helping others with their careers once you've done well for yourself. His foundation did just that, by giving grants to promising new talent in the entertainment industry.

Spacey has also participated in the Best Buddies Challenge, which teams participants with individuals with developmental disabilities on a bike ride; there's several photos online of Spacey charming kids and babies during this event. He also visited the Atlanta Children's Hospital in 2016 to entertain the kids while making the movie Baby Driver there (the film where another actor recently said he treated everyone like a bully on the set), even introducing the patients to a young singer whose singing wowed him while he was in Nashville.

He's visited a nursing home dedicated to retirees from the world of showbiz, participated and emceed at numerous charitable events, and pretty much every dog he's adopted during the past several years came from a shelter.

This is the Kevin Spacey that his dedicated fans believe him to be, which is why the stories about his behavior that have been coming in droves since October 30 are so disturbing. How could this be the same man so many people are claiming violated and used his power to intimate others?

And if it weren't for him, I never would have discovered Bobby Darin or at least, it would have taken me much longer to do so.

Although it is not an excuse for his behavior, if it is indeed true, but the stories about his childhood and upbringing that his brother Randy Fowler was telling the press may explain a lot. I remember Fowler tried exposing his family's secrets a good decade ago but it didn't get picked up by the press and I dismissed them, thinking he was simply a jealous older brother trying to make a buck off of his famous younger one.

But maybe we have reason to believe Fowler, despite his eccentric appearance (he's a limo driver who also may be a Rod Stewart impersonator. And he looks nothing like his younger brother Kevin.)

If Fowler's story about he and Kevin's father is true, then it's tragic and soul shattering. Fowler claims the patriarch was emotionally, sexually, and physically abusive and while he isn't sure if Kevin ever got attacked, he was on the receiving end many times. Mother Kathleen knew but didn't do anything to try and stop it, or protect her kids. Fowler also says their dear old dad worshipped Adolph Hitler and once made him quit the boy scouts when he learned the scoutmaster was Jewish. In pictures that have surfaced over the past few weeks, Thomas Fowler -- Randy and Kevin's dad -- is even shown sporting a Hitler mustache and similar hairstyle.

Thomas Fowler was a struggling writer who was often unemployed. The one family vacation Randy Fowler remembers was to visit a nudist colony. He said they were short on money so often that he and his siblings didn't visit a dentist for several years.

Randy believes that his father's genes, unfortunately, may have been passed onto his brother Kevin, which explains the numerous allegations stacking up against him. He says many stories Kevin has told to the press throughout the years, such as being kicked out of military school, were really Randy's experiences. He says Kevin retreated into acting and disappeared into becoming someone else as a way of dealing with a miserable home life.

(Spacey, by the way, was the mother's maiden name and he adopted it before embarking on an acting career, as Randy said Fowler didn't sound Hollywood enough.)

If these stories are true then I admit I feel sorry for Kevin Spacey. It's not an excuse for behavior that he should have known was harmful, but it may help explain a knee-jerk reaction of coming onto and groping unsuspecting victims.

And yet, does...should...all of this erase an entire career? In the past couple of weeks I've noticed that YouTube videos of Spacey have not been removed. Twitter accounts dedicated to his fans have not been deleted. Pinterest boards dedicated to him are still intact. I admit, I watched clips from American Beauty the other night and still find his performance every bit as entertaining as the first time I saw it 18 years ago. I still like the guy. It may not be the popular opinion, but it's true.

Maybe we're all waiting for the latest plot twist in this saga, and that we find out it was all just a big joke. Some are saying his career is over and that he's going to jail.

Me, I'd like to think that a year from now Kevin Spacey will give a sit-down, tell-all interview and explain himself. Hollywood often has a short memory.

I guess the next act remains to be seen.

11 comments:

  1. You feel about Spacey the way I felt about Bill Cosby when he went through a similar grinder: absolute disbelief that someone so familiar and beloved could have this other side.

    In my blog next week, I'll address these sexual harassment scandals from the angle of the movie fan. I agree that whatever Spacey may or may not have done shouldn't mean striking his films from the record or taking back his two Oscars. I didn't know about all that charitable work he had done; that's interesting.

    Hollywood does indeed have a short memory; just look at Mel Gibson. I think it'll take longer than a year for Spacey's Barbara Walters or Mike Wallace interview, though. Call it a hunch.

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    1. I look forward to reading your blog post. It feels so conflicting. My dad always said that every celeb has a public and a private side.

      In addition to his charitable work, Spacey also revitalized the Old Vic theater in London when he came on as artistic director. I believe I read the theater was in dire straights and close to being shuttered.

      Well, Mike Wallace is dead so that interview definitely won't be happening. :) I think Barbara Walters is more or less retired.

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  2. I understand what you mean. I think any fan, even the most heartbroken, will still keep it up in honour of him, and choose to remember the Kevin Spacey we remember from television and film, rather than the disgraced person he has now come to be known as. If that comes across as disrespectful, then I am sorry to those who have been affected negatively by him. It is the only way fans can deal with this horrific scandal.

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    1. I've already decided I'm not going to stop being a fan and watching his work. I'm not so sure I believe all of the allegations and without any evidence it's going to be impossible to prove what took place. I don't think it's right to want to erase the work of an artist because of what may have taken place in his private life. If we were to do that then there would be an awful lot of entertainers whose careers would automatically become nulled and voided.

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  3. Kevin Spacey was the last person I expected to take a fall from grace. I was not really into him, but I did enjoy him in "A Bug's Life" and saw him last year in "Nine Lives". When you stop and think about it, it's astonishing how many celebrities, who were once popular figures with the public, have had something happen that led to their names going down in infamy; O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, Jimmy Savile, the list goes on and on. If this is just a misunderstanding, it's a tragic injustice. If it's true, it's a tragic fall from Grace. Great actor, terrible human being. Sometimes, we don't know who we are praising.

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    1. Oh, yes, he was the voice of Hopper. When the allegations came out, Disney actually moved his character backstage. https://www.reddit.com/r/mildlyinteresting/comments/7bz1sv/kevin_spaceys_character_in_a_bugs_life_is_tucked/

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  4. Pam, I'm glad you wrote this piece. I don't know exactly what the hell is going on, but I think that America is in a state of ridiculous hysteria over claims of alleged sexual harassment by famous people! This has become epidemic like the McCarthy communist scare of the 50s, and is really making us look like virgin prudes.
    Are we really supposed to believe that the dozens of notable men who have been summarily accused and then arbitrarily fired from their positions were all monsters who lurked behind the silver screen, or some such nonsense? This has become totally absurd. And what makes it more hypocritical is that the so-called "President" is on record as having actually said lewd comments about women, yet, nobody has removed him from the presidency! He's been rewarded.
    As I asked, what the hell is happening to this country? We're at the point now where if a man looks at another human, male or female, then he'll be accused of sexual misconduct. GMAFB! America is nuts. The Puritans are coming--the Puritans are coming! Don't play Baby It's Cold Outside this Christmas, or you'll be arrested by diaper clad, Iphone-pacified Millennials and feminazis on the march.

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    1. Funny you mentioned "Baby It's Cold Outside", as last year I wrote this post about it:
      http://www.goretro.com/2016/12/why-baby-its-cold-outside-is-not-about.html

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  5. I too am having a hard time with these allegations. I first heard the allegations the day after I introduced my son to American Beauty. I wanted my son to see him in the role that created a fan out of me. My son's only experience with him was on House of Cards, which captivated me....and I'm not a huge fan of politics in general. My son was also the first person to share these allegations with me. While my son refuses to watch anything having to do with Kevin Spacey, I just can't bring myself to do it.

    I am having a hard time believing Anthony Rapp, a mediocre actor at best. Most roles he's played have been douchebags, or creeps. The only shining point I'll give him is his role in RENT, which is still one of my favorite movies. I refuse to watch ANY of his films because I see him an an opportunist, a liar, and after his acts of revenge, a complete cad.

    What I find interesting is that people compare Kevin Spacey to his role in American Beauty where he attempts to hook up with his daughter's best friend. She comes on to him, and in the end does not have sex with her. However, people seem to forget that Anthony Rapp plays a similar character in Dazed and Confused. He plays a student about to graduate high school, which would make him 18. He then pursues a love interest with a female character who is about to graduate from EIGHTH GRADE....which would make her THIRTEEN or FOURTEEN at most. To me, there is no difference and if you really were so tormented by an act of sexual assault, you don't willingly play this kind of role.

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    1. Believe it or not, I've never seen the movie "Dazed and Confused"...but what you've pointed out about the character Rapp plays in it is definitely ironic and eyebrow raising.

      No matter what become of Spacey's legacy, I believe "American Beauty" will stand the test of time and be used in film schools as an example of stellar filmmaking. No matter what people think of the character of Lester Burnham, I can tell you that through the years I've yet to meet a married guy that disliked the movie. In fact, they LOVE it and Lester Burnham, which seems revealing of what the life of the average American married male is like.

      Rapp's legacy by this point seems to be that he'll be known mostly for his allegations against Spacey and not so much his career.

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