Why Netflix Made The Right Decision With Kevin Spacey
What do Lester Burnham, John Doe, and Frank Underwood all have in common? Yes, they’re all characters portrayed by actor Kevin Spacey, but let’s look a little deeper. Lester Burnham, the main character in American Beauty, is a middle-aged man in typical America suburbia, who develops a strange crush on his daughter’s teenaged friend. He spends the whole movie fantasizing about her, and trying to impress her so she’ll get with him. Creepy, right?
John Doe (spoiler alert), is the sadistic killer that Spacey portrays in Se7en, where his character commits murders throughout the film based on the seven deadly sins. He leads two detectives on a wild chase to discover who is guilty of these murders, only to commit one final heinous crime in the end of the film directly impacting one of the detectives. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know the “what’s in the box?!” reference.
Lastly, you have Frank Underwood, the twisted politician from House of Cards that Spacey has won a Golden Globe for. (Spoilers ahead!) Underwood has an affair with a young journalist, kills her, and steps on anyone who gets in his way all throughout the five seasons of the Netflix original show. And that’s just to name one incident on the show where Underwood shows who he truly is.
Not only are these men all characters portrayed by Kevin Spacey but they’re all heinous, villainous men; how did Spacey play these characters so well? Maybe it’s because his real-life personality isn’t too far off from someone who preys on other people.
I have to admit, I was a fan of Spacey before these recent allegations came out that he too, along with Harvey Weinstein, has committed sexual assault against more than one young person. I loved his movies and I was among one of several people who binged each season of House of Cards right when it was available to stream; I was so impressed with the show mostly because of Spacey’s acting. He seemed like a genius actor playing a scummy guy. Now I can’t help but think that he’s so good at it because of who he is as a person.
Comparing Spacey to his character in Se7en or even House of Cards may be a stretch; Spacey didn’t kill anyone but looking at his character in American Beauty, it turns out the real Kevin Spacey isn’t too different from that of Lester Burnham. Burnham preys on a teenaged girl, while Spacey apparently has a history of preying on teenaged boys.
The allegations began when actor Anthony Rapp was interviewed for a Buzzfeed article in late October, where he described an incident that occurred in 1986 where Spacey sexually assaulted Rapp. At the time, Rapp was only 14 years old.
Since then, numerous others have come out with similar allegations against Spacey. Not only have they claimed sexual assault, but others have claimed that Spacey has a history of making inappropriate and uncomfortable remarks to male employees on the sets of films. House of Cards employees have alleged that Spacey regularly made the television set very hostile for men working there.
On the same day that Rapp’s comments were published in the Buzzfeed article, Spacey took to twitter to address the allegations. In his tweet, Spacey claimed to not remember the incident that Rapp describes as happening, but did apologize for it. He then came out as gay.
As a follower of Spacey on twitter, his tweet shocked me. This guy is using allegations against him that he sexually assaulted someone to come out as gay? To me, it just seemed like the wrong place and wrong time. I certainly was not the only one who thought negatively about this, as Dan Savage, Richard Lawson and Rose McGowan all had their opinions about Spacey’s timing, and took to twitter to do so.
Netflix has also made their opinions on these allegations very clear, as they decided to end House of Cards after season six, which is currently in production right now. The final season is expected to come out sometime in 2018. I think this was a good move on Netflix’s part; as much as I love the show, and lots of others do as well, it’s better to cut ties with an actor who may have sexually assaulted young boys in the past then keep him around to make money on a show that I don’t think would’ve had as big of a viewership anymore. It’s fitting to hold him responsible for his actions; kind of ironic since Frank Underwood gets away with a lot of illegal actions on the show.
It is being widely speculated among fans how the show will end, with predictions of an assassination being a very popular guess. Will Frank Underwood really be killed off to end the show? Where will that leave his wife, Claire and the rest of his Cabinet? There also have been rumors of possible spin-offs to the show, one of the more popular options being to focus on Doug Stamper, Underwood’s Chief of Staff. As much as this could work out, I can’t help but think how different the show would be without Spacey. However, it’s probably better off this way.
In the meantime, more and more allegations continue to come out against the actor, which is disappointing to me, to say the least. American Beauty was one of the first movies that had a huge impact on me, with its deeper meaning focusing on the beauty of the simple things in life. Before knowing the allegations against Spacey, I was able to watch the movie with that message in mind, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see it that way anymore. Unfortunately now, American Beauty will be a sad reminder to me that there are lots of Lester Burnhams out there, and that the man who portrays him is one of them.