As Hollywood reels from the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, one question keeps popping up.
It is: Which powerful man in the industry will be the next to face bad P.R. or even career ruin over his own history of sexual misconduct or for helping to maintain a culture that protects predatory male behavior and conspires to silence the victims?
For the time being it looks like Ben Affleck could be the next rich and famous man to fall. Right now, he’s facing the wrath of female stars and other women who are harnessing the power of social media to call out him and other men out on their you-know-what.
On Tuesday, the “Batman” star unsuccessfully tried to atone for the sins of movie mogul Weinstein, a frequent collaborator and perhaps the man most responsible for helping to launch his lucrative career by producing and promoting 1997’s “Good Will Hunting.”
In a Facebook statement, Affleck wrote that he was “saddened and angry” by the claims of Weinstein’s systematic abuse of power. Affleck said that the “additional allegations of assault” left him feeling “sick.”
However, Affleck’s statement was viewed by many as coming way too late — nearly a week after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Weinstein were publicly revealed in the New York Times.
Actress Rose McGowan, Affleck’s co-star in the Weinstein-produced 1998 film “Phantoms,” immediately took to Twitter to call him a liar. McGowan was one of eight women revealed in the New York Times expose to have reached a settlement with Weinstein over a sexual harassment claim.
Incidentally, McGowan announced Wednesday that had her Twitter account had been suspended, after she told Affleck “f— off” in tweet, People reported. No reason has thus far been given for the suspension, which can occur if tweets have been reported to Twitter as violating the company’s “rules surrounding abuse.”
But in addition to McGowan’s tweets, social media outrage against Affleck poured in from other quarters, accompanied by replays and retweets of not one, but two, recently unearthed videos of TV appearances the actor made in 2003 and 2004.
The first clip from 2003 shows actress Hilarie Burton, then 19, claiming Affleck grabbed her breast on MTV’s “TRL.” Affleck was forced to apologize to Burton Wednesday, acknowledging on Twitter that is behavior was inappropriate, the Daily News said.
But the second video is especially cringe-worthy and could very well be Affleck’s “Access Hollywood” moment — the viral event that shows a disturbing side of a powerful man like Affleck or Donald Trump that’s hard to forget.
The video, from Montreal’s entertainment news show “Box Office,” shows Affleck nuzzling female host Anne-Marie Losique, as she sits on his lap. Affleck adopts a bizarre fake French accent, as he talks endlessly about her breasts, saying he wants her to take her top off and to get her “t—ies” out.
A little later on, Affleck does what he thinks is a funny imitation of a “retard,” or someone cerebral palsy.
Losique on Wednesday rushed to defend Affleck’s actions, telling the Hollywood Reporter he never touched her in an inappropriate way. She explained it was all just an act “for the camera.” Losique, who is known for conducting sexually suggestive interviews, makes it sounds like the two were just goofing off, playing around.
But their attempt at they might consider goofy humor is pretty gross, even by the standards of public behavior in the early 2000s.
It’s also hard to believe that Affleck’s scuzzy behavior in this interview comes from out of nowhere. In fact, it seems like it confirms what many of us have long sensed about Affleck’s persona, both as an individual and as an artist.
There’s always been something shifty and disreputable about Affleck, something disingenuous. That’s the case when he’s trying to portray himself as a good guy, a good family man, a decent movie star who uses his wealth and celebrity to support valuable causes.
That’s also the case when his industry friends like Matt Damon or George Clooney and, more unfortunately, some critics try to make the case that he’s much better filmmaker than he really is. The best picture Oscar for his good but not great directorial effort “Argo” is the best example of how his artistic reputation is inflated.
When it came to condemning Weinstein this week for his alleged sexual misconduct, Affleck probably had good reason to worry that he was on shaky ground. Hence, his delay in saying anything.
In addition to those TV clips coming back to haunt him, entertainment and culture writers have jumped in to point out the various ways that Affleck has his own questionable history when it comes to how he treats treats women or conducts his personal life.
Soon after Affleck and soon-to-be ex-wife Jenner Garner first announced in 2015 that they were ending their marriage of nearly 10 years, Affleck was reported to have had an affair with the nanny for their three children.
Garner later confirmed the affair, asserting it happened months after she and Affleck separated. Still, she said it was a painful episode for the entire family, especially their kids. She said Affleck exercised “bad judgement,” adding “It’s not great for your kids for [a nanny] to disappear from their lives.”
But in addition to the nanny affair, Affleck may have been having at least one other fling that predated his break-up with Garner. That’s with his current girlfriend, “Saturday Night Live” producer Lindsay Shookus.
While Affleck’s people have tried to put out the word that he and Shookus only began dating after he and Garner announced this past spring that they were finally divorcing, sources have told People and other outlets that Affleck and Shookus began an affair sometime in 2013, after he met her while hosting “Saturday Night Live.”
In the wake of the Weinstein revelations, both Affleck and his friend Damon tried to put out statements purporting to support victims and condemn abusers.
But another reason these statements feel disingenuous is that both men played major roles in supporting the 2016 Oscar campaign of Affleck’s younger brother Casey Affleck, according to the Daily Beast’s Amy Zimmerman.
The two were highly visible during Casey’s promotional tours for his film “Manchester by the Sea.” Damon, who produced the film, praised Casey in multiple interviews, calling Casey “one of the best actors I’ve ever met”—someone “I grew up with and loved dearly,”
Casey’s proximity to these A-list stars probably protected him as 2010 sexual harassment allegations resurfaced, Zimmerman said, citing a piece by Allie Jones for The Cut.
Two female crew members filed lawsuits in 2010, alleging Casey sexually harassed them when they worked with him on a 2009 film. The suits were eventually settled out of court under terms that neither Casey Affleck nor the women will discuss.
But Zimmerman points out why Weinstein’s scandal has proven to be a nightmare for Affleck, as well as for Damon. It reminds the public of ways the two have been quick to harness their power to protect friends and family like Casey Affleck, to be part of the culture of silence that protects predatory male behavior and silences victims.
“But when it is no longer permissible to be associated with a known abuser, they distance themselves with vague statements, performing disgust and horror, evoking their wives and daughters,” Zimmerman said.