By Jessica Parra
America’s latest bout of high-profile political and celebrity scandals presents a disgusting trend growing more and more common in American society – our willingness to completely ignore the victim.
The words Herman Cain, Penn State, and even, heaven forbid, Angelina Jolie all invoke a sense of outrage from popular culture, but what exactly is the outrage?
With Herman Cain, we are obsessed with the fact that past allegations might and probably should completely derail his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. At every turn, he seemingly proves himself to be more and more dishonest and suspect, claiming in the first place not to know about any settlements. Then he acknowledged that he knew about the settlements, but in his own words, had never settled on sexual harassment claims “outside of the National Restaurant Association”….as if. Cain’s later admissions resulted in his own unintended waiver of confidentiality regarding these settlements, allowing the women in the settlements to come forward and speak in very specfic detail about what happened to them. One would think that this would be the focus of conversation about Cain – what, exactly, he allegedly did to these women. Instead, what we get is even more conversation about Cain and what a jerk he is and how he shouldn’t be president and how he is a sexist and bla bla bla. Do we even know the names of the victims? Do their names come up in our conversations? Do the details of their allegations get more than a soundbyte? Not usually.
With Penn State, we are obsessed with the way Joe Paterno was fired and how we feel about the reactions of the students who vehemently defend the coaches, the institution, and or the athletes. In the meantime, there are 8 children that were raped. Again – EIGHT CHILDREN were RAPED. Should we be talking about that? Or should we be talking about how sad it is that now Penn State students might have to be ashamed of their alma mater? Should we be obsessed with whether and how what happened to these children is going to affect them for the rest of their lives, and how the society that allowed this to happen to them is now even more responsible for doing everything it can to bring Sandusky to justice and, even more, to somehow try to make these children whole again, or at least less broken? Or should we be talking about how Joe Paterno is a great guy who “made a mistake”?
I mention Angelina Jolie because she has a movie coming out this winter about a love story between a Bosnian woman and a Serbian man during the Bosnian war and genocide. The details of the plot have been controversial – not in America of course because we would never criticize the queen of all celebrities – but in Bosnia, due to the fact that Bosnian war and genocide survivors, mostly female, have strongly objected to the story since, reportedly, the Bosnian woman in the film falls in love with her male Serbian rapist. Angelina Jolie urges us not to judge the film until we see it, and it’s unclear whether this is exactly what the film is about, but the Bosnian government revoked Jolie’s filming permit due to their offense at this alleged plot and Jolie was forced to film the rest of the movie in Budapest and stage it as Sarajevo. Now, if female Bosnian war survivors are objecting to a plot about a female Bosnian war survivor, it seems clear that the film is probably going to be horribly offensive and inaccurate as far as they are concerned. Will Americans flock to it anyways? Yes. Will Jolie be lambasted in American culture for what will potentially be a tasteless and exploitative portrayal of, as she explains it, “how human relationships and behavior are deeply affected by living inside a war?” No. Why? Because Americans couldn’t care less about the victims.