El Paisano

Amazon, You Need to Take “Cosby” Off Prime Video Right Now

Courtesy of Atomix

Courtesy of Atomix

Michael Khuraibet, Digital Editor-in-Chief

Someone at Amazon missed a very important memo. One week ago, Bill Cosby was convicted of sexual assault. Earlier today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to expel Cosby and Roman Polanski, another convicted rapist. Yet inexplicably, three of Cosby’s television shows are still available for streaming on Amazon Prime. And Polanski’s film “The Ninth Gate” is on HBO Now.

Why? Seriously, why? Who still wants to watch the work of men convicted of rape? I’m not in the TV/film business, but there can’t possibly be a market for that. In the #MeToo era, where powerful Hollywood men are finally starting to be punished for their sins, decisions like Amazon’s are not appealing.

I recommend Amazon take a page from the Netflix playbook. Netflix has a history of dropping celebrities when scandals come to light. In 2014, Netflix was smart enough to drop Cosby once the allegations against him became widespread. Mind you, that happened before Cosby even commented on the allegations. Late last year, Netflix dropped comedian Louis C.K.’s library of work after accusations of misconduct arose. The same goes for Kevin Spacey, who got fired from House of Cards last year once assault allegations came up. As of today, though, C.K.’s specials and all of Spacey’s episodes are available to stream.

Many would argue that there is a world of difference between C.K.’s and Cosby’s actions. C.K. admitted to “misconduct,” whereas Cosby was convicted of assault. The issue is that there is no clear method of punishment for people who commit these acts.

As an audience, we like to separate an artist from their art. Woody Allen, for instance, is still making movies that people adore. Some forget he’s been accused of child molestation (a claim Allen denies). Allen never faced charges for his accusations. He said in a New York Times Op-Ed, “…any rational person would see the ploy for what it was.” Two of his films are currently on Netflix.

Even as I write this, the New York Times has literally just put out that the Nobel Prize for Literature will not be awarded due to a sex abuse scandal. The lines that divide the punishments for different celebrity crimes are skewered beyond legibility. Should we cut ties with the abusers altogether? Do we put them on time out for a little while? Can we just keep our heads buried six feet underground like we’ve been doing?

What is stopping us from having that discussion?

If I haven’t made this clear, the actions of the men listed above are indefensible. But the problem isn’t just the industry. The problem is equally actions of people like them, but also our society’s perpetuation of similar actions. TV and film are businesses. In a free market, a business thrives based on what the consumer demands.

Woody Allen puts out films every year, and people keep going to see them. The message that sends is that audiences are okay with some forms of abuse, but not other forms. If we just stop going, then guess what? There won’t be another one next year. Then maybe we’ll start to think about who deserves our money, our love, and our trust.

With services like Amazon Prime and Netflix, though, it’s different. Their business doesn’t just sell the show, but the platform the show is watched on. That means that whatever content is vetted for streaming is their responsibility. You pay for all of their content, whether you like it or not. And when brands as big as Amazon give people like Bill Cosby their seal of approval, that says something about them that maybe we ought to stay away from.

 

 

 

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Amazon, You Need to Take “Cosby” Off Prime Video Right Now