A well-placed source told me recently that late last year the BBC pulled plans to show the Oscar-winning film American Beauty on BBC1. Why? Because it stars Kevin Spacey, who had at that point just been accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour.
Spacey, who is now seeking treatment for his problems, has not been convicted in court of any of the offences levelled at him but the BBC seems to have decided it must shield licence fee payers from works of fiction he has appeared in anyway. No film involving Spacey has been broadcast by the BBC – or any other terrestrial TV channel – for months.
The same goes for Woody Allen. In 1992 he was accused of sexually molesting his adopted daughter, Dylan. A months-long investigation ensued resulting in a state prosecutor saying he would not pursue any charges against the star. Yet because these unsubstantiated claims resurfaced recently, no non-subscription TV channel has shown any of his films.
The decision effectively to ban certain artists from the airwaves on the strength of nothing more than a moral judgment is how the ‘Me Too’ Movement is affecting You Too.
In this new age of censorship, I now wonder whether any terrestrial channel will ever show a film directed by or starring Spacey or Allen again. This would mean the BBC and other broadcasters forbidding artistic material because they think they should. They are unable to separate an artist’s work from their alleged behaviour. This sets a very dangerous precedent.
When asked about their policy on showing the films of Spacey and Allen, a BBC spokesman told me: ‘We make decisions on a case by case basis according to editorial guidelines.’
This is not encouraging.
ITV said pretty much the same thing, adding that it has not shown a Spacey film recently and does not plan to do so.