Kobe Bryant took home an Oscar for an animated short film yesterday evening, for his short Dear Basketball, a choice some thought inappropriate given the “Time’s Up” and #MeToo themes of the 90th Academy Awards.
Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault in 2003 when a 19-year-old woman accused him of rape. The basketball star claimed the encounter was consensual, however, and the case fizzled out when the woman said she did not want to testify in court.
“As basketball players, we’re told to shut up and dribble,” Bryant said in his acceptance speech, a reference to Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who remarked that athletes should stay out of politics. “I’m glad we did a little bit more than that.”
Condemnation on Twitter was immediate, with several high-profile users casting shade on the former Los Angeles Lakers star’s win.
people say that rape allegations will ruin a man’s life but here is Kobe winning an Oscar in front of my own eyes
— Aminatou Sow (@aminatou) March 5, 2018
So we’re all just… ignoring the whole Kobe rape accusation thing I guess huh?
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) March 5, 2018
I think Kobe Bryant is an amazing basketball player. I also think he raped that girl and got away with it because he’s an amazing basketball player.
Both things can exist as the truth.
— Brenda Tracy (@brendatracy24) March 5, 2018
Let me get this straight. Last night’s theme was all about treating women with respect. So who wins an #Oscar2018? @kobebryant, who was credibly accused of rape, paid the accuser a settlement and issued her a written apology! Can’t make this up?
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) March 5, 2018
Watching the Academy hand out Oscars to alleged rapists and abusers in between all the #MeToo speeches made for some real mixed messaging.
— Maeve McDermott (@maeve_mcdermott) March 5, 2018
Another first-time Oscar winner, Gary Oldman, took home Best Actor for his performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Some on social media roped the actor into their criticism of Bryant, reminding readers that Oldman also stands accused of domestic abuse.
Oldman’s ex-wife Donya Fiorentino claimed during their divorce that Oldman choked and beat her as their small children watched, crying.
Despite Hollywood’s furious attempts to wash its hands of the bad reputation it has earned from its history of sexual misconduct, this year saw more accused men awarded Oscars than last year did.
However, James Franco was snubbed and Casey Affleck withdrew his appearance; both men have been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. Affleck won Best Actor last year.