The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Pedophilia accusations against an actor – reason not to show a movie?

with 21 comments

abbathemovie

They want to stop us from showing the movie!”

The woman looked concerned, but her voice was determined.

“I’m not going to let that happen.”

I was at the brand new Abba museum when I overheard this conversation yesterday.

I had walked through most of the museum, or rather danced my way through it, with a huge smile on my face. Abba music has that effect on me: it makes me happy and bouncy. That’s how I’m wired after all those years.

Now I was standing in the room with the costume exhibition, staring in wonder at all their outfits, which left nothing to wish for in terms of imagination.

The woman caught my attention as she was talking about the exhibition in front of a small group of people. Judging from the knowledge she displayed she appeared to work there. I was confused at first; I hadn’t heard about any arrangements with guided tours. But then I noticed that the four or five people she was talking to all took notes. They behaved as if they were reporters rather than ordinary visitors. In fact this must be a press tour of some sort, which made sense since the museum had opened for the public as late as the day before.

I’m a notoriously curios person, so I tuned my ears to pick up more of what she said, while I stared intensely at a particularly extravagant dress, as if I wanted to figure out how to make a copy of it for myself.

The movie that someone wanted to stop was Lasse Hallström’s Abba: The Movie. This is mostly a documentary about the band’s touring in Australia (where Abba were immensely popular). It also has an additional coating which is fictional: a story about a made-up reporter who tries to get an interview with the band. They show the film non-stop at the Abba museum, in the small, built-in theatre.

The woman had just learned that someone (unclear who, but it sounded as if it was someone with influence) had told the museum to stop screening the movie immediately.

“There have been accusations about pedophilia against the actor who plays the reporter who chases them. So now they say that we can’t show it. I’m going to make some phone calls. I’m going to sort this out. We can’t erase him and pretend he didn’t exist. It would be to lie about history.”

I was on the verge of speaking up. I wanted to her about who the person was that just had called her and requested the movie to be redrawn. But I pushed back the idea. I wasn’t here as a journalist and I wasn’t invited to their party. I was just an ordinary visitor, snooping around.

In my mind however I was on her side. The idea to stop the movie for this reason is ridiculous.

Imagine a world where we made it a rule not to show movies if there’s someone in it who has made something criminal or otherwise appalling. No more Joan Crawford movies; she was accused of child abuse. Never watch a Polanski film again. Not to speak of all actors in the past who have beaten their spouses or been involved in drug businesses.

We have courts to handle crimes and punishment. That’s what they’re for. We don’t need erratic spontaneous boycott actions against movies. A movie production involves hundreds of people, is it fair to punish all of them because of the deeds of one person?

Besides I can’t imagine the suspected child molester cares the slightest whether a movie from 1977 is screened or not in a museum in Stockholm. All you would accomplish by stopping it is to piss off thousands of Abba fans.

The woman from the museum said she was going to make some phone calls. I hope they’ll be successful.

Written by Jessica

May 10, 2013 at 12:13 am

21 Responses

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  1. That sounds pretty random. as you say, we probably couldn’t watch anything nor consume anything in general, if the integrity of every single person involved in a product was a criteria…if you start doing this, you’d have to be consequent about it.

    Syl (@Gypsy_Syl)

    May 10, 2013 at 12:20 am

    • Considering how long the text credits are nowadays it would be a nightmare. There would be hundreds, not to ay thousands of people to keep track of.

      Btw: you need to go to this museum if you come to Stockholm!

      Jessica

      May 10, 2013 at 12:27 am

  2. I know I return to this quote a lot:

    ‘With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured…the first thought forbidden…the first freedom denied–chains us all irrevocably.’

    Though I think it still applies to this. Yes if you have to run credentials for everybody make every piece of media, or involved in it’s process, especially things done -after- filming. Then it becomes a sad state indeed.

    To play devil’s advocate a bit though, if this person is getting royalties from the movie, by watching it/showing it you could be inadvertently be paying the lawyer fees or even for the lifestyle of someone you really don’t want to support. (I don’t believe this personally but I think it could be an argument, the same way I’ll support people with money, I may want to -not- support people with money as well.) The question then becomes, how much of a stake/livelihood is this person going to get from people -seeing- the movie.

    • Well… I guess this could be a possible to consider if the pedophile is an artist, like a singer. You might just lose your apatite for the music and you may not want to support the artist financially. But to start boycotting movies because a support actor is suspected for a crime… that’s really over the top.

      Jessica

      May 10, 2013 at 7:10 am

  3. No more Michael Jackson songs either, which would be a sad world. Of course, the idea of acting on accusations rather than convictions is especially troubling, not that I’d support a ban even with a conviction. Of course, the censorship is only the surface issue hiding the equally problematic willingness for people to dehumanize pedophiles.

    Bondo

    May 10, 2013 at 3:27 am

    • Yes, from what I got from the webs he’s not even convicted (but I might be behind on news, this is the first time I even hear about this thing.) And more people should watch The Woodsman!

      Jessica

      May 10, 2013 at 7:15 am

      • And a world (and christmas) with no Phil Spector songs would also be a sad, sad world.

        I have the The Woodsman in my movie collection by the way and the choice to have a pedophile in a kind of protagonist role really interests me and I will see it soon.

        It´s a shame movies doesn’t tell thoughtful stories about disliked people in our society. The Assassination of Richard Nixon (not a “pedophile movie” though) is such a good story just because it tells about such a sad human fate in a very humane way.

        Except Fear Filmblogg

        May 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm

        • It’s a great little movie, sadly very little known. I haven’t heard about The Assassination of Richard Nixon but I’ll take that as a tip to see it.

          Jessica

          May 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm

          • Yeah, and “Assassination of..” is a movie that deserves more recognition. In my opinion Sean Penns best acting work. Interesting character.

            Except Fear Filmblogg

            May 10, 2013 at 5:45 pm

  4. That’s just ridiculous. I see that epic overreactions aren’t just something that happens in my country (the U.S.)

    Chip Lary

    May 10, 2013 at 4:12 am

    • It’s possible that the pressure not to show the movie came from abroad. I got the feeling that the phone call she had received might have come from Australia. But I’m not sure. I wish I’d been in the group of reporters!

      This said: we have a lot of overreactions to various issues these days. Don’t get me started on it. The lack of tolerance about just anything, the urge to call out the slightest thing to be inappropriate for political reasons is starting go get at me.

      Jessica

      May 10, 2013 at 7:12 am

  5. I agree with her as well, Jessica. That is such an unfair excuse to censor a film.

    On another note: ABBA museum? Awesome.

    fernandorafael

    May 10, 2013 at 8:07 am

    • The museum really is awesome. I’m glad that something movie related came up so I could talk about it at my blog. It opened just a couple of days ago. I really enjoyed my visit there and this isn’t something I’m paid to say. 🙂

      Jessica

      May 10, 2013 at 8:20 am

  6. Quite the minefield this topic and a particularly timely one with all sorts of crap happening here in the UK at the moment. I’m with you on this one though; just because someone is suspected of wrongdoing isn’t enough to warrant pulling a film. The Beatles took drugs – technically illegal and not great role models or anything – should we stop listening to their music? Some people like to be outraged for the sake of it sometimes I think.

    • Ah yeah you’ve got your TV stars. I’ve only been following it on a distance, but it appears strange how this has been able to go on for so many years under some kind of cover-up operation.

      I think the reason why people come up with stupid ideas like not screening a movie 35 years after it was made because it turns out that one person appearing in it is a suspected criminal is that they’re rightfully appalled at the crimes. And since they’re so upset about them they want to channel this wrath by doing something, anything. It’s just that this partiular action isn’t a particularly good one. If you want to support the fight against child abuse, you can for instance contribute to organisations that work with those issues.

      Jessica

      May 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

      • Yeah totally. There are so many more effective ways of making a difference, especially over topics that, rightfully, people are very passionate about. I wonder how many films or other pieces of art/entertainment would need to be taken out of public consumption if this kind of thing was the norm?

        • Countless I’m afraid. So many people are involved in a movie production. You have to assume there will be people who have done criminal things in such a big group of people.

          Jessica

          May 10, 2013 at 10:59 am

  7. I had the same doubts after reading through the Ender’s Game books (Card is no pedophile but he’s strongly against homosexuality). I’m pretty sure the same discussion will start again once the movie is out. In the end, I decided that it’s a great book, no matter who wrote it.

    carrandas

    May 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    • As long as his bigotted views aren’t reflected in the books he writes I wouldn’t refrain from reading him for that reason. Think about it. What do we know about artists in the past and their views. What if Mozart was bigotted too? Should that cause you to hate his symphonies? No, that’s a path I don’t want to walk.

      Jessica

      May 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm

  8. Heavens, what are we to think of Wagner then? One of the more vile composers, whose work was used to further the vilest of ends – but whose music is still wonderful. Also not to mention that accusations are not evidence of actual wrongdoing. Talk about injustices – to everyone else involved too. If the chap is found guilty then surely any revenue he gets from the showing of the film can be redirected so he does not profit.

    On the other side – me very envious. A visit to Stockholm is a must in the next few years.

    stnylan

    May 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    • You should definitely check it out. I really enjoyed the museum. Even if it’s fairly small, there’s still a lot of stuff in it, things to do and listen to and learn. And hopefully it will keep showing the movie.

      Jessica

      May 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm


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