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