The petition is targeted at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that presents the Oscars, and demands that the Academy “rescind this nomination because Kobe Bryant is a known rapist.”
The sexual assault to which people are referring to happened in 2003, when Bryant visited the Cordillera spa and resort in Edwards, Colorado. Here is a summar of the story, as recounted by The Hollywood Reporter:
A 19-year-old female concierge brought Kobe to his room. He asked her to return later to give him a tour of the hotel. She did so. At the end of the tour, he asked her to enter his room. She did. She said there was flirtation and consensual kissing. When he began groping her, she said, she tried to get away. He grabbed her by the neck, and she feared for her life. He bent her over a chair and removed her panties. She said twice that she begged him to stop but he penetrated her anyway. She left about five minutes later. Her clothes were messed up. She was upset. There was blood on her panties and on his shirt. That blood matched her DNA.
She told a friend at the hotel about the incident, and he drove her home. She told her mother. The next day, she went to the police. She was examined in a hospital, and a nurse recorded that she had a bruise on her neck and lacerations on her vaginal wall. The nurse deemed the lacerations to be evidence of rape. Charges were filed, and the case followed a predictable path: Lawyers were hired, the defendant claimed sex was consensual, the victim was portrayed by the defense as a mentally ill slut who just wanted to be famous, another woman who said that the defendant did the same thing to her refused to testify after seeing how the victim was smeared, the victim received a settlement and didn’t testify, and the criminal case was dropped.
Whether the Academy takes any action remains to be seen, but what cannot be denied is that the Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch has proven itself to be oblivious to everything that has happened in the United States over the last few months. The branch nominated a whopping three films that have executive producers accused of serious incidents of sexual harassment and/or assault; besides Bryant, Disney-Pixar’s John Lasseter is the exec producer of the nominated feature Coco and the short Lou, a situation that has caused a headache for Pixar employees who are trying to distance themselves from their studio’s creative chief.
For now, the animation community as a whole seems to be treading carefully on its handling of the Bryant situation, perhaps out of respect to Dear Basketball’s other nominee, Glen Keane, who is an iconic figure of Hollywood animation – and a decent person to boot. The discomfort around this story was evident when the community’s longest continually published industry rag, Animation Magazine, printed a piece yesterday about the Bryant petition, only to delete it entirely from their website today. (The cached version of the piece is still online.)
If anything, the last few months have shown that a “head in the sand” approach no longer works when it comes to harassment and assault in Hollywood. Though Academy members seem to not have any problems with nominating questionable men for their awards, audiences may yet have the final word.