The Time’s Up movement was the talk of Tinseltown at the 90th Academy Awards on March 4, but the audience still cheered for Kobe Bryant in spite of his 2003 rape scandal. And viewers on Twitter think the adoration is a sign of Hollywood hypocrisy.
In case you missed this year’s Oscars ceremony, the Los Angeles Lakers alum won the Best Animated Short award alongside animator Glen Keane for their film Dear Basketball, a love letter from Kobe to the sport that made him famous. The attendees at the Dolby Theatre applauded Kobe’s win, apparently forgetting or ignoring the rape accusations against the 39-year-old.
In 2003, a 19-year-old woman said Kobe raped her in his room in the Colorado hotel where she worked, per Broadly. She told police Kobe had asked her for a personal tour and then invited her to his room. Then he hugged and kissed her, she said. “Then he took off his pants,” the woman said, per police transcripts. “And that’s when I tried to back up and leave. And that’s when he started to choke me.” (According to an affidavit, the sexual assault nurse found the woman’s injuries “consistent with penetrating genital trauma.”)
Kobe initially told police he didn’t have sex with the woman, but once they told him of the physical evidence, he said they did have sex and it was consensual. After police issued an arrest warrant, the basketball star turned himself in and was released on bond.
But a year later, just before the trial was scheduled to star, the woman decided not to testify, and the criminal charges were dropped. The woman later filed a civil suit, and she and Kobe settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. He issued a public apology to her but didn’t admit guilt. “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way that I did,” he wrote in his statement. “I now understand how she sincerely feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
In the wake of the scandal, Kobe lost endorsement deals with McDonald’s and Nutella but continued his successful career. By the time he retired in 2016, he had earned $680 million.
Kelsey Bourgeois, an advocacy communications coordinator for Care2, started a petition asking the Academy to rescind Kobe’s nomination, a petition that more than 16,000 people signed. She tells Broadly the honor “sends the message that certain people are still above the rules of society.”
“There’s this very false impression that because there were allegations and court proceedings but he wasn’t convicted that he’s been acquitted, so it must be OK,” adds Jaclyn Friedman, founder of the nonprofit Women, Action & the Media.
None of the celebrities TMZ interviewed denounced Kobe’s Academy Award win, but Twitter users are certainly up in arms. See their appalled reactions below.
Hollywood: TIME'S UP
Also Hollywood: Congratulations to Oscar winner Kobe Bryant!!!
— Caroline Darya Framke (@carolineframke) March 5, 2018
On Sunday night, Hollywood sent a powerful message that time was UP…
… on Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-less years!
— Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti) March 5, 2018
So we're all just… ignoring the whole Kobe rape accusation thing I guess huh?
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) March 5, 2018
Anything inconsistent in Kobe Bryant winning an Oscar in the midst of #MeToo ?
— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) March 5, 2018
Kobe Bryant winning an Oscar is proof #MeToo hasn’t even scratched the surface.
— “Celia” (@_celia_bedelia_) March 5, 2018
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) March 5, 2018