Last night, March 4th, the 90th Annual Academy Awards honored the best of cinema in 2018. And former Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant was among the winners when he was honored for his animated short film “Dear Basketball.” But many people were upset with Bryant’s Oscar nomination due to past rape allegations against him, and one online petition even called for the Academy to revoke it.
The backlash to Bryant’s Oscar was the result of rape allegations brought against the basketball player in 2003. The case, in which a 19-year-old hotel worker claimed that Bryant raped her in a resort in Colorado, was originally scheduled to be tried in court, but a week before the trial, the accuser called it off. Bryant later settled the case in 2005. Although he acknowledged that he had sex with his accuser, he maintained that it was consensual.
In January, after Bryant’s nomination was announced, an online petition called for his removal from the list of nominees, and it gained more than 16,000 signatures. The petition called out the Academy for nominating Bryant despite the accusations.
Following Bryant’s win, several lamented the Academy’s hypocrisy in refusing to nominate alleged sexual harasser James Franco while still rewarding Bryant. USA Today’s Maeve McDermott wrote in response to the former basketball player’s win that “the Oscars sent a clear message to its problematic men on Sunday that their time may not be up just yet.”
Twitter users were upset about Bryant’s win, too:
While the 2018 Oscars did a better job of barring men accused of sexual harassment or assault than in years past, we still wish Bryant had been subject to the same amount of scrutiny in determining who would be nominated. With plenty of deserving actors and directors who still haven’t won an Oscar, the Academy has no reason to reward accused sexual predators. We need to take accusations of sexual harassment and assault seriously and holding the accused accountable. We hope the Academy will do better in the future.