The MeToo cancellation of Kevin Spacey is receiving new scrutiny in the wake of dropped Nantucket sexual assault charges against the celebrated actor. The case collapsed after the accuser–in light of claims he and his family tampered with evidence– abandoned his civil lawsuit and pleaded the 5th in criminal court.
Though the eventual accusations against Spacey at the height of MeToo were plentiful, the star’s unprecedented erasure (first from House of Cards and then—literally–from the film All The Money In The World) turned on the word of his first alleged victim–a little known 47-year-old actor who claimed Spacey sexually assaulted him 33 years before—when the actor was 14 and—in the eyes of a public still reeling from Weinstein —merely a child.
Most of us are now familiar with that actor’s name: Anthony Rapp.
And, most of us are now familiar with BuzzFeed, the online news tabloid which gained considerable notoriety for publishing Rapp’s explosive claim.
Few, however, know the journalist whose piece would forever alter the course of Kevin Spacey’s life–a piece that now appears, upon review, to contain assertions (and omissions) that seriously call into question Rapp’s motives and maturity at the time of the alleged incident.
In fact, it turns out the journalist who conducted the Rapp interview was not, in fact, a journalist at all but a gay activist—one intent (with his long-time friend and fellow activist Rapp) on bringing down a high-profile, A-list Hollywood, homosexual actor for the crime of living in the Glass Closet.
That A-lister: Kevin Spacey. The activist responsible for conspiring with Rapp on Spacey’s spectacular takedown: BuzzFeed’s Adam B. Vary.
For, without Vary’s article, there would have been no 14-year-old child (speaking through Rapp’s 47-year-old voice) for the abruptly outed Spacey to publicly contend with–no underage molestation charge for the Oscar and Tony winner–under intense pressure from a public incensed by Weinsten–to respond to. With no underage molestation charge, there would have been no disastrously timed, self-outing apology from Spacey on Twitter—two paragraphs and 176 words that went viral and nearly instantaneously sealed the Oscar-winner’s fate.
Had there been no “child rape” charge against Spacey, it follows that–even at MeToo’s pinnacle–many of those who accused the Oscar and Tony-winner of harassment might have chosen not to come forward. The star might not have been cancelled at all. He might have survived to fight another day—as Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman did their MeToo scandals and Congressman Barney Frank did his gay-prostitution scandal (and, of course, fictional president Underwood his failed assassination attempt on House of Cards.)
But what if Spacey deserved his cancellation, you say. The things he is accused of–child rape–are despicable. Well, let’s delve carefully into the facts of the matter.
By now, Rapp’s account (which Spacey claims not to remember due to heavy drinking) is well known. At a Broadway after-party at Spacey’s apartment, Spacey–then 26 and debuting in Long Day’s Journey Into Night–is alleged to have attempted, while drunk, to mount the 14-year-old Rapp, then appearing in the play Precious Sons as actor Ed Harris’s son.
But what if Rapp’s charge—which set-up Spacey’s calamitous, coming-out admission (which in turn unleashed the tornado that would result in the Netflix star’s banishment) was false? Or at least so exaggerated (or conflated with fictional elements) as to make it essentially untrue? Does it matter, now that the general public has been led to believe, via Rapp’s claim (facilitated by Vary) that Spacey is a child abuser and that his cancellation was justified?
I say it does matter. And so, I ask: what if Rapp conflated the mounting his Precious Sons character underwent nightly on a Broadway stage 33 years prior (that’s right, mounting–by way of Harris’s drunk father character) with the mounting Rapp claims he endured at the hand of a drunken Spacey? And what if this conflation (purposeful or otherwise) was then used by Rapp three decades later to:
- Avenge a long-standing grudge against Spacey for being a superior actor—one who, unlike the publicly “out” Rapp, chose to live his personal life inside the Glass Closet, and
- Boost his own flagging career at the expense of a star he resented—a star who would stumble mightily (and fatally) into what was essentially a trap laid for him by Rapp and Vary?
To be certain, any gay actor striving to be a Hollywood A-lister (and Spacey was that) cannot be faulted for choosing to remain inside the Glass Closet. Until procreation is separated from heterosexual sex entirely, audiences are certain to remain overwhelmingly straight. And that means–for a vast majority of viewers–the act of watching a publicly gay male performer woo a publicly straight female one has the very real potential to take that viewer out of the viewing experience. In fact, the entertainment industry has made it clear: they believe this overwhelming majority will only accept public gayness in actors playing exclusively gay roles (or secondary, non-sexual roles) but not in gay actors playing leading, sexual, non-gay roles.
Think what you will about the politics of this belief–I suspect it is true.
As a consequence, gay actors should be able to choose to live gay (just not publicly) in order to play all parts. And lovers of great cinema/theatre should be able to watch great actors play all parts—including great actors who happen to be gay–actors like Kevin Spacey.
Courtesy of Vary, we now know Rapp had attempted years prior to implicate Spacey for the same alleged incident but that the publication (The Advocate) refused to name Spacey on the grounds that doing so would “out” the Netflix star.
Though this might be considered evidence Rapp did not seize on MeToo opportunistically, it could also mean Rapp simply wished to punish Spacey then (for being a superior actor and closeted) and then later sought to jumpstart his own career via the take-down of a star suddenly made vulnerable by a climate considerably more sympathetic to “victims.”
Of course, questions regarding the above should have been put to Rapp by Vary at the time Vary conducted the original interview or–at the least–as Vary readied the interview for publication. As previously stated, journalists and their publishers have a duty to carefully question statements that have the potential to destroy a public figure’s career prior to publishing them. Should Mr. Vary have hewed more closely in his piece to facts he casual alludes to –only to discount as immaterial–he might have uncovered the following:
- In the play Precious Sons, Ed Harris’s character lifts and carries Rapp’s character as a bridegroom does a bride. In Rapp and Vary’s BuzzFeed piece, Rapp claims Spacey picked him up “like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold.”
The above photo–which Vary clearly included to cement his point that Rapp, at 14, was an innocent child–is the most damning piece of evidence in disputation of Rapp’s account. For Rapp to state that Spacey lifted and carried him like a bride but not to allude–in any way–to the play Rapp was appearing in at the time (where Harris carried Rapp like a bride) appears to be clear evidence Rapp has conflated the play and the incident with Spacey–both of which occurred over three decades prior.
- In Precious Sons, Ed Harris’s character drunkenly (and unsuccessfully) attempts to mount Rapp’s character—who he mistakes for his wife. In Rapp and Vary’s Buzzfeed claim, Spacey—drunk–attempts to mount Rapp but is unsuccessful.
The above seems more evidence Rapp conflated events in Precious Sons with his Spacey claim. Vary, of course, argues that the only significance of the Precious Sons drunken mounting was that Rapp was acclimated to male mounting–the implication being that Rapp was defenseless to Spacey’s violence. But this spin by Vary (on a damaging and incredible coincidence) seeks to obscure a much more plausible explanation: that Rapp conflated his account of what happened 33 years before because he was mounted nightly in the play by Harris, who looked remarkably like Spacey did at the time, and who lifted, carried and deposited Rapp’s character on stage in the same way Rapp now alleges Spacey lifted, carried and deposited Rapp in Spacey’s bedroom.
Perhaps most damningly, Rapp’s own memoir Without You includes a section that details a sexual encounter Rapp at 14 had with a man over 18, during which Rapp achieves orgasm. Incredibly, this incident (technically statutory rape) occurred when Rapp was the same age he was when he alleged Spacey assaulted him. Rapp even recorded an audiotape retelling of the incident which ends with Rapp climaxing while intoning “I was going to come soon! I was going to come soon!” (A link to that audiotape, can be found here.)
Rapp is quoted by Vary as saying “…the older I get, the more I can’t believe it. I could never imagine [that] anyone else I know would do something like that to a 14-year-old boy.” This, after Rapp’s committed to audiotape an incident in which, at which at 14, he let a man over 18 perform fellatio on him and ejaculated. It’s obvious why Vary chose not to mention Without You in the piece that brought about Spacey’s calamitous fall.
- In Precious Sons, there is ample, highly sexual and suggestive language and situations–material Rapp would have had to have understood to play his role as he did. In Rapp and Vary’s claim, there is the implication that Rapp was an innocent–a mere “child”–at the time of the alleged incident.
Rapp drew raves in Precious Sons, a play that included material that would be considered way too raunchily politically-incorrect for today’s audiences. Also, Rapp, at 14, was playing a younger character on stage in Precious Sons–so the fact he looks younger than his years (angelic and innocent) in photos is misleading. In the Vary piece, Rapp admits to going clubbing, taking the subway alone back and forth to work and staying five hours unsupervised at a party for grownups (allegedly at Spacey’s)–all at 14. That Rapp’s parents allowed this speaks to the fact that their son was a mature, sophisticated and hardy young man–hardly a delicate flower in need of constant protection.
There’s also the odd fact that Rapp claims he retreated directly to the bathroom after rebuffing Spacey’s advance at the party. Why does he not just leave the apartment? In the bathroom, Rapp allegedly sees a picture of Spacey with another man and then–only then–concludes Spacey is gay. Of course, we know the professional theater–then, as now–includes many gay individuals. At 14, Rapp was one himself–though, like many, not yet “out”. The belief it took a photo of Spacey with a man for a youth past puberty–one who had consensual sexual relations with an adult that same year–to ascertain Spacey was (likely) gay strains all credulity.
Clearly, the above instances of the play mirroring Rapp’s claim (made 33 years later) call into question both Rapp’s veracity and maturity at the time of the alleged incident. Rapp’s long, public life outside the closet (and Spacey’s within)—along with the pair’s variance in professional status (Spacey an A-lister, Rapp a C-lister) raise serious questions about Rapp’s possible motives in bringing such a charge.
In the projects he’s best known for (Rent and Star-Trek Discovery), Rapp’s characters are gay. In fact, he’s not taken seriously but as an actor of gay parts. Long an LGBTQ activist, Rapp now publicly advocates for the LGBTQ community from a public platform constructed almost entirely out of his status as a victim of Spacey–a status and platform largely enabled by his friend and fellow LGBTQ activist Vary.
Vary has a long history himself as a fervent LGBTQ activist. He has long reported for BuzzFeed on subjects like pride and queerness and recently took a leading role in the Kevin Hart Oscar controversy (Vary was among the first–and most vocal–of LGBTQ activists to demand Oscar’s board fire Hart for decades old tweets disparaging gays.)
That Vary’s LGBTQ activist views got in the way of his reporter’s duty to properly question the allegation by Rapp–his friend and fellow activist–seems plain. As a result, the public was manipulated into deleting a great artist–largely for the crime of refusing to be pigeonholed into only playing gay parts (and—yes–for likely sexually harassing some he worked with—but likely raping none). And a mediocre artist playing an identitarian supporting part in the latest StarTrek reboot was elevated by a social justice mob to a prominent, public role as a victim-hero.
Surely, Vary owes the general public—especially, the cancelled Mr. Spacey–the journalistic objectivity he failed to provide the first time around–when the writer’s carefully crafted “hit piece” was constructed, in the frenzy of MeToo, to do as much damage to Spacey as possible.
As for Rapp, his punishment–should he have deliberately conflated decades-old memories to settle a grudge and boost his career–may simply be the struggle to sleep at night, as there’s little chance the Star Trek Discovery actor would ever recant. For in recanting, Rapp would almost certainly cancel a mediocre career built on the erasure of a great one.
–Nitram Nosirrag is a pseudonymous writer living in Oakland California. Nitram has no personal or professional connection to the actor Kevin Spacey nor to any of Mr. Spacey’s representatives or associates. Contact Nitram on Twitter @nitramnosirrag or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.