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Sunday, January 28, 2024 

Conventions allowing actors accused of serious offenses to attend are humiliating the medium

Some may recall the scandal of actor Kevin Spacey, who's been largely blacklisted in Hollywood following accusations of sexual assault by several victims in past decades. Now, as the Hollywood Reporter's announced, he's turning up in the entertainment scene again, at a comics convention in North Carolina:
Kevin Spacey, the two-time Oscar winner who has largely avoided the public eye since his career imploded in the early days of the #MeToo era, is making moves to venture back into the public space.

The actor has booked his first comic book convention appearance, set for Feb. 16-18 at Mad Monster, the con held in Concord, North Carolina. Organizers announced Wednesday that he will be among the guests signing autographs and posing for photos. He is also in business with the company Everest Autographs, which is arranging for autograph purchases for those not attending the event in person. [...]

In addition to the career fallout, Spacey faced myriad legal troubles as well. In July, he was acquitted of sexual assault charges in the U.K. Those in his orbit say the actor feels vindicated by the verdict, while those in Hollywood say it is extremely unlikely he will ever work in the town again. The actor has spent the past few years taking roles in the low-budget indie world, where some producers have been happy to have him despite the controversy he brings.

He now joins the comic convention world
, which over the past decade has been a place where A-listers like the cast of the Avengers movies can make six figures over a weekend and bit players on old comic book shows can eke out a living. It has also been the stomping grounds for a number of controversial figures. Edward Furlong, who as a child starred as John Connor in T2: Judgment Day, faced domestic violence charges in the 2010s and has been a regular at fan conventions around the country, most recently appearing earlier this month at Fan Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider, who came under scrutiny from the Secret Service last month for posting that President Biden “should be publicly hung,” will at Mad Monster along with Spacey. Alec Baldwin, who was indicted last week on involuntary manslaughter charges related to the accidental death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on his indie Western Rust, appears Feb. 9-10 at a convention in Atlanta, only his second con appearance ever. Austin St. John, another con regular and star of the ‘90s Power Rangers TV show, is under federal indictment for alleged PPP loan fraud.

Generally, these types of bookings go unremarked upon, though there is always the risk of public backlash. When Rhode Island Comic Con booked Ferris Bueller’s Day Off actor Jeffrey Jones to appear at the November 2023 convention, they were forced to pull him from the lineup after a public outcry. (The actor pled no contest in 2003 for paying a 14-year-old boy to pose for explicit photos.)
Well let's hope there's an outrage over this latest, very ill-advised form of "casting", because to associate with people who, despite acquittals, could still be guilty of serious offenses, gives the whole convention circuit a bad name, and makes them look irresponsible. I recall there were times when sexual misconduct allegations turned up at institutions like these in the past, and when a comicon directing board invites actors with serious accusations of sexual abuse to attend and even sign autographs, that's only a confirmation they haven't learned any lessons.

News like this only makes comicons feel very discouraging to visit, and the lack of responsibility involved is only going to give them a bad name. Maybe it's time to stop buying tickets for attendance.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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