As Hollywood weeds out its many sexual predators, a number of films or TV shows have developed a slimy aftertaste. Do you think back fondly on media like Ocean’s 11 or Mad Men? Bad news. Both have men attached who’ve been accused of sexual misconduct. Wading through these which of these predators are attached to specific projects can be exhausting, but a new website called Rotten Apples aims to bear some of that burden.
It provides a database users can search to find out if cast members, screenwriters, executive producers, or directors on specific projects have been attached to sexual misconduct. If a movie or show has a known offender attached — like I Love You, Daddy (Louis C.K.), or Baby Driver (Kevin Spacey), the site will return the film marked “rotten apples” with a link to a news story. If it’s in the clear, it’s marked as “fresh apples.”
The database includes more than just current films. Searching for The Godfather (1972), for example, notes “rotten apple” Marlon Brando, while Shakespeare in Love (1998) returns Geoffrey Rush, Ben Affleck, Harvey Weinstein, and Bob Weinstein. The database won’t allow you to search by specific people, however, and It also doesn’t seem to include actors who have been accused of physical assault. Pirates of the Caribbean will return Rush, for example, but there’s no mention of Johnny Depp, whose ex Amber Heard has accused him of physical and verbal abuse.
In an interview with The New York Times, co-creator Annie Johnston told the publication that “every day, there’s more and more allegations that are coming to light, it’s really important that we don’t tune out and normalize this.” Co-creator Tal Wagman said it was meant as an informational tool to make “ethical media consumption decisions” and not as a condemnation of entire projects.
But the question of the degree to which a film or show is tainted by a known predator’s attachment is a complicated one at best. That line is easy to draw for projects that put sexual predators front and center, like House of Cards, anything featuring Casey Affleck or anything from Woody Allen’s troublingly long career as an award-winning filmmaker. But in the case of Harvey Weinstein and his sweeping presence over film during the last few decades, it gets a little more complicated. Should everything he touched be rejected outright, or can consumers vehemently disavow his involvement while still supporting the work of the women he abused in those projects?
Rotten Apples asks all of us to face an uncomfortable reality: where do we personally draw the line of separating art from the artists attached? Our power as consumers is tied directly to our wallets. Choosing where to exert that strength is a moral quandary without a clear answer.