The tweet below rings true to me.
Sometimes public perception feels so black and white. You’re either one of the good ones or one of the bad ones.
Aziz Ansari is a recent example that struck me. In my opinion, his career shouldn’t be ruined (not saying it is) because of the ‘sexual assault’ story that came out against him. Is it questionable behavior? Maybe. It’s hard to know when it’s he-said-she-said.
But similar to the tweet, he isn’t in the realm as Weinstein, Spacey, and more recently, Nassar, etc. even though the general public seems to lump everyone together. Hence, ‘moral flattening‘, a term I like.
This is where second chances come in.
I don’t think people like Larry Nassar deserve a second chance in life. Our justice system doesn’t either, and I think everyone is okay with that.
Then we get to people like Weinstein and Spacey. These two abused their power to take advantage of others sexually for decades. I wouldn’t say this is Nassar level, but it’s pretty bad. Personally, I don’t think they deserve a second chance in their industry, but do they deserve to be in prison forever? That’s hard for me to say.
Then there are levels below this, Ansari being one. The past few months have probably been a PR nightmare, but I think he deserves a second chance (assuming he ‘lost’ his first chance at all).
Another example, non-acting / sexual assault related, is Johnny Manziel. Manziel has famously flamed out over the past few years from football phenom to arrogant party boy who blew his career with drinking and drugs.
I listened to the Pardon My Take interview with Manziel today, and when you hear him speak now, you feel for the guy. He’s not like Larry Nassar or Harvey Weinstein. Some will be quick to judge and say:
“He had every opportunity not to blow it, why should I feel bad for him?“
He was thrust into the spotlight so quickly with so many people trying to take advantage of him as he rose to stardom. That’s an extremely difficult situation to handle properly as a 20 year old.
He made bad decisions and burned a lot of bridges, and he acknowledges that now, but I don’t think society should turn their back on him forever. He’s ‘paid his dues‘, and if he works his ass off to get back into football shape, I’d like to see a team take a chance on him.
For the rest of our lives, we’re going to see stories come out against famous people that we’ve never met. Some will be true and heinous, some will be true and unfortunate, and some won’t be true at all.
But every case and person should be tried (in your head) differently. It’s not black and white. We can’t afford to lump everyone into two groups.
Everything is situational and everything needs context. God forbid you or someone you know goes viral for yelling at their Uber driver or freaking out over mac and cheese. These are undoubtedly bad moments and they deserve what they had coming, but most people deserve a second chance, that’s all.