Oscars Called Out for Double Standard on Kobe Bryant Rape Case

The former Lakers star was charged after allegedly raping a 19-year-old in 2003.

As Oscar nominations flooded timelines Tuesday morning, people reacted with the usual mixture of praise and disappointment. Award shows are never perfect, as the Golden Globes reminded us earlier this month.

While the Oscars may have attempted to rid themselves of controversy by giving Get Out its proper recognition and including women (gasp!) in some of their more prestigious categories, the Academy is still getting flack for one nomination in particular. Kobe Bryant is included in the nominations for Best Animated Short Film for his movie Dear Basketball. The film is narrated by Bryant, and the former Lakers player celebrated the nomination on Twitter.

What?? This is beyond the realm of imagination. It means so much that the @TheAcademy deemed #DearBasketball worthy of contention. Thanks to the genius of @GlenKeanePrd & John Williams for taking my poem to this level. It's an honor to be on this team. #OscarNoms pic.twitter.com/M2joyk9D1V

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 23, 2018

But some were quick to point out that like many men in Hollywood, Bryant has a history of alleged sexual violence. In 2003, Kobe was formally charged with rape. The player claimed the sex between him and a 19-year-old hotel staffer in Colorado was consensual, but according to TMZ, he also asked police if he could pay her to make the situation go away.

Kobe was never prosecuted because his victim dropped the case after receiving a flurry of hate mail and death threats. Instead, she filed a civil lawsuit, and Kobe settled the case quietly. It’s unclear if she was paid off, but Kobe claimed publicly that he didn’t give her any money. 

"Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” Kobe said in a letter of apology at the time. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter."

If time is indeed up, then the Academy should look at this kind of history of sexual violence carefully. The award show noticeably left out James Franco, but dealing with present-day accusations that are in the current media cycle shouldn’t mean forgetting about the past. Twitter, of course, doesn’t forget, and a lot of people had something to say about the double standards of the nomination.

Kobe Bryant's short film was nominated for an Academy Award! That puts him on a very short list of people who have been nominated for an Oscar AND have been publicly accused of rape. CONGRATS KOBE!

— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) January 23, 2018

Kobe Bryant's defense against rape charges was essentially, "Who wouldn't want to fuck Kobe? It didn't seem like rape to me." His legal strategy was essentially, "Lady, we will make your life a living hell." And we're complicit: America let it slide.

— Jesse Thorn 🤷‍♂️ (he/him) (@JesseThorn) January 23, 2018

In light of this rape case's resurfacing, a short film celebrating Kobe’s legacy as one of the best basketball players of all time feels at odds with the #MeToo movement Hollywood is attempting to embrace. If you’re interested in watching the short film, here you go:


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