After the smashing success of the blockbuster hit Wonder Woman, which brought in over $400 million domestically and topped $800 million globally, things were looking up for the much-anticipated Justice League, which has been much-needed good news for a box office-struggling Hollywood. The DC Universe superhero team-up, scheduled to hit theaters in November, is one of the few films Hollywood has increasingly looked to as a key to redeeming the collapsing box office numbers of the second half of the year. But the recent scrutiny of star Ben Affleck, who has now picked up the unfortunate moniker "Buttman" by critics online, threatens to darken those hopes.
Since the bombshell revelations about sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein in The New York Times on Thursday, more accusations have been streaming in, including three accusations of rape. Along with longtime friend Matt Damon, Affleck, one of the high-profile celebrities most closely associated publicly with Weinstein, came under public pressure for waiting to condemn the man who helped him get his big break in Good Will Hunting. When Affleck finally issued a carefully worded statement on Tuesday, however, the pressure only worsened.
One of the alleged victims, actress Rose McGowan, who was reportedly paid $100,000 by Weinstein in a settlement over an incident with him at a hotel, immediately blasted Affleck online, accusing him of lying about what he knew about Weinstein's sexual behavior. "Ben Affleck f--- off," she tweeted in response to his statement. "@benaffleck 'GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT' you said that to my face. The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie."
That accusation, which McGowan doubled down on in an exchange with The New York Times on Wednesday, was followed by another accusation: that Affleck had groped actress Hilarie Burton's breasts years ago on the set of MTV's Total Request Live. When one of McGowan's followers tweeted that Affleck had "grabbed Hilarie Burton’s breasts on [MTV's Total Request Live] once. Everyone forgot though," Burton herself responded to that allegation, saying, "I didn't forget."
On Wednesday, Affleck apologized to Burton, tweeting, "I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize."
The Burton accusation was followed by another one, this time from makeup artist Annamarie Tendler, who accused him online of having groped her at a Golden Globes party in 2014. "I would also love to get an apology from Ben Affleck who grabbed my ass at a Golden Globes party in 2014," tweeted Tendler on Wednesday. "He walked by me, cupped my butt and pressed his finger into my crack. I guess he tried to play it like he was politely moving me out of the way and oops touched my butt instead of my lower back? Like most women in these situations I didn't say anything but I have thought a lot about what I'd say if I ever saw him again."
That accusation was soon followed by another, from Jen Statsky, who tweeted on Wednesday, "I was also at this party and *multiple* friends had this same exact experience." As Telegraph chronicles, the accusations have resulted in Affleck being derisively dubbed "Buttman" by several critics online. At the same time, a backstage video from 2004 of Affleck crossing the line with a TV host went viral.
As our friend John Nolte underscores, the growing scrutiny of Affleck is exactly the kind of damaging publicity Justice League, and Hollywood, cannot afford. While obviously what really matters in all of this are the victims and stopping the horrific acts of predators — like the accounts of Weinstein describe in disturbing detail — the other story here is that Hollywood's ability to present itself in glowing lights is darkening with every new accusation.
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