Successful, promising young men: America has failed victims of abuse

Michelle Hérnandez Torres ‘23, Copy Editor

Over the course of his long career, Brad Pitt has built a wonderful career for himself. He has been the star of various well-known and critically acclaimed films, like Fight Club (1999) or Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood (2019). Through the years, Pitt was able to cement his place within popular culture, and wormed his way into the hearts of many with the aid of his “handsome” looks and charming personality. Perhaps, though, he is most known for his relationship with fellow A-list actress Jennifer Aniston back in the early 2000s. Magazines constantly wrote about them, and the world watched as their favorite Hollywood couple grazed red carpets together. Of course, the exposure only increased when the two broke up and Pitt quickly moved on with actress Angelina Jolie, shortly after the release of Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)—a film the two starred in together as both protagonists and love interests.

The romance would last a little over the next 10 years until the couple announced their divorce in 2016. Since then, Jolie began a lawsuit, accusing Pitt of domestic violence during a private plane flight. According to the suit, “Pitt grabbed Jolie by the head and shook her, and then grabbed her shoulders and shook her again before pushing her into the bathroom wall. Pitt then punched the ceiling of the plane numerous times, prompting Jolie to leave the bathroom. When one of the children verbally defended Jolie, Pitt lunged at his own child and Jolie grabbed him from behind to stop him,” the countersuit states. “To get Jolie off his back, Pitt threw himself backwards into the airplane’s seats injuring Jolie’s back and elbow. The children rushed in and all bravely tried to protect each other. Before it was over, Pitt choked one of the children and struck another in the face. Some of the children pleaded with Pitt to stop. They were all frightened. Many were crying.” 

Jolie has also opened up about the situation before. In a speech to congress in regards to the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, she said, “Standing here, at the center of our nation’s power, I can think only of everyone who’s been made to feel powerless by their abusers, by a system that fails to protect them,” Jolie began. “Parents whose children have been murdered by an abusive partner, women who suffer domestic violence yet are not believed, children who have suffered life-altering trauma and post-traumatic stress at the hands of people closest to them. Anyone who’s been in those situations will tell you just how far they feel from the power concentrated here in this building—the power to pass laws that might have prevented their pain in the first place.”

Jolie is a world-renowned actress. She also is an icon of more recent popular culture. With films like Girl, Interrupted (1999), Lara Croft: the Tomb Raider (2001), and Maleficent (2014), she has truly made a name for herself, and yet, the news of her situation with Pitt has been completely shoved under the rug. While Jolie and her children are forced to walk through the never-ending aftermath of the alleged abuse, Pitt continues to receive mass amounts of praise and glory.

At the Golden Globes, which took place earlier this year, a sad number of celebrities showed their admiration and support for Brad Pitt. After winning, Quinta Brunson, creator of popular sitcom Abbott Elementary (2022), interrupted her speech to say, “Hi, Brad Pitt.” Actor Austin Butler, most known for his work in Elvis (2022) said, “I’m so grateful right now. I’m in this room full of my heroes. Brad, I love you.” Comedian Regina Hall also joined in, she said, “Hi, everyone. Sorry about this. I think they got my–I think they got my name wrong. Yeah, it’s Mrs. Pitt. Brad is right here.”

Pitt’s PR team truly deserves a standing ovation because they surely are working over time to contain the chaos and scrutiny which should follow allegations of abuse. Nonetheless, this is a common thread in Hollywood, something which happens too often. Whenever a woman speaks out against a man supported by not only millions of fans, but also millions of dollars, along with millions of connections, she will be on the receiving end of immense backlash from all sides—the press, the public, and the “justice” system.

It is odd, truly. These men have been repeatedly accused of disgusting and heinous crimes, and yet, somehow, the public seems to forgive and forget because these men are all too charming, too promising, and too nice to face any real consequences for their inhumanity and cruelty. Megan Thee Stallion, Amber Heard, and Angelina Jolie are all recent victims of this disturbing phenomenon. The public and the justice system will punish them for having the audacious guts to come forward and expose their abusers for who they truly are behind closed doors when the cameras stop rolling. 

For some odd reason, people would rather stand with someone so vile, and so evil—someone who willingly inflicted physical and emotional pain onto another human being—than to stand with someone who is a victim of abuse. To support this, people love to use the “innocent until proven guilty” rhetoric, and the false accusations narrative. According to Center for Prosecutor Integrity (CPI), approximately eight percent of the American population have been falsely accused of domestic violence, stalking, or another sex-based offense, but this is simply a small percentage compared to the one in three women who have already experienced some form of domestic violence. 

It is important for us as a society to collectively be able to see beyond pretty eyes and a charismatic persona in order to bring justice towards victims of any sort of abuse. We must realize that the patriarchy is a horrible oppressive system which runs deep within the veins of current societal structures. The sad and vast majority of men have been indoctrinated to believe that they are entitled to power and dominance over the opposite sex, and therefore, they may treat women as they please—as if they were objects instead of real people. Celebrities are not exempt from this, and these parasocial relationships and/or biases cannot override the justice we need to see within cases of domestic abuse or violence against women in general.

In this very patriarchal system, accountability and justice are uncommon. Impunity, corruption, and the exoneration of men’s crimes against women are the rule. This cannot go unfixed, it is critical that the necessary steps are taken to prevent more women from becoming victims of violence. This is simply too horrid to allow it to continue, and in order to do so, we must be willing to face reality and see beyond the charming smiles. We must be willing to break away from our bias and be open to supporting victims of abuse, regardless of social standings. It is an important step towards the dismantling of the patriarchy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s