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Friday, April 19, 2024

Abusers are abusers, no matter how famous they are

Brad Pitt needs to be held accountable by his colleagues


By MICHELLE MENDOZA — mimendoza@ucdavis.edu


Many stars were awarded at the Golden Globes in late January, but there was one name that was continually mentioned in people’s speeches with admiration: Brad Pitt. Quinta Brunson, Margot Robbie, Austin Butler and Regina Hall were just some of the people who showed Mr. Pitt some love.

Brad Pitt is one of the most recognizable and famous faces in the world. Not only is he deeply admired for his looks and personality, but he has also played a diverse range of roles. Starring in cult classics like Fight Club and, most recently, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Pitt’s fame didn’t reach its peak until he married his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie. Despite this, he is not a star on my radar, and I found it strange that he is so significant to people at the Golden Globes, especially after recent allegations of abuse. And I wasn’t the only one questioning this; a lot of people on Twitter found this strange as well.

The history between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is complicated and messy. Jolie first filed for divorce from Pitt in 2016, and she recently filed a cross-complaint against Pitt in October of last year. Jolie accused Pitt of domestic abuse, but the case did not hold due to the lack of evidence. In said accusation, Jolie disclosed details about an altercation on their private jet in 2016 in which she alleged that Pitt grabbed and slammed her against the wall of the bathroom door. When his children tried to stop him, Pitt allegedly choked one of the children and struck another.

Jolie has tried to protect her children from reliving these events, but despite her efforts, the fighting between the two stars is extremely high-profile. Her legal representation said, “When Pitt filed [his lawsuit] seeking to reassert control over Jolie’s financial life and compel her to rejoin her ex-husband as a frozen-out business partner, Pitt forced Jolie to publicly defend herself on these issues for the first time.”

After all the negative attention from Jolie’s lawsuits and other complaints, it appears that Pitt is trying to clean up his image. He hired Matthew Hiltzik, a crisis publicist, during the beginning of his divorce from Jolie in 2016. Hiltzik has represented public figures like Hillary Clinton and Johnny Depp. In a video, TikToker Ari also pointed out how influential clothing can be to the perception of a person. As Ari notes, in frequent paparazzi photos, Pitt wears soft, colorful knits and fuzzy clothing.

Currently, the counter-filing lawsuit has drawn no legal closing and many people seem to have been quick to forget or forgive Pitt — as they do most times their favorite celebrities’ bad actions get reported on the internet. But recently, Jolie’s daughter, Zahara, has turned some heads, unfollowing Quinta Brunson on Instagram after her shoutout of Pitt at the Golden Globes. Articles have also questioned the slew of celebs name-dropping Pitt at the Golden Globes and many Twitter users found it strange. Ari’s video’s comments are full of users saying the same thing: despite efforts to be seen as more approachable or non-threatening, Pitt’s behavior is see-through. 

If the people see through his act, why can’t his colleagues? Why do they continue to work with him? I believe that as long as they are able to “get” something from him — fame, relevancy, credits — he will be able to stick around. Think about how many problematic men are still in or have been in power: Harvey Weinstein, Steven Spielberg, Kevin Spacey, R. Kelly and Chris Brown, to name a few. It is not because no one knew these men were problematic, it is because those around them pretended not to notice. 

As much as we must hold the abuser accountable, we must hold their friends and colleagues accountable too. Abusers, at any level, should face the consequences of their actions if we want to prevent an industry where these abuses happen.


Written by: Michelle Mendoza — mimendoza@ucdavis.edu

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