At the Library Lions Gala at the New York Public Library on Monday, veteran journalist Gay Talese—who helped shape the magazine profile as we know it today—spoke with Vanity Fair about which subject he’d most want to profile at this moment in time. His answer was Kevin Spacey and his reasoning was surprisingly disturbing.
It’s true that there’s great value in profiling complex and unethical people and—at their best—these profiles can encourage empathy (not always sympathy, mind you) and a better understanding of the capabilities and failings of the human character. But that isn’t why Talese wants to profile Spacey, who is currently facing mounting sexual harassment allegations from various men claiming that they were sexually harassed by the actor, some when they were as young as 14.
Talese took particular issue with actor Anthony Rapp, the first of many to come forward publicly against Spacey. Vanity Fair reports:
“I would like to talk to Kevin Spacey,“ [Talese] said.
News had come that afternoon that Netflix was cutting ties with the House of Cards star after multiple men had accused him of sexual harassment, beginning with actor Anthony Rapp, who told BuzzFeed that Spacey made a sexual advance towards him in 1986, when he was 14.
“I feel so sad, and I hate that actor that ruined this guy’s career,” continued Talese, who possibly had not kept up with the growing scope of the accusations online. “So, O.K., it happened 10 years ago . . . Jesus, suck it up once in a while!”
Yes, that’s Talese telling a victim of child abuse to “suck it up” in regards to his trauma simply because his alleged abuser has an admirable career. He continues:
“I would like to ask [Spacey] how it feels to lose a lifetime of success and hard work all because of 10 minutes of indiscretion 10 years or more ago.”
Gesturing to the roomful of media titans sipping Champagne around him, he added, “You know something, all of us in this room at one time or another did something we’re ashamed of. The Dalai Lama has done something he’s ashamed of. The Dalai Lama should confess...put that in your magazine!”
And boy, did they! It’s true that no one is perfect. It’s also true that most adults are perfectly capable at avoiding unwanted sexual contact with 14-year-olds.