As allegations of sexual misconduct implicate more and more powerful men in the film industry, it’s time for all of us to reflect on our own role in a culture that enables these predators. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve decided that I can no longer support the work of these individuals, even if they’re groundbreaking artists who’ve made enormous contributions to cinema. Sadly, that includes Brett Ratner, whose movies I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch again.
For myself, a fellow director and a passionate fan of his work, this was an especially tough decision. I can still vividly remember leaving the theater after waiting in line for two hours to see his debut, Money Talks, and thinking how much I admired the on-screen chemistry of Chris Tucker and Charlie Sheen. Watching those two legendary actors at the top of their craft, you really felt like you were witnessing cinematic history. But after the latest allegations surfaced, I began to feel a bit uneasy about my affection not only for this film but for Ratner’s entire body of work.
I wasn’t ready to disavow him right away, however. I thought I could somehow reconcile my love of the monumental director of X-Men: The Last Stand with the awful things he’d done in his personal life, but separating the art from the artist is never simple. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried rewatching one of my favorites, Ratner’s unparallelled Christmas romcom The Family Man, only to have to turn it off because I couldn’t get his purported abuse out of my head.
I might have taken it all less personally had Ratner not been such a huge influence on my own work. For instance, if Ratner hadn’t made Rush Hour 2, The Pianist would never have existed. I can safely say it was his gorgeously-set Hong Kong buddy comedy that most informed the approach I took to my drama set in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. I will always be grateful for that, but I know in my heart that continuing to support him is wrong. And if that means I’ll never get to witness the new cinematic heights Ratner will reach if he makes a Hercules sequel, I am at peace with that.
Yes, his most ardent defenders will say that these “indiscretions” don’t represent his true character, or that it was a different time. But that’s really no excuse. The details of what he did are appalling, and they have now been backed up by multiple credible victims. Should he get a pass just because he’s an unbelievably talented filmmaker? I’m sorry, but even a tour de force as expressive of the human spirit as Tower Heist isn’t enough to absolve this man.
Ultimately, I hope both audiences and my colleagues in the film industry will join me in a boycott of Ratner’s work. If we don’t stop protecting men like him, it just ensures that behavior like his will continue, as well as take away opportunities from others—particularly women—who have been ostracized by an industry culture complicit with sexual abuse. Knowing what we know now, I find it hard to see why anyone would ever consider working with him again.
If Ratner apologizes and commits himself to rehabilitation, could Hollywood accept him again someday? Perhaps. Although I am actively choosing to speak out, I still don’t consider him totally beyond redemption. I mean, at least he didn’t have sex with a child.