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In the “age of #MeToo,” Hollywood has stood up against sexual assault so conspicuously it’s difficult to believe that the movement actually began because there were so many serial perverts within their ranks. Nowhere was this dichotomy more on display than at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday.

Ryan Seacrest was snubbed by stars during his time interviewing on the red carpet. Casey Affleck was disinvited from attending and presenting due to he fact that he settled two sexual harassment lawsuits in 2010. Jimmy Kimmel cracked plenty of jokes about bad behavior in Hollywood. And, proving all of that to be a decided farce, one of the awards went to one of the world’s most high-profile accused rapists.

Yes, in a decided sign that post-Weinstein Hollywood has much the same values as pre-Weinstein Hollywood, former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short for “Dear Basketball.”

According to ESPN, “Dear Basketball” was based off of a poem that Bryant wrote back in 2015 as he approached retirement.

“And to Kobe, for writing ‘Dear Basketball,’ it’s a message for all of us,” Disney animator Glen Keane, who accepted the award along with Bryant, said in his speech. “Whatever form your dream may take, it’s through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible.”

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“I don’t know if it’s possible,” Bryant said, although he was visibly in disbelief at winning. “I mean, as basketball players, we are really supposed to shut up and dribble. But I am glad we do a little bit more than that.”

While Keane mentioned passion and perseverance as being crucial to Bryant’s dream, what he neglected to talk about was a crack legal team. That’s what helped Bryant mostly avoid any real punishment from a 2003 case in which he was accused of raping a 19-year-old hotel worker.

Do you think Kobe Bryant should have won an Oscar?

The 19-year-old alleged that she gave the basketball star a tour of the hotel in Colorado, which ended in his room. She claimed that when she “stood up to leave, he stood up, asked me to give him a hug. I gave him a hug and he started kissing me and I let him kiss me. And the kissing continued then he took off his pants. And that’s when I tried to back up and leave. And that’s when he started to choke me.”

The accuser went on to tell police that Bryant “was groping me, I tried to leave, tried to break away, that’s when he grabbed my neck. And at that point I was just looking at him, didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what to say. … Then he held me by my neck and physically forced me over to the side of the couch.” After that point, he allegedly sexually assaulted her. Asked how she knew that Bryant had heard her say no, she responded, “Because every time I said no he tightened his hold around me.”

Under questioning by police, Bryant initially denied he’d had sex with the young woman and asked if there was “any way I can settle this whatever it is, I mean,” because “if my wife found out that anybody made any type of allegations against me she would be infuriated.” After being told that the police had blood and semen samples, Bryant told them that “Uh, this is what I need to know because uh, I did have sexual intercourse with her,” adding that, “It was totally consensual.” He also told police he should have just paid her off, noting that “Shaq gives them money or buys them cars, he has already spent $1 million.”

During the pre-trial circus, Bryant’s legal team impugned the young woman’s character, stating that because she had sexual intercourse with other individuals recently, the injuries to her genitalia could have come from them. (When the alleged victim was examined, the nurse said that the injuries were less than 24 hours old, indicating they came from Bryant.)

Audience Thrilled After Kimmel Starts Lecturing About Sexual Harassment, Yet Forget His Sick Past

The accuser would later refuse to testify in court, which led to the case being dropped. However, Bryant settled a civil suit out of court for an undisclosed amount (it’s worth noting that the victim was from a wealthy family, discounting any “in it for the money” defense Bryant apologists might have) and issued a statement that was as close to an admission as one could get without actually admitting anything.

“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,”  he said in the statement, which was read in court by Bryant’s attorney. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”

Well, one either does or does not consent, and declaring yourself to be unable to deduce that very salient fact doesn’t make you look terribly good, whether it be before the eyes of the law or the general public. But apparently, Hollywood doesn’t really care, even if this is “the age of #MeToo” or whatever piffle they want to have us believe. These are still the same people who turned a blind eye to men like Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, etc., etc., for decades.

Now, they’ve given an award to Kobe Bryant for an animated short that’s pretty much just a paean to the basketball player. And these are the people who want us to think they’re taking a stand against sexual assault and harassment.

Tinseltown was never going to stop honoring and sheltering men accused of horrible things. They were never going to do so. There were no amount of actresses wearing black, of hashtags and slogans, of awards shows given over to celebrating just how much has changed since Harvey Weinstein’s ignominious fall that were going to change Hollywood’s intrinsic value system.

The “age of #MeToo,” like so many things in the entertainment industry, is just another empty marketing slogan, a nice piece of ad copy designed to distract you from the fact that the core is every bit as rotted as ever. And while Bryant’s award may have only been a fraction of Hollywood’s annual three-hour celebration of itself, the message it sent couldn’t have been clearer.

Please like and share this story on Facebook and Twitter if you think giving an Oscar to a suspected rapist is completely hypocritical.

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