The Predator earns its name

Lack of castmate support for Munn removing a sex offender from a film is inexcusable

Olivia Munn on Ellen.
Credit: 
Screenshot from YouTube

Director Shane Black’s decision to hire his friend, a convicted sex offender, as an actor marred the glitz and glamour of the red carpet opening for his film The Predator at TIFF.

At 28 years old, Steven Wilder Striegel was convicted and served time for a sex crime involving a minor who was also his 14-year-old cousin.

Striegel was cast in a minor role in The Predator because he was personally close to Black, who was aware his friend was a registered sex offender.

When actress Olivia Munn discovered she had unknowingly filmed a scene with a child sex offender, she immediately contacted 20th Century Fox—the studio funding the film’s production—and requested the scene be removed.

The reach of big, Hollywood films is extremely wide-rangingl—and while a small role in a movie may seem insignificant, there’s power that comes with it.

To give someone fame is to give them power, and to give that power to someone convicted of a sex crime is irresponsible. 

“The reality is that the people who collude to keep people like this in positions of power—that’s the real problem, the people who [are] keep turning blind eyes,” Munn said on Ellen last week.

The casting of a sex offender itself is disheartening. Men who abuse women, and especially children, shouldn't be given any leniency or power, regardless of who they know in their industries.

Men who abuse women, and especially children, should not be given any leniency or power, regardless of who they know in their industries.

Actions like this show that men who abuse others are valued above the people they've abused.

Black valued his friend’s fame more than he valued the child his friend hurt, or the co-stars impacted by with his casting decision.

Black may not have been consciously trying to revictimize the young girl, but in casting Striegel, he put his power behind the abuser instead of the abused.

The controversy has evolved in a way that’s revealed a deeper systemic issue in the film industry. After Munn spoke out, almost nobody in Hollywood showed their support for her.

She said on Ellen that she received strong support from the public and the press, but her castmates on The Predator have been silent on the issue.

This response is more than disappointing. Other than Munn, the people working on The Predator who have power and platforms have failed to speak against this injustice.

When castmate Sterling K. Brown eventually came forward with a statement of support for Munn’s actions, it was an unimpressive backing that’s received a lot more credit than it deserves.

“I’m sorry you’re feeling so isolated, my dear. And I’m sorry you’ve been the only one to speak up publicly. I was not at #TIFF [sic] so I didn’t have an opportunity to be there with you,” Brown tweeted on Sept. 8. His response was to a Hollywood Reporter article in which Munn calls out her castmates for not standing with her on this issue.

In the press, Brown’s statement has been covered as if it’s a strong showing of support for Munn speaking out against sexual abuse in the film industry. It’s not.

Brown’s statement was him covering up for not initially speaking out. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t at TIFF—given he has a publicist and/or access to the internet. There is no excuse for being complacent in giving power to a sex offender.

Despite his half-empty response, Brown’s support is a million miles ahead of his other castmates’ silence—including Trevanté Rhodes and Keegan Michael-Key—who have yet to speak on the issue for reasons that aren't clear at all.

The Predator’s cast consists of actors with established careers who essentially have nothing to lose. There is no reason they cannot join in on Munn’s sentiment and show the world that sex offenders shouldn’t be given platforms just because they know the right people.

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