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Since Monday, May 9, one topic in-particular has been trending and I am eager to talk about it.
A random theatre-goer took it upon themselves to record parts of a Broadway show while the performers were on stage in full-frontal nudity. The well-known actor, Jesse Williams, best known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey’s Anatomy has been actively speaking out about consent, rules of the theater and respect for one another.
“I’m not really worrying about it. I can’t sweat that,” Williams told AP News. “We do need to keep advocating for ourselves. And it’s wonderful to see a community push back and make clear what we do stand for, what we don’t. Consent is important, I thought. So, let’s keep that in mind universally.”
Williams is starring in the Broadway play “Take Me Out,” an exploration of what happens when a Major League Baseball superstar comes out as gay, according to AP News. On the day the video leaked, Williams had just been nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in the play.
It seems that anytime the word ‘consent’ is brought into the picture, lines start to get blurred. This goes for man, woman, child, adult, black, white, it doesn’t matter. The issue with this happening to a well-known celebrity, and a good-looking one at that, is the way everyday people respond to the news.
We have viral Tweets from Grey’s Anatomy fans and Hollywood groupies alike going “goo goo, gah gah” for the guy, and honestly? Can we blame them?
BUT, and the major but here, in my opinion, is the fact that rules and regulations are in place for a reason.
I was talking with someone who argued that just because he is famous and was performing in front of 1,000 people, does not mean that he wanted the whole world to see his naked body.
Okay, fair. This is where the lines start to blur, though.
Consent (n.): permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
Consent (v.): to give permission for something to happen.
Here is the breakdown in my head, and I am curious to hear what each of you thinks as well!
Jesse Williams auditions for “Take Me Out,” is granted the part, and agrees to the full-frontal nudity scenes.
Patrons buy tickets at the set sale price, attend the Broadway show, agree to turn their phones off and keep them sealed in a bag to respect performers’ privacy, and are then, granted access to see the nude scenes as part of the performance.
So, it can truly be argued from both ways—why would Williams (or any of the other performers) agree to do fully nude scenes in front of thousands of strangers if they were not, first, comfortable or granting those strangers consent to lay eyes on their body.
On the flip side, however, those in attendance must adhere to show guidelines and protocol—in this case, keeping their phones in a pouch to refrain from video recording and to enjoy the show without distracting themselves or others.
I suppose the point I am trying to make here is that, even though (deep down), we know that thousands of strangers were going to see Jesse Williams perform in the show—it was not someone else’s right to record him at that moment, without his knowledge or consent.
I, clearly, cannot speak on behalf of Williams or the rest of the cast, but I would imagine their general feelings consist of disappointment. The disrespect that comes with having your phone out during a theatrical performance like a Broadway show is much more frowned upon than the casual movie-goer checking their text messages during a movie (and just think about how annoying that can be).
The issue here is that consent needs to be granted in all aspects. Since the audience was not given permission to record any of the show, the person who recorded the video disregarded Williams’ lack of consent, as well as the rest of the production staff.
Let me know what you think below!