After old videos of Ben Affleck seemingly groping two television hosts on camera did the rounds last month, the Oscar-winning director and actor came under fire once again on Wednesday for remarks that were interpreted as a trivialisation of sexual assault.
Affleck was speaking to MTV for the promotions of Justice League, which is out in India on November 17. When asked about potential new additions to the Justice League group, Affleck and co-stars Henry Cavill and Ray Fisher said there should be more female superheroes. “We could use more women,” Affleck said. The interviewer then asked what a new female superhero would bring to the table. Even as Fisher was describing how it would “create a different dynamic”, Affleck chipped in and asked, “You following the news at all?” and then laughed.
Affleck’s comment was followed by a brief and uncomfortable pause after which Fisher continued with his statement.
Affleck’s remark has been perceived as a reference to the recent sexual harassment scandals involving big names in Hollywood, including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and Brett Ratner. Many have assumed that Affleck was making light of these allegations.
Earlier, a clip of Affleck allegedly groping One Tree Hill star Hilarie Burton during an MTV show in 2003 resurfaced on the internet. Soon after, a second video, featuring the Batman actor touching television host Anne-Marie Losique’s breast, did the rounds of the web.
In the 2004 video, Losique sits on the actor’s lap before he remarks, “They would like it better if you did this show topless, the station, wouldn’t they?” He then hugs her tightly and comments on her breasts.
In interviews after the clip surfaced last month, Losique said she was “not at all the victim”.
Losique told Variety, “Humor is nice when it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes it crosses the PC line. As long as the intent is not to hurt anybody.” She added that she and the actor were “just mugging for the cameras”.
After numerous allegations of rape and assault against Weinstein were revealed in October, Affleck issued a statement condemning the producer’s behaviour, saying it made him sad, angry and sick.
In response to this, some Twitter users brought up the incident with Burton in 2003.
Affleck later apologised to Burton in October, tweeting that he had “acted inappropriately”.