will the hollywood walk of fame ever remove these alleged predators?
Photographer Robert Lang has profiled all the people whose stars should probably be taken off the map.
Photography Robert Lang
There’s a popular road in Los Angeles that’s home to a Nazi propagandist, a couple of alleged rapists, numerous alleged and/or convicted sexual harassers, and a convicted murderer. It’s the Hollywood Walk of Fame and it attracts an estimated 10 million people per year.
Photographer Robert Lang isn’t thrilled about the decision to keep these stars on the map. “I'm quite disappointed that the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce would keep Bill Cosby's star on the Walk of Fame, even though he is now a convicted rapist,” he says. The photographer, who was born in South Africa, spent some time in the party epicentre that was noughties Camden, before heading to Hollywood Boulevard for a stint. “Having lived right by the Walk of Fame, I started looking into the people who had been accused of sexual harassment and it just opened up Pandora's box,” he continues. So he took photos of all their stars for an unfortunately quite substantial book, The Walk of Shame. It profiles all the (known) honourees with serious allegations towards them with a photo of their face, star and a couple of paragraphs about their alleged sordid pasts. It isn’t easy reading.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it jars to see their names on a sidewalk synonymous with success and stature. Despite the allegations about a fair number of Walk of Fame honourees, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce -- who control the Walk -- refuse to remove any names. When i-D asked them about this decision earlier this year, star ceremony producer Ana Martinez responded, “We vote on their entertainment work... Nothing's been... well we've discussed things, but nothing has been decided as [to whether] we're going to remove stars. So far we're not, it's a cultural, historic landmark, so it's highly doubtful they'll be removed.”
The Chamber’s adamant stance is bizarre. It’s one thing to hold off when nothing’s been proven (although it would be nice to think they’re on board with the overdue groundswell of people actually taking women’s claims seriously), but Cosby’s been convicted. As a result, he’s been expelled from the Academy of Motion Pictures and is being stripped of a many other accolades -- including the Mark Twain Prize, the Kennedy Centre Honor and a raft of honorary University degrees. Sure, chipping his name out of concrete may involve a little more elbow grease, but given the Chamber charges recipients £40,000 for their star, you’d think they could spare some loose change for a good cause.
The sad thing is, the issue seeps beyond a few slabs of pointy marble. The Chamber's stance is reflective of a wider inability to fully condemn these men. As a recent study showed, the #metoo movement has scarcely impacted viewing habits. People are still happy to sink into an armchair to watch James Franco plod through a critically slammed post-apocalyptic leer-fest (sexual harassment allegations, denied). Which also evidences the fact that so many of these men are still working today. "Unfortunately Hollywood is too quick to forget," Robert says, pointing out that Jeffrey Tambor still has a role in Arrested Development (sexual harassment allegations, vague denial), Ryan Seacrest's still a co-host on Live with Kelly and Ryan (sexual harassment allegations, denied), and Trump is the President of the United States (numerous sexual misconduct allegations, denied).
"What it says about the industry is that they will have the support of their co-workers who will stand by them, regardless of what they have done," he concludes. "Which is a mockery of the victims." Like they haven't been through enough already.
Robert Lang's book Walk of Shame is available to purchase here.