In case you missed it, there is a photo swirling around the web from the Paleyfest session for the latest installment of American Horror Story. Fittingly, the photo is horrifying but has nothing to do with the series.
In the photo, Cuba Gooding Jr. is seen lifting up fellow castmate Sarah Paulson’s dress.
The photo is receiving widespread backlash online, for good reason. In brief clips of the instance, you can see the actor reaching over and pulling up the skirt. Paulson quickly turns and pulls it down once she realizes what is happening.
My response in a nutshell:
Based on Paulson’s quick and surprised reaction, you can tell this was not expected or wanted. It was not some sort of planned-out stunt or gag as some have speculated.
Apparently, the situation was not discussed during the session, and the cast acted in good spirits for the duration.
Regardless, the situation is a literal portrait of an issue our society still struggles with.
It doesn’t just apply to the more graphic and obvious situations that are more frequently discussed. Unwanted touching like this can be considered sexual harassment.
Additionally, the follow-up to the situation is representative of a related problem. The follow-up of the situation being: there was no follow-up.
It was not addressed or mentioned in the panel. This is hugely indicative of the larger issues of women remaining silent to seem professional, and others’ general discomfort with discussing actions of this nature.
Granted, we don’t know what other panel members saw., or what Paulson was thinking or feeling. Neither actor has responded to the situation, so maybe there is something we don’t know. That said, I can’t imagine a situation or context in which this is appropriate or okay.
For the time being, we are appalled.