Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

The Oscars this year was a cacophony of awkward moments. Besides the absolute discomfort of the Moonlight/La La Land fiasco, there was, of course, the moment when Brie Larson announced Casey Affleck had won Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea, then refused to applaud.

Allegations of sexual assault from coworkers during the production of his film “I’m Still Here” have made it, needless to say, uncomfortable for many to see Affleck on a stage, wielding a coveted display of his accomplishment. So how do we approach this? Praise of white sexual predators for their work in the arts is not a new concept, as seen in the careers of Mel Gibson, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski and Marlon Brando. How do we examine art with this knowledge of a morally corrupt artist?

One approach is to expect a statement of remorse. A short publicity statement on the allegations brings attention back to the crime and forces the actor to take public responsibility. Unfortunately, in the case of Affleck, his allegations were settled out of court and both parties are prohibited from commenting. This explains why his annoyingly dry sentiments about the controversy were so disappointing. They are as follows: “I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else … There’s really nothing I can do about it, other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.” His statement expressed almost no remorse, so it’s up to consumers to decide how to untangle Affleck’s work from his presumed offenses.

A common narrative against separating art from artists argues that by allowing Affleck’s career to prosper unscathed, we are then silencing women who have spoken out against offenders like him. While it’s true that we are prioritizing these artistic strides over the crimes that the artists commit, we are doing so in settings that are judging the art alone. To ask the academy to take into account personal histories would be unreasonable.

Another issue that manifests itself in Affleck’s case is the bias often displayed by the Oscars, among other award shows, toward white men. The award winners have always been disproportionately white and male, which delegitimizes the academy’s entire methodology of picking winners. Once critics and consumers stop allowing these demographics to influence their preferences, we can view award shows as unbiased sources of expert opinions in the arts.

In the meantime, we can only remain mildly uncomfortable with the events that have allowed Affleck and men like him to be among the most respected actors in the industry. We can only do as Brie Larson did: we can take our own opinions of the artist’s acts, the awards they’ve accrued and the ever-necessary grain of salt, and we can decide for ourselves whether to watch “Manchester by the Sea” with careless abandon.

Erin Hill is a freshman psychology major. She can be reached at