In yet another example of patriarchy and sexism within the boys’ club that is Hollywood, news had just recently broke about damning information regarding the upcoming release The Predator, the fourth installment in the popular sci-fi horror series, and being directed by Iron Man 3 director Shane Black. On September 6, mere hours before the film was to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the LA Times broke the news about a scene that had to be deleted at the last minute, due to it featuring an actual sexual predator.
Ignoring the irony for just one moment, an actor named Steven Striegel, who had appeared in Black’s other works, such as the aforementioned Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, was set to appear in a brief scene with actress Olivia Munn, playing a jogger who hit on Munn’s character Casey Bracket.
The problem comes with Striegel’s disgusting past. In 2010, Striegel pled guilty and subsequently served six months in prison for luring and grooming a 14-year old girl into a sexual relationship through online chat. It wasn’t until Munn herself discovered what Striegel had done that she had asked 20th Century Fox to remove the scene from the final cut, which the studio thankfully obliged. A Fox spokesperson would later state that the studios was unaware about Striegel’s background “due to legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors.”
At first glance, the scene being cut from the final film may seem like the problem is fixed, but there’s so much more seediness to the Striegel’s casting that makes the situation more and more disgusting.
For starters, director Shane Black. Black and Striegel were both good friends, to the point where even after Striegel was convicted, Black still placed him in his movies, including Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, both of which featured child actors in prominent roles. He later explained to The LA Times that he “personally chose to help a friend.”
He was well aware of Steven Striegel’s past, and willingly decided to cast his friend without telling anyone in his production crew about his past. Munn explained to The Times that she found it “both surprising and unsettling that Shane Black…did not share this information to the cast, crew, or Fox Studios prior to, during, or after production.”
Black would later go on to apologize with a statement to the LA Times, but Munn was not satisfied, due to it being a public response instead of given specifically towards her. “It wasn’t given to me personally …. I think a real apology has to be done privately, not just read publicly, and I read it with the rest of the world. I didn’t get that call.”
It’s even worse considering Munn is the only person who has been vocal over Striegel. The male co-stars, including Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Keegan Michael-Key, and Sterling K. Brown, among others, have done very little to support Munn. While a few of them have gone on to make statements, most of them are flimsy attempts at trying to avoid drumming up controversy, while others are flat-out leaving her behind due to them being uncomfortable over many of these interviews talking about Strigel. Brown’s Twitter statement asks to find forgiveness and second chances, and doesn’t give a concrete slam against Black and his decision to cast Striegel, as an example. A Vanity Fair piece also revealed that during the TIFF press tour, one of the male actors left an interview in order to avoid the topic.
While some may argue these men are doing so to protect their jobs, therein lies the problem. Olivia Munn, as well as Fox, were exceedingly uncomfortable over having a pedophile act in a film, let alone be a scene that depicts a woman being hit on by said pedophile. Holbrook, Key, Rhodes, and Brown left Munn in the dust because they cared more about their careers than a woman’s well-being, and even when they did make statements, they were wishy-washy, failing to attack Striegel for the bed he had made all those years ago. Even more disgusting considering the rise of both the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. And while they will all still have fine careers, in spite of their cowardice, Munn could very well be given less and less opportunities at best or be blacklisted from the industry at worst for daring to speak out over an awful situation.
Because Shane Black cares more about his pedophile friend than the well-being of his crew, as well as the male co-stars abandoning Munn, and leaving her forced to take on Striegel, and the disgusting boy’s club mentality that led to him being cast, as a critic, I have decided to not only refuse to give The Predator a review, but I refuse to even watch the film, in support of Munn and her mistreatment from the men surrounding her. I encourage other critics and audience members to do the same.
While it may seem contradictory that I would support Munn by boycotting a production that stars her, by making a statement against such a film and a director, this will only improve the Hollywood system for Munn and all women in the industry. A film like The Predator deserves to be boycott and bomb at the box office, as it would show directors, producers, actors and other men in power in the film industry that they can not and should not help out their problematic friends. They should not give sexual predators second chances. They should not ditch women behind when they want to call out systemic sexism within their lines of work. They should never get away with not telling other people about who they are working with.
I don’t like predators, so I won’t see The Predator. I wish all who read this will do the same.
Munn deserves better. Women deserve better.