‘Rotten Apples’ Site Tells You if Any Alleged Abusers Were Involved With a Film or Show
The enduring debate about whether you can truly separate the art from its artist imploded this year in the wake of numerous sexual misconduct scandals involving powerful Hollywood men. As allegations continue to surface from every corner of the industry, cinephiles and TV viewers have grown more concerned about the entertainment they digest, and that in doing so they may be contributing to a culture that enabled these alleged abusers. For those wondering if their faves have suddenly become problematic, a new website called Rotten Apples is here to help.
The website — a riff on Rotten Tomatoes — allows users to find out if any alleged abusers were involved in the making of a TV show or movie. After entering a title and hitting search, the website will tell you if it was made with “rotten apples” or a “fresh apples.” The screenshot above shows you the results for Pulp Fiction, which comes back with a rotten rating. The site offers names of the alleged abusers along with links to stories about their documented abuses. In this case, it’s John Travolta and Bob and Harvey Weinstein. Director Quentin Tarantino, who continued to work with Harvey Weinstein despite knowledge of his misconduct, fails to meet the website’s “rotten” requirements.
I decided to search a few other titles — some more obvious than others — to see how comprehensive the database is and test its efficacy. Searching Girls turns up writer Murray Miller, who was accused of sexually assaulting actress Aurora Perrineau. Then I tried a harmless, older title: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, which came up clean. And the site definitely has more obscure titles, like The Hidden and The Peanut Butter Solution.
But when I randomly searched Con Air, I stumbled upon an error:
The site claims the film is “rotten” because of one cast member: Harry Knowles. Back in September, the owner of movie website Ain’t It Cool News was accused of sexual misconduct by several women (full disclosure: myself included) and subsequently took a leave of absence from the site. According to Rotten Apples, Knowles has a role in Con Air, which wouldn’t be too surprising since he’s had small roles in other films (most of which could hardly be considered cameos). But I can’t find anything online to confirm that Knowles actually appeared in Con Air.
However, he did appear in 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Out of curiosity, I searched that title on Rotten Apples and it erroneously returned a fresh rating. If there are other, similar discrepancies in the database, it could cause some issues. Labeling Con Air problematic is, well, kind of a problem.
In the midst of the ongoing excavation of misogyny in Hollywood, one of the most frequent complaints I’ve heard is, “Ugh, now this [movie or show] is ruined for me” — as if the worst thing that could possibly come of the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey is that someone can no longer enjoy earlier seasons of House of Cards. That complaint, which, in my experience, can be most commonly attributed to men, completely ignores the victims of these abuses. Instead of mourning a singular art that has been lost, why not grieve for the loss of the arts that might have been created had these abuses not taken place? So many of the victims are or were actors and creatives who found their careers stifled by their abusers.
More importantly: A human being was hurt. Your ability to enjoy Rush Hour or Arrested Development with a clear conscience is irrelevant.
It’s an understandable knee-jerk reaction, but the weight of these allegations requires careful consideration and thoughtful response. Although I appreciate the intention behind Rotten Apples, I’m concerned that it reinforces such short-sighted thinking while simultaneously enabling the other end of the spectrum. Those who want to be extremely socially conscious and hyper-vigilant may be misinformed by a glitch in the database, like the one I found above. What happens when a more prominent figure on social media shares that misinformation? It takes more effort to contain fake news and reverse its damage than it does to spread it.