In the aftermath of damning revelations of abuse by Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein, victims have stepped forward to share their own painful stories, and those with a history of inappropriate comments and behavior are getting loudly called out.
That now includes actor Jason Momoa, made famous by his role as the burly Dothraki lord Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones. Momoa is about to hit the silver screen as Aquaman in Justice League, but back in 2011, he was caught on video at a Comic-Con panel joking that he liked the sci-fi and fantasy genre because “there’s so many thing you can do, like rip someone’s tongue out of their throat and get away with it, and rape beautiful women.”
Video of the comment resurfaced in a tweet that went viral earlier this week.
While the joke was cringe-worthy at the time (just look at how his fellow panelists react), it has now added to an inferno of outrage over the casual sexism and outright abuse some men in Hollywood have gotten away with for decades.
Other actors, including Momoa’s Justice League co-star Ben Affleck, have been forced to apologize for abusive behavior toward women in the aftermath of the Weinstein scandal. But fans argued over whether Momoa was being unfairly targeted for a years-old comment, or if he deserved to be vilified for contributing to a culture that’s comfortable joking about assault.
The controversy raged so intensely that at one point Momoa’s name became a trending topic on Twitter.
Me: "Oh why is Jason Momoa trending is their new Aquaman news?…." 😃
*clicks and reads*
— CRT (@StoryofEverest) October 12, 2017
Jason Momoa bruh…like why pic.twitter.com/eSeHmUP2zn
— Whitney Elizabeth 🔥💃🏾 (@lifeWHITme) October 12, 2017
K Jason Momoa apologized for that joke YEARS ago, and has been championing for indigenous womens rights since then. SooOo leave him alone.
— Klassic (@KodieElizabeth) October 12, 2017
Y'all just now finding out about that gross Jason Momoa rape comment? I remember when Tumblr was (rightfully) clamoring about it YEARS ago.
— Ashley Reese (@offbeatorbit) October 12, 2017
While we couldn’t find any direct quotes offering an apology from Momoa (we will update this story if we do), he did direct Road to Paloma, a film that explores the legal loopholes that failed to protect victims of rape by non-natives on Native American reservations. Discussing the film in a 2014 interview with Entertainment Weekly he said, “The biggest thing is that I’m a father, and a husband, and a son, and a grandson. I’ve had the best group of women in my life—and if the law didn’t take care of them, what would you do? It’s one of those injustices that are happening right now, and to bring awareness to it is really what we wanted to do.”
Of course many fans will argue that doesn’t excuse Momoa’s insensitive joke. But it does provide context for why the debate over Momoa has been so complicated—and so heated.
Update 7:03pm CT, Oct. 12: Momoa apologized Thursday.