Judging by the reactions to Miller’s arrival at the Flash premiere however, this PR campaign hasn’t really worked. While Miller certainly has some defenders, footage from the premiere was mostly met with disapproval and morbid jokes about their various scandals.
But while many of these reactions poke fun at Miller’s history of violent and erratic behavior, The Flash‘s publicity tour also faces more serious critiques of how Hollywood handles abuse allegations.
Miller’s supporters defend them on the grounds that they were going through a mental health crisis. Some also argue that Miller faces extra pressure and judgement as a queer and nonbinary celebrity. But even if that’s the case, Miller’s actions still caused harm to several people, facing allegations ranging from their well-publicized arrests for assault, burglary and harassment, to accusations of child endangerment and partner abuse, and reports of messianic delusions.
There’s a long history of celebrities making comebacks after personal breakdowns or criminal behavior. Hollywood loves a redemption arc. However Miller’s public rehabilitation has attracted a lot of pushback because it seems linked to the release of The Flash.
Under “normal” circumstances, we might expect a controversial figure like Miller to retreat from the public eye for an extended period of time. But with a release date in place for The Flash, Warner Bros. pushed ahead with a promo tour where studio insiders like DC franchise boss James Gunn and The Flash director Andy Muschietti defended Miller’s reputation.
The party line is that Miller was wonderful to work with, delivers a fantastic performance as the Flash, and may return for a sequel if this movie is a hit.
The thing is, it’s entirely possible that Miller was fantastic to work with. Their performance is also getting a positive reception from critics, and they’ve long been praised as a talented actor. But those points aren’t actually relevant to the ethical concerns around Miller’s history of violence and abuse allegations.
In fact, one of the defining issues of the #MeToo era is the understanding that abusers can be shielded by their influence within a certain community or industry. In the case of Hollywood stars, that’s connected to their marketability, their personal charisma, and their connections to powerful industry insiders.
People are now more aware of how these systems function. So it can be hard to accept all this support for Ezra Miller at face value, when it’s coming from people trying to promote a $220 million movie.