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Sexual Misconduct Allegations Aren’t Changing People’s Viewing Habits As Drastically As You May Think

In the wake of #MeToo, a new study finds that, unless your movie or TV show involves Kevin Spacey or Louis C.K., most people's viewing habits remain unchanged.

Kevin Spacey arrives at the 4th Annual Reel Stories, Real Lives Benefit held at Milk Studios, in Los Angeles4th Annual Reel Stories, Real Lives Benefit, Los Angeles, USA

Kevin Spacey

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In the wake of the rise of #MeToo, Time’s Up, and a seemingly never-ending stream of allegations of sexual misconduct against some of Hollywood’s most powerful men, it’s natural to wonder just how much these stories have impacted the viewing habits of the public. According to a new survey: not by much, with only two (very notable) exceptions.

The Morning Consult (via The A.V. Club) recently polled polled 2,202 U.S. adults (both men and women) about whether or not various sexual misconduct allegations (from harassment to rape) against 20 men in the entertainment industry have changed their viewing habits. Per its own perimeters, the “survey asked respondents how much more likely they are to see a film or television series if its trailer included a specific actor, then gauged whether allegations of sexual misconduct would impact that decision.” Of the 20 men listed, including James Franco, Aziz Ansari, Casey Affleck, Jeffrey Tambor, and T.J. Miller, most survey respondents only listed the allegations of just two men as being able to alter their viewing habits: Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K.

The survey found that 46% of all polled adults said that allegations against Spacey had an impact on their decision-making, while 36% said it had less of an impact (yes, that’s how slim the spread is here), while 38% said allegations against C.K. had an impact, and 34% said they did not. Both actors are also the only ones named in the survey whose work is “less likely to be watched” by all the respondents (a handy chart posted by Morning Consult shows how the answers change — slightly — when broken down by gender).

The new survey also tracked viewing habits that relate to Jeffrey Tambor, and was published just days before Netflix aired the Tambor-starring season five premiere of “Arrested Development” after the actor was axed from “Transparent” due to allegations of sexual harassment. It found that “consumers largely don’t care what studios do either way” and “most respondents (71%) said Netflix Inc.’s decision to keep Tambor on ‘Arrested Development’ would make no impact on their viewership or offered no opinion on the matter,” though “a nearly identical percent (72%) said the same of Amazon Studios’ decision to remove Tambor from ‘Transparent.'”

The Morning Consult also spoke to experts in the field, who provided important context to the findings, including Susan M. Tellem, a partner at the Los Angeles public relations firm Tellem Grody PR Inc., who noted that “people forget, forgive, or don’t even know” about these allegations. Tellem also pointed out that “the American public is pretty forgiving when it comes to bad celebrities,” especially if the actor in question was already liked by viewers before allegations were made.

Read the full survey right here, complete with various graphs and charts (the top one is particularly illuminating).

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