Waking Up in a World Where Morgan Freeman is Not God


Waking Up in a World Where Morgan Freeman is Not God

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Dear Mr Freeman,

It’s been a rough day, and really, it shouldn’t have been. Allegations of systemic harassment by a bunch of women in the upper echelons of entertainment, is after all not fresh news these days. But there are people whose name you’d never, for the life of you, imagine seeing on that list. Yours, Mr Freeman, is certainly one. I am obviously in no position to speak for or on behalf of the women you victimised, but my ire is directed squarely at you. But first, let the embers of my recently extinguished love die down.

Here’s the thing (it’s a little embarrassing to admit), but for someone who grew up on the cable TV of the ’90s, you’ve been a father figure of sorts. In the absence of a male role model worthy of emulation, you and your ilk, the sage yet cool, highly respected gentlemen of advanced age (like Bill Cosby) were the original MILFs – Men I’d Like To Follow. Older, endearing virtual fathers, who have now been unmasked as creepy, criminal uncles.

We’ve been conditioned by patriarchy to believe the measure of a man, his worth, stems from his treatment of others.

We could sense, even back then, that your voice was well on its way to becoming the voice of a generation, given that you voiced all the right things – characters with wisdom, navigation systems that guided us home when we’re lost and well… you’ve played God. Your voice has been scientifically proven to be that of a leader; it is part of your allure. Yours was the voice of reason, the voice that added a touch of gravitas to our banal lives.

When I first saw you as Kevin Costner’s Moorish confidant in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, you were spouting lines like, ‘There are no perfect men in the world, only perfect intentions.” And I believed you. It’s now clear that your intentions were anything but perfect when you decided to lift up women’s skirts and offer them unsolicited massages.

You, to quote Jack Nicholson (I wonder if he’ll be next on the list), made me want to grow up be a better man than the ones I had around me.  

My devastation stems from this: If you were to eventually be exposed as a creepy old man, why spend a lifetime building a reputation of being the go-to guy, the antithesis of the toxic alpha male? Why put in that energy? Why become the Red Redding to my youthful Andy Dufresne? It’s as if you knew that the world needed Red Reddings, wise, grey-haired guides for young men incarcerated in their own prisons, men with the kind of fathers who never gave them a reason to look up to them.

But now where do we go? How did it come to pass that we fell asleep one day and woke up the next day in a world where Morgan Freeman has molested a bunch of women? You, Mr Morgan, have not only committed crimes against the women who have now so courageously spoken up, you’ve also erased a chunk of our childhoods.

We’ve been conditioned by patriarchy to believe the measure of a man, his worth, stems from his treatment of others. Thanks to men like you, who exploit their positions in power, women don’t feel safe anywhere. And a tiny part of that collateral damage is that today, men are also on the cusp of a crisis because all our role models have been exposed to have feet of clay and their minds in the gutter. Do not even try to distract us with that traditional bogey of “a moment of weakness” that your fellow harassers and abusers have used in the past. That BS argument can never hold for you or anyone – not once, and certainly not seven times.

Remember that scene from Moll Flanders, where you said, “Circumstances have taught me that a man’s ethics are the only possessions he will take to the grave”? Well Mr Freeman, if that’s true, someday you’re going to meet your maker empty-handed.

Yours truly,

A fan?