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Shane Black Had to Cut His Sex Offender Friend out of The Predator, but Why Was He Cast to Begin With?

This week in Men Gonna Men.

shane black

UPDATED at 1:40pm PST with Black’s additional comments

20th Century Fox was forced to make a last-minute change to the final cut of Shane Black’s The Predator after it was revealed that registered sex offender Steven Wilder Striegel played a small role in the film. How does a convicted sex offender get cast in a major motion picture without anyone noticing it? Easy, he was hired by his buddy, Shane Black.

Striegel pleaded guilty to two felonies, risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer, in 2010. Said minor was 14 years old at the time and a relative of Striegel’s. Striegel served six months in jail and was placed on the sex offender registry. A longtime friend of Black’s, his first job out of jail was a small role in Iron Man 3, followed by an appearance in Black’s The Nice Guys.

A spokesperson from Fox said the studio was unaware of the actor’s history, saying, “Our studio was not aware of Mr. Striegel’s background when he was hired. We were not aware of his background during the casting process due to legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors.” It wasn’t until actor Olivia Munn found out and promptly brought the issue to Fox that Striegel’s scenes were cut.

Munn said in a statement that she found it “both surprising and unsettling that Shane Black, our director, did not share this information to the cast, crew, or Fox Studios prior to, during, or after production. However, I am relieved that when Fox finally did receive the information, the studio took appropriate action by deleting the scene featuring Wilder prior to release of the film.”

Striegel’s role was as a jogger who repeatedly hits on Munn’s character. It is galling that Black cast his friend as a character who harasses Munn, especially in light of her publicly calling out Brett Ratner for sexual harassment. Casting a sex offender opposite a sexual harassment survivor is all kinds of gross.

Shane Black issued a response, saying, “I personally chose to help a friend, I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly.” He followed it up by saying that he thinks Striegel was “caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous.”

Really, dude? Really? What’s not “lecherous” about hitting on a 14-year old female relative and sending her sexually explicit messages? How is this a defensible position? Apparently, the only thing Black can’t write is a real apology. Black’s behavior, while obviously disappointing, is part of a larger issue endemic to the #MeToo era: men defending other men regardless of their abhorrent behavior.

It’s the “bros before hoes” ethos on steroids. When men cover for each other’s shitty behavior, they are just as culpable and guilty as their bros committing sex crimes. It’s misogyny protected by fraternity, and it’s a major factor in why sexual harassment and assault is underreported, under-convicted, and often more damaging to the victim than the accused.

With the #MeToo movement in swing, many men are asking their female friends, family members, and partners what they can do to be better. Stop supporting your garbage friends and giving them opportunities is a great place to start.

UPDATE:

Shane Black has issued a new statement, apologizing for his actions:

“Having read this morning’s news reports, it has sadly become clear to me that I was misled by a friend I really wanted to believe was telling me the truth when he described the circumstances of his conviction. I believe strongly in giving people second chances – but sometimes you discover that chance is not as warranted as you may have hoped.

After learning more about the affidavit, transcripts and additional details surrounding Steve Striegel’s sentence, I am deeply disappointed in myself. I apologize to all of those, past and present, I’ve let down by having Steve around them without giving them a voice in the decision.”

(via LA Times, image: Pool/Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.