By: Matthew McKenzie
Los Angeles, California- In the early morning of Sunday, January 26th, retired Laker superstar Kobe Bryant and 9 others including his daughter Giana Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan passed away in a horrendous helicopter accident in Calabasas in Los Angeles, California.
In the wake of this undeniable tragedy the totality of the life of Kobe is rightfully being discussed from super fans to people who have never seen him play. Having grown up watching him, the man who taught us the mamba mentality and who has hit so many iconic shots, it really felt like a part of my childhood died. I’ve been a part of these debates surrounding the highlights, the career, the accolades, still though there is a side of the fame that is not at all unique to Kobe, that is not as easily talked about.
It must be acknowledged that Bryant was accussed of raping a women in Colorado in 2003, a lawsuit that was dropped and was later settled out of court. Bryant and the case is not the focus of this article but merely used to present how the power of celebrity can change perspective on a famous person. This though has begun to be challenged in recent times with the rise of such social movements such as #MeToo. The #MeToo movement is a central part of our mainstream culture, especially when it comes to the entertainment industries and it should be. The empowering of the voices of victims of sexual assault is something that should be an imperative. In our society where the abuse of women is still prominent, we need to continue to put pressure on those in power who are abusers, as well on the people who allow for an environment where these crimes can occur.
For a lot of people this is a time of mourning for an idol but for others it can be something quite different, a reminder to survivors who see celebrities connected to sexual assault celebrated and feel a level of powerlessness that really can not be fathomed by non-survivors.
It is important to remember these are not an attack on the memories you have of your favorite athletes, actors or musicians but the rightful statement of existence by people impacted by sexual assault.