The Worst Responses I've Seen To "Phantom's" Casting Controversy

Chris Peterson

 Whenever a news story breaks involving a celebrity, you see a plethora of different responses on social media. Some are condemning, others are rallying support. While some make logical arguments, others lack common sense.

When it comes to the issue of the casting of James Barbour in Phantom of the Opera, I have seen comments that proves to me that sex abuse is an issue that many people get passionate about. Looking at the comments made not only on this blog but on other social media sites, there are some comments that I want to frame because they exemplify exactly how sex abuse and its abusers should be treated. And then there are some that show how far we have yet to go. Here are some of them. I am removed the names and my responses are in below each comment.

"I'm not sure what the balance is here. The man should be able to make a living in his profession. I also think he is a great talent and I will say that "The Soliloquy" from CAROUSEL has never been sung more thrilling than when performed by James Barbour. Are we to accept the law and let him move on with his life, or work to make the rest of his life hell and ruin his career? Should he become a car salesman?"

You're right, he should be able to make a living, but not as a Broadway actor. What James Barbour did was use his position as a Broadway actor as a means to have multiple sexual encounters with a 15 year old girl, which he knew was 15. That's not gossip, that's fact. So if we ban teachers who are convicted of sex abuse from the classroom, why is it okay for James Barbour to return to the environment that he used as a way to engage in sexual contact with a minor? This is a question that no one has been able to answer. Barbour put his career in jeopardy when he committed these acts.

"If his sexual contact with this girl had happened in Austria, Germany, Portugal, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Denmark, or Greece, no one would have cared, and he would have never gone to jail, because it would have been perfectly legal there. The age of consent is either 14 or 15 in all of those countries. In 31 U.S. states, the age of consent is 16. In New York it’s 17."

I've heard this defense before, mostly on Law & Order SVU when a sex offender is trying to justify his actions. And if you want the best legal explanation of how Barbour escaped felony charges, this is the best one.

"A. He was not convicted of a sexual crime. B. The girl is now an actress and it has been said on multiple accounts that she pressed charges for money because she was broke"

A. Yes he was, pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors. Mr. Barbour had to agree to a lengthy series of conditions of probation that are very similar to those that apply to convicted sex offenders. While he was on probation, he had inform the manager, producer or assistant director of any theatrical, film or television project he works in that he had been convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, “having engaged in oral sexual conduct and sexual contact with a 15-year-old child.”

B. Despite that fact that this is false because the victim has never come forward, it doesn't matter the reasons why she came forward to press charges. James Barbour admitted to what she accused him of. Enough said.

"You need to learn about forgiveness. Was it wrong, yes, is he sorry, yes, maybe no, who knows. But, the law has spoken, he has had a clean record, and he has moved on, and now it's time for you to do the same. Your anger and hatred is actually more viral than the actions he did 14 years ago."

So my reaction to sex abuse is more damaging that if I committed sexual abuse? Would you tell this to a sexual abuse victim? He's moved on, why can't you? I mean seriously?!?!?!

"He was charged, he served his punishment, as the Phantom statement said he served his time, has a spotless record, rehabilitated, starred in the AMAZING Tale of Two Cities in one of the most beautiful roles Broadway has seen in a long time and quite honestly should've been Phantom 16 years ago. The fact that it's taken 14 years for him to get here is the SECOND jail sentence on his career that all you idiots think he deserves."

I'm sure Tale of Two Cities was amazing for all 60 performances it had on Broadway. And in your mind:

Prision = Not playing the Phantom on Broadway.

"You're under the impression that people cannot make mistakes. You are also, by default saying that when one makes a mistake, they must be labelled and cannot change."

Sex abuse isn't a mistake, it's a crime. Also, statistically speaking, sex offenders don't change. 

"I don't understand why the girl was in his dressing room before the show was over, and why she continuously returned to his residence despite the actions taken. I question her as much as him."

And here we have the abhorrent trend called, blaming the victim

"She was a 15 year old girl (not exactly a child), and she went to his apartment for sex on more than 1 occasion. I think she "preyed" on HIM when she realized SHE had made a mistake."

I don't like to put people on blast but this one kind of deserves it. His name is Mike Kolstee. Mike is either an internet troll or a moron, probably both.

" I understand why so many Phans are upset. Nevertheless, a significant amount of time has passed since these offenses. Mr. Barbour has matured, married, become a father, and remained clean."

I believe a good deal of time passed since the last time Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulted a boy as well.

"That's how Broadway, and theatre in general, works. And in answer to the "there are hundreds of talented singers...blah blah." Yeah. Of course there are. But they didn't audition, did they? He did. He did better than the others. Best audition gets the role. That's how it goes. So sorry. But that's how the cookie crumbles. Welcome to Broadway, people"

In your opinion, you forgot to add that Broadway is also where young girls get lured to be molested.

"There sure are a bunch of sanctimonious prigs around here. Everybody thinks they know exactly what happened way back then, and they're climbing down the portcullis with pitchforks in hand."

No we're not, we're reacting to what James Barbour admitted he did to a 15 year old girl.

Misunderstood Musicals: "Carrie: The Musical"

Misunderstood Musicals: "Carrie: The Musical"

Center Stage with Special Guest Actress Kristin Huffman