• French actor Gerard Depardieu is in the middle of a scandal
  • He has been of sexually abusing several victims
  • Many colleagues have stepped up in support

In a stunning display of solidarity, over fifty French luminaries have banded together in a fervent defense of Gerard Depardieu, the titan of French cinema, against a rising tide of sexual misconduct allegations. The essay, a veritable who's who of French culture including Carla Bruni and silver screen legends like Charlotte Rampling, has ignited a firestorm of controversy.

He has many friends around too

Published in the right-leaning 'Le Figaro,' the essay is a battle cry against what signatories call a "lynching" of Depardieu's character, a "torrent of hate" that threatens to engulf his legacy. "When Gerard Depardieu is targeted this way, it is the art (of cinema) that is being attacked," the essay declares, painting a grim picture of a world deprived of Depardieu's thespian prowess.

More than 50 French performers, writers and producers published the essay Tuesday defending film star and national icon Gerard Depardieu amid growing scrutiny of his behavior toward women during his long-standing career. Advocates for sexual abuse victims expressed dismay at the outpouring of support.

The backlash, however, has been swift and severe. Feminist Paris lawmaker Raphaëlle Rémy-Leleu has slammed the essay as a "denial of reality," urging support for victims of sexual violence instead. Emmanuelle Dancourt, a voice for #MeTooMedia, expressed how the essay's message is a slap in the face for those who have suffered at the hands of powerful men.

A recent documentary outlined accusations of sexual misconduct by 16 women against Depardieu, and showed the actor making obscene remarks and gestures during a 2018 trip to North Korea. The France-2 documentary prompted calls by some to stop airing Depardieu’s films, which include classics of modern French cinema.

In response, Tuesday’s essay says: "We cannot remain silent in the face of the lynching targeting him, the torrent of hate being dumped on his personality."

The letter said Depardieu was being attacked "in defiance of a presumption of innocence from which he would have benefited, like everyone else, if he weren't the cinema giant he is."

Depardieu, who turns 75 on Wednesday, called the signatories "courageous" and praised the letter. "I thought it was beautiful," he told broadcaster RTL by phone.

The story continues to divide the French!

Even French President Emmanuel Macron has not been spared the public's ire, having praised Depardieu as a source of national pride, only to be criticized for his timing amidst the scandal.

Paris lawmaker and feminist Raphaëlle Rémy-Leleu said the signatories are experiencing a "denial of reality." She said she would have preferred for them to support initiatives against sexual violence instead.

"They are refusing to see what this man did … because he is an artist," she told broadcaster France-Info. 

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There's bound to be so much more to be told here as the investigations and allegations continue to unfold!

The controversy continues to be fueled by the recent documentary that casts a shadow over Depardieu's conduct, including a segment with the actor making lewd comments about a young girl. The authenticity of the footage has been confirmed, further complicating the narrative.

As the debate rages on, the question remains: Can the art be separated from the artist, or will the allegations against Depardieu mark the end of an era for French cinema? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain—the conversation about sexual misconduct and accountability in the celebrity world has never been more heated.