Last week, the UR Campus Activities Board announced that Josh Peck will be coming at the end of February as a guest speaker. Peck is famous for many things, be it his role as the nerdy step brother on “Drake and Josh,” to having over 7.2 million followers on Vine, a six-second video sharing social media site.
Currently, Peck makes most of his money through small movie parts and Vine, and regularly collaborates with other famous “Viners.” Unfortunately, one of these “Vine stars” he chooses to work and make money with regularly is Curtis Lepore, who, last year, took a plea deal after being charged with raping his ex-girlfriend and fellow Viner Jessi Vazquez (Jessi Smiles on Vine) while she was unconscious. Lepore pleaded guilty to felony assault and immediately began a campaign of sweeping his acts under the rug. Lepore has regularly attacked Vazquez’s character on Twitter and, in one tweet, accused her of fabricating the entire thing in order to “use me for Vine fame.” Lepore has also taken to using his popularity in order to defend his innocence by making fun of Jessie’s accusations, once even tweeting, “fav this if you’d willingly have sex with me.” On his Facebook page, Lepore thanked everyone “for the show” after his trial and even gave thanks to TMZ for calling him famous.
To me, this is inexcusable. By continuing to make Vines with Lepore, Josh Peck is effectively saying that Lepore should be able to remain popular with no consequences. Lepore has remained popular through his good looks and misogynistic defense of his character at every turn, ironically stating that rape culture “is also horrible and makes me want to throw up” while perpetuating it himself.
What is alarming to me is not the question of his innocence but how he chooses to defend himself. Lepore’s arrogance in his popularity and reliance on his young, impressionable fans says one thing: Rapists cannot be handsome, funny or entertaining, and therefore he is not a rapist. But, this is not the case, and by possessing this mindset, Lepore and anyone who chooses to work with him is guilty of perpetuating an untrue and unsafe view on rape and assault. In fact, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 2/3 of assaults on victims are perpetrated by someone they know, and 38% of all victims of rape were close friends or acquaintances of the rapist. Sadly, 98% of all rapists will never go to prison, and Lepore may be one of them.
That is why I am urging UR students not to attend Peck’s talk or do anything else to allow him to make money while he remains co-stars with Curtis Lepore. Lepore will remain in the spotlight through people like Peck and others who choose to work with him, and the only way to send a message to Peck and Lepore is through their wallets. By choosing not to attend, you are telling Peck that until he is no longer associated with Lepore, he will not be making money. In summary, Josh Peck’s affiliation with Curtis Lepore on Vine and other forms of business perpetuate an oppressive culture towards not only women, but all victims of rape. Until he chooses not to associate with Lepore, he will not have my business, and I implore anyone who reads this article to do the same.
Disclaimer: many of these tweets have been deleted by Lepore, and the sources I chose to use gave evidence of Lepore’s social media actions through screenshots of his Twitter before he chose to delete many of the tweets mentioned in this article.
Orman is a member of the class of 2017.