In his latest film “The Predator”, Shane Back threw some work at a friend named Steven Wilder Striegel in the shape of a bit part as a jogger hassling the character played by Olivia Munn. Nothing wrong with helping your friends, however Black didn’t clue anyone in the cast and crew that his buddy is a registered sex offender. In 2010, Striegel pleads guilty to soliciting a 14 year old kid through the internet into a sexual relationship. He ended up serving six months in jail for two felonies in the state of Connecticut.
Okay…there is so much to say that I will probably run out of gas before I hit all of them. I know a little something about sex offenders since I have supervised those on probation for many years. I know the victims of sexual abuse are still a whole lot closer than I am to the chaos that ensues around these situations, but I am probably still closer than much of the general public.
Shane Black defended his casting of Striegel in his film by suggesting that Striegel was possibly railroaded into his convictions. I guess that happening isn’t beyond the possibility, but it still seems highly improbable, at least according to what I have pieced together from various articles. I do not know how much Black knew about the details of Striegel’s case, but I am guessing not much. Friends and families of sex offender can often demonstrate an amazing capacity to not grasp the legitimacy of most of these reports. Can a false conviction happen? Sure, but I don’t think Striegel was the guy to stand behind. Striegel still pled guilty in a court of law. I know all the excuses for doing that and still proclaiming innocence afterward. I have had to wade through the denials of minimizations many of these offenders spew in the course of my day job. Striegel certainly wasn’t the guy to cast in a major film without discussing it with the cast, crew, and the studio. Of course, everyone probably would have nixed that idea, but Black owed them more courtesy than he did Striegel.
It is rather disappointing because I think Shane Black is one of the better writers and directors, and this decision may cost him dearly, at least for a time.
I am still interested in seeing the movie since the studio did have Striegel’s scene cut. I think Olivia Munn did the right thing on exposing this terrible casting decision. I am glad Twentieth Century Fox axed the scene in question.
There are some decisions that come out of Hollywood that I find are motivated by hysteria and stupidity. This isn’t one of those times. Shane Black screwed up.