Cuba Gooding Jr has sparked outrage and disgust on social media after he was filmed lifting up co-star Sarah Paulson’s dress at the annual PaleyFest in Los Angeles.
During the press conference for American Horror Story: Roanoke, the stars of the hit series took to the stage in Los Angeles to discuss the series.
As Kathy Bates walked out to rapturous applause, Paulson leapt out of her seat to greet her. As the two women hugged, however, Gooding Jr took it upon himself to lean forward and lift up Paulson’s skirt.
Exposing the actor’s legs to the crowd, Gooding Jr failed to stop what he was doing – and, indeed, for a moment, it seems as if Paulson was initially unaware of his actions.
When she realised what was happening, however, Paulson was seen letting out a cry of alarm and pulling the garment forcibly back down to cover her legs.
Paulson and the panel appeared to carry on as normal after the commotion, but fans quickly took to Twitter to express their shock over Gooding Jr’s “inappropriate” behaviour.
One user tweeted: “Cuba disrespectfully lifted Sarah's dress in front of thousands of people and cameras.”
Another wrote: “How would @cubagoodingjr react if a man walked up to his daughter, Piper and lifted her dress up behind her back? #itsneverok.”
“Massive creep,” raged one user.
One fan’s post read: “What happened to Sarah Paulson yesterday at #PaleyFest was so disrespectful and definitely not OK or funny.”
And, addressing Gooding Jr directly, one user wrote: “Hi dude, did you apologise to Sarah?
“You should if you didn’t because what you did was gross and disrespectful.”
Others, however, have sought to defend Gooding Jr from the backlash, insisting it was “just a joke”.
Despite the digital debate, neither Paulson nor Gooding Jr has publicly addressed the incident.
Paulson, 42, and Gooding Jr, 49, have starred with each other in both AHS: Roanoke and American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson, in which they played lawyer Marcia Clark and OJ Simpson respectively.
Speaking about her role to Vogue, Paulson said: “[Clark] was portrayed as a sort of cardboard cutout of a bitchy, aggressive, ambitious woman. Very intense, fiery, strong, too smart for her own good—whatever that means…
“If I used [those words] to describe a man they would be considered attributes. You call a man intense, fiery, ambitious, too smart, and you go, ‘Oooh, I want that guy to represent me.’ But these very same words used to describe a woman become really negative. I was guilty of believing them myself and I am a woman.”
She added: “There’s something that happened in the zeitgeist where women were not embracing her. And I think it’s because we have our own ideas of what we think womanhood looks like and what we want that to be.
“Who cares if she’s wearing concealer? She’s trying to put a man she believes to be guilty in jail. Why is any of what she’s wearing or her hair or makeup choices, why does any of that have anything to do with her capabilities? Why is this even a conversation?”
Paulson’s sensitive and layered portrayal has since spurned a change in public opinion towards Clark, with many now viewing her as a “feminist hero”, who battled countless sexist obstacles as a woman in a male-dominated workplace.
Images: Rex Features