These last few months have left me confused, angry and sad. I know, I’ve been talking about this every month, but hear me out! The #MeToo movement started a tidal wave, and has allowed so many people to come forward and speak the truth. People are finally free to say who has hurt them, and what was done to them. It’s been liberating, truly. But, it’s also difficult.
This isn't new. Years ago, Dylan Farrow accused her adopted father, Woody Allen, of molesting her as a seven-year old girl, but that didn't stop people from being in his movies. Neither did his marriage to Soon-Yi Previn, who was the adopted daughter of his ex-partner, Mia Farrow, and who Woody was basically like a father to. He's kept right on making movies, and lots of people see no problem working with him. However, this new onslaught of women (and men) coming forward feels like it really began with Harvey Weinstein, and now has spread to a multitude of other men in the entertainment industry. So my question is: now what? How do I handle the things that I loved previously, and that helped me through some super hard times, now that I know it’s tainted? For example: Aziz Ansari was most recently accused of coercing a woman into sexual activity she didn’t want to do. Aziz is a comedian, who’s comedy I have enjoyed, and he’s also the creator of a show I’ve enjoyed a lot, “Master Of None”. But, for me, most importantly, is he’s Tom Haverford on “Parks and Recreation”. So, my question is: what now? Normally, I turn to comedy to help me out of messes, and “Parks and Rec” was one of those shows. So, where do I go now? I can’t knowingly go back to this show and support someone who I no longer feel is worth supporting. This is the conundrum I keep coming up against.
So what the fuck am I supposed to do now?
I spent ALL of my 20’s and most of my 30’s in a very, very long relationship with The Backstreet Boys. I dove head-first into that obsession as an 18 year-old right as they started getting some popularity in the States back in 1997. Their music helped me through some seriously rough times, and has been the backbone of my pop-cultured life for 20 years. I’ve withstood many insults, bad songs, terrible solo albums and one night of terrible seasickness for them. I don’t regret it. I met some incredible people, who I am still friends with because of them, and I have great memories. But, Nick Carter has been accused of raping Melissa Schuman back in the early 2000’s. Clearly, I believe her because I don’t think anyone gains anything from lying about things like this. I didn’t hesitate to believe her story the first time I read it, and I don’t hesitate now, and that’s not what I’m conflicted over. The BSB were my safety-net for a very long time, and it’s almost a Pavlovian reaction when I hear them: my heart feels happy, and I get a smile on my face. In the past few months, I’ve heard them a few times come up on random on my iPod or Spotify, and the emotion kicks in and then I realize: goddamnit, this isn’t safe for me anymore. So, what do I do now?
I know I can’t be the only person having these issues, right? In fact, I know I’m not as I had a very long conversation with my sister about this thing very recently. How do we move forward without the things in our lives that were once happy and good now that we’ve found out they are tainted and no longer viable. I recognize this comes from a place of privilege: having the opportunity to question what to do when one of the many things you love and have supported is no longer functional for you when you find out who these people really are. I realize that this is also privileged in the fact that most of these men who have been accused are white. We are now having to reconcile how bad these men, these white men, are. And, we are having to reconcile this because white men have been found out to be attacking white women. It’s not lost on me that the uproar is over the fact that very privileged white women are the ones who’ve started coming forward, when women of color have been saying things for years without anyone listening (R. Kelly, Bill Cosby). But, keeping all of this in mind, how does one move on without their safety net? How does one accept that something they have loved is now not nearly as safe and comforting as it once seemed to be?
It feels as though everywhere I turn lately, things keep coming up bullshit. J.K. Rowling is supporting Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts movie, even though there’s evidential proof he beat his ex-wife, Amber Heard. So much discussion has come from that, and an uproar from the fandom of Harry Potter has been heard and, ultimately, cast aside. We’ve also been told actors and musicians which people have admired: James Franco, Dustin Hoffman, Louis CK, Kevin Spacey, Jesse Lacey from Brand New, and Russell Simmons have all been accused of sexual misconduct, and who knows what else is going to be coming up any day now. I basically hold my breath waiting to hear who the next asshole is going to be. It’s something that I’m sure a lot of us can attest to as not being very fun.
It’s true that we shouldn’t put people on pedestals, and we should never expect anyone to be perfect. But, I can’t help but feel betrayed. As a survivor of sexual assault myself, I turned to the things these men were part of: music, movies, television, comedy to get through the hard times. But, these men used their goodwill and their adoration and wielded it as power to make others do what they wanted them to do. What is the next move for those of us who now feel unsure of what to hold on to for touchstones? Honestly, I don't know. This is a moment where we are now being forced to reckon with how bad some people are, and despite the glowing reviews and accolades, we are seeing these men for who they really are.
But, it still doesn't make it any easier if you wanted to slip away from the troubles of the world for a bit, but you can't figure out where to turn anymore.
I guess this means I have to be my own hero. Maybe that's it?