Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A woman gets a job. She’s very excited. She meets her new coworkers. Some of them are men. Some of them don’t understand boundaries and cross hers. She’s seen things like this before. After all, she grew up in this world. Is it really any worse than anything else that’s ever happened to her? She isn’t silent, but nothing is done. Or maybe something is done. Something small. Something no one can talk to her about because he deserves his privacy and disciplinary actions are not shared. “Don’t worry,” they tell her. “We didn’t tell him who complained.”
But he’s still there. Are you ready for the twist ending? This part is wild, so get ready for it. He doesn’t change.
Sure, maybe he’s moved on from her because he’s not an idiot who needed to be told who complained. But he’s in exactly the same position he was before.
And the woman? Now she’s a problem. She’s a squeaky wheel. Difficult to work with. A ruiner (corrector) of reputations and careers. Even though the career that’s ruined is more likely to be her own. How dare she. How dare she ruin things for other people. She had to go open her mouth and now everyone loses.
Just in case this particular piece of bad news has been lost in the currents of all the other news, good, bad, uplifting, scary, and wholly awesome (in that it merits actual awe), Adam Donaghey, a producer for Cinestate, was arrested for the sexual assault of a minor on the set of Ghost Story. You know Ghost Story? The movie he made with that other paragon of toxic masculinity, Casey Affleck. It was a huge shock to everyone, I’m sure. Oh, except there’s also been this audio of Donaghey trying to convince a woman in the art department to show him her underwear and and and and… You can find the audio pretty easily, so I don’t need to repeat it here, right?
If only anyone had been able to see any of this coming.
Fangoria, owned by Cinestate since 2018, came out with their ride or die statement. Fangoria said, paraphrasing and with my own understanding, get it together or we’re out. Even if you get it together, it might not be enough. We refuse to be associated with people who would let this go on for so long.
Let’s back up a little bit and talk about Fangoria. Imagine what it’s like to be a creepy kid in the bible belt. Though I identify as nonbinary now, back then I was a teenage girl wearing a Nightmare on Elm Street t-shirt, trying to get the movie theater to sell me tickets to a rated R movie without asking for my ID, trying to get into midnight movies after curfew, trying to make friends with people who didn’t think I was a burgeoning psychopath. And then one day, stumbling upon a copy of Fangoria at MediaPlay, tucked behind other, more respectable magazines. It was the goth equivalent of the sun breaking out of the clouds. I sat on the tile floor, reading every word on every page, even the ads, while my mom did whatever it was that brought us there.
As a weird loner who spent most of my time playing MUDs on AOL, this felt like a real connection. There were other people in the world who cared about blood and guts and fear as much as I did. Enough to write about it and put it in print with color images. It was absolute magic to be able to be with the magazine, engaging in the world I loved, without actually having to talk to anyone. I made my mom buy me a subscription for my birthday for several years in a row until I could afford my own.
It’s possible that now because of those girls no one else will get that moment. If they could have just kept their mouths shut, we could keep Fangoria.
I once had a very good friend ask me if sexual harassment was really as prevalent as we were being led to believe. I started texting him every time something inappropriate happened at work. I worked with the public, in a library, for what it’s worth, in four hour shifts. Every day for a month, I text him no fewer than twice per shift. More than that if a certain broken stair was working that day. The broken stair had been reported to HR by five of us. Because of the nature of our job, he had access to our personal information like physical and email addresses, phone number, etc. A fact that he let us know. I could spend paragraphs going into the specifics of what he did, but it doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter then and this story isn’t about me. At least, it’s not directly about me. But it could be. It hits all the same plot points and story arcs. The villains are fueled by the same avarice that makes inaction and complacency easy.
Like this one. Every time we reported our #notallmen guy to HR, they were surprised. They’d never heard complaints like that before. Or they had and thought it was less serious. If they’d known the severity, they would have certainly done something else, right?
RAINN has a whole page about sexual harassment. I really do urge you to look at it. Especially if you’re sitting there right now, thinking this story looks really familiar. From either side. Because if you’ve been subjected to this, it’s all a bunch of hypereccrisia and even Fangoria is here to tell you that they’d rather die than keep holding up a sick system. And if you’re perpetrating it, you’re out of time.
It’s an easy and natural thing to want to mourn the loss. But the loss of what? Fangoria’s good name? It’s not as if this is the first time something like this has happened. The move they’re making could never be called too little, but it is probably too late. Fangoria itself? We can’t put that on the women in this story. That blame belongs entirely on the selfish/entitled/terrible/disgusting/pathetic/#notallmen* men that used their position of power to manipulate those they thought to prey upon. You know, I can’t help but to see the irony in a company so steeped in horror forgetting the biggest lesson horror movies have taught us: You should have believed her the first time.
* I’m not getting paid by the word. I just couldn’t stop at only one.