It’s been just over 24 hours now since the whole world (at least our little movie loving online corner of it) blew up over the Andy Signore of Screen Junkies situation. I initially decided to not say anything about it since A) I don’t know enough, B) I’m horrendously unqualified and this stuff is WAY outside my wheelhouse C) I’m friends with and have been in communication with one of the victims and D) The person at the center of this is a former “competitor” of mine so anything I say (considering C and D) would be considered incredibly biased anyway.
Besides, I’m just a film pundit. A relatively unknown one at that. Who the fuck cares what I think about this? We all basically think the same thing about it so why just repeat what everyone else is saying?
However, today I heard some very disturbing conversations about this subject that prompted me to want to say something. And maybe it isn’t my place to say anything. I wouldn’t blame you a single bit if you think that. I freely, with no offense taken, invite you to stop reading this if that’s the case because I don’t blame you at all.
THIS IS NOT SIMPLY ABOUT A GUY’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMEN. IT’S ABOUT A HEINOUS ABUSE OF POWER.
The long and short of the conversations I heard and read today involved some people (all guys by the way) who were making the argument that while what Andy allegedly did was inappropriate, it was hardly a fireable offense. The thinking these guys had was that it shouldn’t be a crime to tell a woman she’s “hot”. They argued that simply expressing interest in a woman shouldn’t be considered “evil”. Sure, “some flirting” may not be a smart thing to do with someone who works for you, but it’s not the end of the world they said. To be fair, these guys also acknowledged that what he did was “stupid” and not “right”, but that he shouldn’t be vilified “just because he has certain attitudes about girls”.
Let me say that I don’t think these guys are completely wrong (generally wrong, but not totally). I’ll agree to the point that the things they’re talking about are not deserving of destroying a person’s career and life over. It IS certainly deserving of HR getting involved, some mandatory sensitivity training and perhaps work probation.
But the problem is that this isn’t a situation of a person having an inappropriate attitude. People are not in a complete uproar because he called a girl “hot”. Andy didn’t get suspended because he “expressed interest” in a woman. This situation is as big as it is because he flagrantly, unequivocally and viciously abused his power.
Telling a girl that she needs to obey your instructions OR ELSE you’ll fire her boyfriend from his job is not on the same level as simply telling her she’s hot. Bringing a sex toy to a woman’s hotel room and instructing her to penetrate herself with it, trying to leverage your power over her and her situation is not on the same level as “expressing interest”. Telling an intern, someone you have power over their person and their situation, that you want to “jack off” in front of them is not on the same level as “some flirting”.
Is this about men’s attitudes towards women? An argument can legitimately be made that it certainly starts there. If I’m going to be honest, I don’t think men, including myself, have the slightest clue what women face in the workplace and how our attitudes affect them. Bad and outdated attitudes are tricky because we don’t even recognize they’re there most of the times and we become oblivious to how our attitudes may be affecting those around us. I think we, myself included, have failed in the sense that we’ve become complacent in trying to recognize, identify and rectify these attitudes. We’ve become content in being blissfully ignorant of our own attitudes. This acceptance of the willful ignorance of our disrespect is an act of disrespect in and of itself. Disrespect both to the women around us and to ourselves as well.
The problem is, unchecked attitudes can eventually lead to unchecked actions… the kind we’re seeing in the Andy Signore situation.
The horrifying part is that since I believe many of us men foster some unhealthy/unproductive/unfair attitudes and just ignore them or pretend they aren’t there… we’re not many steps away from having those unchecked attitudes lead us to unchecked actions. As I heard one guy say today: “yeah, but I’d NEVER threaten to fire someone, or their boyfriend/husband just because they wouldn’t suck my dick”. Don’t believe yourself.
If you have an infection on your foot, you can do 1 of 2 things. 1) Pretend it isn’t there. Yeah you don’t like the infection, and you’re not happy it’s there, but maybe if you just ignore it and pay it no attention it won’t really bother you or anyone else around you. Obviously it will eventually spread through your body and inevitably kill you. But at least you didn’t have to deal with it. Option 2) Deal with it. Identify the infection, recognize how it can affect you and possibly those around you and have it taken care of so you can enjoy many more years of healthy and happy existence.
So I guess to sum up I have 2 points:
1) The Andy situation is not simply about poor attitudes. It’s about horrible actions in the form of criminally abusive behavior through abuse of power.
2) It’s our attitudes that lead to crap like this. Most of us, including me, probably harbor some of these attitudes even if we don’t’ recognize them. As men, we owe it to ourselves and the women around us, to take a more active role in trying to identify those attitudes and work them out before they lead us to actions like the ones Andy is accused of. We shouldn’t fool ourselves that we could never possibly do something like what Andy is accused of. Everyone who has ever done what Andy is accused of has told themselves at one time or another it’s something they’d never do.
This Andy situation should be a very loud and very poignant wake up call for us.
Finally, and for complete transparency, I have always gotten along with Andy Signore. My personal experiences with him have always been positive. Even as a competitor we’ve always been on friendly terms. He reached out to me both when I left AMC and when I left Collider to check in on me and wish me well. He’s offered several times for me to be involved with Screen Junkies and a few of their shows. I have had Andy on my Masters Of The Web panel and had him guest on Collider shows several times when I was there and always thought his contributions were positive ones.
None of that makes up for or justifies what he is accused of. I just wanted to be open and honest with what my direct dealings with him have been like.
I’m not going to address the Andy situation on my YouTube channel at all. My YouTube channel is for talking about movies and the movie world. Not talking about other people who talk about the movie world.