by Sandy DeVito, Witchqueen of Darkness
Hey y’all. Sandy, your Witchqueen of Darkness here. If you know me in my daily life, or you have been following my film reviews and criticism for awhile, you may know already that I’ve often sung the praises of Shane Black, director of two films I love Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys and writer for many more. I’ve watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang probably thirty times, no exaggeration. I can quote that whole movie with music queues and sound effects and facial expressions. I fucking LOVE that movie, you know? It’s in my top ten of all time. So you can imagine: I was really excited for his Predator movie. I’ve been following the production since it was announced last year. I hounded Rosalie to give me the screener when it came up. There was this incredible cast lined up! I was stoked. But then something happened.
It recently came to light that Black cast a personal friend named Steven Wilder Striegel in a scene in the film, a person who is a convicted sex offender in a case involving a 14-year-old minor. Black was aware of the person’s history, and chose to withhold this information from the rest of the cast and crew. Black had also hired his friend for past films, including The Nice Guys, which included 14-year-old cast member Angourie Rice. At some point, Predator cast member Olivia Munn found out (after having to shoot a scene with Striegel) about his history. She personally demanded that Fox cut the scene. Fox did indeed comply and the scene has been cut from the film, but since then, Munn has been repeatedly interviewed discussing a complete lack of support from the cast and crew (later, co-stars Keegan Michael-Key and Sterling K. Brown claimed to have reached out to her personally). Black made a public statement, but failed to contact Munn personally. Munn described her co-stars cancelling interviews with her and one costar apparently walking out of a joint interview when the subject was breached. Munn described feeling ostracised and “shunned”, watching her co-stars give Black a standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival when they had failed to support her in any meaningful way. Y’all, listen. I’m gonna keep this brief because, as women, we already constantly have to do so much teaching and so much emotional labor regarding shit like this. And I am tired. I am so fucking tired. I am tired of women doing the obvious right thing and being ostracized by their community for it. I’m tired of women being the only ones to stand up and fucking do something, only to be abandoned by the people who, if they weren’t going to be fucking brave enough to do something themselves, should have been the first people to rally around her in a protective circle. How dare these people abandon her? It made my blood absolutely boil. It made me fucking sick. This cast is full of actors I like, actors whose careers I’ve felt interested in; this director is one whose work I have devoted hours and hours of my life to. This behavior isn’t just a shameful betrayal of Munn; it’s a betrayal to any woman who has loved Black’s work. It’s a betrayal to any woman who has expected the men around her who have loudly professed to be allies, wearing Time’s Up pins, talking about how much they loved Wonder Woman , to help her and aid her when she makes a personal decision to place herself in a harmful, vulnerable, possibly dangerous situation by speaking loudly about injustice, only to have them turn around and walk away. How could I devote my time, energy and attention to watching a film involving people who failed her so utterly? So, I didn’t. I decided not to go to that screener. I felt deeply sick when I thought about pretending all this wasn’t happening, sick when I contemplated trying to enjoy this film with this knowledge in the back of my mind. I can’t just go along with all this, y’all. A woman is being penalized by the Hollywood machine for doing the right thing. And the people who have a responsibility to aid and defend her have failed her.
Here’s what I want to say, and then I’m done talking about this because it’s not my job to try to educate y’all about how to treat women like people. Allyship is always, always, ALWAYS FUCKING ACTIVE. Passive allyship is false allyship. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, there for fairweather, capitalist imitations of feminism, when real feminism demands your active participation; demands you putting your personal comfort, perhaps even your job or your safety or your reputation with other men on the line to PROTECT AND DEFEND WOMEN. Sure, it’s easy to send a Twitter soundbite out into the void, but these men should have been sitting with her in this interview. They should have quietly sat in respect to her at TIFF. They should be shouting about her bravery from the rooftops. I’m sick of all these fake bros out here. We need only those we can truly rely on to help us when we need you the most. Do better.
Start fucking doing better.