Hallelujah!

Hollywood Blacklist

November 21, 2017

Tony used to be a mixed-martial-arts fighter, which is another reason I had questions about the Spacey encounter. Tony can put just about anyone out cold on their ass. So what’s the deal? Why did he let the Spacey encounter get to him? I had many questions, so I called my friend to ask them.

“I’ve been pissed off about it for fourteen years,” Tony told me as I chatted with him while he was between shots while working on a film in Seattle. He explained to me that on the night in question back in 2003, he had been in the bar working on the “paper cut” (a preliminary paper outline that is used to guide a filmmaker during the editing process) of Overnight. He was understandably tense; Weinstein had not yet caught wind of the film. Had he found out about it, he might have tried to file a preemptive injunction, which would have hurt the film’s chances of getting “errors and omissions” insurance.

Tony’s goal that night was to work in peace on a project that was, at the time, top secret. So Spacey and his sack-grabbing was the last thing he needed. The frustration he felt was due not so much to the groping itself, but the circumstances. “I’m already in this state of having to keep my mouth shut about Overnight, and now I can’t talk about this, either,” Tony told me. Spacey was powerful and respected at the time. Had Tony caused a fuss, he’d have to worry about yet another major Hollywood player who might try to blacklist him (Overnight is essentially about how Weinstein blacklists filmmakers). Worse still, Tony would have been attacked as a liar (and perhaps even a “homophobe”), as Spacey never copped to being gay back in those days. In fact, Tony believes that the wall of protection the town built around Spacey to help him stay closeted contributed to his years of bad behavior:

People that come out of the closet can enjoy their sexuality. There’s a freedom in that. It seems like when you’re hiding it and you’re a high-profile figure, that might lend itself to deviant behavior, and even predatorial behavior, because you have power, and because you know that it will be kept private.

I asked Tony how he would have handled the incident had the offender been anyone other than Spacey. What if it had just been some random bar dude? “I would have taken the person down to the ground. Because of my training in MMA, I would have taken him down to the ground, where I would have started to strike him or restrain him,” Tony replied.

I followed up: “If it had gone down that way, do you think you would have had any of the lingering psychological effects?”

“I don’t think that I would have, no. You’re the first person to ask me that, in that context. No, I would have been able to respond. And I would have been able to talk about it afterwards. But the way it went down…I felt gelded.”

And there’s the core of it. Tony’s frustration came from the fact that he felt hamstrung. He couldn’t hit back, and he couldn’t speak about the incident. He sought therapy because at least here was someone, outside of Hollywood and bound by confidentiality, with whom he could share the story and express his anger.

At that moment, I realized the difference between my experience and Tony’s. I was able to physically fight off my attacker, and afterwards I was able to talk about it, laugh about it, with anyone who’d listen. At no point did I feel “gelded.” That’s why there were no lingering psychological aftereffects. Tony’s experience was entirely different, and I’m sure it mirrors the experiences of most of the women who’ve been victimized by powerful Hollywood predators. It’s not just about the “touching”; it’s about feeling silenced and suppressed by a cruel and vindictive industry that loves its blacklists and enforces them for reasons both grand and petty.

I have no sympathy for the likes of Spacey, Weinstein, or any of the lesser gropers and pervs. If they now find themselves on a lifetime Hollywood blacklist, it’s damn good enough for them, as this was the fate their victims feared more than anything else. They’ll live the rest of their lives in a solitary-confinement cell they had constructed to imprison others.

Perhaps the greatest irony yet in a story brimming with them.

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