Birth.Movies.Death’s Devin Faraci has resigned from his position as its editor-in-chief. Here is the background story by Dana Harris at Indiewire. But the press continually leaves out one major aspect of this story. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you, but it certainly matters to me. It’s Faraci’s advocacy for women online, specifically women at the center of the gamergate controversy, the Ghostbusters controversy and the need for more representative depictions of women in film. Why it matters is that there is no one in fanboy film culture to take his place, to take on that fight because it’s too hard. So perhaps there is some kind of justice on one end, but it comes with a price.
It’s ironic that the one former fanboy blogger who spent many recent years a transformed person will no longer be contributing to the ongoing debate about women’s representation in video games and superhero/fanboy film culture because of sexual assault allegations online. (It does not sound as if there will be charges, rather a discussion and hopefully treatment.) Surrounding himself with brave and outspoken writers like MTV’s Amy Nicholson and Daily Beast’s Jen Yamato, there was much progress made in how we talk about women in film. It matters because fanboy culture is not exactly known for embracing feminism. That attitude needed to be challenged and destroyed. Faraci was on the way to doing that. Only someone of Devin’s stature could have. He was one of them. He stopped being one of them, even if eventually his past caught up with him.
No one covering this story, not Dana Harris at Indiewire, not Dustin Rowles at Pajiba, not Seth Abramovitch at Hollywood Reporter has noted that Faraci’s loss is a major blow to this fight to undo the damage fanboy culture has wrought on women. Maybe they don’t think it matters. Maybe to you reading this it doesn’t. Maybe you think he made no impact at all, but I can tell you this much: there is a massive population of fanboys who are cheering right now that there is no longer anyone who is going to take them to task for their stream of shit against women.
I have been online since 1994 — a little less than half of my life. Film coverage really wasn’t so overtly sexist until the rise of fanboy culture. The damage done to women in film, how they were represented, making the standard that they had to appeal to 13-year-old boys, ensured many actresses aged out. Even if the pioneers themselves weren’t so strident in their sexism, the communities that rose up around them certainly were. It reached the height of ugliness during GamerGate, when the fanboys verbally assaulted, doxxed, and harassed any woman who dared to challenge the status quo.
Whatever it was that made Devin change, whatever happened to him to cause him to shift his perspective and get on a different side, it made a huge difference in how people talked about women in that culture. The accusation Faraci faced this week was made in light of the videotape that showed Donald Trump belittling women as playthings and boasting that a “star” like him was entitled to “grab them by the pussy.” Talk and actions like these have no doubt been carried around with torturous resentment in the hearts of his accusers for ten years. No woman should have to live with the trauma of Trump’s behavior, and no woman should ever be violated like the girl who suffered abuse that night with Devin Faraci. She absolutely has the right to say it out loud and in public. Any woman who’s been mistreated that way has ever right to speak up. Though I have been sexually assaulted in my life, there’s only one person I’d really love to humiliate publicly. In my case, it was an ex-boyfriend, not an acquaintance who assaulted me, but because what he did was such a violation of trust, it did real damage to me and my daughter. If I ever get that chance to expose him, you can bet I will take it. I do understand where she’s coming from and I applaud her for being so brave.
So, having been there myself, the last thing I would ever do is in any way is blame the victim. I’m fully aware that those who choose to come forward have every right to do so, and hopefully it will give them some relief. Devin’s apology was instantaneous: “I can only believe you and beg forgiveness for having been so vile.” Then he disappeared immediately, shutting down his entire online presence. I believe that it is this woman and this woman alone who has the power to forgive him. (And any others whom he might have abused.) Hopefully Devin will spend time working through this, perhaps in therapy, and find a way to make it up to the women he hurt.
Whatever it was that made Devin’s attitudes and behavior change online, and no matter how much effort he’s devoted to focusing on women — on filmmaking equality, on diversity, on being less of an asshole — his fellow bloggers, men and women alike, aren’t forgiving him for his past actions any time soon. They are prepared to brand him a rapist and as far as they’re concerned, that is that.
As a woman online who has received very little, if any, support from my male colleagues, I find most want me to link to their work but few of them are willing to give me the time of day on anything I write. Sometimes, even though I’ve been here almost longer than anyone else, it is as though I do not exist. Sometimes I think: well, that’s because you suck. And sometimes I think: is it because they are male and I’m female? I try to find examples of the same reverence they feel for each other directed at any other prominent female and I come up mostly empty. The rare exception was Devin Faraci, ironically. Women colleagues tend to be far more supportive and perhaps in light of this incident, we can start to do that more. But piercing fanboy culture will be near impossible.
I wish the women involved all the healing and respect they deserve. Perhaps Devin’s loss of his site, an ouster from the Los Angeles Film Critics and the end of the Canon podcast (or at least a hiatus) will make her feel better. Those who are celebrating ought to know that they are using women for their own secret vengeance. Whatever bad blood exists between themselves and Devin Faraci is between them and him. I also know the internet. I know the film blogging world. I know fanboy culture. Devin’s absence will make a big difference for women, and not in a good way.