Devin Faraci, Film Blogger Accused of Sexual Assault, Breaks Silence in PBS Series on #MeToo
He lost his job atop the film site Birth.Movies.Death when he was accused of assault in the wake of the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape.
The #MeToo movement exploded in a white hot flash of revelations and accusation, toppling powerful men in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, the media and politics. Activist and author Zainab Salbi hopes that her new five-part PBS series #MeToo Now What? — which bows Feb. 2 — will go beyond the salacious headlines and deepen the conversation by deconstructing how we got here and how we can harness this moment for real change across society.
The series includes dozens of interviews with women and men from diverse fields including media, gaming, business, academia, advertising and the restaurant industry. Among them is film blogger Devin Faraci, whose ignominious fall came a year before the current reckoning.
Of course, four months after the first explosive allegations against disgraced film boss Harvey Weinstein were made public, the conversation still largely centers on famous people — whether they are the victims or the accused.
“It did take privileged women speaking up for the world to pay attention,” Salbi tells THR, referring to Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan and the other Hollywood actresses who spoke out about Weinstein's behavior. “But sexism is sexism. It manifests differently from one culture to another. But at its core, it’s exactly the same.”
The series begins by examining the factors that enabled harassment in the workplace to endure despite laws that made it illegal. It also explores how images of women in film, TV and video games have contributed to the objectification of women in the workplace. For PBS, it was a way to broaden the discussion beyond the salacious headlines about famous men whose victims have largely been white and relatively privileged.
“We really had very little interest in focusing on Hollywood and the media,” notes Marie Nelson, PBS’ vice president of news and public affairs. “The starting point for us was widening the lens, because this is an issue that is affecting all of America.”
For Salbi, it was critically important to draw men into a conversation that has heretofore mostly taken place among women. Faraci lost his job atop the film site Birth.Movies.Death in 2016 when he was accused of assault in the wake of the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape featuring Donald Trump boasting about assaulting women, including kissing them against their will and grabbing their genitals.
It was a year before the #MeToo movement. And it was only the first chapter of Faraci’s story. Several months after he lost his job, it was revealed that he was quietly rehired by the CEO of the site’s owner, Alamo Drafthouse. The company was pilloried on social media for its apparent failure to take the issue seriously. The scandal forced Faraci's (final) resignation last September. He has not been heard from since.
Faraci notes that he was “terrified” to speak to her. She also conducts a separate interview with his accuser, Caroline.
“I was suicidal. I thought I was the worst person who ever lived,” Faraci tells Salbi. “I was a total asshole to so many people. And I saw that as a sign of strength, dominance.”
Caroline, who appears on camera but declines to use her last name, notes: “He’s the person who should feel embarrassed about this, and I’m the person who has held on to that embarrassment and shame for so long.”
Salbi won’t reveal who else she has interviewed for the series. But she notes that her goal with the series is to have those “uncomfortable conversations.”
“She talks about her experience of going from shock and anger and then deciding, OK what do I do with this,” Salbi says of Caroline. “It was fascinating for me, his experience and hers. He was known for being a horrible personality and not caring about anyone. And then all of the sudden his life basically is destroyed to now he’s sleeping on the sofa of a friend.
"For me, their story is very powerful," she continues. "And the power of it is in the authenticity. That's my hope for this series, is to really have authentic processes. Get it out. Bring it out. And let’s deal with it.”