I am absolutely not qualified to talk about any of the major stories in the world today; The Irish referendum on abortion, Harvey Weinstein finally getting arrested, Morgan Freeman repeatedly harassing female co-workers. Beyond showing my support for women having more autonomy over their own bodies and condemning the acts of monsters, there’s not a whole lot else that I need (or should) say.
We don’t need another male voice on women’s issues floating around in the echo chamber. So I won’t be discussing any current events surrounding attacks against the liberties of women.
Ron Howard: “He will”
Having said that, the incident with the cast of Arrested Development is at least related to television, an area that I can discuss with a very very minor degree of authority. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or cross a line, so I want to start out by unequivocally condemning the on-set actions of Jeffrey Tambor. Plenty of talented, older comedic actors don’t sexually, or verbally, harass cast, or crew, members. So while I find his prior works entertaining, there’s absolutely no reason anyone should want to work with him again.
I’ve been thinking about the cast’s interview with the NY Times a lot over the last couple of days. I read it on the day it was published and came to similar conclusions as most. We saw Jason Bateman mansplain, Jessica Walter bravely reveal details on an incident that happened on set between herself and Tambor, and where in the ever-loving heck was Michael Cera?!?
So I went to bed that night, thinking about the exchange between the cast members. Among everything else I found it amusing that they seem to be as dysfunctional as the family they play on-screen. Which might actually explain their amazing comedic chemistry. It could be that the casting directors intentionally brought together a group of actors that they knew would rub each other the wrong way.
They am become Bluth!
Then I woke up to see that Bateman and David Cross has been accused of gaslighting Jessica Walter in the moments after her revealing the verbal attack from Tambor. I tilted by head to one side and verbally said, “hmm”. I genuinely had to think about that for a moment. As someone who has previously been a victim of prolonged gaslighting in a relationship, it really made me stop and think.
For those who don’t know, the term ‘gaslighting’ is used when someone intentionally manipulates the reality of someone else, to the point where the victim begins to question their own sanity. Techniques used by attackers include denial, misdirection, contradiction and lying. It’s typically associated with sociopathic and narcissistic behaviours.
In my experience with gaslighting, in what hopefully makes up an informed opinion, I think that’s a pretty heavy word to throw around so quickly.
So I re-read the article from a new perspective, and then dove down the rabbit hole of secondary articles commenting on the reaction to the article. I saw headlines like ‘Arrested Development Men Accused of Gaslighting Jessica Walter to Defend Jeffrey Tambor’ which immediately set off alarm bells in my head.
To dissect this particular headline, it implies that all of the other men in the room were attempting to gaslight Walter. While I can see where the argument can be made for Bateman and Cross, this implies that Will Arnett and Tony Hale were also involved. Which they absolutely were not. Now we have users on various social media platforms branding the entire male cast as toxic, despite the fact that Arnett and Hale listened to Walter and did nothing but condemn the actions of Tambor.
Now let’s talk about the ‘defending of Jeffrey Tambor’ portion. At no point did any of the cast members say that what Tambor did was okay. In fact, the most forgiving person of Tambor’s actions was actually Walter herself.
“I have to let go of being angry at him. He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go. [Turns to Tambor.] And I have to give you a chance to, you know, for us to be friends again.”
And because I’m not a clickbait article writer who needs to produce quotes out of context in order to shock you one way or another, she then went on to say…
“In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set. And it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now. I just let it go right here, for The New York Times.”
After Bateman’s mansplaining, and man-oh-man did he mansplain, on how the industry supposedly works, Walter corrects him by stating that nothing as bad as Tambor’s verbal abuse has ever happened to her. She even gets the final say on the subject before the interviewer moves on to a lighter topic.
“I’ve just given it up. And you know, there’s something really, really freeing about that now. I realize that. I don’t want to walk around with anger. I respect him as an actor. We’ve known each other for years and years and years. No, no, no, no. Of course, I would work with him again in a heartbeat.”
It’s my opinion that Bateman was not attempting to gaslight Walter, but was attempting to play mediator in a very public media interview that he knew would negatively effect the job that he, and everyone else present, needed to do; Promote their new show.
The only reason I felt as though I needed to say something is because the last twenty-four hours have been about dragging mediators through the fire, whilst ignoring some of the wishes of Walter and seemingly putting Tambor’s actions on the back burner.
Seriously, check out some of those articles. Do a quick google search and you’ll see websites first and foremost condemn Bateman, with a little sidenote about the latest Tambor revelations. With some of Walter’s later comments being ignored at the same rate as Tambor’s actions. It’s twisted when you stop to think about it for a moment.
It could be that I’ve just mansplained the entire situation. That I’ve just mansplained Bateman’s mansplaining. If I have, then I apologise. Having experienced gaslighting, and the cocoon that it put me in for months, I just felt compelled to comment on a situation where the word was being thrown around with shocking ease.
And I don’t know guys, people are very much entitled to have opinions. I’d love to hear from anyone who has differing opinions from my own. If I’m wrong to not venomously strike out at “the male cast” and only Tambor, then I’d love to be educated. As long as it’s in more than 280 characters.
I just think that, as a society, we should be condemning the actions of an abusive person and listening to all of the words of the victim, before we start attacking third parties.
Did Bateman handle the situation well? Hell no!
But can we please listen to victims and then slay the monsters, before we burn the village idiot alive.
Today is Friday, May 25th and the final track on Modern Vampires of the City sounds like the Bagpuss theme.