In October 2016, Devin Faraci stepped down from his position as editor in chief of Birth.Movies.Death (owned by the Alamo Drafthouse) after being accused of sexual assault. This came after years of terrible behaviour wherein Faraci developed a reputation as a bully and generally unpleasant individual. The sexual assault allegation was a tipping point for an industry who had tolerated his terrible actions and words for many years.
One particular incident, in August 2015, saw Faraci attack screenwriter John Gary on Twitter, giddily trying to goad him into suicide before ‘offering’ to look after his wife in the aftermath. He also told critic Greg Cwik to kill himself in tweets that have since been deleted. He’s known for being, to put it kindly, confrontational at public events, towards other critics and publicists. You don’t have to go far to find a critic or person working in film in LA who’s had a nasty encounter with him, be it an intimidating encounter at a screening or one of his stalker sessions on Twitter. Devin Faraci was never a good guy, even before he was accused of sexual assault. It didn’t matter how hard he tried to cloak himself in the rhetoric of progressive activism and feminist film theory — he was a dick to women.
Now, Devin Faraci seems to be back to work.
There had been word that he was quietly still working for the Alamo Drafthouse, albeit not under his name, which I cannot confirm, but now his byline has appeared on Fantastic Fest’s website. The schedule for the upcoming event includes copy written by Faraci, and as noted by many critics, the chances are that means he’ll be there in the flesh this year. For those counting, that’s just over 11 months. That’s his penance for sexual assault allegations. His bullying, his harassment, his intimidation, his unprofessionalism, his misogyny… 11 months. Not even a year of laying low and now the Alamo are bringing him back into the fold without a word.
I’m not interested in a Javert style lack of mercy. I believe people can change. However, I cannot get over the thought process behind condoning Faraci’s behaviour and nastiness without a year having passed. He may have paid a price professionally during that time but not much. I cannot think of a clearer sign of the industry’s attitude towards women and rape culture than deciding that a year without bylines is enough punishment for a man who has tried to goad no fewer than two men into suicide on social media.
I remember when this story originally broke and being confused by how many major entertainment and trade publications didn’t cover it. Why didn’t Deadline touch it? Or the Daily Beast? Surely this was worthy of reporting? I thought about the number of critics, many of whom I respect, who stayed silent while loudly condemning similar behaviour from other men (like one Donald Trump). I understand professionalism and the awkwardness of dealing with an event like this when it’s someone you know but surely that time had come and gone? I thought about a statement given to Variety by Faraci’s accuser, where she proved to be far more empathetic than I could ever hope to be.
‘I really hope this can be a moment of self-interrogation for all of us, myself included, about the ways we might use positions of power to silence people, and the ways we all turn away from things that might seem a little too complicated to deal with.’
I think it’s safe to say that such moments of self-interrogation did not appear, because if they did, we’d be more discomfited with the reality of the situation. A bully, a harasser, an alleged abuser… Play your cards right and the Alamo Drafthouse will subsidise you until the coast is clear.
Devin Faraci is the monster our industry created. Even before I was writing professionally, I knew of his tactics. I saw the goading tweets, the creepy blog posts, the awful online behaviour that was reflected in his real life, as noted by countless individuals. I watched as people I respected shared his work adoringly while pulling the line of ‘Well I don’t always agree with him but this take is good’, as if trying to goad people into suicide is a hot take you can dismiss. We all watched him be empowered by publicists, critics, editors, the Alamo Drafthouse, the Earwolf Podcast Network, and we let it happen. It didn’t matter that everyone knew he was a bully: Why would it when it brings the clicks? Tim League and the Alamo Drafthouse would not have been unaware of his behaviour while on their payroll, and still it continued.
Enough is enough. It should have been enough 11 months ago. It should have been enough years ago.
I hope that Faraci won’t be at Fantastic Fest, subsidized by a chain of cinemas who prided themselves on their pro-feminist stance when they offered women-only screenings to Wonder Woman. ‘Making amends’ is not the same as keeping quiet for a few months and hoping the wind will change in your favour. This industry, and indeed this world, is hard enough to operate in as a woman without having to worry that the guy who likes to scream at fellow critics and has a reputation for misogyny will be there, paid for and applauded by one of the bastions of contemporary indie cinema.
I’m sick of women having to constantly take the route of forgiveness, as if we owe it to people who treat us like dirt. I’m tired of this field I call my occupation, one I’m often intensely proud of, deciding women can just take one for the team because this one dude brings the page views (and we know he’s not the one bad apple, we know this is a bigger, unacknowledged problem). I’m exhausted with the silence from some quarters, made all the worse by those who don’t think any of this was a big deal in the first place.
I’m in no position to boycott the Alamo Drafthouse as someone a continent away, but I certainly know where my clicks and my kudos won’t be going. I want to celebrate new voices and support those who have been silenced by power. I never want to see Devin Faraci or others of his ilk become the new normal.