Tim League’s Redemption of Devin Faraci
Eleven months ago, after accusations of harassment were leveled against him, Devin Faraci resigned from his Editor-in-Chief post at Birth.Movies.Death. It was a quintessential “life comes at you fast” moment, wherein the allegations against Faraci were brought up specifically in response to his public condemnation of then-Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s statements about assaulting women. Prior to these allegations, Faraci had very publicly traded on the reputation of being a male ally of feminism; to hear the charges brought to light was a harsh reminder that some individuals will profess any ideals they can in order to have access to a victim. The fox is always in the henhouse, and women know it.
Because we know it, we were especially alarmed to learn last night that Tim League, owner of the Alamo Drafthouse, which keeps Birth.Movies.Death up and running, has announced Faraci’s return to that platform. Worse, League only made that announcement after a Pajiba piece broke the news. It sets a dangerous precedent; one wherein a man can commit a wrong, can victimize a vulnerable person, and be forgiven for that action without actually apologizing. It also implies that League was hoping to slip this fact under the noses of BMD’s audience without anyone being aware of what was happening. The text of League’s announcement itself is especially disturbing, because not only does it show a willingness to protect and stand with a victimizer, but it shows a clever and dangerous ability to co-opt the language of the victimized in service of his goals:
“A culture of sexual harassment and gender inequality persists in our society and specifically within the film industry, and much work remains to fix this problem. By engaging in dialogue about these issues, and by holding people responsible for their actions, we can begin to bridge the gap between where we are now, and where we need to be. Without question, sexual misconduct is impermissible. The question is whether there is any path to redemption, and if so, what that path looks like.”
League professes to hold people responsible for their actions in the very same post in which he announces that he is reinstating a man who has admitted to sexual assault with no legal response. This is an important distinction to make–when accused, Faraci stated that while he didn’t remember the incident, he had no doubt that it had happened, and despite that admission, no charges were brought. Sexual assault is not just an uncomfortable mistake people make, it is a crime. That League can simultaneously acknowledge the permissibility of these crimes in our culture and yet reinstate a man who is guilty of them shows me that he is not only ignorant of the implications of his actions, but that he is actively inclined to protect a man whom he knows to be an abuser.
“Devin has spent the time since this allegation examining the choices he made that led to it. He has recognized and acknowledged his struggles with substance abuse; after stepping down, he immediately entered recovery and has been sober ever since. This is an important step in the right direction.”
Yes, sobriety is a noble goal for a substance abuser, but what does this have to do with sexual assault? There’s no established link of causation between substance abuse and assault; while the two very often appear in the same scenarios, generally the kind of person who will assault another will do so whether or not they’re intoxicated. Putting the onus on Faraci’s substance abuse is, in this case, a transparent attempt to take the blame out of his hands directly–It wasn’t him, you see, it was the drink. This is a lie that abusers tell so that you will feel sympathy–it is the close cousin of “I just lost control,” because you can hardly blame a person if they’re not in control of their actions, right? But here’s the thing: if the substance abuse was at fault, Faraci wouldn’t exclusively have targeted women in vulnerable positions. If he was truly not in control of his actions, then his assault would have been a blatant, public thing, heedless of consequence. That it wasn’t proves the lie–Faraci knew what he was doing was wrong, which is why only a vulnerable person was targeted. When a second person came forward with similar accusations, how interesting that that person was similarly female, and vulnerable. He was–is–aware of the culture’s permissibility, of the difficulty in obtaining legal recourse; he is aware of a societal tendency to ignore, downplay and otherwise write-off the complaints of women who have been assaulted, and he takes advantage of that for his gain, at the expense of women’s safety. League is aware of these things too, because he is a man, which is why when the second person with allegations came forward, he personally requested that she keep those allegations–and their conversation about them–private. [Editor’s note: While the second woman accusing Faraci has posted publicly about her allegations, she has recently tweeted that she would prefer screenshots not list her name to prevent harassment, and so they and her name will not be printed here].
Tim League has nothing to lose by letting this dialogue go public–it does not endanger his reputation or that of the Alamo Drafthouse in any way–unless he is intent on keeping Devin Faraci in his employ, unless he is intent on protecting a man who has, by this point, admitted that he is an abuser. He knows this, which is why when the second woman’s accusations are again brought up in the comments of his announcement, he feigns ignorance of them.
One wonders if he simply didn’t think she had the evidence anymore when he chose to lie about having had contact with her. This reinforces the point, though, that League knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s specifically attempting to craft a narrative that protects both Faraci and himself from the consequences of their actions:
“His departure from Birth.Movies.Death meant losing his job, his livelihood, his career, and his place in the film community, but Devin has started the work to rebuild himself first with the understanding that all else is secondary. Seeing the work that Devin has been doing to acknowledge his faults, to address his addiction, and to better himself, I thought it was important to contribute to his recovery process by helping him with some means to earn a living.”
The framing here is deliberate–Faraci is presented as a tragic figure, one who has lost everything, as though by some act of God, instead of as a man who rightfully resigned when allegations about his sexual assault on multiple occasions were brought to light. When faced with this tragedy, Faraci begins the heroic work of rebuilding himself, and of course League must come to his rescue by providing employment, something that Faraci has apparently been completely unable to find in any capacity for the last eleven months. It’s a wonder he’s still alive, really. When challenged on this in the comments of his announcement, League compared being accused of sexual assault with having a “scarlet letter.”
The problem with this is that the titular object in The Scarlet Letter is specifically a red A that the main character, Hester Prynne, is made to wear in public, in order to shame her for adultery. League has here taken a concept meant to shame and victimize women and repurposed it to protect a victimizer. A further problem is his assertion that holding a man responsible for his actions–his crimes–might somehow lead to that man being homeless and destitute. Overwhelmingly, those who end up homeless are generally the victims of abuse, not the perpetrators–especially if those people are members of marginalized communities. For the second time in a single paragraph, League has equated Faraci, a self-admitted abuser, with the types of people he victimizes. It’s the kind of behavior that even his own employees are noticing, such as Todd Brown, the newly former Director of International Programming for Fantastic Fest:
Brown flat out states that he had no idea of Faraci’s involvement with Fantastic Fest in a Facebook post (another League venture, as can be noted in his email signature above), which really lends credence to the idea that League was working hard to stealthily re-insert Faraci back into the Alamo machine. League claims above that he is, “in no way, shape or form fostering a culture that accepts or tolerates sexual harassment,” but saying a thing doesn’t make it true. By his own actions he has attempted to suppress the story of a woman so victimized, lied about that attempt at suppression, and presented the man responsible for it as a victim in his own right, while simultaneously offering that man his job back. How, exactly, do those actions not foster such a culture?