I’ve thought about writing this post since the first #MeToo allegations started coming out but didn’t say anything out of fear. See, I’m a chick, and the internet HATES IT when a chick says, “but what if she’s lying?” If you deign to suggest the proposed victim might be full of shit, suddenly you’re accused of “victim blaming” whether you pointed a finger of fault or not.
This morning, I woke up to the news that Chloe Dykstra had passively made accusations of emotional and sexual abuse via an unlisted post on Medium. In the post, she doesn’t actually come right out and say his name, but she really didn’t need to. To any longtime Chris Hardwick fan or Nerdist podcast listener, it was obvious simply due to the timeline details she included.
The accusations include all the classic signs of someone who is emotionally abusive—isolation from friends and family, controlling behavior and rules, hardcore possessiveness—and goes as far as to say that she let him sexually assault her regularly because she was expected to be ready to go the minute he got home.
As soon as I saw the headline, I ran out to read her post. Now to be clear, I’m not saying she’s full of shit. At all. She may be speaking 100% truth in every word. I wasn’t there. You weren’t there. But that’s exactly my point. Regardless of the fact that neither of us were there, the court of public opinion is in full swing and they’ve already reached a verdict. We’ve seen it happen many times over already and I think it’s safe to say that Hardwick’s career is over. Legendary Entertainment scrubbed him from the Nerdist website already, immediately issuing a statement putting a chasm of space between him and the empire he built “pending further investigation”:
“Chris Hardwick had no operational involvement with Nerdist for the two years preceding the expiration of his contract in December 2017,” the Nerdist statement read. “He no longer has any affiliation with Legendary Digital Networks. The company has removed all reference to Mr. Hardwick even as the original Founder of Nerdist pending further investigation.” Legendary Entertainment
Well, that’s great and all but there wont be any “further investigation”, will there? Dykstra didn’t go to the authorities. She went to the internet, the court of public opinion, even though she claims to have audio and video evidence supporting her case. So that’s it. His career is over, guilty or not. There is no coming back from social media deciding you’re a monster. It’s done. Fin. They’re already moving on to the next case.
Reading through her post, I felt for her. I really did. Once upon a time, I was in a relationship exactly like the one she was describing. I did the same thing she did, blatantly ignoring red flags a blind man could see a mile out. I knowingly lied to myself, my friends, and my family on a daily basis, justifying every horrendous thing he said or did. I knew I was full of shit and I’m pretty sure everyone around me knew I was full of shit, but I was too scared to leave. I get it, I really do. It’s a nightmare to live like that, one that left me with daily anxiety attacks that felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest, and I would never wish that life on anyone.
I finished reading through the post and I admit, her story was compelling and thoroughly heartbreaking. I had anger on her behalf but I also had questions on his. If you have evidence, why didn’t you go to the police or a lawyer? If you’re not pursuing justice, why even bring up the evidence? If you’re going to make the accusation public, why not make the evidence public as well? There were a lot more nit-picky questions I had about some of the details she included but ultimately, I wasn’t there so judging the actions and decisions she cops to is a waste of time. This is what I’m left with: She talked to her therapist about it, she talked to friends about it, she talked to the millions of strangers on the internet about it, but she didn’t talk to the authorities? That seems off to me. *shrug*
Hardwick may very well be guilty of everything single thing she says in the post. He’s certainly done a fine job of making the case for most of it himself episode after episode on the Nerdist podcast.
He’s a comic with a filthy sense of humor and not-always-appropriate timing. It’s half of why I’ve been such a fangirl for years. I enjoy dirty comedy. *shrug* But the downside to filthy comics is what they can see as a moment to be funny may be ill-timed and not land as the moment of comedic glory they pictured. For instance, her note about his question to the doc about sex after her surgery. I’m not going to lie, I probably would have cracked the same joke myself, but that’s running on an assumption that he was kidding. Taken as a joke, I think the comment was hilarious, but if it wasn’t a joke, it was clearly shitty. We weren’t there. Without having been there, we have no clue if he was joking or not, only her word that this was said with the utmost sincerity. Dirty jokes are a part of how he makes his living and he’s no stranger to pushing the envelope at totally inappropriate times.
He’s an alcoholic. If you listen to the Nerdist podcast, Hardwick has been incredibly open about the fact that he’s a dry drunk. He’s been sober for years now but regular therapy is a big part of staying that way. Alcoholics don’t become alcoholics because they’ve got life by the balls. They usually end up down that road because they’ve got issues they’re drowning rather than working through. Anger. Depression. Insecurities. Those things can cause a person to lash out at those around them and act like a monster behind closed, regardless of how nice and sweet they seem in public.
He’s a narcissist. That’s his self-proclaimed label, not one I’m assigning him. He talks about it on the podcast, how all entertainers are narcissists on some level. You kind of have to be to even get started in a career that revolves around everyone looking at what you’re doing next. Narcissists believe the world revolves around them and anyone who disagrees, well, they’re just wrong and stupid. Right?
There are plenty of aspects of his life that he’s talked about openly on the podcast that could certainly lend credence to her story. But those same details could also lend credence to the theory that she’s an opportunist trying to recoup a career that really only blossomed in the first place because people knew her as Chris Hardwick’s girlfriend. And that brings me to my point.
What if he’s not guilty?
I’m not testifying that he’s innocent (again, I don’t know aaaaaaaany better than you do) but what if he is? What happens to the innocent men getting swept up in #MeToo? *cough cough* Aziz Ansari’s shit date turned misconduct accusation and the brilliant defense piece in the NY Times that just about halted the angry mob *cough cough*
If he’s not guilty of what she’s saying, his life is all but ruined. As we’ve already gone over, his career is done. Good luck getting a hosting job when 75% of the audience thinks you’re a rapist because they don’t read anything beyond the cursory glance they gave the headline on Twitter. And yes, rapist is what they’ll think. Sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and sexual abuse all conjure one single word: rape. And the second any of those allegations are made against you, you’re going to wear the rapist label, guilty or not. They’re the niceties the media has slapped on rape for years to make it more palatable for the masses in the unfortunate event that we need to actually talk about it. (*there’s a lot of sarcasm ground into that sentence * please don’t miss that*). Thanks to hearing those niceties for way too long, it’s where our minds automatically go when we hear them. Nowadays, women are coming forward upset about that time a drunk co-worker told them they have nice tits at a party and labeling it as sexual misconduct. But you better believe the Betty who reads ‘sexual misconduct’ on her Facebook feed is automatically going to think that co-worker dragged that woman into a closet and forced her to have sex.
As I am typing this post, AMC just announced that they will not be airing Talking With Chris Hardwick and he’s been pulled as their Comic-Con panel moderator until they have a chance to assess the situation:
“We have had a positive working relationship with Chris Hardwick for many years,” AMC said in a statement. “We take the troubling allegations that surfaced yesterday very seriously. While we assess the situation, Talking with Chris Hardwick will not air on AMC, and Chris has decided to step aside from moderating planned AMC and BBC America panels at Comic-Con International in San Diego next month.” AMC
Mind you, it’s only been 48 hours. This is far from over for him.
Since the internet has decided that he’s guilty, there is lots of damning “proof” floating around. But I say INVESTIGATE. This gem popped up on Twitter today. It’s a faked screenshot of his book The Nerdist Way basically outlining the things she accuses him of in her piece:
Now, I am one of those who takes NOTHING on the web as truth without investigation. So, although I own the audio book, I just purchased the Kindle book and searched for the word DeLorean. It comes up twice in that book—once in the context of talking about an exercise to do and the other in an open letter from Doc Brown to Marty McFly in the context of time management. This “screenshot” is absolute bullshit.
The real screenshots of where DeLorean in the book:
And for those who will say that maybe the search didn’t work. I tried this with four different pieces of the faked screenshot. It’s a crock of shit, I assure you.
Okay, forget work. What about family? How is his mom going to look at him after all of this? His wife? His in-laws? His close friends? They may think they know him well, but suggestion is a powerful thing. All it takes is the idea being planted to create doubt. With no investigation to clear or convict him, all they have is his word against hers.
I know, I know. Jena, you have a vagina! HOW DARE YOU? Let me be clear. Questioning the truthfulness of someone’s story is not pushing blame on them. If there is nothing to be blamed for (like if she were lying), you cant very well blame them for it, can you? Uttering something along the lines of, “well, she shouldn’t have dressed that way, she brought it on herself,” THAT’S victim blaming. And you’re probably looking at the screen, disgusted, thinking How dare a woman think that another woman would lie about something so awful??? Well, we can chalk that one empirical evidence. I’ve personally witnessed it happen in real life. Twice, actually. In both instances, it turned out the woman was angry for being unceremoniously dumped or cheated on, and apparently thought the best way to get back at the guy was to ruin his fucking life. Both were proven innocent through a police investigation (in one case, he was at work on camera the night she claimed it happened, and in the other case, he was in another state at a family gathering for Christmas….a false rape accusation, Merry Christmas indeed!). Believe it or not, having girly bits doesn’t automatically mean you come equipped with a moral compass that always points due north. Women can be just as despicable and manipulative as men any day of the week. What I’m saying is vindictive bitches do exist and I’m afraid that the #MeToo movement is brushing right past that little fact.
I’m experiencing a weird mix of emotions on this one, kids. Part of me hopes she’s lying simply because it breaks my heart to think that Hardwick is as big a shitbag as the rest of them. The other part of me really, really, really hopes she’s not lying because bullshit stories like the Aziz Ansari debacle do nothing to help the movement. But then we’re back to the King of the Nerds being a shitbag and I’m left crying into my cappuccino.
The moral of the story here today? Try not to get swept up in the speculation of it all when it comes to the #MeToo movement. There are a lot of legitimate victims out there and their voices need to be heard, but this world is also filled with a lot of opportunistic pieces of dung. Women lie just as much as men do because GASP! they’re human. In this particular case, Chris Hardwick may very well be the fucking monster she paints him as….but he also might be completely innocent. WE DON’T KNOW. As shown by my screenshot investigation above, not everything you read on the internet is true.