The horror community has had a rough few weeks since the arrest of Dallas-based Cinestate producer Adam Donaghey on April 27, 2020.
Since then, it seems that one allegation after another against the producer and against the production company, itself, has come to light leaving many filmmakers and horror fans in shock. You see, Cinestate not only makes films, but they also happen to be the company that revived Fangoria a couple of years back, and they own popular horror site Birth. Death. Movies.
I’m not going to recount everything that has been brought to light, but if you want to read up on the case, Marlow Stern, Senior Entertainment Editor at The Daily Beast, wrote and excellent, in-depth expose which you can find by clicking here.
What I do want to talk about is the response we’ve seen in the wake of the news.
In just the last few days, multiple podcasts, filmmakers, and collaborators have severed ties with Cinestate and late yesterday afternoon both Fangoria and Birth. Movies. Death. announced that they were looking for new owners–they had previously released a statement demanding that the company publicly address what had happened, including what appears to be a cover-up of the facts, as well as asking them to make donations to organizations who help victims of sexual assault.
Many on social media have spoken up, commending certain creatives who left the company, wishing them the best of luck in finding new work. This is all very well and good, but those folks aren’t the ones we should be worried about. They will be all right.
Those podcasters will continue to put out excellent content. The writers and directors and actors will find new work. The executives have long CVs of successful projects behind them, and despite the fact that some of them at least had to have known something about what was going on behind closed doors, they’ll find new outlets.
Here’s what I don’t know:
I don’t know if the young woman who was allegedly raped by Donaghey will be okay.
I don’t know if Cristen Leah Haynes, who actually captured voice recordings of Donaghey sexually harassing her which she tried to put in front of Cinestate’s founder Dallas Sonnier on multiple occasions, will be okay.
I don’t know if the unnamed assistant costume director working on Cinestate’s film VFW who alleges she was repeatedly sexually harassed by the film’s star Fred Williamson will be okay.
I don’t know if the other women who allegedly reported similar behavior from Williamson throughout the shoot so that they were finally, allegedly, instructed to use the “buddy system” if they had to be around him will be okay.
You see, so often in these cases, the victims are left behind in the narrative. In a day and age where publications will actually write about damaging reputations of the accused rather than the damage done to those who were assaulted, the focus can be quickly lost.
Many will choose to latch onto the conservative political leanings of Cinestate and its executives, but we cannot allow the narrative to stray in that direction either. Sexual harassment and sexual assault happens on both sides of the political aisle. This is not a right or left-wing issue. This a human issue, and one that affects men and women from every walk of life.
What the horror community must do–what it is imperative that all humans do–is put our combined strength behind the women who have come forward.
I love the horror community. I love the creatives and the fans. We have spent our spare time and our entertainment hours learning to identify monsters, and we know that those monsters must be stopped.
I won’t pretend that good always triumphs over evil. I am not that naive. I do believe, however, that we have a far greater chance of enacting change when we stand united against evil when it rears its head.
The time for “whisper campaigns” about problem creatives is over. The time for warning women to not allow themselves to be alone in a room with certain executives is over. The time for passive resistance is over.
It’s time to speak up, and if someone chooses to speak up, it’s time to believe them whether the charge is sexual assault, harassment, racism, homophobia, or any other behavior that damages another human being.
What are your thoughts on what has gone down at Cinestate? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Featured ImageCredit: stock photo via Pikist