Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Work families

Without really seeking out information on the royal wedding, I had heard some nice things and some sad things (mainly from The Talk). My favorite stories were how Harry handpicked Meghan a bouquet of his mother's favorite flowers; how Meghan's dog was rescued from a no-kill shelter, eventually leading to his adoption by her, and this one:


That was the story I actually sought out. After the wedding there were some guest shots, including people from Suits. I suddenly wondered about Gina Torres: Was she there? What did she wear? She's married to Laurence Fishburne; was he there? So I Googled.

Torres was there and she looked gorgeous. She and Fishburne are recently split up - which saddened me - but that ended up being overshadowed by the sweetness of the relationships.

All of her co-stars were there. The actor who played her father couldn't make it, but he watched at home. Her cast mates worked to protect her privacy. That could just be general respect, but also one person pointed out how the length of the show is longer than your college years or high school  years, and you can build some pretty deep bonds.

I think it resonated with me more because I had seen some things on her father and half-siblings being pretty terrible, so it was reassuring to know that she had a supportive and caring work-family. That seemed more important, based on this:


I chose this article because it has the dialogue quoted that I heard on The Talk (apparently my main source of pop culture information now).

Let me back up. I had already hear about Jeffrey Tambor being fired for harassing a transgender person. I know people often feel they have (but do not have) a right to touch transgender people around their genital areas - maybe it goes back to Crocodile Dundee - and I had thought it was probably something like that. Then there was not only another person claiming abuse, but Tambor (while still denying those allegations) admitting that he is so passionate about his work and everyone doing a good job that some people may be upset by him that way.

At that point I was simultaneously reminded of how  even people who did not know Weinstein was a racist knew he was a bully, and how Dustin Hoffman's "method acting" included slapping Meryl Streep and verbally abusing her, and Kevin Spacey's dedication to his craft involving abusing interns. Also, I was reminded of countless people at this point admitting that they had been difficult in one way, but they didn't remember it the same way, and so on.

Then The Talk  played that audio.

The Vox article has some other good stuff. The tweets from Rebecca Traister and Marin Cogan are sadly on point. David Cross being a weasel even as he acknowledges it is not at all surprising. The additional information is great, but the primary thing for me is still hearing Walter say that she needs to forgive Tambor so they can be friends again, and that Bateman told her this happens all the time - even though her own memory and history was telling her that was not true - and Tambor just agreeing with that one word, because it is his due to have her forgiveness and friendship. It is the confidence and lack of caring in his voice despite the palpable hurt in hers. I wanted to scream.


I'm not anti-forgiveness. It can be very healing. It can be helpful to lay down those hurts instead of carrying them around. That can even be true when the person is not apologetic. However...
  • Forgiveness may not be healthy when it means suppressing your own pain instead of processing it.  
  • When doing so is pressured by other people elevating the needs of the offender over the offended, that adds more pain instead of healing it.
  • Forgiveness does not automatically mean that the forgiven person gets trust back and friendship back. 
I might have written about this anyway, but an additional impetus came from seeing someone bothered by Jason Bateman's apology.

Looking that the original interview, I think it's pretty clear that the New York Times was going for a light-hearted family reunion vibe, and they thought the elephant in the room of misconduct allegations against Tambor could fit into that; because this is his work family and they are all funny people and he was probably just misunderstood on Transparent. Except that they were wrong and there was real damage and real pain and they dragged it up. Then it was awkward for everyone and people tried to make the awkwardness go away.

We could probably make some pointed remarks about NYT  goals and results, but let's consider some alternate possible scenarios.
  1. People could have listened to Walter's pain, and promised that they would work to have a better set and not let it happen again. Tambor could have taken a moment to sincerely apologize and promise to be a better "friend". That could have come not just from listening to Walter but also from listing to Shakwat. It might be embarrassing, admitting they had those family problems, but that is Tambor's fault, not Walter's. Not only was he the original offender, he is the one who put his his history of abusive behavior out there as a way of minimizing his behavior on Transparent.
  2. Cast members could have realized that the question was going to come up, and gotten together to talk about it prior to the interview. This would have allowed for a private chance to hear pain and promise to do better. Of course, there is a good chance they would have talked over Walter there too, but it at least gives them a chance to work things out in private.
  3. Back when the original incident happened, someone could have said it was not acceptable back then. Putting pressure on Tambor to shape up then might have led to him still having a job on Transparent today.
It is reasonable to apologize for that. It is reasonable to apologize for asking someone to suck up abuse and take one for the team because you want to keep the abuser on the team. It is reasonable to apologize for not hearing someone when they are trying to say something important to them. That's true whether it's someone you love and have a history with, or if you are just a decent human being.

I think the irritation with the apology could come from many things. There was something about the facts being in dispute, but I wonder if that was about the Transparent allegations. For Tambor's initial berating of Walter and for everyone minimizing her discomfort during the interview, there does not seem to be any dispute.

It could also been a reaction to the perception that Bateman was apologizing for Tambor. You are not responsible for other people's behavior, but you are for your own. Bateman could have been better, and he wasn't.

It could also have been that Bateman used the term "mansplaining" in his apology. It was not a completely unreasonable use, but as a word used to describe something that men do to women related to the patriarchy, it may be tainted for some. That leads into something different though, and I want to get into that tomorrow.

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