UPDATE 10/25/16: If you’ve come here after reading about a petition to cancel screenings of The Red Pill, I ask you to NOT sign any such petitions. It’s just free publicity for them. Read more of my thoughts on the matter here.
Dear Cassie Jaye,
Congratulations. You surpassed your Kickstarter fundraising goal yesterday, more than two weeks before the Kickstarter campaign was scheduled to come to a close. You’ve funded the postproduction work on your long-delayed documentary on Men’s Rights activists, and then some.
But I’m not sure that the person I should be congratulating is you. Last night Paul Elam of A Voice for Men – the central subject of your film – was doing his own victory lap online. And no wonder, because he seems to be the real victor here.
In a post on his site that managed to be giddy and vindictive at once, he offered his congratulations to you, then, well, to himself. “Even though the victory goes to Ms. Jaye,” he wrote, in an awkward attempt at modesty, “I have the need to offer up some thanks.”
And then he spelled out why he thinks your “victory” is really a victory for him.
For the past six years AVFM has had mud kicked in its face by a corrupt, left-wing media. Bottom feeders like Adam Serwer, Jeff Sharlet and Mariah Blake have performed endless unscrupulous acts, directly lying to their readers in order to attack AVFM, this movement and me personally.
Their work was not just to harm me, or to damage a website but to make sure if they could that the message we carry never found its way to the larger public. Their intent was and is to paint an indelible stain on all of us so hideous that we would never be taken seriously by enough people to matter.
They have failed, and I can now predict that they have failed miserably.
In other words, Paul Elam thinks he and his friends in what he ludicrously calls the “Men’s Human Rights Movement” have bought and paid for a feature-length advertisement for them.
And it’s not hard to see why Elam – and the other manospherians who’ve rallied around your film in recent days — think this. After all, they are the ones who have rescued your film from oblivion by pouring tens of thousands of dollars into your Kickstarter.
And all it took for you to unleash this torrent of money was an interview with one of the sleaziest figures in right-wing journalism, Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart.
In the interview, posted on Monday, you complained that “I won’t be getting support from feminists. They want a hit piece and I won’t do that.”
There was more than a little bit of irony in the fact that you were saying this to a man infamous for his many hit pieces on so-called “Social Justice Warriors.”
You also complained about an intern on your film who, you said, “had a lot of crying attacks and emotional experiences. She claimed everything I was showing her was triggering her.”
A young feminist “triggered” and crying. This is red meat to the Breitbart crowd, and I have to assume you knew this when you told Milo this story.
To an outside observer like me, this shameful pandering looks a lot like a Hail Mary play on your part. Having failed to convince most potential funders of the film that you would present anything close to an accurate picture of the Men’s Rights movement, you told Breitbart what its readers – and the broader manosphere – wanted to hear.
And it worked. Men’s Rights activists, self-professed “Red Pillers” and other assorted antifeminists rallied around your film, and the money started flowing.
On Reddit, the moderators of the Men’s Rights subreddit “stickied” an appeal to donate to your Kickstarter to the top of their front page, urging MRAs to open their wallets in order to show skeptics that “we can take part in some actual activism and not just post stuff in here.”
Even the regulars in the violently misogynistic Red Pill subreddit agreed to help bankroll your film.
And it wasn’t just Men’s Rights and “Red Pill” Redditors who organized support for your film. One right-wing Red Pill blogger, notorious for his harassment of ideological enemies, pledged to match donations up to $10,000, describing your documentary as “the Movie SJWs Do Not Want You to See.”
Meanwhile, on her blog, AVFM’s “social media director” Andrea Hardie (an internet bully better known under her pseudonyms Janet Bloomfield and “Judgy Bitch”) not only rallied her readers around your Kickstarter but also set up a gofundme of her own, raising money in hopes that it would buy Breitbart’s Yiannopoulos a producer credit in your film. (I hope that is out of the question, even if she raises more than the paltry amount she’s raised for this purpose so far.)
And then there was Elam himself, on Twitter, calling on his followers to, in his words, “Help fund #RedPillMovie because fuck feminists!”
— Paul Elam (@AVoiceforMen) October 26, 2015
Accepting money from these people would seem to be a pretty clear violation of the principles you set forth in your own Kickstarter video, in which you declared that
in order to keep this film non-partisan, and respectfully show all sides to this debate, we won’t accept funding from organizations that inevitably have biased agendas.
Instead, you have chosen to take money from people who see your film as a chance to say “fuck you” to feminists. You have chosen to take money from the actual subjects of your film.
You are making a film about Men’s Rights Activists, funded to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars by Men’s Rights Activists. You are making a film about A Voice for Men funded in part by A Voice for Men.
Does that not trouble you at all? It should. In your interview with Breitbart, you noted that “films that support one side and act as propaganda do better than those that try to have an honest look.”
You said this, presumably, to set yourself apart from such propagandists. Now you seem to have cast your lot in with them.
Which I suppose makes sense, since the clips of your film that you’ve posted online so far look a lot more like propaganda than they do like any sort of honest look at the Men’s Rights movement,
I felt uneasy about your project from the start, concerned that you had been pulled in by the soothing but misleading rhetoric that MRAs spout when they are trying to sound more respectable than they really are, rather than on what MRAs actually say and do when the cameras are off of them.
But I knew you had a good reputation as a filmmaker, and heard good things from several feminists who knew you better than I did. So I held my tongue and tried my best to give you the benefit of the doubt, even when you posted clips from your film that portrayed AVFMers as heroic underdogs rather than the misogynists and malicious harassers that they really are.
When I wrote you a little over a week ago with some of my concerns, you assured me in the phone call that followed that the clips you had posted were only part of the story, that you were well aware that the MRAs you had interviewed were on their best behavior when talking to you, and that the real story of the Men’s Rights movement is far less rosy-hued. Against my better judgement, I continued to hold on to some kind of hope that you would live up to your reputation in the end.
And now, frankly, I feel like I’ve been played.
Unfortunately, it looks like you have been played too, much more spectacularly than I have. I suspect you are doing far more damage to your reputation than you even know.
One thing I have learned in five years of watching, and writing about, and dealing with, the Men’s Rights movement, is that if Paul Elam is happy about something, that thing is almost certainly terrible.
I suspect, sadly, that you will ultimately learn this lesson yourself, the hard way.
PS: In our phone conversation, you suggested that if you were able to fund your film, you might be able to finally film the interview with me that we originally had planned to do, but which fell through due to financial and other practical obstacles during the original filming of The Red Pill. At this point, I am sorry to say, that is completely out of the question.