The Documentary “An Open Secret” Has Connections to the Far-Right
The documentary “An Open Secret” is a noble film. It’s an extremely underrated investigation of child sex abuse in Hollywood that has not been given enough attention given our current #MeToo moment.
From The Seattle Times
Amy Berg’s chilling new documentary “An Open Secret” begins with the on-screen words “The movie Hollywood doesn’t want you to see.” No doubt; it’s an exploration of sexual abuse of children in the entertainment industry, focusing on about a half-dozen specific cases involving young teen or preteen boys. “It’s the tip of the iceberg,” says Anne Henry, a mother who co-founded an organization to support families in the industry. The combination of vulnerable children and parents dazzled by stardom, the film tells us, creates a climate for abuse — often committed, in these stories, by managers and publicists, trusted to safeguard the children in their charge.
That’s what made me all the more perplexed when I found out about the project’s links with far-right figures such as Milo and Cernovich. When I started researching the story I was originally going in with the idea to do a piece on a film I thought was underappreciated given the current reckoning going on in Hollywood. When I looked through the film’s social media presence I was stunned to see such unsavory characters lurking in the timelines.
For those who don’t know about Mike Cernovich, he has a history of making the most appalling comments about women and sexual assault.
He even wrote a blog post called “When In Doubt, Whip It Out” which details masturbating on a women after he realized she “wasn’t going to let me fuck her in the back seat of her car.“ All this on top of the fact that he was accused, though not convicted of, rape.
Milo Yiannopoulos is not one to be outdone. He’s called into question rape culture on college campuses, in addition to writing these bigoted and misogynistic headlines. Milo’s recent fall came earlier this year when some of his most spectacularly disgusting comments were exposed.
Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos appeared to speak tolerantly of pedophilia in video clips shared ahead of his speaking engagement at next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
The right-wing provocateur recalled his own sexual abuse as a teen and did not appear to outright condemn similar relationships between children and men on a 2016 episode of “The Drunken Peasants” podcast.
He flippantly said young boys “discover who they are” through such relationships, later implying that those relationships can be sexual in nature, and can “give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable rock where they can’t speak to their parents.”
A host with the popular podcast fired back at Yiannopoulos and said, “Sounds like Catholic priest molestation to me.”
“I’m grateful for Father Michael,” Yiannopoulos replied. “I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.”
The film has suffered from numerous problems. Executive producer Gabe Hoffman explained that the movie has not received adequate media attention. Hoffman filed, but says he didn’t end up following through on, arbitration with director Amy Berg over a slew of complaints. He cited one in particular, her failure to properly promote the film, as a reason the project didn’t get more attention from mainstream news outlets.
This all comes on top of some other serious problems with the movie.
It’s true that the film has not received the amount of coverage that other documentaries (such as a Michael Moore flick) have. Hoffman explained that they were taking the interviews, endorsements, etc. that they could get.
“When people with a large platform want to interview us we say yes, and we don’t change who we are based on who they are,“ Hoffman said. “It’s a little bit of a Sophie’s choice you could call it.”
In fact, Hoffman even admitted retweeting an endorsement from David Icke, and gave a questionable justification for doing so.
“He’s a nut job. He’s an anti-Semite who believes in lizard people, and you know what? When he endorsed us on twitter we retweeted it, and we said we were pleased to have the endorsement, and then when it was pointed out he who he was I amplified it. I said well guess what our financier of this film he endorsed is Jewish, the producer is Jewish, and the director is Jewish, so I guess it proves that all of those views that he has are that much more wrong, and that’s why we should amplify the endorsement to prove it,” he said.
Hoffman said that he didn’t do much research on Cernovich as two other men, and not Cernovich himself, interviewed him for Cernovich Media.
Hoffman also added that “without taking a view on him personally one way or the other,” Milo may be struggling with what happened to him as a child and made a “sick, terrible joke,” when I confronted him with Milo’s comments about pedophilia.
It’s a great thing to give voice to victims and expose pedophiles. The film did get a little bit of coverage, but as Hoffman points out, not the kind the big papers and cable networks would have provided. On this point I have sympathy for him.
That being said the decision to accept this attention from the far-right is not something I will endorse.
If you’re taking a stand against sexual abuse you can’t use people who perpetuate rape culture to garner attention. You can’t associate your film with conspiracy mongers if you don’t want your credibility to fly out the window.
The shame is much heavier upon Milo, Cernovich, and the other far-right figures. I doubt they really care much about the abuse victims profiled in the film. Cernovich’s recent, disgusting attempts to undermine some of Roy Moore’s accusers shows how little he cares about victims of child sex abuse. (Hoffman rightfully points out this happened after he had already interviewed with Cernovich Media and shouldn’t be held against him.)
I suspect their apparent enthusiasm for “An Open Secret” is just a cynical attempt to latch on to anything they can to continue their attacks on Hollywood, one of the many, many institutions their ilk despises for its real and imagined left-wing sympathies.
Hoffman and those involved with promoting “An Open Secret” should apologize, delete any of their postings involving far-right figures, renounce the alt-right, and move on.
The rest of us should take this as a lesson on the exploitive nature of the far-right.
We also shouldn’t forget to keep asking why this film, despite its problems, still isn’t getting the attention it deserves, why some of the abusers profiled in it have faced so few consequences, what we can do to see justice is done for the victims, and try to prevent such abuse from happening in the future.