Call it The Revenge of #MeToo. It frightens me.
People who tuned in Sunday night to AMC were greeted by a terse, one-sentence message on their screens:
“ ‘Talking with Chris Hardwick’ will not be seen tonight.”
The erasure of Hardwick from the airwaves and the public square was swift, brutal and nearly complete.
This was a hard-core reaction to an online essay published on Thursday by Hardwick’s ex-girlfriend, Chloe Dykstra. Without mentioning Hardwick by name, she detailed, in often cringe-worthy fashion, emotional and sexual abuse she claims to have suffered during a nearly three-year intimate relationship with the host of TV programs including “Talking Dead,’’ the aftershow that dissects AMC powerhouses “The Walking Dead’’ and “Fear the Walking Dead.”
From the way Dykstra, 29, describes it, she was a ghost, the victim of sexual assault, mental torture and controlling behavior, forbidden from as much as talking to other men.
The torment allegedly began just two weeks into the relationship, which ran from 2011-2014.
Evidently, in this brief time, she was completely hooked by the charismatic performer. It ended after she left Hardwick, 46, for another man — and claims that he and a former female friend of hers set out to blackball her in the entertainment industry.
She then weirdly quotes Michelle Obama and writes that she thinks the former first lady would support her — though it’s doubtful Obama would get involved in this case of he-said, she-said.
Hardwick, for his part, denies completely engaging in abuse and attributes the wounded feelings to a long relationship gone awry. He put out a statement claiming that he was done with Dykstra after she was unfaithful. She admits to as much.
Who can know what goes on behind closed doors between adults?
Hardwick found some encouragement in the Twitterverse, where fed-up fans of his gathered to express their discomfort with the lack of due process in destroying a man’s reputation and perhaps career. One tweeter asked why the accuser did not go to authorities.
He also was backed by his mother-in-law, Patty Hearst (yes, her), whose tweets included a reference to a “bunny boiler,” which was later deleted.
It’s scary that a man can be convicted and punished without a trial or as much as a thorough hearing.
#MeToo developed as a movement in which people might find empowerment by standing up to abusers. Now it’s being used as a cudgel for aggrieved parties to exact revenge.
It disturbs me, and I worry that as more people, most of them women, abuse this power, and if more outlets fire employees without vetting the accusations, the public will start disbelieving all accounts of abuse.