Just before I took a holiday vacation from blogging, several readers and Twitter followers alerted me to news stories about Morgan Spurlock confessing to being a sexual harasser. Here’s an example from a BBC article online:
US documentary film-maker Morgan Spurlock has publicly confessed to a history of sexual misconduct, referring to himself as “part of the problem”.
Spurlock, who made the hit film Super Size Me, wrote on Twitter that he had been accused of rape and had paid to settle a claim of sexual harassment.
He also admitted cheating on “every wife and girlfriend I have ever had”.
Sounds like an awesome guy. And here I thought he only cheated on his Super Size Me rules.
Truth is, Spurlock being who he is, my first thought was that his confession would turn out to be part of an upcoming publicity stunt. But three weeks have passed and I haven’t seen a promo for Morgan Spurlock Spends 30 Days Acting Like A Dick, so perhaps the confession and regret are genuine. Let’s read on.
In a lengthy statement, Spurlock said that after months of such revelations he had come to the conclusion that “I am not some innocent bystander, I am also a part of the problem”.
“As I sit around watching hero after hero, man after man, fall at the realisation of their past indiscretions, I don’t sit by and wonder ‘who will be next?’ I wonder, ‘when will they come for me?’,” he wrote.
So now I’m wondering if the confession and apparent regret were a calculated decision to pre-empt any headlines by making his own first. Anyway …
He said the allegations of rape took place at college. It did not lead to charges or investigations but he said the woman had written about the incident in a story writing class and had named Spurlock.
The settlement for alleged harassment involved a female employee and took place about eight years ago, he said.
“It wasn’t a gropy, feely harassment. It was verbal, and it was just as bad,” he wrote.
“I would call my female assistant ‘hot pants’ or ‘sex pants’ when I was yelling to her from the other side of the office. Something I thought was funny at the time, but then realised I had completely demeaned and belittled her to a place of non-existence.”
Spurlock, 47, said that when the woman decided to leave she asked for a settlement in return for her silence.
“Being who I was, it was the last thing I wanted, so of course I paid,” he said.
“I paid for peace of mind. I paid for her silence and co-operation. Most of all, I paid so I could remain who I was.”
I may raise a poop-storm by saying this, but I think we need to be careful of sliding into a witch-hunt mentality on the sexual harassment front. Yes, calling a female assistant “sex pants” is stupid and shouldn’t be tolerated. But let’s not put that into the same category as actually groping a woman or promising her a role in a film in return for sex.
The part of Spurlock’s confession I found most interesting was this:
“I haven’t been sober for more than a week in 30 years, something our society doesn’t shun or condemn but which only served to fill the emotional hole inside me and the daily depression I coped with,” he wrote.
Hmmm … remember those rules he established at the beginning of Super Size Me? One of them was that he’d only eat and drink what McDonald’s sold. In fact, in one scene he refused to drink water because McDonald’s didn’t sell water at the time.
He wouldn’t drink water, but apparently he drank enough alcohol to get drunk at least once a week while spending 30 days buying all his meals at McDonald’s. So much for the rules – which, as I demonstrated in Fat Head, he couldn’t have followed anyway. Given the theme of Super Size Me, I’m surprised he didn’t blame his alcohol problem on the liquor stores for selling him too much liquor. It’s those darned super-sized McScotches, ya see. Perhaps he should have made this documentary instead:
You may also recall the scene in Super Size Me in which a doctor tells Spurlock he’s developed a fatty liver. I thought the doctor was a bit of an idiot for blaming the fatty liver on fatty foods instead of all that sugar Spurlock was slugging down at McDonald’s. Now I also think the doctor should have asked, “By the way, Mr. Spurlock, have you been getting drunk at least once per week for the past couple of decades? Because that will definitely trash your liver.”
Anyway, I can’t say I’m surprised. When I first watched Super Size Me, my impression of Spurlock was that he’s a good entertainer, but also full of @#$% — or full of bologna, as I put it in Fat Head. Based on his recent revelations, I’ll update that opinion and say he’s a lying, cheating, womanizing drunk. Put him in prison for a spell or kick him off a train, and he could be the subject of a country song.
Sexual harassment in Hollywood isn’t exactly a health topic, but as someone who lived in Hollywood and worked in and around the entertainment industry, I have some opinions on why it went on for so long. The reasons are directly related to why I left Los Angeles for Tennessee. I’ll get into those next time.