How The Alamo Drafthouse Killed My Vibe
Article by Aaron Haughton
On September 8th, I got offered Viddy Well's biggest opportunity to date; to interview writer/director Martin McDonagh and actor Sam Rockwell for their upcoming film, 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I'd also have the opportunity to see the film well over a month prior to it's actual theatrical release, since it was set to premiere at Alamo's Fantastic Fest. Both of these things would tremendously help out my little indie film blog. So, needless to say, I was ecstatic; equal parts squealing giddy and terrified to the point of shitting my pants. I hadn't conducted an in-person interview in a long time, and I didn't have the faintest idea of what I should ask. So, I spent a lot of time researching, watching interviews of the two of them (so as to not ask redundant questions), scouring the 22-page press release I was given, and voraciously reading up on them... Then, the wheels fell off.
The Alamo Drafthouse recently became the focus of heavy fire when it surfaced that they had been silently employing Devin Faraci, who stepped down from his position as editor in chief for the Drafthouse owned Birth.Movies.Death website 11 months ago due to sexual assault allegations. Drafthouse CEO Tim League had even commented at the time of the initial incident that the company and Faraci had severed all ties.
In light of the recent Drafthouse scandal, McDonagh has smartly chosen to pull his film from the Fantastic Fest lineup. A wise decision, given the central character in his latest film is struggling to deal with the rape and murder of her daughter, I commend McDonagh for his actions, even if it means that I lose the opportunity to speak with him.
What I can't commend is the Alamo Drafthouse and their actions. This news comes directly after recording a podcast (yet to be aired), wherein I praised the Drafthouse as the best movie theater on earth and gushed over the film experience the theater cultivates so well. Ironically enough, what I called the greatest theater in the world is the sole reason I'm not getting my greatest opportunity as a indie film journalist.
I know several people who have been sexually abused, and I've seen how deeply these instances of abuse can scar them. I was a devout patron of the Alamo Drafthouse, and now I'm conflicted on continuing that relationship. It seems like the beloved movie theater that evokes a phase including the word "remember" may just have to fade from my memory...
The thing is that I do want to go back. I do still believe that it's the greatest movie theater on earth. I love that there's no talking or texting. I love being able to eat decent food and have a beer without having to leave the theater. I enjoy being able to watch a custom crafted pre-show 30 minutes before my feature. And, I like being able to choose where I want to sit beforehand. But, and this is a big BUT, I do feel massively betrayed.
The Drafthouse upper management's actions come at me like a hot knife. It's one thing for League to forgive Faraci on a personal level, but allowing him to come back into the company, whether he was working to better himself or not, only invites a wolf back into your den of sheep. He didn't even consult with his female employees or the assaulted female before making the decision to silently employ Faraci, which is shady on so many levels. Just the fact that he did this stealthy shows that he knew it was wrong.
And, it's not just the Drafthouse, either. League also owns Neon Films, Drafthouse Films, Birth.Movies.Death, AND Mondo. So now, not only do I need to reevaluate my relationship with the Drafthouse theater, but also ALL of these other things as well.
What I'd like to see is League take ownership over his questionable and self-inflicted pratfalls. He needs to personally step up and speak out with transparency because the silence is speaking multitudes. He's still has yet to take anything but silent action. Even today, after someone on Twitter called him out for his affiliation to Mondo, Mondo responded by blocking the individual who made the tweet...
Like I said, I'd really like to return to Alamo Drafthouse theaters, but I cannot in good conscience return until something has been done to reconcile this despicable behavior. The cinema is a place I go for enjoyment, and I don't think I can enjoy myself at the Drafthouse knowing what goes on behind the curtain. Until League has the decency to speak out personally on his actions and to ask forgiveness for his cloudy judgement from the victims, employees and patrons, I don't think I'll be supporting any of his endeavors.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on the Alamo Drafthouse and their actions? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!