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FKA Twigs Is the Only One I Care About in the ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Drama

JANUARY 26: FKA twigs attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Don’t Worry Darling, the upcoming film by Olivia Wilde, has become a drama beacon with allegations of on-set issues and drama surrounding current and former cast members. Despite all the names attached, the figure I am most worried about is artist FKA Twigs.

The root of this issue comes from drama surrounding director Olivia Wilde and actor Shia LaBeouf. In 2020, it was reported that LaBeouf, Florence Pugh, and Chris Pine would be joining the film. One year later, LaBeouf was no longer connected to the film, and singer Harry Styles took over that role (and ended up in a relationship with Wilde).

At first, it seemed as LaBeouf’s exit had to do with the allegations of assault, abuse, and harm that FKA Twigs made about him after they dated from mid-2018 to May 2019. More allegations came out from musician Sia and songwriter Katy Rose.

“As someone who is such an admirer of his work, [LaBeouf’s] process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions,” Wilde told Variety in a profile on August 24th. “He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require a combative energy, and I don’t personally believe that is conducive to the best performances. I believe that creating a safe, trusting environment is the best way to get people to do their best work. Ultimately, my responsibility is to the production and to the cast to protect them. That was my job.”

She continued, “A lot came to light after this happened that really troubled me, in terms of his behavior. I find myself just really wishing him health and evolution because I believe in restorative justice. But for our film, what we really needed was an energy that was incredibly supportive. Particularly with a movie like this, I knew that I was going to be asking Florence to be in very vulnerable situations, and my priority was making her feel safe and making her feel supported.”

This was the prominent narrative until a few days after the interview, when LaBeouf claimed that it wasn’t true that he was “fired,” claiming instead that he “quit” the film. He provided Variety an email, a video, and text messages that seem to back up his claim.

The email he sent to Wilde following the profile, published by Variety, stated, “My failings with Twigs are fundamental and real, but they are not the narrative that has been presented. There is a time and a place to deal with such things, and I am trying to navigate a nuanced situation with respect for her and the truth, hence my silence. But this situation with your film and my ‘firing’ will never have a court date with which to deal with the facts. If lies are repeated enough in the public they become truth. And so, it makes it that much harder for me to crawl out of the hole I have dug with my behaviors, to be able to provide for my family.”

I think the video message from Wilde is very gross and damning, but I am reluctant to take LaBeauf fully at his word. When the allegations against him came out from Twigs, he said, “Many of these allegations are not true,” while admitting, “I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me.”

Meanwhile, in a recent podcast interview with Jon Bernthal’s Real Ones, he admitted that he did abuse Twigs and that he lied about abuse from his father in his film Honey Boys. “I wrote this narrative, which was just fucking nonsense. My dad was so loving to me my whole life. Fractured, sure. Crooked, sure. Wonky, for sure. But never was not loving, never was not there. He was always there … and I’d done a world press tour about how fucked he was as a man.”

He says (not by her name) that Twigs was a “saint” who saved his life and confesses, “I hurt that woman. And in the process of doing that, I hurt many other people, and many other people before that woman. I was a pleasure-seeking, selfish, self-centered, dishonest, inconsiderate, fearful human being.”

This all should matter because Hollywood, the media, and the public at large have proven to be absolutely horrible when it comes to understanding domestic violence. Despite MeToo and TimesUp willingly using the stories of survivors to boost their own social and cultural capital, they have repeatedly shown an inability to not publicly support alleged victims even in the fact of public backlash.

You can support a friend who you think can do better and help them on the road, but if you aren’t also looking out for their victims, then it is worthless in the public arena.

We have seen, time and time again, people being able to see abuse in their own lives but making excuses for it when someone they like is accused of the same. Despite decades of domestic violence being part of our media in shows like Law and Order: SVU or just part of the cultural conversation like the O.J. Simpson trial, society has learned nothing. They would rather redeem a popular man than anything else. Meanwhile, vulnerable men who suffer emotional abuse, like actor Ioan Gruffudd, at the hands of his former wife, get no mainstream support from the same people who want to throw around straw-man accusations of not believing men who have been abused.

FKA Twigs now has to watch someone, who she wanted to do better and acknowledge the harm he caused, do that only on the condition that he gets to do it on his terms. She told Gayle King that the things she wanted from LaBeauf was to donate money to a charity dealing with DV and to get help privately. If he did, she wouldn’t have filed a lawsuit.

More so, because Wilde used the abuse allegations as a public reason for getting rid of LaBeouf, she has now put sympathy back on his corner as he claims that’s untrue. It is a mess, and it is so disheartening. We’ve already seen what happens with white (queer) women, and now we have a Black woman who is going to deal with a similar public DV situation.

I do believe people can change, but that change is about making amends to the person you’ve harmed. I would give LaBeouf more grace in this if he … apologized to FKA Twigs privately—even if it was between mediators. Settle the lawsuit in a way that allows him to take public accountability. It is telling that he compares himself, according to the Variety piece, to Josh Brolin, who was arrested and charged with spousal battery in 2004, and Mel Gibson, whose racist rants and domestic violence charges were very public.

I didn’t know about the allegations against Brolin until after he was Thanos, and Gibson has slowly become a Hollywood darling again. Even despite the mounting allegations around Brad Pitt, that hasn’t stopped him being even more popular following his split from ex-wife Angelina Jolie.

This is the environment we are in, and it is not getting better. The saddest part is … why wouldn’t abusers use this playbook when they see how well it works?

(featured image: Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.