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If You Don’t Wanna Help, Your Only Job Is to Shut Up: How Bros Like Michael Rapaport and Ron Perlman Ruin Progress

Michael Rapaport

I can’t even with hypocrites who stand in the way of people who are actually trying change how things are done. I can’t even with people who, because a particular problem doesn’t affect them (or perhaps because they identify a bit too closely with the accused), feel comfortable deciding when and where is “appropriate” to fight things like sexism, sexual harassment, or assault—as if these problems didn’t need to be eradicated from every angle and fought in every sphere. I can’t even with Michael Rapaport and Ron Perlman.

Yesterday, we reported on the awesomeness that was John Oliver holding Dustin Hoffman accountable for alleged harassment he’s committed throughout his career. During a 20th Anniversary screening of the film Wag the Dog, John Oliver was moderating the panel, and he interrogated Hoffman about his responses to the allegations, catching him “off guard.”

Though I have to ask, how ignorant does one have to be of the world around them to legitimately be caught “off guard” by questions and a conversation that is permeating every facet of our lives right now? A conversation in which one is a principal actor and example. How far does one’s head need to be up their own ass in order for them to actually believe that a movie panel upon which an alleged sexual harasser sits can ever be just a movie panel again?

Well, apparently Hoffman was surprised by the line of questioning. Probably because at any other point in history, the allegations against him would’ve been brushed under the rug for the sake of “politeness.” Because as we’ve been taught, nothing is more important than men being made to feel comfortable. Even if that means never getting around to the pesky matter of women “not wanting to be abused” or whatever.

image: Paramount Christina Ricci Wednesday Addams The Addams Family


So yeah, Oliver questioned him about it publicly, because allegations like these deserve public scrutiny, and while Hoffman could’ve used it as an opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to being better, or to acknowledge just how much society allows men to get away with, he did not. He got defensive and flustered, expecting the event to cater to him, and when it didn’t, you could tell he was angry.

In this moment, John Oliver was exactly what I would hope every man would be, and what I believe every man can be. We talk about things like “masculinity,” and usually that includes a conversation about “strength.” This is the kind of strong that men need to be. I don’t care how much you can bench-press, or whether or not you can throw a good punch. I care how much you’re willing to put yourself on the line for others. I care about how you stand up for what you believe in. When I talk about men being “providers,” I’m not talking about money, I’m talking about providing emotional support, providing help, providing an environment of safety, and you do that through your actions, not by how much you earn, or how loud you get.

Enter actor Michael Rapaport, who for some reason felt the need to not only comment on the Oliver/Hoffman exchange, but come after Oliver hard. Like really hard. Like, really too hard?

  1. Dustin is his name, and he’s not Oliver’s dad, teacher, boss, or the goddamn President. Listen, I know you respect the shit out of him as an actor or whatever, but “Mister Hoffman?” Bro, please.
  2. Like, sorry your movie night was ruined? But there’s shit happening right now that’s more important than your favorite actor being made uncomfortable.
  3. You assume that every paying customer had their evening ruined as opposed to improved by the exchange. I would happily bet you money that there was a decent number of people in that audience who were happy that Oliver was doing what he did. Not everybody prioritizes film over people’s lives the way you seem to.
  4. You repeatedly talk about Hoffman being an “80 year old man.” Exactly. He’s GROWN. He’s not a child. He can handle himself however he wants to. He doesn’t need you swooping in for the rescue, or policing how other people approach him about alleged wrongdoing.

But wait! There’s more! In video form. Take it away, MISTER Rapaport:


image: Fox Mila Kunis "That 70s Show"

Brah. Brahbrahbrahbrahbrah. It was Oliver’s job to ask him questions and get answers, and when you’re talking about a 20th Anniversary screening of a film, you’re at liberty to ask about a person’s entire career. Sadly, these allegations against Hoffman are a part of his career. Oliver was being more of a journalist than a lot of journalists have the courage to be in a similar situation. But it was absolutely his place to ask the questions.

Oliver asked him publicly rather than privately so that Hoffman wouldn’t get to weasel out of an answer privately the way he allegedly harassed women in private. Oliver was holding an alleged predator accountable while standing up for women. Yes, publicly. Why exactly are YOU commenting? What are you standing up for publicly? Who exactly told you they give a shit what you thought about it anyway? Oliver was doing his job. You’re just flexing on Twitter for no reason. Who’s doing what for the ‘Gram?

Oh wait, maybe there is a reason:

Aaaaaahh. I see now. This isn’t about Hoffman at all. This is about being afraid of a climate that no longer tolerates this kind of behavior. This is about covering yo’ ass. This is terror masquerading as righteous anger about “proof,” because something-something chickens and roosting-something.

(whispers) The chickens are coming from inside the house …

And because ignorance loves company, Ron Perlman decided to speak up in “support” of Rapaport, because solidarity, bro.

Um, not that I in any way want or need to be thinking about your junk, but does cutting down panel moderators on Twitter get you hard? Seriously, why are you even up in here? Why are you commenting? When did this become something you had to get involved in? Yes, “dude’s got a point,” it’s just not a good one. The fact that you’re jumping in on it speaks volumes about you.

John Oliver’s Ron Perlman’s a show boater who picked the wrong fucking time and the wrong fucking place to make the story about himself.” Fucking fixed it.

And just to head this off at the pass, you might be thinking Oh, you’re yelling at me for defending Hoffman and coming after Oliver? Why do you get to come after me? Oliver doesn’t need your protection.

No, he doesn’t. But I’m not saying all this to protect him. He’s clearly a fighter capable of fighting for others as well as himself. He doesn’t need me. I’m saying all this to protect women by trying to create an environment in which certain behaviors and attitudes will no longer be tolerated. I’m coming at you critically, because for too long men like you have been allowed to just spout whatever they want without having to deal with any repercussions. That time has passed.

The way to get men to stop being criticized and come for is not to stop the criticism, but to stop the actions that warrant it. You wanna be helpful? Why don’t you put your focus there instead of on the people who fight against the inappropriate behavior, complaining that they’re “not doing it right.” Put them out of a job! Because believe me, none of us wants to be doing this. Yet here we are.

It appalls me that Rapaport and Perlman can both profess to be “totally against any sexual harassment in any way, shape or form” or that they “got no problem having a serious discussion about the actions of Dustin Hoffman” yet feel totally justified in thinking themselves the arbiters of when it’s “appropriate” to have those conversations.

Certainly not during their movie time, apparently. I mean, how dare we, right? That’s damn near blasphemy.

If you’re not going to help, then shut up and stay out of the goddamn way, but don’t “denounce” sexual harassment out of one side of your mouth, while putting terms and conditions and disclaimers on it out of the other. You’re only further muddying waters that are already hella muddy. The rest of us are trying to clean it up, and we don’t need you and your advocacy for the devil tarnishing the effort.

The devil doesn’t need any more advocates. He’s got enough support as it is.

(image: Netflix)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former Mary Sue assistant editor from 2015-18. Teresa's returned to play in the TMS sandbox as a freelancer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.