You may have heard that the founder of AintItCoolNews, Harry Knowles, is being accused of sexual harassment. His little entertainment empire is collapsing fast in the wake of some serious problems.
Melissa Kaercher was acquainted with him and has been attending his events for years, and she has written up an honest analysis of Knowles’ problems. It’s clear how the pattern evolved. Start with a few crude jokes — we’ve all been there. Graduate to gross-out humor. Notice that sexual abuse gets the strongest response. From there, you’re off to the races, and start thinking you can do whatever you want to people. It’s funny!
We have all been there, at least at the early stages. But most of us learn early that we can repel people easily with such behavior, and we tone it down and work to extinguish it. But if you’re famous and popular, if you have rewards, like Knowles’ special, private events, people are less likely to speak out in the early stages, and you’ll also find that other privileged, nasty people gravitate towards you — it’s asshole magnetism. And before you know it, you’re living in a little clique where the decent people try to look the other way, while the similarly bad people are egging you on, until you cross a line that no one can ignore anymore.
It’s tough to handle. People tend not to respond well to criticism. If you do catch them early, and tell someone that, for instance, you don’t appreciate their rape joke, you know what’ll happen: “It was just one little joke! I’m a good guy! Why are you so tight-assed?”, and it all comes back on you. And they don’t invite you to their super-cool party.
But it needs to be done. Don’t let your friends slide down that easy, slick path to abusiveness. Snip it off early.