Everything Wrong With: Screen Junkies and The Sexual Assault Cover Up

(in a few minutes of reading)

Janks Reviews


Oh, Hollywood. It seems times haven’t changed since the 1950s era of drugs, alcohol and unwanted sexual acts that never reach the public consciousness. Where producers like Harvey Weinstein fondle actresses and movie bloggers, who describe themselves as feminists, prey upon the very same female interns and critics they claim to respect. All the while their HR departments, when faced with these victims, try ignore the facts sitting from their smoke filled back rooms.

Talk about life being stranger than fiction.

Now that movie blogger persona, accused of multiple instances of sexual assault, takes the shape of Andy Signore, the creator of popular YouTube film series Honest Trailers.

Emma Bower, who worked as an intern for Signore’s company Screen Junkies in 2015, wrote in a Twitter post this week that her boss made several lewd comments during her time working there.

While she did not provide screencaps of their conversation, Bower details one instance where Signore asked about professional pin-up photo that she participated in. “Lol, jacking it to you in your undies!!!” she says the blogger wrote to her, detailing how he wanted to do the same with her in his room. “You can read a book for all I care”, her former boss supposedly continued, detailing how “a skilled young lady” could receive some kind of monetary reward if she accepted the offer. Bower declined, saying he then tried to play the whole scenario off as a joke.

These claims were backed by other women who shared screencaps of other odd messages sent by Signore, through tweets and email, using the same frequent and grammatically incorrect use of ‘lol’.

“It’s not just Weinstein”, Bowers wrote, going on to say that women are “routinely taken advantage of” in the entertainment industry and that she wants people to believe her claims happened. Without screenshots, this makes my want to “listen and believe” and my job as a journalist difficult, but this notion of the casting couch and predatory Hollywood culture, from producers to bloggers alike, is pretty common knowledge at this point. While the mention of “patriarchy” is often met with justified roars of laughter, I’ve always said the place it could exist, in some form, is the sexualised underground playland known as Hollywood. Where voices all across the political and cultural spectrum, from Elijah Wood, Corey Feldman, Lana Del Rey, Ashley Judd to Milo Yiannopoulos tell us of “very young” boys and girls being taken advantage of at parties, how women have to “sleep their way to the top”, and the lengths certain powerful men will go for sexual advances.

The second Signore accuser, April Dawn, gives us an even more sinister picture what’s wrong with Hollywood power dynamics. Admitting she was a fan of Screen Junkies, Dawn states she met Signore at Chicago Comic Con in 2015. In her tweet, Dawn opens up about a time when Signore invited her to a Screen Junkies party being held in Chicago. When she arrived she was left only to find him, by himself, in a hotel room. With no party in sight. Sparing detail, Dawn states this was where Signore first tried to “force himself” on his fan.

Months later, Signore’s team flew Dawn out to Los Angeles to appear on a “fan cam” episode of his YouTube trivia series Movie Fights. Dawn states the team placed her in her own hotel room where Andy arrived uninvited. She states the Screen Junkies host, who is married with children, looked through the girl’s phone without her permission, took pictures of her own his own phone without her permission, and attempted to slide his own personal dildo inside her without consent. Faced with rejection, she states he then used her shower so he “didn’t smell like her” when he went home to his family.

Now one could ask why did these women address the issue as soon as it happened? Why did they not contact the right people? And the answer to that is… they did. Only to be met with silence, obfuscation and threats from Screen Junkies, their parent company Defy Media and their HR departments. Treated with waves of systemic, oppressive power politics cancer, you could say.

The first coming from Signore himself. In her tweet, Dawns acknowledges that she did come forward at the time and makes the case Signore blackmailed her into silence. “He threatened to kick me out of the hotel room if I told anyone”, she writes, later detailing her speaking up could result in her boyfriend, Josh ‘JTE’ Tapia, being fired from Screen Junkies. Tapia being an on camera series regular for Screen Junkies and Movie Fights.

Since then, April Dawn, comedian Dani Fernandez‏, and other unnamed men and women have come forward to complain about Signore’s conduct. “In July I called DEFY’s HR and gave them the names of women and witnesses who agreed to talk to them about Andy”, Fernandez wrote, “They never contacted the additional witnesses that also included 2 male producers. They had a detailed list of graphic instances. They told one of the women that they had “Defy’s best interest at heart”. That is literally what they told her about her sexual assault”.

Overnight, Screen Junkies and Defy Media issued a statement saying it has been investigating the accusations:

“We at Defy Media have no tolerance for harassment or retaliation of any kind,” the company said in a statement. “We have been conducting a thorough investigation into allegations made against Andy Signore and are preparing to respond to those allegations and take appropriate action.”

Their statement added: “Given the additional statements that were made today, we feel it is necessary to suspend Andy’s employment while we continue our investigation. We will take all necessary action once the investigation is fully complete.”

This statement was immediately met with a response from Fernandez:

“MULTIPLE women came forward and we gave u the names of male producers who has witnessed and you DID NOTHING. My boss at Hyper listened as I broke down in tears in his office on the phone with you. You are not getting off the hook. This has been going on for months. Remember when your HR person replied “okay so what do you want us to do about this?” How about your job?”

Andy Signore has yet to make his own statement, however prominent associates of Signore’s have responded to the drama. Roth Cornet, editor-in-chief of Screen Junkies News, wrote on Twitter: “I am truly, so profoundly heartbroken, shocked and sad today.” Dan Murrell, a producer at Screen Junkies and an onscreen regular with Signore, wrote: “I’m numb. I don’t know what to do. Questioning everything I thought I knew. To those that came forward — I hear you and I believe you.”

Signore follows the long list of male feminists in the movie blog sphere to have allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The most notorious is former editor-in-chief for Birth.Movies.Death Devin Faraci, known for his feminist rantings and virtue signalling, including one made regarding President Donald Trump’s leaked access Hollywood tape, only to be met with allegations of sexual assault that echo the president’s remarks. He was forced to leave his post in October.

Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles took a leave of absence last month after multiple women went public with stories of sexual assault. This resulted in Alamo Drafthouse owner Tim League announcing had severed all ties with Knowles as a result of the controversy and the Austin Film Critics Association voted to remove Knowles as a member of the group.

In Los Angeles, the independent film venue Cinefamily suspended its activities in August after executives resigned following sexual abuse allegations.

It’s expected that Andy Signore will face the very same fate many, including I, will feel deserved: shunned and shamed for the rest of his career.

Bailey T. Steen is a journalist, editor, artist and film critic based in Victoria, Australia. To support this content, and more to come like it, the options include Patreon and Paypal, where I hope to keep this content free.

My content has been graciously published on Trigtent, Janks Reviews, Newslogue and right here on Medium. For updates and contact, the best place to touch base is on Twitter and Facebook, and the comments below.

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