We’ll get to what she said in a minute.
But we really need to take a second and talk about the truly maddening fact that Alison Brie was asked about James Franco at all. If you didn’t know, she’s married to his brother Dave Franco, which is why this came up – but I’m frustrated because she was a double nominee last night, for her role in GLOW and as a part of the ensemble. But none of that is what people remember, because the headline now is something else.
Alison Brie addressed the allegations of sexual misconduct made against her brother-in-law, James Franco, on the #SAGAwards red carpet. https://t.co/faVDinq7Vq pic.twitter.com/AbVt5o0TzI— E! News (@enews) January 21, 2018
What kills me about this isn’t that they ignore her nominations or the reason she was there. What kills me is that E! is the one who made it happen. They write the headline as though she was striding the length and breadth of the carpet talking about this to anyone who would listen, when in fact YOU CREATED THIS HEADLINE, E!
To be fair, Entertainment Tonight also asked her about Franco and was arguably grosser all around: “We hear he’s having a rough time, is he OK?” is an actual sentence that was uttered on live television. Is that really what you want to be asking? “Hey, stories point to the fact that at minimum he harassed several people, maybe more. How’s he feeling?” UGH. This is why we can’t have an equitable society! But at least they had the decency not to make their headline about Brie all about him, as though it was the only thing she wanted to talk about all night.
Because, as many people have pointed out, it is not her job to answer for him or how he is, or why he did what he did. Moreover, I can see the producers back in the truck rubbing their hands together at ‘getting’ to ask her this, but you’re not going to get a satisfying answer! What do you truly expect her to say? That there’s some family creed by which misconduct is justified? That she’s getting a divorce on the spot? That she’s dissociating herself from that side of the family? Would you want to answer for everything one of your in-laws has ever done?
Second, this is yet another verse of making men’s behaviour women’s fault. They don’t speak up early enough or they don’t leave soon enough or they’re asked about how they can justify the behavior of a man who happens to be tangentially connected to them, as though they were endorsing it the whole time. As if she was there. Why are you asking her? What do you think you’re going to get, other than proving to your public that you had the balls to ask and get a non-answer?
Speaking of the answer – I thought she did as well as she could have under the circumstances. She started and ended with confirmation that women should – and must – feel comfortable talking about their experiences. Then in the middle she pointed out that obviously she supports her family and said, “Not everything that’s been reported is fully accurate.” I found this kind of clever wording, in that by choosing that phrase (again, we’re putting the onus on her to have to watch her language carefully when she had nothing to do with this situation) she can raise an eyebrow at the press rather than at the accusers. But our friend Lorella, a whip-smart lawyer, accurately pointed out that to the listener, it still boils down to saying ‘some of the accusations aren’t true’, which is not what you want anyone to say, least of all someone who is a vocal supporter of the Time’s Up movement. But if she hadn’t said it, would she be damning him? If she’d said ‘no comment’, wouldn’t the headlines be ‘Alison Brie bristles when asked about James Franco’?
As it is, we’ve made her appearance on a red carpet to celebrate her work all about him, and if I were her publicist I’d be livid, and calling around to arrange in-depth profiles where she could elaborate on her remarks in a more controlled environment. But it’s not her job to answer for him, nor is it her job to educate him on what he’s done wrong, or to be a civilizing influence, or to do his damage control or dissipate some of the heat on him. I hate that she got leveled with this question because she’s known as a ‘warm and friendly’ voice, and I hate that she was shouldered with this sudden responsibility on the day she should have been there to Show Her Work.
It’s going to be lost in the headlines today, but Alison Brie was a two-time nominee for GLOW. It’s a good show, and she’s good in it. Maybe some day we’ll get to talk about that.