Last year Bryan Singer’s name emerged from the Hollywood Predator Advent Calendar when he was sued for allegedly assaulting a minor. Many of us were not surprised, having expected something from that quarter as soon as the scandal moved past Harvey Weinstein and into deeper, industry-wide waters. It happened that the suit coincided with Singer flaking during the filming of Bohemian Rhapsody—something he had done before on other films—and Fox subsequently canning him. I was already becoming cynical by that point, as we were seeing people called out but not much happening in the way of actual consequences. But it turns out even I wasn’t cynical enough in that moment, because at the time I wrote of Singer: “He’s probably done… And, honestly, the fact that production on Bohemian Rhapsody was so rough is probably going to be a bigger ding with many in the industry than (yet another) sex abuse lawsuit.”
LOL no. In the ten months since I wrote that, Singer returned to work on Bohemian Rhapsody, invited to contribute in the editing phase, and he remains the sole credited director, and is participating in its promotion. He has also been hired to direct an adaptation of Red Sonja, the superheroine comic about a Boadicea-like warrior, so given his history of allegations that seems like a great fit. Oh, and he’s getting a huge payday for it. So not only did nothing happen to Bryan Singer, he’s doing better than ever.
But apparently some people aren’t willing to just let it go, because it turns out Esquire is working on an exposé of Singer. How do we know? Singer told us. He took to Instagram to issue a preemptive strike, saying, “I have known for some time that Esquire magazine may publish a negative article about me. They have contacted my friends, colleagues, and people I don’t even know.” He goes on to say, “This article will attempt to rehash false allegations and bogus lawsuits. This article will misuse quotes from ‘sources’ that will claim to have ‘intimate’ knowledge of my personal life. […] They will be attempting to tarnish a career I’ve spent 25 years to build.”
It’s the playbook, isn’t it? Cast doubt on anyone speaking out (“people I don’t even know”) and the outlet printing their words (“will misuse quotes”), and then remind everyone of his career which he worked so hard for—his reputation is on the line. That’s all this really is, a reminder that his reputation is more important than anything anyone could possibly say about unsavory behavior behind the scenes. Don’t listen to these liars, I’ve worked so hard. Don’t wonder about the years of persistent allegations, my name could be ruined. Ignore the slavering media, they’ll print anything for a click, my reputation is at stake.
Last year I thought Bryan Singer was done. I thought given the concurrent issues with Bohemian Rhapsody, Hollywood finally had cover to get rid of a(nother) problem. But then he ended up working on Bohemian Rhapsody anyway, and has gone on to Red Sonja like nothing happened. So now I don’t think whatever Esquire drags to the light is going to matter. It won’t stick. It never does with Bryan Singer. He is Hollywood’s Teflon Man. And this exposé isn’t coming along when momentum was in survivors’ favor, either. Everyone is going back to work like the last year was nothing more than a time-out, so why should I think anything will come of this?
Despite a year-long reckoning with how entitled men and their power complexes ravage women and minorities in the industry, still the reputation of men remains paramount. It’s not even like Bryan Singer has that great of a reputation, he’s a mediocre director with no visual imprint or thematic interest. But he makes people money, and that is all that matters. I hope Esquire publishes their story because those voices deserve to be heard, but I also hope they’re lawyered up to the hilt. Singer has benefitted from the protection of a powerful machine before, and he’s already setting himself up to do so again.