Did you think it was over? Did you think the Hollywood Predator Advent Calendar had spat out its last name? Well Merry F*cking Christmas, we’ve got another one: TJ Miller. Remember him? Of Silicon Valley and Deadpool fame, and, oh yeah, The Emoji Movie. And also one of the most intolerable personalities of 2017. Is anyone surprised TJ Miller is now ensnared in the ongoing traffic jam of abusers and harassers being called out in Hollywood? This guy? SURELY YOU JEST.
Like so many others, there have been rumors about TJ Miller for a while. I’ve heard stories of bad behavior at comedy clubs, and of bullying female comedians and women who work with him. And it’s not limited to his stand-up act, he bullies people in his life, too. The excuse for many years has been that TJ Miller loves his wife, Kate Gorney, and so he can’t be a prick with a woman problem. As if that has ever stopped anyone before. As if being married prevents someone from (allegedly) getting loaded before going on stage and then verbally abusing audience members until they cry, or creating a toxic work environment.
The accusation against Miller is horrific, as reported by The Daily Beast, and goes back to Miller’s college days, when he assaulted “Sarah”, a girl with whom he had a relationship. There’s punching, choking, violent unsolicited sex, all wrapped up in the emotional damage of intimate violence and being hurt by someone you think, at the very least, cares about you. (For the record, Miller, and his wife, deny the allegations.) It’s heartbreaking, and like so many of these stories, you can feel how “Sarah” is still dealing with the aftermath today. While Miller has gone on to fame and success, “Sarah” has reshaped her whole life around the wounds he inflicted.
There’s a lot of talk—mostly from Matt Damon—about “due process” as these stories continue to come out. About waiting to judge, hearing all the facts, blah blah blah. The thing is, though, that for the vast majority of these stories, there will be no due process. It took “Sarah” a year to work up to reporting what Miller did, and by that time, there was no more physical evidence, so she didn’t go to the police. Instead, she reported it to the college, who reviewed the accusation in “student court”. The result was that Miller was expelled, but only after he graduated, so basically, nothing. And then he went on to fame and success. Where’s the due process in that? Where’s the due process, FOR “SARAH”?
The court of public opinion exists because the actual courts fail all the time. In a perfect world, the justice system would work perfectly every time, and we really could just go around saying, Well Person X got theirs because our flawless justice system worked yet again! But we know that is not how the world works. We know the justice system, no matter how pure the intent or sincere the effort, fails. It fails all the time. It fails some people more than others, and it fails victims of intimate violence at a rate so high it is almost incomprehensible.
But the court of public opinion, while flawed in its own way—the crime solvers on Reddit are not extremely helpful—does mete out its own form of justice. It comes in Google results that put up a mug shot and case details when you search “Brock Allen Turner”. It comes in lost jobs and reduced opportunities for people like Kevin Spacey and TJ Miller. Is that fair? I don’t know man, was it fair that because it took her a year to arrive at a place where she could recount her story for the record, the lack of physical evidence doomed “Sarah’s” case before it got started? Is it fair that Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd paid a price in lost jobs because they told Harvey Weinstein no?
TJ Miller’s Comedy Central show got canceled. That might or might not have anything to do with “Sarah’s” story, it might just be the result of low ratings. So far, there has been no word if any of Miller’s upcoming films, which include Deadpool 2 and Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, will replace him a la Kevin Spacey/Christopher Plummer. We’re going to have to wait and see what the court of public opinion dishes out to TJ Miller, but right now, I’d say he’s looking at fewer opportunities and certainly, a tougher time booking stand-up gigs.
Is that enough? No. Of course it isn’t. He changed the course of a young woman’s life, and she can go on and not be defined by one night, but that sign post is always there. That’s a sign she can’t take down. So now Miller will have a sign of his own, one he can’t take down, either. It’s a sign that says “sexual assault”, and anyone who chooses to work with him from now on has to look at that sign first. And because the deck is so stacked against victims and the system is not f*cking fair, that’s the best we can hope for. We have to settle for karmic justice because actual justice fails us. It failed “Sarah”. But at least now she isn’t the only one with a sign.