The Hypocrisy of Alamo Drafthouse
I’ve worked in theatre exhibition for over 16 years. It’s a fun job, but too often not a very good one, and certainly a thankless one. You work terrible hours, never get holidays off, and rarely see your friends or family. But, you know, you get to meet celebrities. So, I got that going for me, which is nice.
This is a job I love for a whole host of reasons that just makes my wife roll her eyes and long for me being able to regularly come home from work at 6pm instead of 4am. I love it because of how important going to the movies was for me when I was growing up. It helped shape me into the person I am today and I am fiercely proud of that. I want to give back to an industry that gave me so much, and I want everyone who comes to my theatres to have that same feeling of wonder when they sit down and watch something that truly moves them.
Alamo Drafthouse has long championed itself as a theatre chain that not only cares about movies, it is protecting them from the tyranny of evil texters and scofflaws that would disrupt the sanctity that is the Church of Cinema. It’s a hell of a marketing gimmick, and one that I mostly admired.
Sure, Alamo Drafthouse knew how to book. The people who worked there clearly loved the movies. And yes, they kept you safe from those truly reprehensible texters. Alamo Drafthouse knew how to aggressively pitch themselves as the only theatre that gave a shit about stopping people from texting, because nothing is worse than a texter in a movie. It’s clearly worse than publicly shaming people. It’s clearly as bad as Madonna. It might even be worse than sexually assaulting women. That must be why Alamo Drafthouse just keeps on paying Devin Faraci.
It’s at this point in this whole post that I highly recommend you go read Kayleigh Donaldson’s outstanding piece on this whole Faraci shit show over at Pajiba. This will give you some insight into what a terrible person Devin Faraci truly is. Why his methods of continuously bullying people both on and offline, along with his propensity to get drunk and sexually assault women, should give you a bit of a pause when you remember that Alamo Drafthouse takes immense pride in treating people like shit.
As someone who has helped millions of people go to the movies, I can safely say that I have “thrown out” hundreds, if not, thousands of people for any number of issues. It’s rarely a fun thing to throw someone out (I cannot tell a lie, throwing out screen hoppers is fun). My job is to make sure the viewing experience for my customers is as safe and courteous as possible, and that extends to the people I am escorting out of my building. My job is to treat them with dignity, even if they aren’t treating you, the movie, my staff or myself with any. We do this because it’s shitty to treat people badly. It shouldn’t be fun to shame someone, and it certainly shouldn’t be used as a marketing gimmick. You know what you do call people who take pride in making people feel ashamed about their actions? Bullies.
Let’s pause for a moment to think about how Tim League banned Madonna from Alamo Drafthouse for texting in a theatre in New York City (that wasn’t an Alamo Drafthouse theatre), yet he didn’t keep Devin Faraci away from work for even a year for sexual assault. So, my question for Tim League is, just how long did you wait before you re-hired him? But we’ll return to that later.
I don’t think it’s any surprise to people that while a lot of people work at movie theatres, very few of them make a career out of it. In fact, working at a movie theatre is generally considered a “good” first job. One of the things I learned over the years that while much of my job is devoted to making sure people have a good time at the movies, perhaps the most important aspect of it is teaching kids how to have a job. By being their first job, we need to teach them how they can succeed at the most basic skills that any “real” job would require of them. Being on time, asking for time off properly, showing up for your shifts and so on. It’s also quite important to teach them that making mistakes can be a really good way to learn. Again, more on that later.
Does everyone remember that time when Alamo Drafthouse empowered women? They did this pretty whip smart thing that I was absurdly jealous of, they did a woman’s only screening of Wonder Woman. It was a smart marketing move, but more importantly, it was a great way to show women that they not only mattered, they deserved the spotlight too. I’m glad they did that, and I’m glad Alamo Drafthouse received such praise for the event. Alamo Drafthouse took a chance and was rewarded for it. My hope was that the industry would take notice and it would help move the needle in the right direction.
Now, when Alamo Drafthouse rehired Devin Faraci I am wondering what kind of message they think that sends to the women who went to that screening? Could that be why they kept it quiet? Was that screening just some gimmick to trick women into buying tickets rather than wanting to give them a platform to freely enjoy themselves? That’s just one of the problems rehiring Faraci presents. Your motives are now always going to be questioned, because you have made it clear that ensuring the financial well-being of Faraci is a priority.
I’m trying really hard to not just lose my shit. I love this industry. So much it hurts. I live and breathe movies, and Tim League is shitting all over it. Fuck.
Here’s the thing, women fucking matter. Their feelings, their thoughts, their bodies and their minds all matter. That I must state this, and probably must defend it, is a huge fucking problem. This industry is not only taking women for granted, we are working our assess off to make them think they have no business being here. We expel so much energy trying to convince them that they have no right to enjoy the things we do. Hell, they don’t even get to enjoy the shit we don’t like. That’s how threatened we are by women with agency. I’m so tired of it and it needs to stop.
People like Faraci have no business working in this industry. There are consequences for horrible actions, and one of them should be you don’t get to write about movies any more. He made a career out of doing terrible things to people, and now Tim League has up and decided he gets the opportunity to possibly abuse people again. This isn’t about giving someone who made a mistake a second chance or having a learning opportunity. Faraci is exactly what people knew him to be, a truly vile person. By giving him a job, Alamo Drafthouse isn’t showing him a kindness or giving him a second chance, they are giving him a platform.
I think we should all take a moment to dwell on the fact that the decision to bring Faraci back could only have been made by Tim League. I know that Tim thinks that most theatres don’t do a good enough job policing texting, but I do know that of the theatre companies I have worked for, they all have policies against hiring sex offenders.
That’s probably a cheap shot but I’m 1200 words in and I think I’ve been fucking civil so far. Plus, by making this decision it is tough to not conclude that Tim League has taken a stance that Madonna is more dangerous to moviegoers than someone who commits sexual assault and who publicly tries to goad people into committing suicide. Like, I can’t even.
Film exhibition is struggling, and we are already doing enough things that are frustrating or upsetting our customer base. Now, Alamo Drafthouse has damaged the entire industry by rehiring Faraci. They have made going to the movies less inclusive, and less safe. That violates every single tenet of what our industry claims it stands for.
I have a few more questions for you Tim, what exactly are you going to tell the parents of those kids who work at your theatres when they find out you hired someone who bullies and sexually assaults women? You can’t sit and point your finger at AMC to get out of this one, you made this decision. You made it very clear that your company’s public persona is just an act. Your business model is founded on click bait. That being a name is more important than being decent.
If giving Faraci a second chance was truly your motive, why did you secretly rehire him? Why the lack of transparency? Was it because you knew the backlash you’d receive because of it? What value do you think he brings to your brand? Just why is that more important than your customer base feeling like it can appreciate movies without one of your employees berating them?
Even before this news was announced I always thought that I lived in a city that had a tremendous film industry. As a film goer, there is a host of venues that you can go to and have a great time at the movies. Whether its mainstream, arthouse, or rep cinema, the Twin Cities had you covered. My industry friends at Marcus, The Parkway, Riverview, Landmark, the Trylon, and The Heights all worked like crazy to ensure that you would have a great time at the movies.
Just a few weeks ago it was announced that Alamo Drafthouse would be opening its first location in the Twin Cities. Up until today, I would have said that would have been a welcome addition to our film community. But now I know that the Alamo Drafthouse isn’t something we need in the Twin Cities. In fact, Alamo Drafthouse will only make going to the movies worse.