Predator, Prey

None other than the New York Times has exposed, it would seem, the hypocrisy of early #MeToo leader Asia Argento. Only now I learn her struggle: she was compelled to fake orgasm to get Harvey Weinstein’s face out of her vagina, just like Rose McGowan before her, except Argento maintained a consensual sexual relationship with Weinstein for years afterward. When she saw McGowan building a career and heroic identity out of enduring precisely the same thing and calling it rape (who knew?) she wasted no time reacquainting herself with her trauma.

Her accuser’s story is about as un-harrowing as her tale of Weinstein (presumably he didn’t have to fake his orgasms, but I’m not sure how that affects the balance), and the belated timing of his sexual trauma is as suspect as hers–she suddenly discovered her victimhood after Rose McGowan made it profitable; a month later, he discovered his, which she had just made profitable. A Hollywood hypocrisy cascade.

The Italian actress and director Asia Argento was among the first women in the movie business to publicly accuse the producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. She became a leading figure in the #MeToo movement. Her boyfriend, the culinary television star Anthony Bourdain, eagerly joined the fight. 

But in the months that followed her revelations about Mr. Weinstein last October, Ms. Argento quietly arranged to pay $380,000 to her own accuser: Jimmy Bennett, a young actor and rock musician who said she had sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room years earlier, when he was only two months past his 17th birthday. She was 37. The age of consent in California is 18… 

The fallout from “a sexual battery” was so traumatic that it hindered Mr. Bennett’s work and income and threatened his mental health, according to a notice of intent to sue that his lawyer sent in November to Richard Hofstetter, [Anthony] Bourdain’s longtime lawyer, who was also representing Ms. Argento at the time.

Bourdain killed himself after being cuckolded by Argento, who was photographed cavorting with a younger, shinier supportive male–a journalist she met through the #MeToo movement.

A more cynical person would see Argento (daughter of Italian horror movie director Dario Argento) as adept at getting what she wants from men, and as comfortable trading career capital for sex as with trading sex for career capital. Morally there’s no distinction–unless we’re allowed to consider young women are more vulnerable than young men here, which we aren’t. But I’m sure the sex is a lot better when you’re on top, so to speak, whoever you are.

Leah McSweeney in Penthouse, under the title Toxic Femininity:

Born in Rome, Asia Argento was raised in a family of famous Italian artists. Her father, Dario Argento, is a director and screenwriter best known for his innovative and influential horror movies. Her mother is the actress Daria Nicolodi, who starred in several of her husband’s films. Beyond this, Argento has a lineage of family members who were musicians and composers, including her maternal grandfather, Alfredo Casella.

Ms Argento didn’t land in Hollywood off a Greyhound bus. Which makes me wonder: where are the stories of naive girls arriving in Hollywood to be taken advantage of who don’t go on to have careers? All the prominent and not-so-prominent actresses with tales of lechery seem to have made careers for themselves–that are winding down due to age or stalled, and they’ve all come forward after the coast was made clear by two clearly mendacious characters, Rose McGowan and Asia Argento.

On October 10th of last year, journalist Ronan Farrow published a bombshell New Yorker article in which 13 women made allegations against Hollywood kingpin Harvey Weinstein, sharing accounts not only of sexual misconduct and harassment, but also rape.  

Credited with initiating the contemporary #MeToo movement, the article detailed what it called Argento’s “rape” experience with Weinstein, one very similar to Rose McGowan’s own experience with the producer. Wrote Farrow: “Asia Argento, an Italian film actress and director, said that she did not speak out until now—Weinstein, she told me, forcibly performed oral sex on her—because she feared that Weinstein would ‘crush’ her.” Argento went on to tell Farrow, “I know he has crushed a lot of people before. That’s why this story—in my case, it’s twenty years old, some of them are older—has never come out.” 

…Argento and McGowan describe Weinstein giving them oral sex, and both say they faked an orgasm in hopes of getting the experience over with as fast as possible… 

Argento went on to have a consensual relationship with Weinstein for several years. The New Yorker article is what thrust the Italian actress into America’s cultural conversation. Before this, the American media knew little about her.

Sometime after Argento and Weinstein were done with their totally non-transactional relationship the aging actress happened to Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain met Argento on the set of his wildly popular CNN show Parts Unknown when he was filming in Rome. Argento, a single mother of two and Italian celebrity, ended up a guest on the show. In February 2017, not long after they met on camera, the New York Post confirmed the two had started dating. One quick scroll through the couple’s individual social media accounts reveals that Bourdain was completely smitten with Argento, posting photos of her on the regular with heartwarming comments.

Bagging Weinstein and then, in her sexual decline, Bourdain, suggests as a sexual adventuress Argento has been very successful. An old Saturday Night Live bit featured a South American baseball star whose limited English led him to answer every interview question with “Bas-e-ball has been berry, berry good to me”; when asked about his big new contract he says it with more emphasis “…berry, berry good…”. The Hollywood sexual market has been berry berry good to Asia Argento. It probably was pretty good to Rose McGowan until it wasn’t anymore, and #MeToo is likely more about that than anything else.

Taking their participation in that market and selling it now in a different market, as something else, makes this the political-social equivalent of dodgy financial practices like mortgage-backed securities full of bad loans. The clearly deranged McGowan et al are the moral Goldman Sachs of Hollywood, making money at both ends of the deal. Is there likewise a political-social bubble? How does that end?

Bourdain was openly supportive of Argento’s involvement in the #MeToo movement as she rose to be one of its most prominent and vocal crusaders. Bourdain never held back when standing up for her or any part of the #MeToo movement, even defending McGowan and her feminist activism. The #MeToo movement had accrued a strong new male ally in Bourdain…

Bourdain gushed publicly over Argento, and when it came to her career, he was her biggest supporter. This is what you do when you love someone and believe in them. He wanted her to succeed because he adored her. His influence led to her new role as a judge on the Italian version of X-Factor, and he hired her to direct an episode of Parts Unknown when the series filmed in Hong Kong…

But in the days leading up to his suicide, things between the couple seemed to get rocky.
On June 5th, three days before Bourdain’s suicide, paparazzi photos of Argento and the young French reporter Clément, 28, were published in the Italian gossip magazine Chi. The photos showed the two holding hands, kissing, hugging, and dancing in a bar in Rome.

Argento fought to have the photographs pulled. Bourdain was mysteriously no longer following his girlfriend on Instagram. Argento then posted an Instagram story of herself in a Sid Vicious shirt that said Fuck Everyone, and captioned the image: “You know who you are.” Three hours later he killed himself. And she deleted the image off of her instagram story.

Bourdain not only had to endure his public cuckolding by a younger man but the financial shakedown from the jailbait. But there would be no respite in death. The apparent cruelty of her behavior was an immediate problem for brand #MeToo. His still warm body would be thrown under the bus by McGowan on behalf of Argento, too grief-stricken to hoist it, I presume

As numerous eloquent tributes to Bourdain were published, Argento decided she was too grief-stricken to continue speaking publicly, and handed the torch to Rose McGowan. The former Charmed star penned a letter to the public on behalf of Argento, which McGowan’s publicist, Nathaniel Baruch at Brigade Marketing, promptly emailed to Rolling Stone. 

McGowan’s letter opens by saying Argento is now a victim not only of rape but of suicide. “Sitting across from me,” she writes, “is the remarkable human and brave survivor, Asia Argento, who has been through more than most could stand, and yet stand she does. She stood up to her monster rapist and now she has to stand up to yet another monster, suicide. The suicide of her beloved lover and ally, Anthony Bourdain. I write these truths because I have been asked to.” 

You know how to tell if someone is a flake? They use weird, unnecessary phrases like “these truths”.

McGowan then discusses Bourdain and Argento’s alleged “open relationship” in an obvious attempt to justify the photos with Clément. It’s too bad Bourdain isn’t here to confirm her statement that he and Argento were “free birds” who “loved without borders.” 

McGowan reminds the reader to “NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame,” and then says that Bourdain allegedly reached out to a doctor for help with his depression but did not take his advice. (How the fuck she knows that information and why she chose to disclose it remains a big fat question mark.) 

McGowan also states that both Argento and Bourdain suffered from depression, but “she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children,” while Bourdain’s depression usurped him. “His decision, not hers,” McGowan writes. “His depression won.”

Bourdain’s battered corpse was actually thrown under the bus a second time–Argento is saying he advised the payoff, implying she might not have. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bourdain, whose lawyer handled the scandal for her, paid that hush money.

These women are monsters. Bourdain left an 11 year old daughter and estranged wife who were notably silent during this humiliation–ironic, considering all the mileage #MeToo has gotten out of the idea of “silent” female victims.

3 thoughts on “Predator, Prey

  1. I get the Rice U. alumni magazine in the mail, and it has \”class notes\” in the back from alumni about what they've been up to. The most interesting arc over the years was from a coed who had been at Rice a few years after me, who diligently documented that she had married a very creative guy from San Antonio named Robert Rodriguez and she was helping him make low budget independent movies as his producer.After a couple of years, she announced that her hubby had gotten his first movie finished and for only $7k: \”Mariachi.\” Then came announcements from her that it had been bought by Columbia Pictures. Then that for her husband's next movie Antonio Banderas would star. Eventually, Robert Rodriguez became a famous Hollywood director with his wife helping every step of the way. Then he divorced her for Rose McGowan.


  2. McGowan isn't cutting him any slack either In the piece, which appears in the February issue of Vanity Fair, contributing editor Evgenia Peretz casts the director as a Svengali whom the “Charmed” actress accused of colluding with Weinstein, the embattled producer she said raped her in 1997. (Weinstein has denied all charges of nonconsensual sex.)Rodriguez, however, has a different take on the events, instead casting himself as her champion, “inspired to create a bad ass female action heroine” upon meeting the actress in 2005 and learning of her alleged encounter with Weinstein. He claimed that neither Peretz nor Vanity Fair’s fact checkers reached out to him for comment on or clarification of the details.McGowan, who appeared in Rodriguez’s 2007 thriller “Grindhouse,” said she fell hard for the filmmaker and confided in him about Weinstein, but he used that knowledge against her as a tool for mind games.“I was in a backward world,” McGowan writes in her upcoming memoir, “Brave,” adding that Rodriguez and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino used a scene in “Grindhouse” to attack her character and “sold our film to my monster.” (She repeatedly describes Weinstein as a “monster” who “must be slayed.”)…The “Sin City” co-director said he did not sell “Grindhouse” to the Weinsteins, explaining that they had a “a first look” on his next project, and he owed them two more after that. “‘Grindhouse,’ ‘Spy Kids 4’ and ‘Sin City 2’ fulfilled my obligations to them,” Rodriguez said.He also explained that the Weinstein Co.’s funding connection to the film began long before he met McGowan. He went into specific detail about the making of the film, including key dates that illustrated “it was already an official Weinstein movie for at least five months before principal production even began on [McGowan’s] ‘Planet Terror’ segment of ‘Grindhouse.’”“There was certainly ample time for Rose to decide not to be in a film funded by the Weinsteins and reject the movie and the script before shooting ever began,” he said. “And if she ever had a problem with making the movie for them I would have completely understood, changed the role, and cast someone else.


  3. Not only did you nail it with your article, as a whole, excellent observation that Bordain probably paid the settlement…I figured that if that were true, and might possibly be (literally) discovered during any discovery, that Argento would have a story for that–and just today, here it is, and it's a zero sum win, because it explains why it will be potentially revealed that Bourdain paid the settlement, while at the same time, negging on the victim, claiming he was harassing her. \”See, it all makes sense, everyone!.\” “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” Argento said in a statement obtained by journalist Yashar Ali. The Italian actress did, however, confirm that her late boyfriend, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, paid Bennett to stop harassing Argento.\”


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