Why I’m Done With The Drafthouse: An Open Letter

Update: I started a petition over on Change.org calling for the Leagues to be removed from the Drafthouse.  If, after reading this letter and the Splinter article, you agree then please head over here and sign the petition.  And share it with your friends too!  Let’s be the change we want to see.  Thanks.

To Tim and Karrie League:

It’s been nearly a month since Splinter published their bombshell about the Drafthouse’s, well YOUR, decades of minimalizing sexual assault allegations and making excuses for predators who happened to be your friend. I haven’t been to a Drafthouse since this article as I pondered my own reaction.

I considered your reaction. You’ve blogged about your various staff meetings about harassment and employee councils you’ve started and general plans for the future. All these things you had to do in light of the Me Too movement. And, quite honestly, you should have done them decades ago. I wonder what more you might have done if the attention didn’t shift away from you with Weinstein and so many others.

The more I thought about it, the more I knew.  You and me, we’re through. And it isn’t me, it’s you.

I was a fan of the Drafthouse. I purchased hundreds of tickets to your theater and I always ordered food and drink. I rented your theaters for parties and work events. I brought visitors from out of town just to see your commitment to building a community, a family who loved movies. I took my boys to the lightsaber vigil for Carrie Fisher.  I made sure to take my boys to the earliest showing of Big Hero 6 (our fourth time!) at South Lamar so we could be one of the first to see the trailer for The Force Awakens in my favorite theater. I was one of your original 40 Rabbits when the Slaughter location opened. I was over the moon when I got to interview the man who creates the amazing pre-show entertainment. I’ve bought Mondo artwork and taken my children to MondoCon. I watched Drafthouse Films you distributed. I was an evangelist, a true believer, a supporter of your family.

I never knew that you weren’t protecting your family.  Through your specific inaction you made me complicit. And I hate you for that.

How did you make these choices–to give aid and comfort to a sexual predator because he was a good customer? To continue doing business with a rapist? To turn a blind eye and ear when your staff–your FAMILY–turned to you and said “Help me. He’s hurting me.” It is sickening.

If a movie were made about the history of the Drafthouse, do you think you would be the heroes or the villains?

I’m glad the company has been forced to adopt safeguards to protect the staff. They deserve that. But that’s moving forward. You haven’t done anything to address your decades of complicity, of enablement. You have profited off the pain of your family.

The Splinter article even details a chance for you to do the right thing–publically apologize for an incident you KNEW was wrong. You drafted a letter apologizing to the victim because you thought the story was about to break. You even said it was too little, too late, but it was what you could do.

Then you did nothing. Because the story didn’t break.  Your morality was just fear of a news cycle, meaning it wasn’t morality at all.

You don’t know me, I was just a customer. Maybe I spent more than some and less than others. But I will not give you another dollar, another positive mention, or another pass for your choices.

I will use what little voice I have to speak out for Jill Lewis, Jasmine Baker, and their friends both known and unknown who you could have helped and chose not to.

It’s as if you haven’t been watching movies at all. You stood by and did nothing. Movies do not celebrate that. They inspire us to be better, to help others. You did the opposite. And you wouldn’t care if people never found out.

The mural painting of sexual predators still on your walls should be removed. And then you both should be removed as well. I hope some small part of you is haunted by the pain people went through because you stood by and did nothing. But from what I see, you don’t care more than publicity dictates.

I am ashamed because you are not. I supported you when you did not support your family. Maybe you will never pay the price for your choices, but I’m done paying your bills.

Shame on you.

Your former customer,

Ryan Garcia

ryan

Gabbing Geek co-founder, podcaster

2 thoughts on “Why I’m Done With The Drafthouse: An Open Letter

  1. your feelings of disappointment are real, and earned. a lot of people who know the Leagues and people at the Alamo have been sad, but there’s also reasons why they haven’t given up on it.

    consider that you’re labelling a sad old man with a broken brain who’s only ever verbally said things a sexual predator. that ‘s not right.

    consider, just consider that the reason Tim and Carrie haven’t talked publicly about the incident discussed in the Splinter article is because they’ve been in touch with the victim. and consider that perhaps the victim didn’t want to put that story out into the public. and consider that making the recording of Carrie public meant that the victim’s story was made public without her consent and against her wishes. and consider that many people knowing the year and circumstances of the incident have put two and two together and know who the victim is now.

    consider that Tim and Carrie are human beings, and made bad judgments, and might be deeply sorry and ashamed of what happened. and also consider the force for positivity and progressive change that they’ve been in Austin and across the coutnry.

    that might be more than you want to think about, and that’s understandable. but just consider it.

    1. First, thanks for responding, Rae. I think this situation is one the warrants more conversation, not less.

      Anyone whose words and actions make another feel uncomfortable to the point that they feel the need to be escorted to their car at the end of the night because they aren’t sure what this person will do is absolutely a sexual predator. It does not matter if they are old. It does not matter if they have a broken brain (I don’t even know what that means). The things they did and the fear they caused is what earned him the label.

      But do away with the label if that’s your concern. At the very least this is someone who should have been banned from the business. This is not someone who should have been celebrated, memorialized, and prioritized over the safety of your staff. Full stop.

      The sad thing about your comment regarding the Splinter incident is that I’m not sure which one you’re referring to. That’s the tragedy–there are so many that you are talking about one specific incident and I *think* you’re talking about the rape but I’m not sure. And obviously I am not as well versed in the community as to put items together and figure out who it was. The article certainly didn’t give enough information to put those items together, speaking as someone who doesn’t know the people involved–for those of you who did know the people and can put this together, I’m not sure what to say about that. Absolutely the victim deserves their privacy, but if the Leagues knew who the rapist was that’s an entirely different issue. And it still makes their ready-to-go-response-that-was-never-used seem more publicity-based than actually caring about how they hurt people by continuing to do business with the rapist.

      And I absolutely consider the Leagues to be human beings who have made mistakes. The problem I see is that they haven’t owned up to them. They have changed how the Drafthouse operates moving forward–great, but they should have done that long ago. Nothing that they’ve done shows they have taken ownership of the decades of hurt perpetuated on their staff.

      If you drive a car and drift off the side of the road and hit a dog, you absolutely should put your car back in the road. But the dog was still hit–what do you do to address that harm? Driving as you should have been is well and good down the road, but it does nothing to account for the harm you caused. The Leagues have not addressed the harm they’ve caused–they have just cared about the publicity they earned.

      I hear you about the Drafthouse as an entity, which is part of what makes this so difficult. They have supported staff in other ways, supported local communities, took the initiative in being inclusive in the bathroom debate, etc. I’m all for those other things they did. But they also did this. They made excuses, they looked the other way, they forgave bad acts because someone was good at their job or was a friend. And in doing so, they hurt vulnerable people by protecting the guilty. That’s EXACTLY the pattern of behavior that got us into this #MeToo mess. It both enabled the bad actors and further victimized the victims.

      I’m glad the Drafthouse is doing things to protect the staff, but I cannot go back there until the Leagues have been held accountable for their past actions.

      People get kicked out of the Drafthouse for talking during a movie. I think protecting sexual predators and minimizing abuse is enough to get you kicked out of the Drafthouse for life. They should be removed from their positions.

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