In a series of sexual misconduct accusations against producer Brett Ratner, his Marty Singer attorney responded on his behalf with a series of denials.
Krista Vernoff, the showrunner for Grey's Anatomy, took issue with some of his comments and went on the record in an op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter to break down how, in her opinion, how Ratner's power on set works as well as how the need to maintain relationships in Hollywood go hand-in-hand with sexual misconduct allegations.
Vernoff examined some specific rebuttals and denials issued by Ratner through his attorney, starting with the defense that Ratner was surely not the only man on any given movie set hitting on women. Vernoff said it's inappropriate because he "holds all the power" on the set and offers a reminder that he's not accused of hitting on women but of assaulting them. With regard to the former, Vernoff reminded us that hitting on someone in a bar is very different than hitting on people who depend on you for their employment.
She then debunked an idea put forth by Ratner that he couldn't possibly have offered any actress an opportunity to get a speaking role in exchange for sexual favors because the movie in question had already been cast. Offering up an example from her time on Grey's, Vernoff told the story of recently upgrading a background actor to a speaking role. She wrote that a whole slew of actors volunteered because it would mean a sizable difference in pay. The opportunity came up unexpectedly, when she and Debbie Allen, who was directing the episode, watched it being acted out. Vernoff wrote, "Now, imagine that as I studied those eager faces, I approached one of them and said that if she followed me into the bathroom and got naked or showed me her breasts or touched my genitals, she could have the upgrade. That's the accusation against Ratner by multiple women." On Ratner's behalf, his attorney called the assertion "ridiculous."
Vernoff then debunked several of Singer's attempts to attack the credibility of Ratner's accusers by discussing their continued contact with Ratner and suggesting that the women who allege they were sexually assaulted at Ratner's house by director James Toback could have simply called out for help because other people were around. To the first, she explained the "basic psychology" of women pulling their aggressors closer and wrote that, "when a woman has been hurt by a man as powerful as someone like Brett Ratner is in this town, she has nothing to gain by making an enemy of him and a whole lot to lose." And to the former, she told her own story of going to a bar early in her career where an unnamed famous director was getting a blowjob in front of everyone, while leering at the other women in the room. It's a shocking abuse of power and aligned with the many stories we've heard about men who masturbate and make people watch: the power they experience in debasing others is the sexual thrill for them.
Vernoff closes with some advice to Ratner, his attorney, and every man writing a PR statement in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations: if it's bad, if it's full of tropes, falsehoods, or stereotypes, "rewrite it."
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