It’s a popular day for critiques of ScreenJunkies’ much-watched, much-annoyed-by Honest Trailers series of internet videos; earlier today, the company released a Deadpool-themed (and starring) lighthearted takedown of its own practices. Now, the series’ fired creator is offering up some of his own, rather heavier, complaints. In fact, Andy Signore—who was fired by ScreenJunkies owners Defy Media last year over multiple sexual harassment complaints against him—is suing his former bosses, claiming that they were motivated to terminate him, not by respect for women or the #MeToo movement, but as an attempt to “exploitatively” use that public pressure to “rob” Signore of his rightful making-fun-of-movie-trailers money.
Essentially, Signore’s argument boils down to something like this: Sure, he acted in an inappropriate or potentially harassing way with female fans or colleagues—although he glosses over allegations made by a former intern last year, claiming he’d made multiple comments about masturbating to photos of her—but so was everybody else at the company, so why was he singled out? It is, if nothing else, a boldly playground approach to a legal complaint, a sort of “I know I am, but what are you?”
Most of Signore’s allegations relate to an account posted last year on Twitter by April O’Donnell, who stated that, on numerous occasions, Signore attempted to initiate unwanted sexual contact with her, and threatened her boyfriend, a ScreenJunkies engineer, with firing if she tried to expose him. Signore says, in contrast, that he and O’Donnell had a consensual sexual relationship, but that when he tried to offer Defy Media proof to that effect, they ignored it and took advantage of the opportunity to fire him anyway. (At the time, O’Donnell made it clear that she’d brought her complaints to Defy Media’s HR department multiple times, and that she was only taken seriously after she went public.)
As increasingly seems to be a pattern—as men brought down by #MeToo try to navigate ways back into the public sphere—the message is one of overall support for the movement, mixed with extremely specific skepticism in their particular case, including a whole paragraph that states that “This case is not about distrusting accusers of sexual harassment or assault. (“Believe women,” suggests the implication. “Just not this one.”) Signore’s complaint goes so far as to suggest that he’s the real defender of women’s rights and transparency here, since he’s claiming that Defy—which he also said “fostered a company culture of profanity and obscenity” and was rife with harassment—is the one attempting to pervert the movement for its own gain.
Defy Media has issued a statement refuting the various claims in Signore’s suit. At least two of the women who accused Signore of harassment have posted online about the distress they’ve experienced tonight as he and his legal team push the topic back into the news cycle. You can read the full legal complaint here.