In the past, when women came forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against well-known figures, the famous person usually ignored or denied the charges and people went on with their lives. Now, following the bombshell fallout over Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long lecherous treatment of women, executives, directors, and actors have literally been suspended within two hours from a single accusation. If more than one accuser goes on the record, that famous person gets fired from all of his projects and various companies sever all ties to him.
Award-winning comedian Louis C.K., who admitted masturbating in front of numerous women, lost his manager, agent, publicist, and network within hours of confessing.
So it was shocking to hear Friday night of someone accusing George Takei of drugging a 23-year-old actor/model in 1981 when the “Star Trek” actor was 43 or 44, trying to take off his underwear and touching his genitals. Scott Brunton told The Hollywood Reporter, “He goes, ‘You need to relax. I am just trying to make you comfortable. Get comfortable.’ And I said, ‘No. I don’t want to do this.’ And I pushed him off and he said, ‘OK, fine.’”
Four of Scott Brunton’s friends went on record, saying he had told them the story years ago. The accuser said that in 1994 when Takei was on a book tour in Portland, he had coffee with Takei but chickened out of confronting him on what had happened in 1981 (Oregonlive.com even ran a shot of Takei’s autograph on his biography, “To the Stars,” addressed to “Scott” with the 1994 date).
Brunton said he decided to come forward after Takei blasted Kevin Spacey for announcing he was gay as a way to deflect accusations of sexually assaulting a minor in the ’80s. Takei had said being gay had nothing to do with what Spacey did; he had power and abused it. Brunton felt Takei was being a hypocrite and wanted an apology from him.
Takei responded on Twitter that he doesn’t remember “Bruton [sic].” “But those that know me understand that non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices, the very idea that someone would accuse me of this is quite personally painful.”
Many of us waited, hoping it wasn’t true and that no one else would assert similar experiences with Takei (once others feel it’s safe, they break their silence; just ask Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore). But people started posting audio of a recent interview Takei had done with Howard Stern. Speaking of the allegations against Weinstein, the shock jock asked Takei, “Did you ever grab anybody by the c*ck against their will?”
There was silence, then Stern’s sidekick Robin Quivers and Takei both laughed, sounding as if both said “oh oh” at the same time. Stern asked, “You never sexually harassed any___” (Takei interrupted him, saying, “Hey boner!”)
Silence again. Takei started, “Uh…” Stern pushed again, “Have you?” Takei let out a long laugh. “It’s-it’s- some people that are kind of um, um…skittish, or maybe, um, uh, afraid, and you’re trying to persuade…”
Stern: “What are you saying, George? There were t– but you never held a job over somebody if they didn’t…c*ck?”
“Oh, no, no, no, I never did that. That’s what this is about. It’s not about sex. It’s about power. It’s about power.’
Quivers: “But you never did this grabbing at work?” Takei said, “Oh no, no, no, it wasn’t at work. It was either in my home. They came to my home…”
Stern: “So what do you mean, like if some guy was hesitating to have sex with you, and then you gave him a gentle, uh, squeeze on the balls or something?”
After consideration, Takei added, “More than a gentle!” and laughed. “But it didn’t involve power over the other.”
Tuesday, Takei apologized for the joke, explaining that on the show, he’s played a “naughty gay grandpa,” which he considered a “caricature.” Meaning he was playing a character when he answered those questions. He also said his joking with Stern was in a “sketch.” Hmm. I dunno. I thought he was doing a straight interview.
Check it out here (warning – explicit language).
Oh, Come On! Department: “Saturday Night Live,’ which has proved its racism over the past 42 years by never hiring an Asian American cast member and rarely one who hosted, was quick to pick up on the accusation against Takei at the “Weekend Anchor” desk when Cecily Strong looked at her phone and asked incredulously, “George Ta-KAI?!”
Yeesh. At least pronounce the name right. As Takei infamously pointed out, it’s “Ta-KAY” as in “gay.”
Heart in the Right Place, But… Department: A few months ago, comic book author Marguerite Bennett got some press for centering a new comic book series on the internment of Japanese Americans that included Wonder Woman — “Bombshells United.” Since September, new issues have appeared every two weeks, and the story arc recently concluded with the release of No. 6 yesterday. But I couldn’t get past the first issue.
Like the 2009 “Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion” mini-series, which included the 100th/442nd, this one’s a wasted opportunity. To read my past review: www.rafu.com/2009/07/into-the-next-stage/
Bennett does a poor job of setting up the scenario. She mentions Executive Order 9066 but doesn’t tell her readers exactly what led to “the internment of Japanese Americans.” No figure of 120,000. No reason why or where, or the number of camps. There’s passing mention of “Nisei” and “Issei,” but does the average person know what they are?
We see Donna Troy (Wonder Girl of the modern day Teen Titans) riding one of those trains carrying Japanese Americans to a camp in 1943 (well, she’s already late a year). Then three young women on motorcycles named Yuri, Yuki, and Cassie speeding alongside the train with the latter jumping into the train, knocking out one of the guards, and bringing the train to a halt. It’s in Arizona, meaning they were headed to what camp?…
Then the women persuade the internees (none of whom ever say a word) to ride on giant eagles, apparently dropping them off in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. For her part, Wonder Woman, apart from the rest of the characters, vows, “And we won’t let it happen here. We won’t let it be this way this time.”
Even those well-meaning lines land as clunkers. How about “We’re not going to let it happen again. I promise.”
After reading this thoroughly unsatisfying issue, I read an NBCNews.com story that reported four of the main women characters — Yuri, Yuki, Cassie and Donna Troy herself — were Japanese Americans. Huh?! And how on Earth would I have known that from reading the issue or even looking at the way they were drawn? The first two were obviously Japanese because of their names, though they looked like twins with their hair just parted the opposite way on their heads. In the old days, Asian people were colored with a yellow/bronze tone. Now they’re just as pink as the white characters, so it’s not always obvious. And Cassie’s blonde.
According to NBCNews.com, “In order to prepare for writing about Japanese American incarceration, Bennett consulted a battery of books on the topic, including ‘Farewell to Manzanar’ and ‘No-No Boy.’ She also visited the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and the Manzanar National Historic Site — an incarceration camp that has been turned into a memorial — several times to tour and interview volunteers.”
It’s a shame she wasn’t able to effectively impart enough of what she learned into the first issue.
The author told Comicsbeat.com that she was inspired to do the six-issue story arc when she went home and was appalled to find that the high school textbook of her younger cousins failed to mention the JA concentration camps.
I’ve read Bennett’s stories before (I had to give up on “InSexts”) and was just as confused as to what the heck was going on. Women tend to talk a lot but don’t shed any understanding on their situation or explain the big picture. The same thing happens here in “Bombshells United” — the women yak and yak and yak and yak until my head turns to mush. Then literally, people turn to clay (D-level Batman villain Clayface is the villain).
Sorry, I skimmed the succeeding issues in various comic book stores and just couldn’t justify buying any more issues filled with clay people and confusingly undefined characters.
Catching Up Department: If you want to check out some of the topics I covered since my last end-of-the-year column for The Rafu in December, click here: https://nextshark.com/author/guyaoki/
At nextshark.com I wrote articles about singer Will Jay, two young Asian girls who placed in the finals of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” the Supreme Court decision allowing the Asian American band The Slants to trademark their name, my failed attempt to stop the cancellation of “Dr. Ken,” how I tried to tell Bill Maher 16 years ago that white people couldn’t use the “N-word” without getting in trouble, and a misheard racial slur on “Big Brother” that caused a contestant to have a mental breakdown.
’Til next time, keep your eyes and ears open.
Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, writes from Glendale. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.