I want to start of this review with two things:
1) For those unaware of the content of Catch and Kill, it covers four major sexual assault cases in the entertainment industry. The encounters are explained in detail and can be not only upsetting to general readers, but triggering for victims of sexual assault.
2) For those who want a little bit more context about the Weinstein case, I highly recommend reading Rose McGowan’s book, BRAVE, first. You can read my review of BRAVE here.
In 2012 I started film school. It was the most stressful three years of my life, and every year I wasn’t the only one surprised that I returned. First year was a rather public breakdown, second year I was assaulted, third year I attempted to tackle these issues in my thesis film but things didn’t go as planned. I graduated with excellent grades despite all of this, and threw myself head first into following every production announcements, every casting call, I learned the names of every above line crew member of all my favourite films and made cold calls every few days to try and get into production offices.
I learned the ins and outs of the industry in Canada and the US as best as I could while working in and out of the industry and tried to find my passion, to keep it burning despite knowing the stresses of set work and the long hours.
I remember seeing how many films I enjoyed that came from Miramax and subsequently The Weinstein Company. I remember going over how to get work visas for the states again and again in hopes of potentially working for all of the major production companies.
I remember hearing the news break that he was a monster.
I continued to follow the Weinstein story through Deadline Hollywood as well as other news sources, watching the TWC twitter account as well. No one wants to believe that those they look up to are horrible. The more I read, the more horrible I felt and slowly I made sure to unfollow those involved in the scandle and following those who were making the accusations against Weinstein. I remember seeing that Rose McGowan was going to be releasing a book and rushed to get it. I read fast and BRAVE is not a long book. It took me a month to get through it.
The pain and anguish and shame that radiated from the pages had me in tears more than once. On top of Kevin Spacey’s actions being brought into the light, I hated the film industry. The industry didn’t care about the safety of those working in it. Every person who was hurt by someone powerful was brushed to the side and put down through mental health rumors or dreged up past life experiences to discredit them.
So I gave up wanting to be a part of it.
I learned two weeks before the release that Ronan Farrow was going to be releasing a book covering the assault cases against Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and even touching upon Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump as well as mentions of Woody Allen. Despite how hard it was to get through McGowan’s personal story about the issue, I knew I needed to read Catch and Kill. I knew how important it would be to hear the other women who have been hurt and ignored and silenced. I hit the preorder button right away on Audible and impatiently waited for the email telling me I could now download the audiobook onto my phone. Ten days later, I’d cried twice in public and once more in private while listening to Farrow narrate the most tragic stories I’ve ever heard.
Catch and Kill isn’t just about the assault of young women (and children in a few cases) who just want to do their jobs. It is also about the lengths the men accused and the new outlets went to in order to make the accusations go away. Not only were these women violently assaulted on more than one occassion, but they were threatened, otherwise harrassed, and forced into silence with money. The sums may have been large in some cases, but money doesn’t fix trauma. Farrow, himself, was also threatened, harrassed, and fired all before he was practically forced to lie when the networks turned around and said they never did anything of the sort. The level of gaslighting on the side of NBC was absolutely revolting. It reminded me of a quote I recently heard on a Side Stories episode of Last Podcast on the Left when host Ben Kissell (a former producer at Fox) said, “Do not get your information from TV news. You can pick up tidbits every now and again, but it is 100% entertainment. It is not real […] If that is the only place you’re getting information, this is why we have Donald Trump.”
The censoring of information was one of the more horrifying things about this story. On top of the private investigators and the Black Cube operatives survailing everyone involved to provide information to those who would further upset or threaten these people, the blatant lies of the staff at NBC was infuriating. The lack of accountability was infuriating.
While on the one hand, Farrow’s book can be seen as one about being careful who you speak to, the primary point of it is to get those killed stories of the victims out there. It is about letting these women have as safe a space as possible to finally share their story and finally get a chance to force some accountability on their rapists. It is about believing victims and hearing them out. It is about telling the truth and telling all of the truth, not just the key points. It felt like a life raft for victims as well as an apology note to Dylan Farrow, Ronan Farrow’s sister who was assaulted at age 7 by her adoptive father, Woody Allen. It’s an exposé about those who valued themselves over the victims who trusted them. It is Ronan Farrow putting it all on the line to help people. Catch and Kill is more than journalism, it is more than nonfiction.
His bravery, while not being allowed to overshadow the bravery of all of the women he spoke to, needs to be acknowledged in this. He risked so much to get this information out there, to help protect the women who agreed to come forward and risk it all themselves. Farrow is a reminder of why it is so important to listen to others, why it is so important to have compassion and empathy and the want to help people. He makes me want to be a better man while also reminding me it is okay to be vulnerable and I am not in the wrong for being a victim and a survivor. The most important part of coming to terms with a sexual assault and/or rape experience is remembering it is not your fault.
I thank Ronan Farrow for his work with these cases, with handling the whole thing with grace and not glossing over the hard parts. I thank him for his efforts in being there for the victims and taking care when they opened up to him. I thank him for continuing forward even when it felt like no one had his back. I thank him for being vulnerable himself and for not hiding his emotion while narrating the audiobook. I thank him for reminding me what it is to be strong.
Thank you Ronan Farrow.
And for anyone else reading this, I urge you to learn the names of these victims. Weinstein’s name will be the one remembered, but like any criminal case, the long list of victims’ names won’t be. Please learn their names and thank them for their bravery.