This is all referring to the Walden movie, if that’s not clear. The main character is a stenographer. Before I embark on what I’m about to write, keep in mind I haven’t seen the movie. I’m probably not going to see the movie until December. And what I’m about to write has no bearing on whether the movie is good, and I’m going to come from a place of just assuming the movie will be good and that its star, Emile Hirsch, is also good at acting.
That said, I did find one site that gave pretty graphic detail, citing back to TMZ. It states that Hirsch grabbed Daniele Bernfeld, a producer, and put her in a chokehold after “consuming an enormous amount of alcohol.” Further states that Hirsch “pulled her across the table and onto the floor,” landing on top of her. While on top, he allegedly began choking her before being pulled off of her by bystanders. He later pled guilty to aggravated assault, receiving 15 days in jail, and admitting there was no excuse for what he did, and that it was reckless, wrong, and irresponsible. He also noted he had no memory of what had occurred. Dani Bernfeld reportedly wrote “quite simply, this punishment does not fit the crime.”
One member of the public reached out to me about it. In that person’s view, after the conviction he’s kind of minimized the incident, and that hurts his image. I can actually get where they’re coming from. Looking at some of the coverage afterwards, it was “the worst day of [his] life.” I dare say it was probably a pretty bad day for the woman he was choking too. Then again, we can look at this another way by saying “how many times does someone need to apologize for a terrible thing they did before they’re allowed to move on with their life?” Needless to say, there are going to be people with all manner of opinions, and depending on how things shake out, Hirsch’s past may impact the popularity of the movie with certain demographics.
It’s interesting for me, because I know that many people, including myself, have things in their past they’d rather not have dragged up after every achievement they make. But I also end up reflecting on my past. Had a pretty serious dispute with a woman in 2014 – 2015. Did I hurt her? Nope, I sued. Maybe about half a decade ago, a woman attacked me in my home while I was sleeping. In the dispute after waking, didn’t hurt her either. Then when I had my medical incident in 2021, I erroneously and wrongly believed a woman was trying to kill me. Did I hurt her? No. More than anyone, I know that alcohol can morph people into monsters. I’ve watched it happen to people I’ve loved. But when I used to drink heavily, I still managed not to hurt anyone. Is it just luck of the draw or is there an underlying mindset that helps to prevent violence? I don’t know.
And I think that’s where the anti-Hirsch crowd is coming from. Plenty of people drink or have other things happen to them, and they do not assault people. That’s why I’m writing today. We have to be cognizant of the fact that dependent upon the size of that crowd, the movie might flop. If it does, movie makers are bound to blame the stenography instead of the actor’s past, potentially limiting our representation in movies, music, and TV.
I’m able to separate the art from the artist in very much the same way you are all able to separate the writing I do from the professional work I perform. I look forward to seeing how things shake out and how the past might impact the future of this movie and steno itself in film/media. And overall, I’m excited to see Walden.
Thank you, Anonymous, for raising this issue with me. Anonymous taught me a lot with relatively few messages, including just how privileged I really am. Unemployment for autistics is rumored to be somewhere between 50% and 90%, so the fact that I hold a full-time job is really a blessing, more so than I understood before today. Whether it’s luck or divine intervention, I intend to use that power for good.