Director Morgan Spurlock, best known for the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, preemptively detailed several instances of sexual abuse on Twitter last night.
In a TwitLonger post, he wrote, “As I sit around watching hero after hero, man after man, fall at the realization of their past indiscretions, I don’t sit by and wonder ‘who will be next?’ I wonder, ‘when will they come for me?’”
Spurlock’s statement includes two specific stories: a rape accusation that dates back to his time in college, and a sexual harassment lawsuit he settled with a subordinate at some point during his professional career, as well as a general confession of serial adultery and contributing to “a world of disrespect.” (Adultery, while often unpleasant, is not inherently sexual abuse.)
There are a few troubling things about this statement. The first two stories are detailed enough that anyone familiar with the people he is talking about would likely know (or be able to guess and confirm) who the victims are, but Spurlock does not say whether he warned them that he was planning to go public with their stories, or whether he asked permission to do so. It also doesn’t say if he has any interest in making amends to his victims, or whether he’s considered that his victims might rather never hear from him again, much less read about what happened between them in The New York Times.
The post turns into an overlong period of reflection for Spurlock himself, and his feeling that the pain he has caused others is hurtful to him. There’s also an entire passage of introspection, in which Spurlock lists several painful personal experiences as possible explanations for his behavior:
But why? What caused me to act this way? Is it all ego? Or was it the sexual abuse I suffered as a boy and as a young man in my teens? Abuse that I only ever told to my first wife, for fear of being seen as weak or less than a man?
Is it because my father left my mother when I was child? Or that she believed he never respected her, so that disrespect carried over into their son?
Or is it because I’ve consistently been drinking since the age of 13? I haven’t been sober for more than a week in 30 years, something our society doesn’t shun or condemn but which only served to fill the emotional hole inside me and the daily depression I coped with. Depression we can’t talk about, because its wrong and makes you less of a person.
Spurlock then says he doesn’t think any of these things are excuses for his behavior, an odd rhetorical trick to make it seem as though he did not just list them as excuses and go ahead with the choice to publish them.
At the end, there is a passage in which Spurlock compliments himself for coming forward:
I am part of the problem. We all are. But I am also part of the solution. By recognizing and openly admitting what I’ve done to further this terrible situation, I hope to empower the change within myself. We should all find the courage to admit we’re at fault.
At no point is there an apology. Admittedly, this is fraught territory and there’s no guidebook for voluntarily owning up to years-old abuse — and perhaps no “good” way to do it. But saying “sorry” would be an okay place to start.