The concept of TV magic is something often discussed in the context of how media production companies take hundreds of hours of content filmed over a specific course of time and edit it, cut and paste, to produce a glorious 53 and a half minute “episode” or two-hour long movie.
I had the chance to be involved with the idea and concept of TV magic, but my experience turned into nothing short of a TV nightmare.
Radical Acceptance has gotten me to a point where I am ready to share the dangers of failing to complete background investigations, failure to follow-up, the dangers of “victim blaming”, and some of the ways that weaponization of mental health is detrimental to all who suffer from diagnosed mental health conditions.
*It is important for me to state that I have not and will not share the identity of the human involved in this. I will also not discuss the charges. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.*
When I look back on my time spent filming for HBO’s “We’re Here” in the summer of 2022, I still get a deep pit in my stomach. I am grateful for the chance I had to meet Bob the Drag Queen, Shangela, and Eureka. It changed my life in many ways, most of them positively. I was able to show the world who I was. And I truly hope it has helped anyone, in any corner of this country, feel even just a little less alone.
The pit in my stomach resonates in what I experienced and am still experiencing when the cameras packed up and left. The weight on my heart comes from the producers of “We’re Here” specifically Steve Warren and Peter LoGreco telling me on the phone that: “...even though you did nothing wrong, just apologize. It will make them stop.” The fear still comes from walking down a crowded street or attending a local event and looking twice thinking this person may be there.
I refuse to speak upon details because the court case is still on-going, yes, eight months later. After numerous adjournments, the case was marked for the Grand Jury Indictment hearing.
Waiting is the worst part. Waiting is not closure. Will a verdict be closure though?
Seeing a specific name or hearing a reference to the show sends chills down my spine. Seeing the HBO producers speak about the impact of their show is warranted, but what the producers fail to mention when being praised, is their using of the stories of everyday people, exposing them to others without thorough vetting and victim blaming those begging for help, all the while those the cameras left behind are suffering at the hands humans the show exposed them to.
Radical Acceptance tells me that I need to accept the things that I cannot change or fix. My anxiety often has a personal issue with that idea. How can you just accept and move on from being terrorized by another human? How can you just accept and move on, thinking twice before attending events, walking to your car, or doing a heart-pounding double take walking down crowded streets, in fear that, that person may be looming?
There is an inherent danger in the concept of TV magic, especially when showrunners only care about ratings and not the people they choose to use for the production. There is a responsibility, often overlooked and under-appreciated, that media companies have to protect the people they “cast”. Steve Warren and Peter LoGreco have failed tremendously at that, and I am not the only one affected.
Because of Steve and Peter’s failure to complete a simple background investigation, others have been subjected to torment. Steve and Peter’s failure to take the issues seriously have only added to the emotional distress of the situation and has tarnished the episode and experience for me and many others affected. Steve and Peter victim-blame those negatively impacted by this situation and instead of helping and supporting the victims through it, have continuously provided excuses for the perpetrator.
This is what happens when someone weaponizes their mental health. I am not doubting that this individual suffers from mental illness and although I feel terribly that they struggle with their own demons, weaponizing mental illness is not appropriate nor does it excuse the fear, anxiety, stress, panic, and hurt caused by their actions in the name of their mental illness. This action of weaponizing mental illness takes away from those who struggle with mental health conditions and do everything in their power to cope in healthy ways. weaponizing mental health also stigmatizes the rest of us who struggle with mental health concerns, but meet others with love, kindness, and respect, even when we are suffering.
Actions have consequences. Inaction has consequences. Retaliation has consequences. Weaponizing mental health has consequences. Victim blaming has consequences.
Be wary of the idea of TV Magic. We all have our own demons.
Most importantly, love one another. And if terror ever knocks on your door, figuratively or literally, know that you have every right to say it aloud, report it, cope with it, and advocate for it to stop. I refuse to back down. This too shall pass, but until it does, let it be known that I never have and never will allow injustice to continue silently.
I love you all.
Until Next Time,