SF Tony Avatar

Life Skills for Fanboys: The Hardwick Situation

written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2018

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.  Previous columns are indexed at the end.

My Caveat

This is a hard post to write.  I don’t want to be known as “the guy at defended Hardwick” or whatever.  I don’t know him.  I don’t think I ever met him.  Quite frankly, I’m not even a fan.  The only show that I could remotely tolerate him on was that gameshow on Comedy Central he hosted.  It was pretty funny and he was a decent host.  All the suck-up-to-celebrity shows, not for me.  This isn’t about him, nor is it about her.

The Story

Chris Hardwick’s former girlfriend came out with this.  It’s a blog post purported to be by Chloe Dykstra about her relationship with Hardwick.  Doesn’t sound good.  In the piece, she makes the claim that she was sexually abused.  Although Hardwick was not named specifically, the implication is that it’s him.  She further goes on to say how torturous and upsetting the relationship was and that after she finally got up the courage to leave him (after cheating on him) he tried to ruin her career.  Read it for yourself to get your own take, but here’s mine:

Relationships Are Difficult

Relationships are tough and anyone that’s ever been in one can tell you how bad they can get after a year.  Two people stuck.  Close enough to stay, but on a low simmer constantly getting on each other nerves with neither one having the guts to say, “Fuck it.  I’m out.”  Dykstra stayed with Hardwick for about four years.  Not all that long, seemingly, but it can feel like a lifetime when you’re stuck with someone that drains all your energy, time and focus because they’re needy and insecure.

But you know who has the single WORST perspective on those relationships?  The people trapped within them.  Anyone that’s been in a bad relationship and then gets out after a few years knows the feeling.  First, you’re relieved, then you start to gain perspective and then you start realizing all the red flags you missed.  You stand there going, “Jesus Christ!  What the Hell was I thinking shacking up with this maniac?!”

People try to be good.  They want to love and be loved.  Relationships are a compromise, but it’s easy to take that compromise too far.  To get sucked into so far down, lose perspective while you’re trying to prop up the relationship and in the process make things worse.  And even as the castle collapses around you, you’ll stand there going, “No-no.  We just need one more support here and everything will be fine!”

Hardwick’s Public Destruction

Hardwick’s career is, seemingly, going down in flames as of this writing.  And, as of this writing, the only evidence that he’s done anything wrong comes from Dykstra.  I have no doubt that many of the things written in the blog are, at least, partially true.  But I have no real way of knowing that.  It could be 100% true.  It could also be 0% true.  I don’t know.  I also known that neither does anyone else commenting about it or abandoning Hardwick.

Hardwick had always seemed like a dick to me.  It would be easy to throw him onto the #MeToo fire, but that’s not right.  Even if (secretly) he’s 100% guilty of everything in the blog and even WORSE—  People deserve the presumption of innocence.  We all do.  It could be that Hardwick is an uncaring monster like Harvey Weinstein.  But it’s also possible Dykstra, who admits in the article she suffered from bad self-esteem, has distorted and dramatized what actually happened, while believing her version.  It’s also possible she just decided to jump onto the #MeToo bandwagon and ride it down the hill for all its worth.  We don’t know.  We can’t know.  Unless she releases the proof she references in the article, this is just a random blog post.  It might as well be an anonymous tweet.

Should someone lose their entire career for that?  If you were in that situation, wouldn’t you beg anyone that would listen, “Hey!  Please!  I didn’t do this!”  There was a famous story about a rape case covered by Rolling Stone.  The Fraternity won a case against the magazine.  It was a familiar story the media cover.  A frat, a drunken night, a young woman—  She claimed she was gang-raped.  But the police couldn’t fine any credible evidence after four months.  Imagine you spend four months in that frat.  All over the country, frats are being prosecuted, people are being sent to jail, you know you didn’t do anything, but everyone’s against you—  That’s where Hardwick is now, except in show business, you’re basically done.  Even if he’s completely cleared, then what?  Guess he could sue Dykstra and maybe try to get his deals back.  But he’s already been smeared.  He’s no longer the clean cut “Nerdist Guy”.  His image, his brand—  Tainted.

And all for what?  Did he deserve it?  Did he break any laws?  Maybe he’s just a really annoying guy who got stuck in a dependent relationship with a woman who had her own issues.  Maybe he’s a conniving monster that did far worse to Dykstra, but she’s too afraid to speak up or has blotted it out of her memory.

We don’t know.  He’s denied the allegations.  And until we do know, fans should just sit tight.

Escaping the Taint

Seems like there are plenty of former colleagues jumping ship on Hardwick.  That could be because they secretly always knew or it might just be that they are trying to escape the taint.  To defend him is to stand with him.  But if it turns out he was just delaying the inevitable, you’ll be burned right along with that witch.  You don’t gain brownie points in show business for standing up for what you think is right.  The only points awarded are for standing up for things that are already popular.  If the majority of people like him and support his innocence, then the visible show business types run to defend the brave soul.  However, if the fans wanna lynching, your former colleagues will usually be happy to bring the rope.  Not only does this separate you from the taint, you get cred for helping the fans rid the world of this “monster”.

Who Do I Believe?

As I said, the blog post sounds pretty awful and Hardwick strikes me as that kind of guy.  However, I was in a relationship with an incredibly beautiful and insecure woman.  When she got insecure and upset, nothing was out of bounds.  Nothing.  She could be incredibly irrational and after a year of her rollercoaster I finally got off.  For years after, I worried that she would resurface.  She said crazy things when she imagined (unprompted by me) a scenario where I was with another woman.  Death and assault were mentioned, as well as a lack of concern for her own personal safety.  If it had been two years later and I was suddenly T-boned in traffic out of nowhere and it turned out she had been behind the wheel of the other car, that would not have surprised me in the least.  I mentioned her half-jokingly to other women I dated so at least if I died, they would have something to tell the cops in terms of a lead.

Whose problem is it when you can’t leave because you’re emotionally attached, but not physically stopped?  It may not be right to emotionally pressure someone, but it’s not a crime and certainly one that doesn’t rise to the level of destroying someone’s life.  But in my case, I could totally see my irrational, emotional ex seeing things that way.  Dykstra does not sound unlike her.  My ex was wicked smart.  I have no doubt if that pretty little brain of hers was put to destroying me, I’d be destitute and on the brink of death in a matter of weeks.

But that still does not mean I should dismiss Dykstra’s account out of hand because of my bad relationships, but nor should I automatically believe her.

The Bigger Problem

The bigger problem is how should men and women interact now?  The push for women’s equality has become a push for “equalization of genders”.  The genders are different.  Men want different things than women.  We’ve accepted that for thousands of years, but would-be social engineers are demanding an equality to the point where it can’t be reached because of the gender differences.  Most women like being nurses, the profession is full of them.  Most men work construction, the profession is full of them.  Women are naturally nurturing.  Men like building stuff.  There are exceptions, but I don’t see the necessity in making sure that exactly 50% of the profession splits it by gender.  Who cares?  Let people do what they want.

So how do men and women have a relationship now?  Marriage is becoming so unbelievably dangerous for men, there’s little reason to do it.  No-Fault divorce means it doesn’t matter if your spouse lies AND cheats on you.  What’s even the point of the marriage contract then?  So you can lose half your shit to the person that didn’t work?  How is that fair?  If you have a kid, you’ll be an indentured servant for DECADES.  No thanks.  (Do NOT get married, bros.)

So that leaves dating and relationships.  And the classic split was, the man paid and provided.  The woman got wooed, taken care of and then could choose.  Women controlled the sex, men controlled the money.  I’m not saying that we should return to this system or that it was the best or whatever—  I’m saying that was a system everyone had their brain wrapped around for the most part.

Now what is it?  Women have their own money.  They pay their own way, have their own careers, can do it all.  However, they still have the advantages leftover from the “Era of Marriage”.  The men are still burdened with the responsibility.  Men have to make the first move, have to plan the dates, pay for them, pay for the drinks, initiate sex, initiate proposals and—  Well, there’s no shortage of spider-killing, trash-taking-out, go-downstairs-because-of-noise-type jobs we’re expected to do.  Why should we do them now?

If we’re being honest, it’s because women tend to like that.  Most women I know, like it when men take charge, open a door, act confident, etc.  Not all, but most.  In fact, if you don’t do it, you’re kind of not considered a man.  I swipe dating profiles all the time that say things like, “You better not live at home”, “has to have a job”, “I like to be taken to x or y”—-  What do you have to offer to me seems to be the common thread.  Not all, but many.

What man is going to offer anything to a woman when the woman can lie, cheat, leave with no consequence?  How is that going to make your relationship better if its so unbalanced, you basically have to hope a woman you’re dating doesn’t decide to destroy you life?  Because if she doesn’t have to be credible and if she will automatically be believed by the general public the moment she vents into the Internet about your relationship—  Fuck it, I’m out.  It’ll be porn and an annual trip to the Nevada brothels.

Because at least with porn and hookers I know EXACTLY what I’m getting into.  Dating some rando?  What are my options if she’s got buyer’s remorse about me?  Record every damned minute of our relationship in case I have to prove to everyone later I was just a normal guy and not a controlling, sex-addicted monster?

Bros, you need to watch yourselves and be SUPER careful.

Ladies, you need to have a meeting and hash this shit out.  Where are the lines and which ones won’t you cross?  Or more importantly, what part of the relationship is your responsibility?  You want to be safe, so do we.  If you don’t determine those lines, things are just going to get worse.  You’re going to find yourself very alone or trapped in a relationship with a frustrated, emasculated guy who only wanted to try to do right by you, but can’t because the goal posts keep shifting.

Personally, I think it’s much more likely they’ll legalize prostitution.  (And when they do, I will definitely be out of the dating game.  That’ll be it.  I may die alone underneath some 22 year-old stripper, but it won’t be because I was broke, stressed and mentally destroyed by my previously relationships.)  There needs to be a process, a set of rules we can all follow.  Until that time comes, when someone gets accused, understand that this game is fucking confusing mess and the rules are nebulous at best.  So when someone is accused of something, shut your pie hole until SOME kind of evidence rears its ugly head.  Emotion is not enough to convict someone, no matter how much you dislike him or her.

Until the time comes when the rules get posted, innocent until proven guilty.  That’s the motto.  For EVERYONE.

This isn’t because I believe Hardwick or Dykstra.  It’s because any one of us could be accused of a crime or publicly called out on the Internet for something we said or did.  We need this for our own self-preservation in case the worst happens to one of us.  We need the concept of innocent until proven guilty because it’s fair.  It’s just.

And it’s one thing that men and women can have that’s completely equal.

Previous Columns

Obesity at Cons
The Art of Conversation
The Line Between Fans and Pros
Geek Elitism
Convention Panels
Convention Volunteers
Food Gifts
Women and Cons
Get Your Room Party Together
Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons
The Face of Geek Needs Work
Fixing the Face of Geek
Franchise Worship
Presenting Your Project
The New Image?
Stop Trying to Make Geek Cool
 Rethinking the Comic Book Con
Zombie Stories Should Still Be About People
Geek Stereotypes and the Big Bang Theory
Con Locations
Traveling to Cons on the Cheap
Con Economics
Comics, Sexism and Trolling
Searching for the Words
How to Fix Comics?  Stop Reading Them
Shopping at the Con
The Hollywood Double Edged Sword
Beware the Geek Scams
Success Kills
In Response to Chuck Dixon, Paul Rivoche and Janelle Asselin
Fanboy Reporters
Dealing with Critics and Haters in the Internet Age
Who Are the Creepers?
The Cosplayer Treaty of 2014: A Proposal
Female Thor
Comics’ Non-News
Geek Feminists and DC’s T-Shirts
Cosplay Blowback
Charlie Hebdo and the Other Stuff You Should Know
Customer Service
The Intolerant Internet
Superhero Movie Moral Compass
Why Hillary Lost
Creators and Politics

Political Nerd Rage

Gender Wars