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The Problem With Timothée Chalamet

Content Warning: This article contains descriptions of Dylan Farrow's story about surviving sexual assault. 

Dear Timothée Chalamet,

I don’t hate you, but I don’t love you.

I guess that’s an overly brash statement to say to your face. It was probably a bad way to kick off this letter, but you know? I’m going to stick with it. Besides, you’ll always have your loyal base of fans. I mean, look at you. People are comparing you to the next Leonardo DiCaprio, and I understand why. You’re the epitome of the American dream. You got into Columbia University, one of the top colleges in the country, and then left to pursue your acting career. You risked a safe future to do what you love, and look at you now. You’re the youngest Oscar nominee for the Best Actor in a Leading Role and America’s indie darling. In today’s times, you’re a beacon of hope for our country, especially us, the youth. You’re only 22, but sometimes it’s so easy to forget because you’re so mature in public. The teenage heartthrob charm, however, is still there. I mean, if you consider dabbing before accepting a Film Independent Spirit Award charming. I kinda think it is. It seems like Hollywood hasn’t worn you down yet. You’re still so young and full of life. For months, I called your shining personality beautiful. If I had gone to LaGuardia High School like you, I would have hung up posters of Call Me By Your Name in your honor and pinned the local theater times on the bulletin boards. There was a long time when I believed nothing could ruin your perfection. Then the #MeToo movement arrived.

You and I both know where I’m going with this. I couldn’t wait to see you in Woody Allen’s new movie… until I realized it was Woody Allen’s movie. It bothered me so much that somebody as unblemished as you would willingly hand yourself over to his production. While you might be new to American households all over the nation, you’re not new to Hollywood. You know this industry like it runs through your blood, and in a sense, it does. Your grandfather was a screenwriter, your uncle is a director, and your sister is an actress. You have acting credits from as far back as 2008. I just can’t see any way you signed that movie contract without the sexual assault allegations flashing through your mind. Everyone in the entertainment industry perked their ears when Allen’s daughter, Dylan Farrow, cried, “I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. That torment was made worse by Hollywood.” Sure, maybe the New York Times article detailing her encounter with Allen happened after you committed to his movie, A Rainy Day in New York, but her allegations have been haunting Hollywood since 1992, her abuser only a few steps behind her ghostly howls. Wherever Dylan’s name went, her father was mentioned in the next sentence. While she had to fight for a single person to believe her, a large crowd of devoted fans were waiting outside his premiere in the rain just to catch a glimpse of him. At some point, Woody Allen caught up to his daughter and passed her in the race for the public’s support. He was on the cover of major magazines and newspapers as people started to call her a deceitful daughter, liar, and fame-whore. The incident raised havoc in Los Angeles. You had to know about this. I guess it wasn’t enough to stop you.

“But Hollywood is cruel,” I can see you saying. “I’m still climbing up the ladder. I’m young and there’s people to impress and suck-up to. This movie was my attempt to raise my status. ” I can’t blame your ambition, Timothée. I love people with ambition. I get it. You did Woody Allen’s movie to further your career. Just as you saw Dylan Farrow’s story all over the internet, you also saw the names of hundreds of actors falling off of the a-list because America had forgotten their names. However, I hate people who put themselves over others. When you ignored Dylan Farrow, you ignored the millions of women who have suffered from sexual harassment and assault. I believe the latter has tarnished your name more than the former has elevated it. How am I supposed to think of you now? Oh yeah, Timothée Chalamet, how cute is he? He’s so cute he disregarded the entire #metoo movement to help him become even more acclaimed than he already is! Like that Academy Award nomination isn’t enough of an achievement already! Like it hasn’t already made him famous! Yeah, he’s great! I love him!

But like every other 22 year old, you make mistakes. You admitted on Instagram this was one of them. You promised to donate your profits from this movie to three organizations, RAINN, The LGBT Center in New York, and Time’s Up. There’s a hopeful part of me that wants to believe you did this because you realized what you did was wrong and you should have never done it. I want to believe all of the media articles that say you’re as angelic as you seem. There is a naive part of me that is often associated with the boundary between childhood and adulthood. I want to step up to the plate and go to bat for you. I want to save the world from damaging your name because you messed up once, and you deserve to be forgiven because you’re a good person. You’re Timothée Chalamet. You’re humble, hilarious, and intelligent. You look at old high school videos of yourself and laugh with the press. You answer tough interview questions with just the right amount of boyish uncertainty and poise. You fell off your chair during in front of an entire theater and laughed at the incident mere days later. You know better than to do something like this and not apologize. I want to believe that you are better than this and your one bad decision doesn’t represent who you are.

In the end, I know no amount of money is going to make up for what you did. You can’t go into something like this with a guilty conscience and then apologize after, expecting the world to smother you with love and acceptance. You should have donated to these organizations before you chose to be in A Rainy Day in New York. You shouldn’t have donated because you felt like you had to in order to justify your actions. That’s not how this works. It might be how Hollywood, with all of its corruption, functions but it’s not how the real world does. You can’t say sorry and expect the public to forget what you did. I’m not going to forget. The millions of women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted are not going to forget.

Good luck, Timothée. I’m curious to see the person you become.


Banner image via Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images