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Anorak | The shaming of Max Stafford-Clark: lewd comments cost a disabled old man his job

The shaming of Max Stafford-Clark: lewd comments cost a disabled old man his job

by | 24th, October 2017

No sooner is the secret out that a powerful Hollywood producer has been using his position to force himself on starlets than we read of Max Stafford-Clark, currently 76 years young and no longer with the Out of Joint theatre company following a complaint of sexual harassment.

Out of Joint staffer Gina Abolins tells the Guardian that Stafford-Clark told her: “Back in the day, I’d have been up you like a rat up a drainpipe but now I’m a reformed character. My disability means I’m practically a virgin again.”Between 2006 and 2007, Stafford-Clark suffered three strokes that left him disabled and partially blind.

“I felt really victimised actually,” adds Abolins. “That was him exerting his power over me in a crude manner. I felt really bullied and objectified.”

Good that this old man who suffers from brain damage following a stroke has been shunted out. Stafford-Clark can take his stick, his wheelchair, his regret and his pseudobulbar palsy and get thee hence.

A quick glance at Wikipedia tells us of his condition:

Pseudobulbar palsy is a medical condition characterized by the inability to control facial movements (such as chewing and speaking) and caused by a variety of neurological disorders. Patients experience difficulty chewing and swallowing, have increased reflexes and spasticity in tongue and the bulbar region, and demonstrate slurred speech (which is often the initial presentation of the disorder), sometimes also demonstrating uncontrolled emotional outbursts.

The NHS tells us:

Pseudobulbar palsy

Description

Pseudobulbar palsy results from disease of the corticobulbar tracts. Bilateral tract damage must occur for clinically evident disease as the muscles are bilaterally innervated.

Presentation

Tongue – paralysed; no wasting initially and no fasciculations; ‘Donald Duck’ speech; unable to protrude.
Palatal movements absent.
Dribbling persistently.
Facial muscles – may also be paralysed.
Reflexes – exaggerated (eg, jaw jerk).
Nasal regurgitation may be present.
Dysphonic.
Dysphagic.
Emotional lability may also be present.

A spokesperson for Stafford-Clark offers:

“Occasional loss of the ability to inhibit urges results in him displaying disinhibited and compulsive behaviour and his usual (at times provocative) behaviour being magnified, often causing inappropriate social behaviour.”

Abolins adds: “What I’ve learned from this experience is that appearances can be deceiving and you don’t have to be a fighting fit person to make someone feel bullied.”

Creepy comments from the theatre great, for sure. And there was more:

Other women who have worked with Stafford-Clark said he also made lewd comments to them. Three women, including Abolins, told the Guardian that Stafford-Clark asked them about losing their virginity.

Abolins said the director asked her and another woman the question during auditions for Rita, Sue and Bob Too, in which two 15-year-old girls have a sexual affair with a married man.

And:

The playwright Rachel De-Lahay said she was asked this question in reference to the play on a separate occasion and had “found herself over-talking and rambling through this story”. Later she said she was angry “not because he asked me but because I had answered”.

A woman who worked for Stafford-Clark as a personal assistant in 2016 said the director asked her about losing her virginity several times. Steffi Holtz, 25, told the Guardian the director had a reputation for always being “outrageous”, which allowed him to get away with making inappropriate comments.

Adding:

Holtz said: “The worst thing he said, I was sat at his desk and he said, ‘If you were sat on the desk there in front of me I would eat you out.’ Coming from a 75-year-old man, I was in absolute shock. You feel so uncomfortable … It makes me feel so uncomfortable to even say that.”

Holtz did not make a complaint and left the role after about 18 months. “I didn’t feel brave or confident enough at that time of my life to challenge that authority.”

Lest you think an old man making crude, objectifying comments in an industry where looks matter greatly no great surprise, Abolins adds: “We are at an important time, where people are standing up and telling their stories. If more people can find the strength to speak out, hopefully we can make a real difference.”

Ella Whelan feels that strength. She notes:

We don’t know whether these allegations are true – and we don’t know if it was Stafford-Clark speaking or his brain tumour. But what we do know is that this sexual-harassment panic has gone too far. Are we going to start firing people with Tourette’s syndrome? Will we start locking up dementia patients, autistic individuals or those who can’t manage to adhere to socially acceptable behaviour? In their search for sexual predators, feminists seem to be willing to throw anyone under the bus – including themselves. In championing the idea that women are too weak to stand up to lewd comments from incapacitated individuals, the only thing that Abolins, De-Lahay and Holtz have done is denigrate the idea that women are just as strong and capable as men. That’s not brave at all.

Max Stafford-Clark’s wife has issued an apology yesterday on behalf of her husband:

Stella Feehily said he was not well enough to respond personally and issued a statement about his medical condition, which means that he has “occasional disinhibition… While this is an explanation, it is not an attempt to dismiss his behaviour. He apologises for any offence caused.”

‘Nuff said.



Posted: 24th, October 2017 | In: News Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink