A Radical on a Platform: Evan Rachel Wood in 2018


On February 27, 2018, Evan Rachel Wood testified before Congress on behalf of rape survivors by describing her own experience as a rape survivor. Footage of this testimony went viral, people were horrified by what she described. She claimed to have been raped by two different men, but refused to name them. Some speculated based on her description that it was Marilyn Manson she was talking about, but even the media respected her silence. Prior to this the only "my rapist", as she calls him, that she did name was the one who was at that time the President of the United States, Donald Trump. This is because her platform was not only to identify with and help "fellow" rape survivors, but also to identify with and help "fellow" abuse survivors whom she identified as Trump supporters. To name any of her "real" rapists would take the focus off this platform, so she wisely did not name them. Imagine if she had named Marilyn Manson in 2016, or 2017, or 2018? It would have been Marilyn Manson grabbing the headlines. By not naming him, it was Evan who was able to keep the focus of the media on her and her platform, and this is what we see exactly happening in 2018, after her testimony before Congress. Let's go over some of the things Evan was saying and doing in 2018 and see how she raised up the policies of her platform. 
 

A Not So Funny Skit
 
On the same day Evan delivered her testimony before Congress, Evan appeared in a skit for Funny or Die called "Guess Who: #MeToo Edition". Evan, Kelly Marie Tran, and Tony nominated actress Da'Vine Joy Randolph play the updated 2018 edition in support of Rise and the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, with narration from Tatiana Maslany. Obviously it is a satire that ends with a serious note, and Evan had said in November of 2017 that she has no problem with a rape joke as long as it's funny, but when you view it in light of the false allegations Evan has brought against Manson, there isn't much amusing here, and even if this were not the case, I don't see how snarky women joking about the downfall of these men, which not only affects them but their families as well, is meant to be funny. But if Evan determines it to be funny, since she is a "survivor", must we accept it as funny, or can each individual determine what he or she thinks is funny?  The skit can be seen at the link here.
 


Art as a Reflection of Reality

The Daily Beast ran an interview with Evan Rachel Wood on March 14, 2018 with the title "Evan Rachel Wood on the Gaslighting of America [BRAVE]". We get an idea of what this interview will cover from the summary description: "The award-winning actress discusses her spellbinding new turn in ‘Allure,’ in theaters March 16, and the harsh reality of life under President Trump." Allure is the movie that Evan was shooting in Canada on the day Trump was elected, and the next day, the 9th of November 2016, she called Rolling Stone and revealed her exclusive secret for the first time - she had been raped. What is Allure about? The Daily Beast does a good job of summarizing it:

"Wood stars as Laura, a twenty-something drifting through life, haunted by her past. One day while cleaning houses she crosses paths with Eva (Julia Sarah Stone), a 16-year-old piano prodigy whose suffocatingly strict mother has crushed her spirit. Laura senses her sadness, and before long has convinced Eva to run away from home, live with her, and succumb to her sexual advances. As their illicit relationship intensifies, Laura becomes increasingly unstable, and ultimately must confront her own history of sexual abuse."  

This is the film Evan was filming when in her real life she was confronting "her own history of sexual abuse". It was a few months before the election that Evan first came out as an abuse survivor, and the day after the election she came forward as a rape survivor. Like her character Delores in Westworld from that time, her character in Allure is also a reflection of Evan's real life, almost as if she is immersing herself in a world of abuse, which at the same moment in time she is playing in a television series, a movie role, and in real life. With the amount of mental illnesses that Evan has, as she herself admits, which includes her history of not having the ability to distinguish reality from an illusion, how do we know she is not in fact setting forward in real life a character she is portraying on television or in film? Can we ever really know? Does Evan know? Even in the interview when she is asked about her character, she references these mental illnesses of the character that she identifies with:

"There are parts of the film where she’s displaying signs of disassociation and derealization, and you can tell that she’s in this world but not of this reality. There were things about her that I could appreciate in a way of, wow, I know how hard it is to feel things like that, and the feeling of leaving your body, so I was happy there was a film being made that shows it all."

As Evan is talking about the movie in the interview, and describing her character, she then goes on to describe what she has described elsewhere as her experience of abuse, as if she is identifying her character in the film with her reality:

"If you come from any sort of abusive background where you’ve felt like you didn’t have a voice, or an identity, or you’re longing for this or that, or you feel alone, and then the big, bad wolf comes along and knows that’s your reality and knows that you’re the perfect candidate for them to be your 'savior,' and says they’re going to love you and do all these things for you, and then almost uses that as an excuse to be able to abuse you, it’s just ass-backwards. It’s so backwards. But that’s how a lot of people think—they prey on the weak. And they have so many issues themselves so they can’t prey on an older, healthy grown-up because you’re not going to be able to get away with it, so unfortunately very young people, often people that don’t have good relationships with their families or have felt alone in the world, fall victim to these types of gaslighters."

Evan also show no sympathy for her character, who is an abuser, even though she ends up well in the end, and Evan doesn't even want to extend forgiveness to her, but she states the abuser must always be punished in the end:

"It was really important to me, too, that if we were going to empathize with Laura to still not let her off the hook, because I do believe that what she does to Eva is horrible, it’s abusive, it’s statutory rape, and it’s not ok in any sense. That was important to me in doing the role, is that I don’t want this to be a forgiveness note or something. I didn’t want it to be, now she’s better so let’s forgive her for what she did! She needs to get hers in the end as well, because she is an adult."

Evan talks about how her character in the film was originally written for a man to portray, but it changed to a woman, and this was also something Evan liked about it and identified with it, because of her bisexuality:

"I think a lot of artists will tell you that where they are in their lives weirdly reflects where they are in their art."

Elsewhere she says:

"I felt like I was in a good enough place in my life to go to that dark place and be ok."

But her motto when she came out as a victim of rape was "I Am Not OK". In 2021 it still is "I Am Not OK". Here she is telling us that she was ok enough to play a convincing abuser and abuse victim. In what way is she ok and not ok at the same time?

When asked about her Nylon essay in which she describes Trump as her rapist that she would have to see everyday on television, Evan makes an interesting admission:

"I believe those people do tell you exactly who they are, but then they make you feel crazy for thinking about it. It’s a whole other level of messing with your head."

Marilyn Manson as an artist has said many provocative things for his art and fictional personas, which if taken literally he would be portraying himself as a murderer, a rapist, an abuser, a stalker, a manipulator, a predator, and so on and so forth. In this interview with this statement, it seems Evan is almost preparing her listeners for her naming Marilyn Manson as her abuser, which she and her sympathizers would later try to convince us of who he really is by things he said or did usually as a persona of one of his characters or art that are not meant to be taken literally. Could this be why all the things Evan accuses Manson of has a correspondence to his art? And what would this say about her if we would do the same with all the characters she has portrayed? Is she telling us who she really is? Such as in the movie Pretty Persuasion, or others? Maybe she is in reality the abuser?


An Invincible Feminist

On April 4, 2018, Evan was interviewed by The New York Times. The interviewer describes how when she arrived at Evan's house for the interview, and even during the interview, feminist anthems could be heard, such as “I Will Survive,” “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” Sia’s “Unstoppable”, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, etc. If art is a reflection of reality, Evan seems she was trying to create her own reality as a feminist icon by listening to these feminist anthems, and having them associated with her during the interview, knowing the interviewer will write about it. According to the interviewer:

"The playlist we’d been listening to all day — her soundtrack for the revolution — is called 'Invincible,' she said."

She again talks about her character Delores in Westworld who changed her life:

"Her journey mirrored so much of what I had been through and what I was going through. It gave me a strength that I did not know I had.”

The interviewer also tells us something we had not known before. As Evan was giving her testimony before Congress in February of 2018, "Around her neck, in a locket on a long silver chain, she carried a picture of her character, Dolores." In Westworld, Dolores is an innocent and much-abused AI robot who is a host that slowly awakens to the darkness of what has befallen her, and then fights her way out in a vengeful manner. Evan had Delores in mind as she delivered that testimony. The interview goes on to say:

"She was still wearing it a week or so later, at her home in Nashville. 'Whenever I had a moment of self-doubt, I remembered — this is a part of me,' she said."

When asked about the vengeful aspect of the character of Delores, Evan said:

"I’ve worked for a very long time to not be angry and vengeful, so it was hard to take pleasure in that, even though I knew that the character had definitely earned it.”

The interview ends with a "mystical" turn, as the interviewer narrates:

"Before she went to Congress, she had her aura read at a Nashville shop. It told her some of her energy was blocked, that she needed to get something out. Now, a week afterward, we went back, to see if anything had changed.

She was still glowing lavender — 'wonderful storytellers, writers and artists,' the description said. 'They have the talent to visualize and describe magical, mystical worlds.' But where before her emotional chart looked like a jagged mountain range, now it was flat, calm. 'Speaking your truth!' she said."

Evan was speaking her truth, but was it the truth? A "wonderful storyteller" doesn't always describe factual events, but also ones that are make-believe.


Dolores (Evan) as an Icon for a Revolution

Refinery 29 interviewed Evan on April 26, 2018. Like all the other interviews from this time, they just sing her praises and inform their readers how she became who she is, which is basically a courageous survivor of abuse, again talking about it in light of her roles in Westworld and Allure, among which she said:

"I went to the Women’s March in Washington and someone had a sign with a photo of Dolores on it that said, ‘I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.’ That was the moment I realized Dolores was an icon for a revolution.... People like to call me a chameleon, and Dolores, who has to go from innocent to computer analysis [mode] to villainess, is multifaceted. And I feel very similarly.”

It seems Evan was more and more embracing her role as a vengeful villainess, like Delores was becoming at the time.

 
A Pathetic "Hunger Strike"

Evan was not only advocating on behalf of abuse survivors in 2018. That was only one part of her platform. Her other platform was to oppose Trump as one of her own abusers, and in late June she did this in the form of a hunger strike. She did this to protest the "zero tolerance" immigration policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Though Evan got a lot of headlines for going on a hunger strike, the details reveal that the hunger strike was not much of a sacrifice at all. It only lasted 24 hours, in honor of the 2,400 children separated at the border. Though it was only 24 hours, it got a lot of publicity, because when it says on a headline that so-and-so famous person is going on a hunger strike, it makes them look like they are really serious about something. But typically a hunger strike is called when you want a change, and you refuse to eat unless that change takes place. Evan's hunger strike was not about bringing change in any serious way, but for publicity. With Wood, Actors Levar Burton, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen also participated in the "hunger strike".

This was Evan playing political games. By the time the hunger strike started, even days before, Trump signed an executive order to end his predecessor's policy of separating families. If it wasn't for change, then it could only be about publicity. Furthermore, with all the problems going on at the border these days in 2021, which are much worse than at any point of the Trump administration, Evan is nowhere to be seen or heard from, because right now she has a President that she voted for in office and an abuser she named and refocused on in Marilyn Manson.


Concluding Remarks:

Like Delores in season 2 of Westworld, Evan is taking on a new and evolving role in her own reality that does not believe in forgiveness and is focused on vengeance. But this lack of forgiveness and vengeance isn't aimed at a group in particular, but like Delores it is focused on her abusers, and she hints in 2018 it was focused on Trump and his policies. But what will happen if Trump and his policies will go away? Lack of forgiveness and vengeance have now become a backbone of her persona, she is still Delores, her foremost role-model, and the revolution is not over. The radical on the platform is becoming a radical revolutionary.