Yesterday I caught a 6 pm screening of War Dogs, which necessitated a work wind-down around 4:30 pm. The previous eight hours were mainly a Nate Parker whirlpool. A total shitstorm. I couldn’t stop writing, talking and thinking about it. I just kept feeling sad and then sadder. Which is partly why I missed yesterday’s Daily Beast exploration of the whole Penn State mess (“Inside the Nate Parker Rape Case”), reported by Kate Briquelet and M.L. Nestel. Sources, transcripts, recollections, Sex on the Beach, etc.
The August 1999 inebriated rape episode (and particularly the harassment that followed at the hands of Parker and Jean Celestin) was clearly a turning point for the victim, who is given a fictitious name, “Jennifer,” in the article. She was used, plain and simple. But there are indications that the poor woman had issues above and beyond her agonizing Penn State trauma. Most people move on, heal up, acquire a certain crust. She didn’t. She had a kid in ’02, but couldn’t handle the raising. She had a rough childhood, a rough life. She apparently died in a rehab facility. 199 sleeping pills. Seriously tragic.
Parker and Fox Searchlight will take The Birth of a Nation to Toronto and then…who knows? The movie is Oscar toast (I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit to thinking “there goes whatever BOAN banner ads HE might’ve sold during the season”), but FS can’t completely cut and run. They need to take Parker out of the conversation as much as possible (fat chance) and let the film sink or swim on its own merits. It has a very strong subject, myth, narrative. I don’t happen to be a huge fan but that’s another article. This is easily one of the worst episodes that any arthouse-level distributor has endured concerning an award-season contender. My heart goes out to everyone involved, Parker included. He was obviously immature and callous in college, but he’s not that now.