An 8.19 N.Y. Times story reports that Asia Argento paid a go-away fee of $380K to former child actor Jimmy Bennett after the latter accused her of sexual assault in 2013, when he’d just turned 17. Argento is being called a hypocrite for having this episode under her belt while strongly promoting a #MeToo agenda vis a vis her assaultive encounters with Harvey Weinstein. But what she went through with Harvey — oppressive sexual intimidation that resulted in something like a form of Hollywood date rape — doesn’t sound remotely analogous to what happened between her and Bennett.
My limited understanding is that Argento manipulated the youth into submitting to oral sex and then rode him like Hopalong Cassidy. As in “come over here, kid.” Okay, maybe Bennett wasn’t into it. Maybe he found getting blown to be traumatic. Maybe on some level what Argento did with Bennett was vaguely akin to Kevin Spacey’s reported assault of Anthony Rapp. I wouldn’t know.
I have to be honest — my first reaction was “manipulated”? Five years ago Bennett was a teen actor trying to land parts. Has anyone ever heard of a male actor of any persuasion who wasn’t randy, particularly one in his hormonal prime? Has there ever been a young actor in the history of the planet whose basic attitude was “gee, I’m not sure if I’m ready for sex”?
Has anyone ever read about what Mickey Rooney was up to in the 1930s, when he was in his mid teens? Were there any half-willing older female actresses whom Rooney ran into that he didn’t have it off with? When he was 24 Rooney reportedly had a longish affair with 14 year-old Liz Taylor. Imagine what the twitter comintern would’ve done with that, etc.
I was 17 once. I got shitty grades in school because I spent half my day dreaming about some older ravenous hottie having her way with me. I started dreaming about older naked women when I was nine or ten. I couldn’t get laid to save my life in my mid teens — I was a teenage incel before anyone knew the term — and it was a very sad and lonely time, let me tell you. I don’t mean to sound callous or indifferent, but my understanding of “assault” does not include notions of some Asia Argento-level woman winking and saying “come over here, Jeffie” when I was 17.
How did Frank Sinatra put it?
“When I was seventeen / it was a very good year
It was a very good year for small-town girls and soft summer nights
We’d hide from the lights / on the village green
When I was seventeen”