The Sexodus

Andy Signore

UPDATE (July 22nd 2019): Andy Signore posted a video that sufficiently refutes the wave of allegations stemming against him from two years ago. WATCH IT. Even if you’re skeptical a bit about the likelihood of changing your mind about him.

I made the mistake of getting swept away by the shock and mob. Im leaving this section up as a punishment to MYSELF as the dude who wrote this. I was proud of this project I did so I’m very ashamed of whatever contribution I might’ve made to Andy Signore’s YEARS of suffering in silence.

Such is the Defy Media way of life, after all.

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Andy Signore

This next person came out as a result of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. I’m choosing to talk about this person in more length because it serves as a barometer in the scale of impact these sex scandals have as they play out. It doesn’t matter how powerful someone might be. If there’s allegations of improper behavior, something was going to be done about it now. The pressure was on given the precedent the Weinstein scandal had made. Also, I used to work at Defy Media’s The Escapist Magazine (consider that some disclosure), so this case was more of personal standout.

The point here is to show you how sexual harassment and assault can happen beyond Hollywood’s borders. While that particular realm is set up in such a way to propagate such impropriety with efficiency, the general dynamics aren’t limited to that space. While Andy Signore’s work involved movies, the fact that his primary platform was based on YouTube overrides the “Hollywood” qualifier. It doesn’t need to involve a film set all the time. Any workplace is possible for this behavior to happen. All that matters is the aspect of money moving around, made possible because people are grouped together for that specific task. A hierarchy of some kind is in place and titles or power form from that.

Who was Andy Signore? Andy was the guy who created the popular YouTube series Honest Trailers. For those unfamiliar, the premise of the show is having a stereotypical series narrator voice describe a movie in a humorous way. The series is, in turn, a part of the Screen Junkies channel Signore co-created. Overall, his story of controversy in a way also demonstrates the pitfalls of New Media being just as susceptible as Old Media.

But I digress. Let’s dive into this.

The initial accuser started out by saying this:

“Waiting until the creator of Screen Junkies gets revealed to be sexual creep by another person so people will actually believe my story” — 6:14 PM – 26 Sep 2017

Emma Bowers didn’t like doing that, of course. She just thought it was necessary given the culture of the entertainment industry.

Sure enough, when the Harvey Weinstein controversy started, Emma Bowers took that opportunity to come forward with her own horror story involving Andy Signore of ScreenJunkies.

“In light of recent events with Harvey Weinstein. Now is a good time to remind everyone I was sexually harassed by Andy Signore, the creator of Screen Junkies. I was “interning” (aka working for ‘copy credit’) on some viral videos for him and he came across some pin-up photos I had done.

He messaged me to say how hot I was, and tried it play it off as silly “lol, ‘jacking it to you in your undies!!!'” And when I tried to brush it off, he offered me to come over so he could do it in person. I will never forget his exact words

“you can read a book for all I care”

You need to understand, this guy was my boss. He was in a position of power, and I was a VERY under skilled young lady, working with him for FREE, with the promise of, if he could pay me.

So I said “I’m flattered, but no thank you”.

Cause I was desperate to break into the world of costume design.

A few months later, when I realized the project was going no where, I finally got the courage to back out. I told him I was done. His response:

“Oh. THATS professional of you!”

I tried to move on, but that experience killed my desire to get into costume design and it causes me a lot of rage to see my FB friends who are woke and active and feminists repost and reblog Honest Trailers that allow this awful creep to make money.

So yeh, it’s not just Weinstein. I wish I’d fought more, wish I’d sceencapped [sic] his messages, but I was young, scared, and dumb. So I didn’t. Girls in Hollywood get taken advantage of so much. I just want people to believe me when I say this happened.”

Bowers herself says this was a known thing since 2010. That’s how far back this timeline goes.

This is what April posted on October 6th. It’s a more detailed explanation she gave after her initial one gained a lot of attention.

“Andy used Screen Junkies to prey on multiple women including myself. The first time he used Chicago Comic-Con by saying they were having a SJ party and I was invited. The party ended up being him alone in his hotel room trying to force himself on me.

I was later invited by SJ to come out to LA and be on the fan cam, and they put me up in a hotel. Andy stopped by my hotel uninvited and took a dildo out of his bag and tried to use it on me. He also took pictures of me without my permission and went through my phone while I was in the bathroom. He then used my shower saying he couldn’t smell like me when he went home to his wife. Many have asked why I haven’t come forward. I was in a strange city (I’m originally from Wisconsin) and he threatened to kick me out of the hotel if I told anyone. He later used my relationship with JTE against me saying, if I told anyone he would have JTE fired.

I had recently heard a story from another victim and I decided this went beyond JTE or myself. I went to HR with other women and they told me we didn’t really have a case and they continued to not take my claims seriously.

I had set up a meeting with a journalist for this week to finally share my story, but in the light of other women coming forward I knew I had to show them they weren’t alone. SJ has some incredible people working in front of the camera and behind the scenes, including my boyfriend. I still support the hosts, they’ve been incredible through all of this. I only blame Andy and the few people at HR who knew about this, but didn’t stand up for women. Thank you all for the support. If you or someone you know has been hurt by Andy no matter how big or how small, please come forward. You won’t be ignored any longer. – April Dawn”

According to April, herself and two other women came forward with stories. Defy Media reportedly ignored them. This conflict did a number on April’s morale the more it was apparently dragged out (2 months). As you can imagine, Defy reportedly called April back finally as this was all unfolding on social media. The timing of this seemed like damage control to April. She wasn’t afraid to showcase Andy’s hypocrisy during this time-frame, either.

The stories shared seem to vary. This first one is pertinent to the immediate circumstances, with HR ignoring this woman’s complaint. It was shared via April’s Twitter.

“Andy said to me, via DM, “when we first started working together, I thought you wanted to have sex with me, is that true?” At first I was shocked and blamed myself. I vehemently said, “I’m sorry I gave you that impression, no, that’s not true.” Then for months thought what his response would have been if I had said yes. This interaction occupied my mind for far too long. I went to Defy’s HR about it. Maybe they’ll listen now.”

April shared a DM exchange someone had with Signore from December 18th, 2015. One which she says came from some woman on ScreenJunkies (dunno if that means an employee or a fan who got onto the show). She asks if Signore has a “ticket” of some kind, in which Andy replies he was able to return them. This leads to an awkward back and forth, with Signore suggesting it could’ve been a date of some kind. The woman ignores it, and Andy asks if it freaked her out. She responds by stating the fact that Andy is married and has children. But that didn’t seem to phase his attempts at flirting with this person.

The following is an exchange between Andy Signore and one of his victims. Shared via April’s Twitter, with the date of the convo being January 2nd, 2016.

AndySignoreVictim2

Signore approached fans, not just colleagues. Using a “gopher.broke@aol.com” email address to have exchanges. Like this one from a June 2017 fan meet-up (shared anonymously via April). The person speaking, believed to be Andy, tells the recipient that was the “longest, most expensive uber” they’ve ever had. Signore’s hopes were that was proof they liked the person in question. He proceeded to awkwardly offer the person he was emailing an invitation to go to a pub crawl with them. We can substantiate this particular incident with email exchanges brought forward by another victim Signore was targeting at the time (also shared anonymously via April).

Another former Screenjunkies employee allegedly came forward and shared their two cents. They claim during the few months they worked there (writing and researching the first episodes of EPIC HOW TO and helping with Honest Trailers), this woman said the environment was sexist. Being the husband of a famous writer they were always introduced as the “wife of,” instead of as their own person. This former employee had to deal with “a lot of” sexist jokes, mentioning, in particular, a “sluts of Comic-Con” sketch proposed. Despite their contributions, this former employee claims the credit was given to a “YouTube dude” and some guys on staff.

Women weren’t Signore’s sole victims here either. As April points out herself, men got screwed over and taken advantage of as well.

AndySignoreVictim4

But I haven’t even gotten through some of the ladies that Andy Signore targeted over the years.

Yup, there’s more.

What we can gather from this group of witnesses and testimonies to Andy Signore is a clear pattern of behavior. He lured women in online. From the reaches of the Screen Junkies community and made each of these ladies feel special. Once he had them in his grasp, Signore tended to bring out some sort of meet-up offer in exchange for privileged access to company assets. In some cases, Andy’s outreach flopped and he was left cleaning up after himself and his comments. He tended to go through this pattern multiple times. While in itself, the act of being a sloppy sleazy flirt isn’t a crime, sometimes Andy’s actions crossed the line. Specifically when he offered a FOX-backed getaway surprise to Stacey, and when Signore openly encouraged Ira Wave break contest rules so he could get with her.

DefyTwitterResponse

When it comes to how Defy Media responded to this incident? That’s its own element to this story. The first response came at noon on October 6th. This was when the initial wave of allegations against Signore started picking up momentum. The company gave Andy a temporary suspension until they could suss out what was going on here. It was a Friday. People assumed that at the soonest, there would be a follow-up on Monday morning. We didn’t even need to wait that long. By Sunday evening on October 8th, Defy Media fired Andy Signore. The company decided to go for a full termination of employment before the weekend was done.

But let me double back and reiterate what people like April Dawn and her boyfriend had to go through.

April Dawn’s boyfriend (some guy named @JTEmoviethinks) posted a statement on October 6th. Within it he says he loves working with everyone at Screen Junkies (Signore threatened JTE’s job security), and how hard it was to deal with the Signore situation in private over the past few months. April and JTE even told Defy Media HR about Andy threatening his career, but nothing came of it. In particular, JTE suggests that April and himself were planning an article similar to how Harry Knowles and Faraci’s exploits were made public. But when Emma Bowers came forward they knew that was the right moment for them to as well. On October 8th April and JTE posted follow-up statements at the same time. In JTE’s he talks about how he and his co-workers were taking a stand in protest and not returning to work until action was taken against Andy. He thanked them, and the other women who came with their stories over the past few days. JTE notes that Andy has a wife and son, and reminds everyone they’re victims of this controversy too. He rounds things off by wanting it made clear Signore is a predator with repetitive behaviors. In April’s statement, we see her push the same method of protest against Defy that JTE had spoken on. She further elaborates on what JTE means about repeated behavior, too. According to April, 20 women had contacted her to talk about their Andy experiences.

After Signore was fired, she posted her closing remarks.

AprilClosingRemarks

In a series of tweets, Dani Fernandez reveals what Signore’s victims tried to do behind the scenes with regards to bringing this situation to Defy’s attention. She says they called Defy’s HR department in July and gave them a list of women and witnesses who agreed to talk about Andy. The HR department never followed-up with additional witnesses (despite including 2 male producers and graphic instances). These were key individuals who could corroborate stories like Signore forcing a dildo onto April Dawn. Defy HR never followed up with them. But they said to the women who came forward that they had “Defy’s best interest at heart.” April Dawn finally got a call back from HR after Signore’s alleged actions were made public. Dani says the company’s initial reply to April was that “she didn’t have a case.”

On that note, Fernandez wasn’t satisfied when Defy finally fired Andy. She saw the failure to respond from Defy’s HR department and wanted them to answer for their inaction.

ScreenJunkiesDisgraced
The people speaking: Hal Rudnick (Host – Screen Junkies Show), Spencer Gilbert (Writer – Honest Trailers), Roth Cornet (Editor in Chief – Screen Junkies News), Joe Starr (Writer – Honest Trailers), Dan Murrell (Producer)

Screen Junkies Update: What Happened, What’s Next came out on October 26th. Twenty-three days after the last upload on their channel, some Honest Trailers video about Blade Runner. That length of no activity is a death sentence for some YouTube channels in terms of lost revenue and audience retention. But I digress.

They say what I already said about Andy Signore’s general situation. Women came forward with allegations against Signore, that came as a shock to the crew. They were surprised to learn these revelations about someone they thought was a friend. By the time this video was filmed, the Harvey Weinstein controversy had more fully engulfed Hollywood. Dan Murrell mentions something to that effect and puts the Signore situation as a part of a bigger picture problem.

Dan has this definitive line about the fate of Andy Signore’s professional life.

“Andy is fired. Andy is gone. He will not be coming back. We’d be lying to say that Andy wasn’t a big part of Screen Junkies. But Andy is not Screen Junkies.”

The goal for the future was rebuilding the trust that Andy violated in the fan community. Roth Cornet spoke next. Mentioning the questions raised about how Defy Media HR handled the situation. Screen Junkies staff took that seriously, according to Roth. The SJ crew gathering together and deliberating on how to address that is part of the reason it took so long for the channel to make this update video.

The result of their meetings with Defy Media higher-ups is summarized in a specially designated page on the company’s website.

Just over two weeks ago we terminated Andy Signore’s employment after learning the full extent of his egregious and intolerable behavior. We have listened to our employees and members of our community and have heard outstanding suggestions for how as a company we can learn from this experience.
Starting immediately, we will prioritize and strengthen the following initiatives across DEFY Media.
  • HR Policies Review and Reform. We are committed to becoming a best-in-class organization when it comes to employee conduct. To that end, we are working with external HR consultants to review how we handle harassment claims and related issues and to identify areas where we can improve. Our goal is to create a safe work environment, and this will involve fostering a culture where issues can be reported confidently, and employees don’t abuse their positions.
  • Revision of Training and Development Programs. We are reviewing and revising our existing programs, including our sexual harassment training for managers, and are making these mandatory for all employees.
  • DEFY Code of Conduct for Fan Interaction. We will establish a code of conduct that demands absolute professionalism from our creators. So many people in this company already embody the high standards they set for both building content brands and appropriately engaging with the communities that are essential to those brands. This will be codified and enforced.
  • Creator-Driven Advocacy Initiatives. Through our recent discussions, it has become even clearer that Screen Junkies and all our brands have an opportunity and responsibility to use their platforms for positive advocacy and support, when appropriate and relevant. We are one hundred percent in favor of our creators and our brands leveraging their voices to promote positive change.
So there’s that. The rest of the video bounces back from that, to the positive changes they hope to make in the future of the channel, and having the community’s input along the way.
The morale of these five people was hopeful, yet the burden of damage Andy caused left a visible impression on all their faces. Signore’s co-workers were violated too. They trusted this individual with high-level business decisions and he proved incapable of properly carrying those responsibilities out.
On the next page, we’re going to explore the far reaches. Shit hit the fan after the Weinstein story, as people came forward from all over to call out alleged abusers and sexual harassers.

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