Recently while browsing the internet, I stumbled across an article talking about the recent accusations YouTuber Ayissha Morgan has made about Catfish host, Nev Schulman and some of the crew members for the show. Ayissha claims that both Nev and a production assistant made sexual advances towards her and even goes as far as to indicate that the production assistant sexually took advantage of her while she was in and out of consciousness (due to drinking). I decided to watch both of Ayissha’s videos (which you view here) to get a better sense of her claims and while there was some uneasiness about her approach (specifically, her requesting 500 likes on Part 1 in order for her to post Part 2), I figured I would give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s hard to tell someone making such bold allegations that they are lying and who am I to say what the truth of the situation is?
I decided to check out Instagram and Twitter to see what people were saying about the topic and I have to admit: it was a stomping ground. It seems that while I am not so quick to judge Ayissha and the accuracy of her statements, the general public is more than willing to. As I scrolled through the comments I witnessed both men and women verbally attacking both the character and the credibility of Ayissha. Most comments claimed she was looking for money, attention, fame, and some went as far as to attack her sexuality and character.
In an day and age where #MeToo is trending on every social platform out there, I have to wonder: what makes Ayissha’s claims so far fetched? Why can people back a celebrity who says she was sexually assaulted in a hotel room while discussing movie options, but not a girl who was taken advantage of by two members of MTV staff also in the hotel room while filming a show? I wonder what makes these claims so different and why people are so quick to jump on Ayissha for accusing someone of misconduct. Is it because Nev is (to his audience) a caring and kind person; one who shows genuine interest in the well being of the people he films with? Meanwhile Harvey Weinstein easily fills the role of creepy asshole that could care less about all females? Maybe it is because only one person has accused Nev and multiple women have come out against Harvey?
While I also wrinkle my nose at the idea that the seemingly sweet and sensitive Nev Schulman is capable of being such a douchebag, I don’t know that I can just sweep the concept under the rug. When Aziz Ansari, a favorite comedian of mine, was accused of sexually pressuring a woman on their first date, I swatted the claim away with the notion she just wanted to join the MeToo bandwagon. Then something interesting happened: Aziz took responsibility for the allegations and apologized for his actions. That means that someone who I respected and swore would not be capable of such a thing…did that very thing! Guess we can’t be so sure about the people around us can we?
While I refuse to take sides and claim that Ayissha is right and Nev/MTV is guilty (because let’s face it, I know as much about the truth of that situation as I do about neuroscience), I also refuse to chastise a woman I don’t know for going public with what she claims to be her truth. Nev may be innocent and Ayissha may be starving for attention, but some or all of her story may be true and if that’s the case we have a bigger issue on our hands than the filming of Catfish. We also have to face the fact that our society is ferocious in their assumptions and judgement of people they don’t know regarding situations they are far from involved in. To tear down a woman who may very well be an honest victim of some serious offenses seems a bit harsh society, don’t you think?