Warning: This article contains graphic language and some links include nudity.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017. That was the day the Internet claimed adult film actress August Ames. The actress, born Mercedes Grabowski, hanged herself following days of accusations of homophobia after she tweeted about canceling a shoot upon discovering that the man involved had shot gay porn.
Apparently, it wasn’t her body, her choice. If it were, the online salvo would’ve been condemned rather than amped. For a convenient timeline, check @WeWuzMetokur’s Twitter feed (gross trolling and graphic content warning). Regardless, some who participated in the public lynching that led to her suicide have no remorse.
On Monday I called out a homophobic performer for her ignorance and uneducated bias.
She allegedly chose to end her own life when she was exposed to the same vitriol that gay people have been exposed to globally for decades. Original tweet below.
— Bruce Beckham (@BruceBeckhamXXX) December 6, 2017
This tweet quotes what now seems to be Ames’ public suicide note, from one of her attackers.
As of writing, he hasn’t deleted his defense of his attack, while kind of sort of accepting some blame for the tragedy. In it, Wheeler wrote, “Emotions will be high today, I think it’s best to reflect and take away from this, I’m not asking for prior not to come at me, i know that will happen. But I’m gutted by this too.”
This Is About Us, but Not Like That
Ames was increasingly traumatized by the attack, but you were gutted, too. Please take this moment to reflect on how her death personally affected you. I’m serious. Think about it. All of us. Think about how we feel free launching attacks online, proving our virtue and open-mindedness. Then remember that we could be the next to gut ourselves when our attempts to use the Internet to shame someone into proper thoughts goes off the rails.
A woman is dead, at her own hands. Whether she has a history of mental illness or suicidal tendencies is immaterial. Whether she was a drug addict or otherwise mentally suffering don’t count. A woman made a choice, within the confines of her career, and was shamed and relentlessly terrorized until she decided to hang herself.
This is not what the Internet is for. This is not how interpersonal relationships and social networks are supposed to work. We can write off people like Ames because of her profession. We can ignore other stories from the fringe, we can rationalize. Hopefully, we can end with that and it will “trend” in the same way that Satanism and messages hidden in records played backwards in the late ‘70s and ‘80s were a trend.
Thoughtcrime? There’s a Meat Grinder for That
This doesn’t change the fact that a woman is dead. She was pursuing a career that we accept, not tolerate. Want to know where the next big changes in technology are coming, look to porn. This isn’t about the fringes, this is about us. This is about how we’ve come to cheer on online lynch mobs. I mean, it’s all fun and games when we’re just talking about ending someone’s livelihood. We were never talking about ending someone’s life. It’s an outlier!
Thankfully, this actually isn’t the norm. This isn’t a story that gets shuffled away because it’s commonplace. Yet. Were she merely run out of a job, we wouldn’t be talking about it—because that has become pretty commonplace. Express a thoughtcrime, lose your job. Progress! Turn down a job because of thoughtcrime—there’s a meat grinder for that.
Not that Ames is wholly innocent. Look at this tweet.
Sorry, I meant this one.
Oops, no I meant this one. Obviously, she was distraught, on the edge, ready to be done with this mortal coil. Who else would take the time to film a whimsical video for Twitter in which she sashayed down some stairs while singing, “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket?”
That video was shot in November, mere weeks ago. In it, we see her being ribald, yes, but having fun. Not that this means she was immune from depression, as these tweets indicate, but she wasn’t distraught. While correlation isn’t causation, necessarily, that woman is now dead following a barrage of hate because of a choice she made in her professional life.
On Tuesday, December 5, a woman hanged herself for daring to make a choice. She didn’t name names, she didn’t cast aspersions. She tweeted. From the context of the tweet, we can discern that her concerns are ones others in her former profession hold. But that’s not how the mob works these days. No, now we need a sacrifice, preferably one that keeps the blood from our own hands and hidden below our keyboards.
Well, we got it. Will we learn, or will we seek out our next sacrifice? While Ames is gone and can suffer no more, these tragedies don’t occur in a vacuum. They don’t hurt just the person who chooses to end her life. They continue to ripple out, catching others in their wake. Consider this from Ames’ brother, James Grabowski, that fellow actor Ashely Sinclair shared on Wednesday.
May we all learn to have as much grace.