Dan Harmon, writer and creator of NBC's Community and Adult Swim's Rick and Morty, apologized on Wednesday for sexually harassing a former employee, Megan Ganz.
During an episode of his podcast, Harmon recounted the ways in which he said he inappropriately used his power as a showrunner over Ganz, whom he did not identify by name but who publicly called out Harmon on Twitter earlier this month.
"I was attracted to a writer that I had power over because I was a showrunner," he told listeners. "And I knew enough to know that these feelings were bad news."
Harmon spoke at length about how he developed feelings for Ganz during his time working on Community. He described his initial interactions with her as "flirty" and "creepy," but said breaking up with his then-girlfriend prompted him to become more overt with his subordinate once he was single, saying things like "I love you" to Ganz.
"The entire time I was the one writing her paychecks and in control of whether she stayed or went, and whether she felt good about herself or not, and said horrible things," he said. "Just treated her cruelly, pointedly. Things that I would never, ever, ever have done if she had been male, and if I had never had those feelings for her."
"I lied to myself the entire time about it and I lost my job, I ruined my show, I betrayed the audience, I destroyed everything, and I damaged her internal compass," he said.
Harmon's decision to speak about the issue was prompted by the fact that Ganz called him out on Twitter last week. After he proclaimed 2017 to be the "Year of the Asshole. Myself included," Ganz retweeted him and said, "Care to more specific? Redemption follow allocution."
This led to a conversation on Twitter between Harmon and Ganz, with the showrunner saying he was "filled with regret and a lot of foggy memories about abusing my position, treating you like garbage."
"It took me years to believe in my talents again," Ganz responded. "To trust a boss when he complimented me and not cringe when he asked for my number. I was afraid to be enthusiastic, knowing it might be turned against me later."
On Thursday, Ganz tweeted about Harmon's apology, saying that Harmon gave a "masterclass in How to Apologize."
"He’s not rationalizing or justifying or making excuses. He doesn’t just vaguely acknowledge some general wrongdoing in the past. He gives a full account," she wrote.
Ganz also said that her request for a public apology was never about "vengeance," but about "vindication."
She urged people to listen to the podcast and ended her thread of tweets by saying she forgave Harmon.
Harmon ended his more than 10-minute-long apology by urging his supporters not to taunt Ganz.
"We're living in a good time right now 'cause we're not gonna get away with [sexual harassment] anymore," he said, "and if we can make it a normal part of our culture that we think about it, and possibly talk about it, then maybe we can get to a better place where that stuff doesn't happen."
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Ganz for additional comment. A publicist for Harmon said he had nothing to add at this moment.
Read Harmon's full apology here:
I'm preoccupied by this thing I gotta get it done. I've had people telling me, I've had a lot of advice...'Don't talk about it, you don't have to talk about it, it's done.' Legal advice; 'Don't talk about it, you're opening yourself up.' The most important advice I've gotten is from women that I respect, that do what I do, that are respected and that spoke to me privately and said, 'You know, if you're true to your word and you are sincere about how you want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, you know, please talk about how you've been part of the problem. That's truly the most helpful thing you can do.'"
Please appreciate if you're listening to me that the tightrope I have to walk here is I have to — I want to make this a normal part of the process because it should be healthy and easy and graceful. It should be a thing that can be done and doesn't have to create civil war and hysteria that doesn't make people get revictimized and attacked. You're not doing me any favors at all, you're only hurting everybody, especially me, if this topic causes you to attack anybody involved. You may think it's in my defense, you may think it's in defense of fairness. I ask you to think about what you think fair is. That's enough disclaiming.
I have really, really to think about, you know, this and decided I need to talk about it. I want to target about, what, five to seven minutes and then pull me outta here after which hopefully I've done some good by just talking about this.
In 2000 — whatever, whatever, I can't remember, — 2009, 2006, 2000-something, something, I had the privilege of running a network sitcom and I was attracted to a employee. I really want to be careful about that language. I think a huge part of the problem is a culture of feeling things that you think are unique and significant because they're happening to you and saying things like, 'I had feelings for' and 'I fell for' and all these things. The most clinical way I can put it in fessing up to my crimes is that I was attracted to a writer that I had power over because I was a showrunner. And I knew enough to know that these feelings were bad news — that was easy enough to know. I knew that they ran they risk of undercutting people's faith in my judgement, her faith in her talents, the other writers' respect for me, the entire production, the audience. I knew that I wasn't doing anybody favors by feeling these things and so I did the cowardly, easiest, laziest thing you could do with feelings like that and I didn't deal with them and in not dealing with them I made everybody else deal with them, especially her. Flirty, creepy, everything other than overt enough to constitute betraying your live-in girlfriend to whom you're going home every night, who is actually smart enough and respectful enough to ask you, 'Do you have feelings for that young writer that you're talking about, that you're paying all this attention to?' And saying to her 'No,' because the trick is if you lie to yourself, you can lie to everybody. It's really easy.
And so that's what I continued to do: telling myself and anybody threatened to confront me with it that, if you thought what I was doing was creepy or flirty or unprofessional, then it was because you were the sexist, you were jealous. 'I was supporting this person, I'm a mentor, I'm a feminist. It's your problem, not mine, you're the one that actually is seeing things through that lens,' and so I let myself keep doing it and it's not as if this person didn't repeatedly communicate to me that the idea what I was doing was divesting her of a recourse to integrity. I just didn't hear it. And it's because it didn't profit me to hear it. And this was, after all, happening to me, right?
So after a season of playing it that way, I broke up with my girlfriend who I had lied to the whole time, while lying to myself. Lied to her about why I was breaking up with her, because I thought that would make having inappropriate feelings for a coworker appropriate, if I wasn't involved. I want you to be the one to examine this and every step of the way decide for yourself where I'm making mistakes. I don't want to explain to you what I've learned. I want you to look at this and I want it to sound relatively unremarkable to you because that's the danger. I broke up with my girlfriend and then I went right, full-steam into creeping on my employee. Now it was even less appropriate, after all. I wasn't in danger of being a bad person. And then after that season, you know, I got overt about my feelings, after it was wrapped and said 'I love you.' And she said the same thing she'd been saying the entire time, in one language or another: 'Please, don't you understand that focusing on me like this, liking me like this, preferring me like this, I can't say no to it and when you do it, it makes me unable to know whether I'm good at my job.'
And because I finally got to the point where I said to her, 'Oh, this is — I love you,' because that's what I thought it was, when you target somebody for two years, and it was therefore, rejected that way. I was humiliated and so I continued to do the cowardly thing and continued to do the selfish thing. Now I wanted to teach her a lesson. I wanted to show her that if she didn't like being liked in that way then, oh boy, she should get over herself. After all, if you're just going to be a writer then this is how 'just writers' get treated. And that was probably the darkest of it all. I'm going to assume that when she tweets about it and refers to trauma that's probably it because I drank, I took pills, I crushed on her and resented her for not reciprocating it. And the entire time I was the one writing her paychecks and in control of whether she stayed or went, and whether she felt good about herself or not, and said horrible things. Just treated her cruelly, pointedly. Things that I would never, ever, ever have done if she had been male and if I had never had those feelings for her, and I lied to myself the entire time about it and I lost my job, I ruined my show, I betrayed the audience, I destroyed everything, and I damaged her internal compass, and I moved on.
I never did it before and I will never do it again but I certainly wouldn't have been able to do it if I had any respect for women. On a fundamental level, I was thinking about them as different creatures. I was thinking about the ones that I liked as having some special role in my life, and I did it all by not thinking about it.
So I just want to say, in addition to obviously being sorry — but that's really not the important thing — I want to say I did it by not thinking about it and I got away with it by not thinking about it, and if she hadn't mentioned something on Twitter I would've continued to not have to think about it, although I did walk around with my stomach in knots about it, but I wouldn't have had to talk about it.
And the last and most important thing I can say is just think about it, no matter who you are at work, no matter where you're working, no matter what field you're in, no matter what position you have over or under or side by side with somebody, just think about it. You gotta, because if you don't think about it you're gonna get away with not thinking about it, and you can cause a lot of damage that is technically legal and hurts everybody, and I think that we're living in a good time right now because we're not gonna get away with it anymore and if we can make it a normal part of our culture that we think about it and possibly talk about it then maybe we can get to a better place where that stuff doesn't happen.
So that's it. Please don't hurt her. Please don't make this worse on anybody but me, and let's move on.
Michael Blackmon is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Michael Blackmon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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