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May 19, 2024

Fualaau Slams “May December” Film, Says Portrayal is Inaccurate and Offensive

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Jan 4, 2024

Mary Kay Letourneau’s ex-husband and former student Vili Fualaau is speaking out against the new film “May December,” calling its portrayal of his relationship with Letourneau inaccurate and offensive.

Fualaau Says He Was Not Consulted on Film

Fualaau told reporters he was never contacted by anyone involved with making “May December,” which depicts a romantic relationship between a teacher and her young student inspired by Letourneau’s real-life abuse case.

“I’m offended they didn’t ask myself or my children if they could go forward with this,” Fualaau said.

The 43-year-old said the filmmakers behind “May December” did not make any effort to get the story from him or his family’s perspective.

“They should have asked us first before they went forward with any of this,” he reiterated.

Film Romanticizes Abusive Relationship, Fualaau Says

In multiple interviews, Fualaau has accused “May December” of glamorizing and romanticizing his relationship with Letourneau, which he has categorized as abusive.

“It should be considered abuse from the very beginning,” he told reporters. “I don’t think it should be legal to make a movie about us without consulting us first.”

Fualaau first met Letourneau when he was her sixth grade student in the early 1990s. Their sexual relationship began when he was just 12 years old and she was 34.

Letourneau pled guilty to two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child in 1997 after the school found out she was pregnant with Fualaau’s first child. She served over seven years in prison and had to register as a sex offender before Fualaau petitioned the court to allow them to have contact again.

They married in 2005 when Fualaau was an adult, but divorced in 2019. Letourneau died of cancer in 2020 at age 58.

Year Fualaau’s Age Letourneau’s Age Event
1992 12 34 Sexual relationship begins
1997 15 39 Letourneau gives birth to first daughter
1998 16 40 Letourneau gives birth to second daughter shortly before going to prison
2005 23 47 Fualaau and Letourneau get married
2019 37 61 Fualaau files for legal separation from Letourneau
2020 38 58 Letourneau dies of cancer

Critics and child abuse experts have argued that Letourneau abused her position of authority over Fualaau, making it impossible for him to give meaningful consent to sex at just 12 years old. Fualaau himself has said in recent years that he felt the relationship damaged him psychologically.

But the film “May December” takes a different stance, telling the story of a student who returns to visit his former teacher years later to rekindle a romantic connection. Reviews have noted the movie’s “rose-colored” portrayal of the central relationship.

Fualaau believes the film overlooks the inherent abuse and damage done by such relationships between vastly unequal partners.

“It should be considered abuse from the very beginning,” he reiterated. “I don’t think it should be legal to make a movie about us without consulting us first.”

Film Does Not Capture Full Story, Fualaau Says

Beyond objecting to the premise, Fualaau says “May December” gets basic facts wrong and fails to capture the full truth.

“I’m offended they didn’t consult with myself or my children before they went ahead with this,” Fualaau told reporters.

“There are a lot of inaccuracies in there from what I’ve seen so far and I feel like they should have consulted so they could get our perspective on this as well,” he added.

Specific inaccuracies were not clarified, but Fualaau believes the film fundamentally mischaracterizes him, Letourneau, and their relationship. Reviews have noted the movie focuses on the teacher’s perspective, overlooking harm experienced by the young student.

Fualaau argues that telling only part of the story continues to obscure and tacitly approve of abuse against minors by authority figures. He believes the trauma from adults manipulating children leaves lifelong damage.

By putting out an allegedly inaccurate and unethical film for entertainment, Fualaau says filmmakers have amplified the exploitation he suffered as a child and young man.

Filmmakers Claim Story is “Fictionalized”

The film’s director, Todd Haynes, has responded to Fualaau’s complaints by stating that “May December” is a fictional, “imagined narrative inspired by true events” rather than a biopic. Actors have emphasized their characters are not meant to directly depict real people.

“It’s not Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau that we’re watching on screen,” lead actress Julianne Moore said.

But Fualaau points out that marketing has repeatedly tied the film to his and Letourneau’s real identities and abuse case. Using their traumatic personal story as inspiration while fictionalizing details has not protected their dignity, he argues.

And while names and minor details may have changed, Fualaau says the premise implicitly endorses illegal relationships between teachers and young students—a trend he has criticized by saying “more teachers are screwing their students.”

“I don’t think this story or subject should be taken lightly at all,” Fualaau said.

Concerns Over Glamorizing Abuse Trope

Beyond Fualaau’s first-hand objections, critics have raised concerns over “May December” feeding cultural obsession and romanticization of relationships between adult women in power and the young boys they manipulate.

Singer Olivia Wilde’s 2019 film “Booksmart” faced similar backlash for casually introducing a minor plot point about a female teacher having an affair with a male student, played for laughs.

Groups like the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) have argued that media tropes downplaying abuse when the victim is male and perpetrator is female can have seriously harmful impacts on survivors and cultural norms.

“This troubling trend plays directly into myths that blame victims and excuse abusers,” said RAINN Director Tara Hill.

Hill emphasizes that underage boys groomed into illegal relationships experience the same trauma and emotional damage as girls in similar scenarios.

Experts note that predatory adults often target vulnerable children who lack support systems. The power imbalance makes meaningful consent impossible, regardless of gender.

Future Legal Action Possible

Fualaau has not ruled out potential legal action over his and his family’s treatment during the making of “May December” or the film’s wider release.

“We’re considering legal options over the lack of consent given and the unfair portrayal of myself and my children,” Fualaau stated.

It remains unclear precisely what claims could be levied around use of his life story without permission or whether the “fictional” nature of the film undermines any case. But Fualaau says he is determined to explore options.

“I don’t think anyone has a right to do this without consulting those of us who actually experienced this,” he told reporters.

At minimum, the outraged reactions seem likely to damage “May December’s” critical and commercial success. Netflix subscriptions dropped by over 200,000 in the first week after its December premiere, suggesting subscriber discontent.

And advocacy groups like RAINN have called for boycotting the film to avoid enabling abuse apology and myths around predatory women.

Conclusion

Vili Fualaau’s vocal objections against “May December” have brought wider attention to the harms of older authority figures grooming children into sexual relationships. His first-hand experience spotlights the damage done and lifetime trauma inflicted on survivors.

As conversations around consent and addressing sexual abuse continue evolving, the film industry faces scrutiny for tropes tacitly glorifying the emotional manipulation and exploitation of minors. Fualaau’s story serves as a tragic reminder that such illegal relationships can derail young lives.

Going forward, public reaction may pressure Hollywood to finally abandon insensitive plotlines romanticizing abuse. But Fualaau says the lack of consent around depicting his own traumatic experience has already reopened old wounds for both him and his daughters.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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