In a sudden turn of events, Jordan Owen, producer of crowdfunded film “The Sarkeesian Effect“, announced yesterday that he’s terminating his working relationship with Davis Aurini, placing the future of the film in jeopardy. This news comes despite the fact that filming of the documentary was completed and that all that remainded was editing and post-production work.
In a Youtube video, Owen stated that it was entirely his decision to terminate the relationship, and he elaborated later that this was due in large part to our Reaxxion founder Roosh. As Roosh has had no contact with Owen, and is not involved in the production of “The Sarkeesian Effect,” the reasoning behind this decision remains murky, and Owen declined to answer my multiple queries via twitter for more explanation. What follows is based off an interview I had with Aurini and Owen’s public statements.
A Bizarre Obsession
In a post on his blog, Stares At The World, Mr. Aurini wrote,
“After the past two months of communiques with Jordan, I strongly suspect that he undermined this project because of an irrational jealously of Roosh, and any man who’s able to relate to women easily.
He’d been asking me for advice about women since the get go – which led me to recommending my colleague Roosh who has done much to support us – but every time I spoke about him, it seemed to fill Jordan with rage. Eventually leading to a panic attack that got him kicked off of an airplane – the last time I saw him in person.”
Aurini described this incident to me as follows: while he was driving Owen to the airport, the two began discussing Roosh’s book, Don’t Bang Denmark, a “hater travel guide that reluctantly teaches you how to sleep with Danish women”. The book describes Roosh’s travels in Denmark, and chronicles his difficult, though ultimately successful, journey to get a number of the local women into bed.
For whatever reason, Owen was of the opinion that Roosh was unable to get laid at all in Denmark, and became incredibly worked up when Aurini attempted to correct him. At one point he allegedly said, “Men like Roosh deserve to be shot in the head.” By the time they arrived at the airport and Aurini dropped him off, Owen had worked himself into an extreme emotional state. While boarding the plane, he was behaving bizarrely, peppering the personnel with so many odd questions about the airplane that airport staff refused to let him fly. He was forced to take a rental car back to Atlanta, using the backer money he’d raised via crowdfunding to do so.
While this claim may be hard to believe, it’s true that Owen has had a strange and unnatural fixation on Roosh, publishing 90 minutes worth of video content on Roosh’s satirical essay “How to Stop Rape.” These videos border on the autistic, as Owen discusses at extreme length the practical, moral, and ethical problems of Roosh’s satirical proposal to legalize rape on private property. For whatever reason, he seems particularly interested in discussing the—again, completely satirical—proposal from a libertarian perspective.
From these videos, it’s clear that the point of Roosh’s essay did not merely fly above Owen’s head, it was lifted into space by a pair of Saturn V rocket boosters to achieve geosynchronous low Earth orbit above him. His response is no more germane to the issue at hand than an attempt to refute Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” by pointing out that the standard-sized English oven is too small to properly bake an Irish infant.
This level of obtuseness cannot be ascribed to mere stupidity. This is willful blindness, similar to the XOJane and Daily Mirror pieces on the same topic. In those cases, the writers and readers wanted to believe that Roosh was genuinely attempting to make rape legal because they’re addicted to the emotional high that comes from a 2-minute hate, the phenomenon behind most modern-day witch-hunts. In Owen’s case, it seems likely that his irrational focus on Roosh is, as Aurini suggests, due to jealousy.
In his videos, Owen does not have the look of a man who is satisfied with the direction his life is taking. He’s quite clearly alone in a darkened apartment, unshaven and ill-kempt. His voice is downcast and uncertain, and he tends to go off on tangents about wrongs done to him in the past by other people, despite the fact that they have nothing to do with the topic at hand. He shows signs of depression.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Roosh, he is a man who left a comfortable white-collar job in the United States during the mid-2000s, and has dedicated his life ever since to traveling the world and sleeping with as many attractive foreign women as possible, and showing other men how to do so through his blog. Aurini says that Owen would constantly ask him for advice on women, and when he did so Aurini would recommend Roosh (his general program can be read here, for the curious).
Most people who read Roosh’s writings, as with any author, react somewhere on a scale between interest, indifference, and disgust. It would appear that Owen reacted with extreme jealousy. For whatever reason, Roosh became a fixation in his life, to the point that he ultimately decided to terminate his relationship with Aurini.
An Abrupt Collapse
According to Aurini, after Owen published his 90 minute video about Roosh, Aurini called him to ask why he was spending so much energy attacking someone who had already promoted their project, and was likely to do so in the future. When this conversation was over, Aurini heard nothing from Owen from a week, and then Owen abruptly told Aurini that he was “fired” (Aurini claims that the two of them have been co-equal partners from the start, with Owen handling the money and logistics while Aurini handled the filming and editing).
Aurini responded to this by saying they could either (a) pretend the “firing” never happened and finish their movie, (b) split the remaining funds between them, and each make their own movie, or (c) if Owen insisted on keeping the money, he would tell his supporters what happened and apologize to his viewers. Owen evidently decided to keep the money for himself, which leads us to where we are now.
Both Owen and Aurini have copies of the footage, which currently exists as 300 gigabytes of raw video data. The very last of the footage, an interview with adult star Mercedes Carrera, and some film taken at the “femdom porn awards”, remains solely in Owen’s hands, but Aurini intends to finish the film regardless. “This project matters, [it] needs to be done right,” he told me. “It needs to see the light of day.” While Owen has no film editing experience himself, he also seems intent on going forward with his own version, which means we may very well see two versions of “The Sarkeesian Effect.”
Owen has agreed to give refunds to anyone who is unsatisfied with this turn of events, and asks that they contact him via Patreon. Aurini has also asked donors to seek refunds, as he feels that Owen’s lack of editing experience and obvious personal instability mean he’s unlikely to finish the project on his own. Interested parties can follow Aurini’s blog and Owen’s Youtube channel for further developments.
While I wasn’t a backer of this movie, I was looking forward to it, and I’m disappointed that this has happened. Regardless of where the fault here lies—and even if every one of Aurini’s allegations are true, some fault lies with him for picking a poor business partner—it’s indeed a shame. And while I feel bad for Aurini, who has sunk a lot of time into this project, I feel worse for Owen.
Envy Will Ruin You
Owen is an clear-cut case of why Catholics consider envy one of the seven deadly sins. If you let envy go unchecked it will ruin you. Owen was on track to be a successful movie producer, a job coveted by many. He could’ve leveraged that into any number of opportunities. Now, even if he does manage to complete his own version of the movie, who would be willing to work with someone who detonates their business partnership at the 11th hour, regardless of the reason? This turn of events is most unfortunate, but hopefully a quality documentary will still get finished.