The American musician Moby has landed himself in hot water recently with the publication of his second memoir ‘Then It All Fell Apart’ – a rather apt title given the series of events that led to him publicly apologising to the actress Natalie Portman via his Instagram page.
In his memoir, Moby recalls his relationship history with Natalie Portman when he claims he was 33 and she was 20, after meeting backstage at one of his concerts in August 1999. “I was a bald binge drinker and Natalie Portman was a beautiful movie star. But here she was in my dressing room, flirting with me.” He claims that after a brief romance featuring “kissing under centuries-old oak trees” and late-night visits to her university dorm, she ended things as she had met somebody else.
Natalie was quick to deny the claims in the book telling Harper’s Bazaar in an interview: “I was surprised to hear that he characterised the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school. He said I was 20; I definitely wasn’t. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18.” A quick calculation demonstrates that Natalie would have in fact only just turned 18 two months prior to their meeting.
At this point, rather than wishing for the ground to swallow him hole, adopting a low profile and moving to Antarctica for the foreseeable, Moby responded via Instagram with an image of the two of them together which he felt constituted evidence of their relationship. He accused her of “actively misrepresenting” their relationship history and claims to be “hurt” by her lies, saying it has “affected his business and health”. Instead, what he in fact posted, was less proof of their being together but more a corroboration of Natalie’s comments. In this image you see a shirtless Moby with his arms round a much younger girl 16 years his junior looking somewhat uncomfortable. And then using this to attempt to discredit her view of the situation.
Moby then continued to play the victim for the days that followed moping via social media (ironically like a teenager) with comments such as “sincerely what should I do when people believe accusations and not evidence? I want to take the high road, but I honestly don’t know what to do. It’s one thing to be lied about, and entirely another when someone’s lies result in physical threats from complete strangers.” Poor man.
Eventually, Moby posted an apology, once again via his favourite social channel: Instagram.
“As some time has passed I’ve realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then It Fell Apart are very valid.
I also fully recognize that it was truly inconsiderate of me to not let her know about her inclusion in the book beforehand, and equally inconsiderate for me to not fully respect her reaction.
I have a lot of admiration for Natalie, for her intelligence, creativity, and animal rights activism, and I hate that I might have caused her and her family distress.
I tried to treat everyone I included in Then It Fell Apart with dignity and respect, but nonetheless it was truly inconsiderate for me to not let them know before the book was released.
So for that I apologize, to Natalie, as well as the other people I wrote about in Then It Fell Apart without telling them beforehand.
Also I accept that given the dynamic of our almost 14 year age difference I absolutely should’ve acted more responsibly and respectfully when Natalie and I first met almost 20 years ago.”
Again, Moby bizarrely continues with the claim there is an ‘almost 14 year age difference’ despite the fact that there is actually 15/16 years between them as Portman had corrected in her initial comments regarding her portrayal in his memoirs. He also fails to retract his claims of their dating or attempts to apologise if she saw it as any less than that.
Moby uses self-deprecation and the ‘nice guy persona’ to alter the power dynamics of their original meeting to make it seem as if it was Natalie Portman that had the upper hand when meeting backstage at his concert. As if he, a mere ‘bald binge drinker’ had been seduced by an attractive temptress in the form of an 18-year-old Natalie rather than the reality that he was a predatory 33 year old man romanticising the friendliness of a teenage fan.
When Natalie Portman responded to his claims, he then makes poor attempts to discredit her account and acts as if he has been scorned by a woman more powerful than he, using her influence to persuade the masses. He dismisses her recollection as a ‘gossip piece’ and accuses her of lying about their history.
Most women have found themselves at some point in scenarios in which they pay a man the slightest attention or they are simply polite and have found this to be misconstrued for sexual interest. Or have found that their rejection of a man results in some kind of altercation. Or a man will twist the truth of the on goings of a relationship in an effort to boost their own self-image. The story of Moby & Natalie Portman rings completely and utterly true for so many women.
Moby and his defenders seem to confuse legality with morality. Yes Natalie was 18 and it is perfectly legal for a 33 year old to date an 18 year old. That, however, does not negate her ability to feel uncomfortable with being pursued by someone far older than her just because he can’t be arrested for doing so. Her personal experience should not be discredited based on technicality. In fact regardless of age, women may be made to feel uncomfortable about the means used to pursue her. Avoiding arrest should not be the standard men should be holding themselves to.
Moby is a staunch vegan and prides himself on his animal rights activism. If forced to label his beliefs he claims he would be “Taoist–Christian–agnostic quantum mechanic”. He publicly feuded with Eminem calling him out on his misogynistic lyrics. For someone so apparently woke, he has a long way to go. And all the charity work in the world should not enable such behaviours.
Pursuing a much younger girl who has only just turned 18 is one thing. Violating Natalie’s right to privacy and using their relationship to promote his book without her permission for financial gain is another. Discrediting her account and accusing her of lying about her own experiences is truly something else.
Men: rather than arguing, if a woman tells you you have made her feel uncomfortable, please listen and do more to understand the reasons why that might be the case. Women have had their experiences dictated to them by men for long enough.