Since the launch of #MeToo, two innocent people connected to the movement have committed suicide — Anthony Bourdain and Jill Messick.
In February of 2018, 50-year-old Jill Messick, a one-time talent representative for #MeToo heroine Rose McGowan, took her own life.
In June of 2018, 61-year-old Anthony Bourdain — celebrity chef, world traveler, and boyfriend of #MeToo heroine Asia Argento, hanged himself in a Paris hotel.
Both untimely suicides occurred less than a year after the birth of #MeToo in October of 2017, a movement born through countless accusations against countless men in two left-wing institutions: Hollywood and the establishment media.
Harvey Weinstein, of course, was the first, the smashed bottle that launched the USS #MeToo, and his two most famous and outspoken accusers are McGowan and Argento. Both have accused the disgraced mogul of rape, both have accused the entertainment industry at large as complicit.
McGowan, who was best known for co-starring in the decade-old series Charmed, has achieved worldwide fame as the fearless face of #MeToo. She has written a memoir, Brave, and her every social media utterance can make headlines and damage reputations. She also leads what she calls #RoseArmy, a million or so Twitter followers eager to defend their queen.
Argento, who was best known in her native Rome as an actress and director, also became a household name through her #MeToo activism, which culminated in May when she earned rapturous applause at Cannes for a speech blistering the foo-foo film festival as a “hunting ground” for rapists.
In the wake of this upheaval, two people associated with McGowan and Argento took their own lives. We now know Messick and Bourdain spent years battling with the black pool of depression. This means we cannot know what drove them to end their own lives. Sometimes there is a trigger. Sometimes not.
What we do know is the timeline of events just prior to both suicides, and those facts are worth laying out.
In October of 2017, McGowan spoke of Messick in glowing terms to the New York Times. While it was Messick who unwittingly set up the January 1997 meeting with Weinstein that would end in a rape accusation, McGowan told the Times that after she told Messick of the incident, “She held me. She put her arms around me.”
The New York Times also reported that even though she had only recently been promoted to a talent manager, the-not-yet-30 Messick immediately reported the Weinstein incident to her firm’s partners and insisted they act. The two partners, Nick Wechsler and Keith Addis then “met with Mr. Weinstein at Ms. Messick’s request and confronted him with Ms. McGowan’s claim,” the Times reports.
And so, according to both the Times and McGowan, all the way back in 1997, Messick was on her side, her champion, did all she could, and although the matter was out of her hands after she reported the alleged assault to her superiors, McGowan ended up with a six-figure settlement from Weinstein.
Nearly a year after her role in reporting Weinstein, Messick went to work for Weinstein until 2003.
Over time, though, McGowan’s opinion of Messick seemed to change. The Federalist reports that through social media and Brave (released three months after the Times interview), McGowan publicly…
…lashed out at Messick for arranging the meeting with Weinstein, for failing to support her, and for pressuring her to settle with him. For taking a job ten months after the incident at Weinstein’s company, as Messick did. For being part of the problem.
On the same day Brave was released (January 30), Weinstein’s lawyers released an email the accused serial rapist requested from Messick just before the scandal exploded on him in October.
Looking back some 20 years, Messick spelled out her version of events:
When [McGowan and I] met up the following day, she hesitantly told me of her own accord that during the meeting that night before she had gotten into a hot tub with Mr. Weinstein. She was very clear about the fact that getting into that hot tub was something that she did consensually and that in hindsight it was also something that she regretted having done.
Members of “RoseArmy,” intent on finding Messick, coordinated, in search of the right internet doors to bang on. Although “Messick had tried to disguise her social media presence in an attempt to preserve some privacy, but she maintained a LinkedIn account, as a half-billion working people do. They found her there. They hounded her. They spewed ugly taunts and demanded on Twitter that she “give back [her] woman card.
A week later, Messick, who was herself a #MeToo supporter, took her own life.
In a public statement, Messick’s family blamed the suicide on Weinstein, the media, Internet mobs, and McGowan’s “inaccurate accusations and insinuations”:
Seeing her name in headlines again and again, as part of one person’s attempt to gain more attention for her personal cause, along with Harvey’s desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her. It broke Jill, who was just starting to get her life back on track. What makes Rose’s inaccurate accusations and insinuations against Jill ironic was that she was the first person who stood up on Rose’s behalf, and alerted her bosses to the horrific experience which Rose suffered. Twenty years ago, as a very junior person in a management company hierarchy, Jill exhibited her integrity in doing the right thing — she raised the red flag with the heads of her firm. In the face of inappropriate behavior, Jill handled the situation appropriately.
Jill Messick was the mother of two.
Anthony Bourdain was the father of an 11-year-old girl, separated from his second wife, and not only dating Asia Argento, he was her public champion and defender. Backed by a popular social media presence and a reputation for telling it like is, heaven help anyone who saw Argento as anything other than a Weinstein victim and spotless #MeToo warrior.
By all accounts, including those social media accounts and his own travel show, Bourdain was very much in love with Argento. In September of 2017, Bourdain gushed to People magazine, “She’s a really accomplished director and writer along with being a longtime actress and a real sponge for culture, music, literature. So she’s enormously helpful and inspiring.”
After her moment at Cannes, Bourdain described Argento’s speech as an “absolutely fearless off-script nuclear bomb.”
Bourdain did say that marriage to Argento was not an option. After two failed marriages he feared it would be “the death of everything” with Argento. But he also said he “wouldn’t hate” moving in with her.
What’s more, on top of championing her #MeToo activism, Bourdain also championed her career.
In a scathing indictment of Argento, Penthouse columnist Leah McSweeney writes that Bourdain’s “influence led to [Argento’s] new role as a judge on the Italian version of X-Factor, and he hired her to direct an episode of Parts Unknown when the series filmed in Hong Kong.”
This Argento-directed episode aired on June 3, and in the closing scene McSweeney says Bourdain looked into the camera and “stated what many of his fans had already figured out when it came to his feelings for Argento: ‘To fall in love with Asia is one thing. To fall in love in Asia is another. Both have happened to me.’”
Two days after that segment aired, and just three days before Bourdain took his own life, a 42-year-old Argento was photographed kissing a 28-year-old French journalist.
From here, McSweeney reports, everything between the two quickly and publicly spiraled:
Argento fought to have the photographs pulled. Bourdain was mysteriously no longer following his girlfriend on Instagram. Argento then posted an Instagram story of herself in a Sid Vicious shirt that said Fuck Everyone, and captioned the image: “You know who you are.” Three hours later he killed himself. And she deleted the image off of her instagram story.
(Quick aside: According to McSweeney, Argento’s lawyers demanded she remove the article and apologize to Bourdain. Nothing in the posted letter, though, disputes any of McSweeney’s facts).
It was at this point that Argento and McGowan teamed up.
Writing on behalf of Argento, McGowan, in an open letter to Rolling Stone, defended Argento against those blaming her infidelity for Bourdain’s suicide. And this is where the public learned for the first time Argento and Bourdain apparently had an open relationship.
“Anthony and Asia had a free relationship,” McGowan wrote, “they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on.”
“Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony,” McGowan explained, adding, “Anthony’s [suicide] was very much his choice. His decision, not hers. His depression won.”
Something else we have just learned, something confirmed by both the New York Times and Argento, is that Bourdain knew Argento had settled an underage sexual assault claim against her for $380,000 in November of 2017, just one month after Argento helped launch the #MeToo movement.
Jimmy Bennett is a former child actor who has known Argento since he was seven, when they co-starred as mother and son in a 2004 movie directed by Argento. According to Bennett, back in 2014, when he was 17 and Argento was 37, she got him alone in a California hotel room (where the age of consent is 18), gave him alcohol, and then forced herself on him.
Bennett claims the assault was emotionally devastating because he had always seen Argento as a mother figure.
As far as Bourdain’s involvement, according to the Times, everything was handled through his lawyer. According to a statement released this week by Argento, though, Bourdain was her white knight in the matter, the man who both urged her to settle and who paid the $380,0000 out of his own pocket.
Many interpret Argento’s statement as her way of blaming Bourdain for being too eager to settle, for getting her into this mess. Argento also denied having sex with Bennett, but photographs and text messages released by TMZ (and not yet denied by Argento) say different.
Regardless, from here it is not hard to imagine the world of hurt Bourdain would currently be in were he still alive.
Not only would he be accused of hypocrisy for attempting to cover up an alleged sexual assault of a minor at the height of the #MeToo movement, he also championed the alleged predator (Argento) as a #MeToo role model.
The following is not a small deal: Bourdain’s popular show aired on the far-left CNN, a cable channel obsessed with bringing President Donald Trump down over payoffs to silence two adult women for alleged consensual affairs that happened over a decade ago; and here is one of CNN’s biggest stars reportedly involved in a payoff to cover up the alleged assault of a minor…?
This was a ticking time bomb in the life of a man with a hard-earned reputation as an honorable straight-shooter.
And then the woman he took this career-killing risk for was photographed screwing around in public with a guy half Bourdain’s age. And even if there was an open relationship, these things are done discretely to save the woman from humiliation and the man from emasculation.
Argento did not try to stop those photos from being published for no reason.
#MeToo and two tragic suicides.