There is nothing quite like watching someone you admire fall from grace.
In the age of the 24-hour digital news cycle and social media, that fall is thunderous and echoes back millions of times as each person with a platform and an audience shares their reaction and response to whatever incident or action precipitated that fall.
As more details emerge about a given situation, the public backlash becomes cacophonous and completely hard to ignore.
Such is the case with actor Jonathan Majors.
Just two weeks ago, he was the darling of the internet, and (mostly) everyone was loving him.
It was only March, but he was already riding the wave of two blockbuster films being released within two weeks of each other, and his star was shining bright. He became the subject of a popular meme after he and Michael B. Jordan greeted Angela Bassett with “Hey, Auntie. We love you,” from the Oscars stage.
He was the talk of the town.
Women were lusting after him and discussing the myriad ways they would show their appreciation for him given the chance. Some men were debating his masculinity after his Ebony cover shoot. Other men staunchly defended him, and the women tweeted happily and wistfully about that shoot as well as others for Men’s Health, Vanity Fair and The Cut.
It was his moment.
Grand opening/grand closing
All of that came to a screeching halt on Saturday, March 25, when news broke that Majors had been arrested in New York City that morning for a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend.
At the time, a rep for Majors told TMZ, “He’s done nothing wrong. We look forward to clearing his name and clearing this up.”
While awaiting more information before rushing to judgment, another thing happened: Whispers of Majors being a known abuser — whispers that had started long before his arrest — turned into loud, declarative statements on Twitter.
In February, filmmaker A.B. Allen put out a cryptic tweet that said, “There’s a particular actor, relatively new on the scene, who Twitter has fallen violently head over heels for who, in actuality, is a vicious, cruel, abusive human being, both professionally and in his personal life, and every new viral thirst tweet about him drives me insane.”
After news of Majors’ arrest broke, another Twitter user sent out a screenshot of the tweet along with the caption, “Now we know who this tweet is about.”
Allen responded to the tweet with, “Ding/Ding/Ding/Ding.”
Allen, who goes by they/them pronouns, went on to tweet that they were attempting to protect Majors’ victims from becoming “part of some larger media inquiry” and expressed hope that this incident would bring Majors’ career to an end.
Allen wasn’t the only one to have stories about Majors.
Stage actor Tim Nicolai also levied accusations of abuse against Majors, alleging that Majors is “a sociopath and abuser” consistent with the actor’s reputation throughout the Yale and New York City theater communities.
Allen has since deleted their tweets, and Nicolai has made his account private. But again, the damage was already done.
With purported corroboration that Majors is an abuser and the alleged abuse is a pattern of his behavior, he went from Twitter honey to “Twitter’s Most Hated.”
The same women who had previously openly lusted after him were now questioning his character. Reactions across social media suggested there was a widespread belief he had done what he was accused of, with speculation galore that his career would be over after this.
It was quite literally grand opening/grand closing all in the same first quarter of 2023.
The actions of his attorney, Priya Chaudry, have not helped change the public’s perception of Majors or the incident in question. In fact, they have only intensified the heat of the “He’s guilty” fire.
The day after his arrest, Chaudry said in a statement, “Jonathan Majors is completely innocent and is provably the victim in an altercation with a woman he knows.”
She later added, “We are quickly gathering and presenting evidence to the District Attorney with the expectation that all charges will be dropped imminently.”
Chaudry claimed that evidence included video footage of the altercation, witness testimony and two written statements from the victim herself, “recanting” the allegations.
Chaudry explained that police are required to make an arrest in situations such as these but also said she expected the charges would be dropped soon.
Chaudry also claimed that the victim had been experiencing an emotional crisis, which was the real reason she was hospitalized and not because of the alleged attack.
Nine days later, the charges have not been dropped, and in what may be the strangest decision to come out of this situation so far, late last week, Chaudhry released screenshots of purported text messages between the woman and Majors — text messages that seemed to affirm that the victim had in fact been assaulted by Majors.
The messages, which were allegedly sent the same day Majors was arrested — both before and after the arrest — show a mostly one-sided conversation between him and the victim in which his only texts are a request for keys to be left and then a very terse “goodbye.”
The alleged texts from the victim show claims she did not press charges against Majors and apologizing that he was in trouble. The texts, which also say that police assured the woman that Majors would not be charged with any crime, claim she told police the situation was her fault for grabbing his phone.
In a later message, it’s alleged that “they” called to check on her, and she reiterated that they did not have her blessing on “any charges being placed.”
“I read the paper they gave me about strangulation and I said point blank this did not occur and should be removed immediately,” the message said.
“I know you have the best team and there’s nothing to worry about I just want you to know that I’m doing all I can my end,” another part of the same message said.
The messages read like a victim pleading with her abuser not to be angry with her. They read like a woman who fears she is going to be subject to more abuse if Majors is in any type of real trouble.
They don’t read like a woman recanting her statement. They read like a woman afraid for her life and her safety.
Majors’ alleged end of the conversation is even more damning.
If this is a person he supposedly loves and cares about, someone who was suffering an “emotional crisis,” as his team put it, why do his responses to her sound so cold? Why does he seem so detached from someone he supposedly didn’t harm but was trying to help?
I’m not sure what Chaudry hoped to accomplish by releasing the alleged texts, but it’s clear they have possibly done more damage than good.
Then there is the DARVO — deny, attack, reverse victim and offender — aspect of it all. Majors’ team has decidedly chosen the route of denying he did any wrongdoing while simultaneously painting the victim as the aggressor in the situation and the one who is “unstable,” not him.
And that right there is nasty work.
Now, more than a week after he was initially arrested, we have not seen the video evidence Chaudry claimed to have. The charges have not been dropped. Although the screenshots of text messages were sent to TMZ of all places, Chaudry has not released anything else including the supposed statements where the victim allegedly recants her statements.
It’s much too late for all of that anyway. Although talk about the incident on social media seems to have died down a bit, the love for Majors is not there either.
There is no one fawning over him. No one is posting pictures of him. No one is praising his work in the two movies he still has in theaters at the time of this writing.
Jonathan Majors has already been found guilty in the court of public opinion, and regardless of how this case turns out, that stain is going to be with him for a long time.
Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.
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