By now you’ve probably heard about the text messages between Jonah Hill and his ex-girlfriend Sarah Brady, which Brady shared on her Instagram Story over the weekend. In the messages, Brady, a professional surfer who dated the actor from August 2021 until sometime in 2022, claims that Hill told her to remove bathing suit photos of herself and that she was crossing his “boundaries” by “modeling,” “surfing with men,” and having “friendships with women who are in unstable places from your wild recent past beyond getting lunch of a coffee or something respectful.”
Hill’s texts have been labeled “misogynistic,” “emotionally abusive”, and “controlling,” among many other things most sensible people wouldn’t want to be called in the press and on social media. The messages resonated loudly with many online denizens, especially those that recognize the use of “therapy speak,” or psychology jargon, that Hill used to try and control and isolate Brady. Meanwhile, over on the other side of the internet, a very particular corner of the manosphere doesn’t see what the big deal is.
Debater and streamer Steven Kenneth Bonnell II, known to his over 650,000 YouTube subscribers as Destiny, has tweeted multiple times about Hill, calling the DMs “A+ handling from him on setting and communicating boundaries appropriately in a relationship.” In an appearance on the misogynistic podcast Fresh And Fit on July 10, Bonnell elaborated, adding “he can express the values he wants, there’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t seem like he was doing it in an abusive controlling way.”
Not surprisingly, right-leaning figures have also been quick to jump to Hill’s side. Sex coach Stirling Cooper, alt-right starlet Candace Owens, and Tim Pool buddy Phil Labonte all said there was “nothing wrong” in the messages. In their traditionally skewed eyes, they believe that Hill just established his own boundaries and if Brady didn’t like it, that’s her problem.
“Why are you putting these out there a year later to expose Jonah Hill,” Vincent Oshana, co-host of right-wing YouTube show Valutainment said on a July 11 broadcast. “If she actually made some of these concessions, she could be Jonah Hill’s baby mama, wife, whatever.”
The professionals beg to differ. “Hill was using therapy speak to control his girlfriend,” therapist Jeff Guenther told TheTab. “He is dictating what behaviors and friendships Sarah is permitted to have. He’s essentially instructing Sarah on who she can be friends with, what she can do professionally, and how she can show up online.”
Hill’s behavior also struck a chord with women who have been in Brady’s position before. “I think a lot of women have experienced this sort of manipulation in personal and/or romantic relationships and seeing it mirrored in such a large, public scale is validating to know that they aren’t alone in those experiences,” Jezebel writer Kady Ruth Ashcraft told Passionfruit.
The internet can be a misogynistic place, with some of the most popular and vocal members believing in a made-up version of the past, where a traditional wife, known in internet lingo as a “tradwife” stays home and does the housework and childcare. There’s a generation of individuals bred on the ideologies of smooth talkers like Andrew Tate and Jordan Peterson that men need to uphold their own wants, even if it means having to control their partner.
“I said that men should have standards and you should have protocols and hard parameters,” Tate said in a July 11 interview with conservative figurehead Tucker Carlson. “If a woman doesn’t want to adhere to these parameters, that’s her decision but you don’t have to stay with her.”
Though Tate wasn’t necessarily commenting on the Hill situation, his ideology has infected the minds of men who consume his content via YouTube and other platforms and regularly parrot these harmful, misogynistic ideas. The reality is, establishing boundaries and exerting control are not the same thing, and it’s important to point out the distinction. Hill is no stranger to therapy jargon, so much so that he made a whole documentary with his therapist.
For women like Ashcraft, Hill—and those who side with him—are using these concepts incorrectly. “I think the kind of people who don’t find it problematic don’t understand that ‘boundaries’ are something you can enact for yourself, not someone else,” Ashcraft said. “Anytime someone is telling another person what they can or cannot wear and it’s not for, like, fire safety reasons, they are trying to control them.”
Hill has yet to comment on the leaked messages, though he released merch in June with the words “complete unrelenting control” emblazoned on socks, hats, and totes, which is really saying something.
This situation will continue to be litigated in the public eye, and the same right-wing grifters that fuel the never-ending culture war in order to farm views on Rumble or drum up Patreon subscribers will continue to cry Je Suis Jonah and claim that Hill was right, actually.