May December Real-Life Prototype Offended By the Movie: 'Ripoff of My Original Story'

May December Real-Life Prototype Offended By the Movie: 'Ripoff of My Original Story'
Image credit: Netflix

Do you think a movie based on your personal story is exciting? This man doesn't think so.


  • May December has become one of the most popular movies of recent years, in part because it is based on a true story.
  • One of the topics of the movie is the destructive influence of cinema and media on people whose stories are used and manipulated.
  • It turns out that the May December creators did not even consult the real-life prototype of one of the main characters, Vili Fualaau, who was offended by this approach to his personal traumatic story.

Movies and TV series based on real events are still incredibly popular: the mere mention of the real basis of the story already generates interest in the project. In recent years, we've seen a wave of enormous popularity in the true crime genre, which technically includes the real-life story of Mary Kay Letourneau, on which Todd Haynes' new film May December is based.

Plot of May December

Television actress Elizabeth comes to Savannah to do her research for a future role. She will play Gracie, a tabloid star of the 1990s. Many years ago, a 36-year-old woman got pregnant by 13-year-old seventh-grader Joe, served time in prison, and returned to the now-mature young man upon her release.

20 years later, they have a perfect family: the oldest daughter is in college, the younger twins are preparing to graduate. No problems. Or so it seems at first glance.

May December Talks About the Destructive Media Influence

Perhaps the most captivating topic of the movie is the destructive nature of cinema and media. We live in an age where viewers are obsessed with true crime and movies based on real events, but all of this is just entertainment, content that can be watched over dinner or before bed.

Few people think about how filming can affect the lives of real people, who are sometimes reduced to pieces on a board that everyone uses to their advantage.

May December Real-Life Prototype Offended By the Movie: 'Ripoff of My Original Story' - image 1

Elizabeth is getting ready to shoot an independent movie, but before there was made a tasteless and offending TV movie about the relationship between Joe and Gracie. It's not a fact that Elizabeth won't slip into a parody of forbidden passion or the banal seduction of a teenager, too.

May December Creators Used Vili Fualaau’s Story Without His Permission

But no matter how fresh and interesting the subject of the movie is, its creators contradict themselves and essentially embody the same destructive influence in real life.

May December Real-Life Prototype Offended By the Movie: 'Ripoff of My Original Story' - image 2

Vili Fualaau, Joe's real-life prototype, spoke harshly about May December, claiming that no one had even contacted him about making a movie based on his personal story:

“If they had reached out to me, we could have worked together on a masterpiece. Instead, they chose to do a ripoff of my original story. I’m offended by the entire project and the lack of respect given to me — who lived through a real story and is still living it.”

No one wants to have their traumatic experiences manipulated, and Vili's outrage is more than understandable. We can only hope that directors of movies and TV shows based on real events will finally listen to the victims and treat their personal stories with more respect.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter