Ashley’s 2014 Oscar’s Predictions

oscars_leadAs you may or may not know, I get screeners every year, so I usually see most of the nominated movies.  Here are my predictions and opinions on the categories for this year (except the shorts).

EDIT: I missed 3 out of 21, most disappointingly, The Act of Killing did not win Documentary Feature.

 

BEST PICTURE

“American Hustle”

“Captain Phillips”

“Dallas Buyers Club”

“Gravity”

“Her”

“Nebraska”

“Philomena”

“12 Years a Slave”

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

 

WILL WIN: “12 Years a Slave”

SHOULD WIN: “Gravity”

 

DIRECTOR

Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

 

WILL WIN: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

SHOULD WIN: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

 

ACTOR

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”

Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”

Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

 

WILL WIN: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

SHOULD WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

 

ACTRESS

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”

Judi Dench, “Philomena”

Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

 

WILL WIN: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

SHOULD WIN: I have no feelings on this matter

 

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”

Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”

Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”

Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

 

WILL WIN: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

SHOULD WIN: I have no feelings on this matter

 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”

Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”

Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”

June Squibb, “Nebraska”

 

WILL WIN: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

SHOULD WIN: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

 

 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“Before Midnight,” Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke

“Captain Phillips,” Billy Ray

“Philomena,” Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

“12 Years a Slave,” John Ridley

“The Wolf of Wall Street,” Terence Winter

 

WILL WIN: ”12 Years a Slave,” John Ridley

SHOULD WIN: ”12 Years a Slave,” John Ridley

 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“American Hustle,” Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

“Blue Jasmine,” Woody Allen

“Dallas Buyers Club,” Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

“Her,” Spike Jonze

“Nebraska,” Bob Nelson

 

WILL WIN: American Hustle,” Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

SHOULD WIN: “American Hustle,” Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“The Act of Killing”

“Cutie and the Boxer”

“Dirty Wars”

“The Square”

“20 Feet From Stardom”

 

WILL WIN: “The Act of Killing”

SHOULD WIN: “The Act of Killing”

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

“The Broken Circle Breakdown”

“The Great Beauty”

“The Hunt”

“The Missing Picture”

“Omar”

 

WILL WIN: “The Great Beauty”

SHOULD WIN: I have no feelings on this matter

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“The Grandmaster,” Philippe Le Sourd

“Gravity,” Emmanuel Lubezki

“Inside Llewyn Davis,” Bruno Delbonnel

“Nebraska,” Phedon Papamichael

“Prisoners,” Roger A. Deakins

 

WILL WIN: “Gravity,” Emmanuel Lubezki

SHOULD WIN: “Gravity,” Emmanuel Lubezki

 

COSTUME DESIGN

“American Hustle,” Michael Wilkinson

“The Grandmaster,” William Chang Suk Ping

“The Great Gatsby,” Catherine Martin

“The Invisible Woman,” Michael O’Connor

“12 Years a Slave,” Patricia Norris

 

WILL WIN: “12 Years a Slave,” Patricia Norris

SHOULD WIN: “12 Years a Slave,” Patricia Norris

 

 

ANIMATED FEATURE

“The Croods”

“Despicable Me 2”

“Ernest & Celestine”

“Frozen”

“The Wind Rises”

 

WILL WIN: “Frozen”

SHOULD WIN: “Frozen”

 

EDITING

“American Hustle,” Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten

“Captain Phillips,” Christopher Rouse

“Dallas Buyers Club,” John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa

“Gravity,” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

“12 Years a Slave,” Joe Walker

 

WILL WIN: “Gravity,” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

SHOULD WIN: “Gravity,” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

 

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Dallas Buyers Club,” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” Stephen Prouty

“The Lone Ranger,” Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

 

WILL WIN: “Dallas Buyers Club,” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

SHOULD WIN: “Dallas Buyers Club,” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

 

ORIGINAL SONG

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from “Frozen,” music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from “Her,” music by Karen O; lyrics by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, lyrics by Paul Hewson

 

WILL WIN: “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

SHOULD WIN: “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

 

 

ORIGINAL SCORE

“The Book Thief,” John Williams

“Gravity,” Stephen Price

“Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett

“Philomena,” Alexandre Desplat

“Saving Mr. Banks,” Thomas Newman

 

WILL WIN: “Gravity,” Stephen Price

SHOULD WIN: I have no feelings on this matter

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

“American Hustle,” production design: Judy Becker; set decoration: Heather Loeffler

“Gravity,” production design: Andy Nicholson; set decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard

“The Great Gatsby,” production design: Catherine Martin; set decoration: Beverley Dunn

“Her,” production design: K.K. Barrett; set decoration: Gene Serdena

“12 Years a Slave,” production design: Adam Stockhausen; set decoration: Alice Baker.

 

WILL WIN: “The Great Gatsby,” production design: Catherine Martin; set decoration: Beverley Dunn

SHOULD WIN: “American Hustle,” production design: Judy Becker; set decoration: Heather Loeffler

 

SOUND EDITING

“All Is Lost,” Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns

“Captain Phillips,” Oliver Tarney

“Gravity,” Glenn Freemantle

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Brent Burge and Chris Ward

“Lone Survivor,” Wylie Stateman

 

WILL WIN: “Gravity,” Glenn Freemantle

SHOULD WIN: “Gravity,” Glenn Freemantle

 

SOUND MIXING

“Captain Phillips,” Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro

“Gravity,” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson

“Inside Llewyn Davis,” Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

“Lone Survivor,” Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

 

WILL WIN: “Gravity,” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro

SHOULD WIN: “Gravity,” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

“Gravity,” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk and Neil Corbould

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds

“Iron Man 3,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick

“The Lone Ranger,” Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier

“Star Trek Into Darkness,” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

 

WILL WIN: “Gravity,” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk and Neil Corbould

SHOULD WIN: “Gravity,” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk and Neil Corbould

 

As for the shorts, I have no idea.

How to make that cheap plastic wig look good

Just after last Halloween I got a couple $5 wigs from the post-Halloween clearance sale.  One of them was rainbow, which I was very excited about, but the fact that it was $5 was pretty obvious.  It was bent from being in a package and impossible to brush and generally not very cute.  It looked nothing like the picture.

Fantasy & Reality

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This wig is not even the same colors.  It’s clearly been cut and also styled some way that made it pastel.  And there’s a whole pink layer that doesn’t even appear to be visible here.

Suffice to say, not accurate advertising.  You can see how sketchy it looks on the sides in the picture of me, just bent and weird.  With a hat on and me twisting it to the side I could get a decent photo, but it was way too ratty to wear, which was too bad because I quite liked the colors.  I gave up on it, but not quite enough to throw it away.

Then I got invited to the SC Pride Sweetheart Gala for Valentine’s and I felt like it would be criminal not to try to make the wig work, so I did some research and, with my short amount of time, fixed it up to the point that people were asking if it was my real hair.  There are other methods (boiling or blowdrying on low with plastic curlers), but this is what I did.

1. Wash the wig — I used All laundry detergent and lukewarm water.  Fill the bathtub a couple inches with a bit of detergent, let the wig sit in the soapy water for a minute.  Rinse in lukewarm water.  Smoosh in a towel to get excess water.

2. Fabric Softener — I stole a Bounce dryer sheet from my boyfriend and just rubbed it through the damp wig, trying to get every strand.

3. Towel dry more, remove big snarls with your fingers, and then hang to dry.  The cap will take a while to get semi-dry.  I let it dry for 4-5 hours before the next step.

4.  The fabric softener made it much easier to comb through the hair and it was quite soft, but it didn’t fix the weird bends in the hair. The wig and the internet tells you not to use curling irons on synthetic wigs, but I only had about 4 hours until the Gala, so I was willing to experiment.  The wig was still slightly damp from the fabric softener.  I have a Conair Instant 1″ Iron with 25 heat settings — the highest is 380, I don’t  know what the lowest one is in degrees — but I put it on the lowest setting of 1.  It was too hot to leave my fingers on, but didn’t burn me if I touched it briefly.

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5. Then I curled it two layers of hair tracks at a time — or in five layers, excluding the bangs, which I dealt with separately.  The way I curl is the front inch of hair is curled away from the face, Farrah Fawcett style, and the rest of the hair is parted in the middle and curled towards the face.  Bigger curling iron gives you wavy hair rather than ringlets, if that’s how you want to go.

THIS IS A SLOW PROCESS.  It took me three episodes of Doctor Who to do the whole wig.

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I left the curler on for a bit longer than I would my normal hair, until the hair felt hot through, always checking to makes sure it didn’t feel melty, but it never did.  Lots of places recommend you clip the curls to let them set, but I let them cool hanging down because I wanted more of a wavy effect than a very curly one.  It still set quite curly.  Much easier to curl than real hair.

The really nice thing about the curls is that they revealed some variations in the color that just weren’t apparent in the wig as it was.  It also made the hair look much softer and less frayed at the ends. (These pics are next day, after having worn it for 5 hours, including for some dancing — the curls held well).

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6. Style the bangs when you’ve put the wig on your head.  There’s too much guesswork, even if you’ve got a fake head to style on.  The long bangs on this were nice because they hid my hair up front and allowed me to pull back the hair in bobby pins to reveal the layers better, and get the unflattering green off my face.

7. Go be fabulous and if someone asks if it’s your hair be like, “I own it, so yeah!”

Before and After

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A thorough analysis of Woody Allen’s letter in the NYTimes

dylan farrow and woody allenI wrote yesterday about why neutral was an illogical response to Dylan’s accusations, but today I’d like to spend some time with Allen’s response to the allegations.  For the tl;drs out there, the summary is this: Allen spends 2000 words trying to make Mia Farrow sound like a crazy bitch, presenting incomplete and false information, and showing disrespect to his children, especially Dylan.  For those who’d like a point-by-point breakdown, you are in luck.  (EDIT: Here are two excellent statement analyses of Dylan’s letter and Allen’s letter)

TWENTY-ONE years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, I found the idea so ludicrous I didn’t give it a second thought.

In the first sentence there are two things that are a bit disturbing.  The first is that Mia Farrow never accused him of child molestation, Dylan Farrow did.  Mia did not even go to the police with it, she went to a pediatrician, who by law was required to contact the police.  Allen is immediately turning this into a narrative of how Mia Farrow is out to get him, rather than a narrative about Dylan Farrow, who should be the focus of his response.

The second thing that bothers me is that he was accused of molestation by a child he was already in therapy for inappropriate behavior towards and who he was not allowed to see alone.  If I was a person wrongly accused of sexual abuse of a child, especially one where there was already damning evidence around me, I would FREAK OUT, but certainly I would give it a second thought.  That he didn’t give it a second thought and that he is comfortable beginning his defense narrative with the fact that he didn’t give it a second thought says to me that he somehow thinks this sort of accusation is not abnormal and a blasé response is perfectly acceptable and normal.

We were involved in a terribly acrimonious breakup, with great enmity between us and a custody battle slowly gathering energy.

We’ve made it to the second sentence, where he continues to present misinformation and attempts to paint Mia Farrow as a stereotypical vindictive woman scorned.  They were involved in an acrimonious breakup, because he’d cheated on her with her daughter, the sister of his children.  But there was no custody battle until after the police were alerted to Dylan’s claims.  He filed suit for custody BECAUSE Dylan made a sexual abuse claim against him — until then, he’d agreed not to even try to get custody.  The suit was ruled to be frivolous and he was forced to pay all of Mia Farrow’s legal fees.  In my opinion, he filed for custody to cast doubt upon Mia Farrow’s role as a mother to divert attention away from Dylan’s claims.

The self-serving transparency of her malevolence seemed so obvious I didn’t even hire a lawyer to defend myself. It was my show business attorney who told me she was bringing the accusation to the police and I would need a criminal lawyer.

Again, Mia Farrow did not bring the accusations to the police, the doctor who she took Dylan to was required by law to go to the police.  Again, Allen is trying to pain Mia Farrow as an aggressor — even if she was, this is not an accurate accounting of events. He’s already told a great number of lies in an attempt to make Mia Farrow look bad.

I naïvely thought the accusation would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn’t molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was. Common sense would prevail. After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation. I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct.

Again, Woody Allen was already in therapy for inappropriate behavior towards Dylan.  Allen was already not allowed to be alone with Dylan because of that behavior.  That’s why it was a big deal that people didn’t know where they were for 15 minutes that afternoon, he was already known to be not appropriate with the girl.  So yeah, she had, in fact, suggested things to him and to others about misconduct.  Lying again to paint Mia as a crazy bitch.

Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary’s home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry — that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely. The sheer illogic of such a crazy scenario seemed to me dispositive.

The illogic of the scenario would make it a perfect time to perpetrate an attack, because it wouldn’t be believed.  Furthermore, child abusers and sexual misbehavior is not logical.  And again, his behavior up to this point was clearly grooming for molestation, he’d already embarked on his career long before the incident in the attic.

Notwithstanding, Mia insisted that I had abused Dylan and took her immediately to a doctor to be examined.

Dylan insisted she had been abused and the other people in the house at the time corroborated the story.  Mia, a concerned mother, took her daughter to a doctor to see if she was OK, not to the police to press charges.

Dylan told the doctor she had not been molested.  Mia then took Dylan out for ice cream, and when she came back with her the child had changed her story.

Dylan was uncomfortable telling a stranger about her “privates,” so the doctor asked them to come back another day, so she could become more comfortable with it.

The police began their investigation; a possible indictment hung in the balance. I very willingly took a lie-detector test and of course passed because I had nothing to hide. I asked Mia to take one and she wouldn’t.

The police asked Allen to take a polygraph and he refused — he took it for his own attorneys.  The Connecticut State Police refused to accept it as evidence.  Likewise, Mia Farrow was not asked by police to take a polygraph, only by Allen for his attorneys.  Of course she refused to take a test administered by people working for him.  Furthermore, polygraphs are notoriously unreliable.

Last week a woman named Stacey Nelkin, whom I had dated many years ago, came forward to the press to tell them that when Mia and I first had our custody battle 21 years ago, Mia had wanted her to testify that she had been underage when I was dating her, despite the fact this was untrue. Stacey refused. I include this anecdote so we all know what kind of character we are dealing with here. One can imagine in learning this why she wouldn’t take a lie-detector test.

Stacey Nelkin was a 17-year-old high school student and Woody Allen was decades older than her when they dated.  That is fairly disturbing as part of his pattern (his first wife was 16 when they married), I can understand why Mia wanted her to testify.  And again, the lie-detector test she refused to test was one that would be administered by Woody Allen’s defense team, not by the police.  So is Mia Farrow a crazy bitch, or just seeing a pattern of behavior from Allen and trying to get someone to testify to that effect and refusing to help Allen’s defense team?

Meanwhile the Connecticut police turned for help to a special investigative unit they relied on in such cases, the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. This group of impartial, experienced men and women whom the district attorney looked to for guidance as to whether to prosecute, spent months doing a meticulous investigation, interviewing everyone concerned, and checking every piece of evidence. Finally they wrote their conclusion which I quote here: “It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements on videotape and her statements to us during our evaluation do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4th, 1992… In developing our opinion we considered three hypotheses to explain Dylan’s statements. First, that Dylan’s statements were true and that Mr. Allen had sexually abused her; second, that Dylan’s statements were not true but were made up by an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family; and third, that Dylan was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow. While we can conclude that Dylan was not sexually abused, we can not be definite about whether the second formulation by itself or the third formulation by itself is true. We believe that it is more likely that a combination of these two formulations best explains Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse.”

Could it be any clearer? Mr. Allen did not abuse Dylan; most likely a vulnerable, stressed-out 7-year-old was coached by Mia Farrow. This conclusion disappointed a number of people. The district attorney was champing at the bit to prosecute a celebrity case, and Justice Elliott Wilk, the custody judge, wrote a very irresponsible opinion saying when it came to the molestation, “we will probably never know what occurred.”

But we did know because it had been determined and there was no equivocation about the fact that no abuse had taken place.

The investigators did a job that was so terrible that current child abuse experts decry it as a terrible injustice to Dylan and the custody judge dismissed it as not credible because they’d destroyed their notes and refused to testify.  That Allen’s only source is something that even the doctor of the report now agrees was a bad job says a lot about the quality of his argument.

Justice Wilk was quite rough on me and never approved of my relationship with Soon-Yi, Mia’s adopted daughter, who was then in her early 20s.

I hate, hate, hate the way that people interpret “adopted” as “not her real.” Soon-Yi is Mia’s daughter.  Soon-Yi is the sister of Allen’s children.  And it’s extremely weaselly to define her as in her early 20s, when she was 19 when the affair started.  Justice Wilk was justifiably squicked out by the fact that the man who had been Mia’s consort for 12 years and gone on family vacations for months at a time targeted an isolated girl nearly 40 years younger than him.  Let me quote from the opinion:

Mr. Allen’s deficiencies as a custodial parent are magnified by his affair with Soon-Yi.  As Ms. Farrow’s companion, he was a frequent visitor at Soon-Yi’s home.  He accompanied the Farrow-Previns on extended family vacations and he is the father of Soon-Yi’s siblings, moses, Dylan and Satchel.  The fact that Mr. Allen ignored Soon-Yi for ten years cannot change the nature of the family constellation and does not create a distance sufficient to convert their affair into a benign relationship between two consenting adults.

Mr. Allen admits that he never considered the consequences of his behavior with Soon-Yi.  Dr. Coates and Dr. Brodzinsky testified that Mr. Allen still fails to understand that what he did was wrong.  Having isolated Soon-Yi from her family, he left her with no visible support system.  He had no consideration for the consequences to her, to Ms. Farrow, to the Previn children for whom he cared little, or to his own children for whom he professes love.

Mr. Allen’s response to Dylan’s claim of sexual abuse was an attack upon Ms. Farrow, whose parenting ability and emotional stability he impugned without the support of any significant credible evidence.  His trial strategy has been to separate his children from their brothers and sisters; to turn the children against their mother; to divide adopted children from biological children; to incite the family against their household help; and to set household employees against each other.  His self-absorption, his lack of judgment, and his commitment to the continuation of his divisive assault, thereby impeding the healing of the injuries he has already caused, warrant a careful monitoring of his future contact with the children.

To which Allen says:

He thought of me as an older man exploiting a much younger woman, which outraged Mia as improper despite the fact she had dated a much older Frank Sinatra when she was 19.

Either Allen has terrible reading comprehension skills or still doesn’t understand why people are bothered by his relationship with the sister of his children.  Justice Wilk is not bothered by the fact that Allen was older than Soon-Yi, he is bothered by the fact that Allen seems to think it’s appropriate for a girl to grow up with a man who is her mother’s long term partner and the father of her siblings and for that girl to then be predated on by this adult father-figure while he is still in a relationship with her mother.  That Allen cannot grasp why people are horrified by this speaks to a disrespect for his children, a disrespect for adoption, and an extreme disrespect for cultural norms around behavior around those he was meant to protect, not to exploit.

Furthermore, he is again making it about Mia Farrow’s behavior, which is completely irrelevant to his own.

In fairness to Justice Wilk, the public felt the same dismay over Soon-Yi and myself, but despite what it looked like our feelings were authentic and we’ve been happily married for 16 years with two great kids, both adopted. (Incidentally, coming on the heels of the media circus and false accusations, Soon-Yi and I were extra carefully scrutinized by both the adoption agency and adoption courts, and everyone blessed our adoptions.)

Because there weren’t charges, of course he was allowed to adopt.  That’s an irrelevant piece of data.  Again, it is clear that he doesn’t understand the origin of the dismay.

Mia took custody of the children and we went our separate ways.

No.  Incorrect.  Mia had uninterrupted custody of the children and did not lose it to Allen’s spurious lawsuit.  Mia kept custody of the children.  And she did so because of a lengthy trial and opinion offered by a judge.  Allen was forced to pay Mia’s legal fees, over $1 million, because all of his suits were ridiculous. Again, he is trying to imply that Mia was doing something vindictive.

I was heartbroken. Moses was angry with me. Ronan I didn’t know well because Mia would never let me get close to him from the moment he was born and Dylan, whom I adored and was very close to and about whom Mia called my sister in a rage and said, “He took my daughter, now I’ll take his.” I never saw her again nor was I able to speak with her no matter how hard I tried. I still loved her deeply, and felt guilty that by falling in love with Soon-Yi I had put her in the position of being used as a pawn for revenge.

The custody suit reveals that Allen admitted to having no interest in the children or their lives, despite encouragement from Mia.  Again he is trying to make this about how Mia was upset that Allen, father of her children, was cheating on her with her daughter.  As though that response is irrational or necessitates Mia being vindictive rather than just extremely upset at grotesque behavior taking advantage of her child.

Soon-Yi and I made countless attempts to see Dylan but Mia blocked them all, spitefully knowing how much we both loved her but totally indifferent to the pain and damage she was causing the little girl merely to appease her own vindictiveness.

He and Soon-Yi shouldn’t have been making attempts to see Dylan, who was trying to recover from abuse, or at the very least, believing she was abused.  That he was so persistent in trying to see her rather than allowing her to heal is extremely disturbing.  The pain and damage was being caused by his inability to leave her alone.  Again, he is making it all about Mia.  As though he is not responsible for causing this by beginning an affair with his daughter’s sister.

Here I quote Moses Farrow, 14 at the time: “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister.” Moses is now 36 years old and a family therapist by profession. “Of course Woody did not molest my sister,” he said. “She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him.” Dylan was 7, Ronan 4, and this was, according to Moses, the steady narrative year after year.

Moses offers the most credible witness here, and I see no reason to doubt his observations.  He could theoretically have ulterior motives, but there’s no reason to assume that.  The judge didn’t see things this way, nor do the other children.  That said, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be a teenager in a house where your father has run off with one sister, and another sister is claiming to have been sexually assaulted, and the mother is extremely upset by both of these.

This also presents the absurd idea that those who are sexually abused do not love their abusers.  That’s one of the most difficult parts of incest, in Dylan’s own words, she just thought it was a thing that fathers did with their daughters.  In fact, abusers often use this exact language to justify what they’ve done.  She might have only been 7, but she clearly enjoyed it and wanted to spend time with me, therefore my behavior wasn’t inappropriate.

And now we get to the only part of the piece that made me absolutely furious.

I pause here for a quick word on the Ronan situation. Is he my son or, as Mia suggests, Frank Sinatra’s? Granted, he looks a lot like Frank with the blue eyes and facial features, but if so what does this say? That all during the custody hearing Mia lied under oath and falsely represented Ronan as our son? Even if he is not Frank’s, the possibility she raises that he could be, indicates she was secretly intimate with him during our years. Not to mention all the money I paid for child support. Was I supporting Frank’s son? Again, I want to call attention to the integrity and honesty of a person who conducts her life like that.

This is completely inappropriate and reveals the depths to which Allen doesn’t understand fatherhood, biological and no-biological children, how family works, how to treat children, or basic human decency extended to children.  It doesn’t matter whose sperm created Ronan, Allen is Ronan’s father.  He raised him as his son.  That bond shouldn’t be made irrelevant because of biology — but as we know, he thinks biology makes it OK for him to sleep with his girlfriend’s child.

This is just a further attempt to discredit Mia, but now he’s throwing away his own son in doing so.  And unlike his discussion of Dylan, there’s no indication that he cares at all about Ronan or is sad that his son believes the accusation.  What is wrong with Allen that Ronan’s parentage would allow him to treat him as irrelevant and unimportant except insofar as he might be evidence that Mia is unreliable.  Would Allen really have removed child support for the child he and Mia decided to have together and he raised just because of Mia’s behavior?  Talk about punishing the wrong party.  WHO CARES IF YOU WERE SUPPORTING FRANK’S SON, HE’S YOUR SON TOO.  How immature, petty, and selfish is this man?

I can’t even begin to express how upsetting I find this.  How about the integrity and honesty and decency of Woody Allen?  How about treating your children as more than pawns in your game of destroying Mia?

NOW it’s 21 years later and Dylan has come forward with the accusations that the Yale experts investigated and found false. Plus a few little added creative flourishes that seem to have magically appeared during our 21-year estrangement.

“Creative flourishes” “magically appeared,” way to call her a liar — which he’ll follow up with removing any kind of self-determination from Dylan by saying she believes her own lies.  Is she confused or creative?  Her story hasn’t actually changed in 21 years.

Not that I doubt Dylan hasn’t come to believe she’s been molested, but if from the age of 7 a vulnerable child is taught by a strong mother to hate her father because he is a monster who abused her, is it so inconceivable that after many years of this indoctrination the image of me Mia wanted to establish had taken root? Is it any wonder the experts at Yale had picked up the maternal coaching aspect 21 years ago?

The complaints of improper behavior began when Dylan was a toddler, so she wasn’t taught this from the age of 7, it started well before that.  Again, it’s all Mia’s fault, Dylan, the young woman who is far older than Soon-Yi was when he decided she was adult enough to be his lover, is apparently not capable of knowing her own mind.  When Dylan speaks of what happened to her, she doesn’t use the language of monstrosity, she talks of a relationship with her father that she thought was normal.

Even the venue where the fabricated molestation was supposed to have taken place was poorly chosen but interesting. Mia chose the attic of her country house, a place she should have realized I’d never go to because it is a tiny, cramped, enclosed spot where one can hardly stand up and I’m a major claustrophobe. The one or two times she asked me to come in there to look at something, I did, but quickly had to run out. Undoubtedly the attic idea came to her from the Dory Previn song, “With My Daddy in the Attic.” It was on the same record as the song Dory Previn had written about Mia’s betraying their friendship by insidiously stealing her husband, André, “Beware of Young Girls.”

Mia didn’t introduce the idea of the attic, Dylan did.  And Woody’s story around the attic changed as it became clear that the police had evidence that he’d been in it.  At first he denied having gone in it at all, and then they found hair, so he said he’d peaked in, and then they found fingerprints, and so he said he’d gone in and left quickly.  The rest of this is just more nonsense intended to discredit Mia for her personal relationships and to cast doubt on her fitness as a mother and human being.

One must ask, did Dylan even write the letter or was it at least guided by her mother? Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother’s shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear. There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.

Seriously, Allen thinks an independent woman in her late 20s, who has moved on with her life, is passing off her mother’s writing as her own?  Why?  Is this meant to make us think that Allen is incredible paranoid?  How committed is he to the idea that, if he says it enough, people will agree that this is not about Dylan, it’s about Mia Farrow?  To deny her bodily autonomy in her childhood is terrible, to go on denying her autonomy in thought and action as an adult continues to be terrible.

And what shabby agenda is it that he thinks is being undertaken.  It is a woman asking for people to care about what happened to her and believe her.  She didn’t call for a boycott.  There may have been “palpable bitchery,” as Stephen King so nauseatingly described it, but that’s anger, not a demand for a specific behavior against Allen.  As agendas go, it definitely appears to be an agenda of, “Please believe me.”  Hardly spiteful.

After all, if speaking out was really a necessity for Dylan, she had already spoken out months earlier in Vanity Fair.

Allen’s spoken out about this before, how does speaking out on something once make it nonsensical to speak out at further length in the future.  This is just ridiculousness on his part.

Here I quote Moses Farrow again: “Knowing that my mother often used us as pawns, I cannot trust anything that is said or written from anyone in the family.” Finally, does Mia herself really even believe I molested her daughter? Common sense must ask: Would a mother who thought her 7-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a molester (a pretty horrific crime), give consent for a film clip of her to be used to honor the molester at the Golden Globes?

Alright, so she’s a spiteful, vindictive, crazy bitch, but she’s clearly not so vindictive that she’ll refuse to allow clips to be used by others in projects related to Allen, so therefore she is lying.  Got it.  Why wouldn’t she give consent for it to be used?  I don’t even begin to understand this logic?  And what does it have to do with anything?  Why is this about Mia, again?

Of course, I did not molest Dylan.

Finally, he actually denies the accusation.  I believe it’s perfectly possible that Allen believes this to be true, even if he did what Dylan accused him of.  He is clearly incapable of taking responsibility for any of his bad behavior or feeling bad about questionable sexual behavior.

I loved her…

Interesting use of the past tense.

…and hope one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of having a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter’s well-being.

Way to make it about Mia again.  What an awesome dad you are, to not say anything about your daughter before twisting it to be about her mom.  Who is the vindictive one?  The person who cheated Dylan out of a loving father was Allen, the minute he decided to fuck her teenage sister.  Is Allen pathologically unable to accept responsibility for his behavior?

Being taught to hate your father and made to believe he molested you has already taken a psychological toll on this lovely young woman, and Soon-Yi and I are both hoping that one day she will understand who has really made her a victim and reconnect with us, as Moses has, in a loving, productive way.

It is incredibly unhealthy for him to demand that anyone in the family accept his and Soon-Yi relationship.  He violated the family trust in doing so.  Some people will be able to move on from it, but he is the one who betrayed the family and caused the psychological damage.  The fact that he will not own it is reprehensible.

No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing. (This piece will be my final word on this entire matter and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party. Enough people have been hurt.)

This entire defense is basically “scorned bitches be crazy.”  If he didn’t do it, why isn’t he more vehemently addressing the charges himself?  Why isn’t he talking about how such behavior is morally repugnant to him?  Why is he blaming everything on Mia Farrow, when his own behavior was so very clearly inappropriate, even without taking into account the attic accusation?  Why isn’t he admitting to the possibility that, knowing his on the record history of inappropriate behavior with Dylan, that she misinterpreted something or came up with the story on her own when exposed to the idea that he was being sexually intimate with her big sister — why does it have to be Mia’s fault?

Because Allen’s entire strategy in light of the accusation has been to try to pain Mia as a terrible person.  It’s an incredibly effective tactic.  By starting a custody battle the minute he was accused, he managed to create enough doubt around the accusations that much of the public just sees it as he-said, she-said, fight for the kids, despite his known behavior.  The tragedy is that he will not make it about Dylan and her happiness and her needs, but only about his own selfish needs.  To him, this is about hurting Mia Farrow, protecting himself, and hurting his own children to accomplish that — not about helping his daughter.

Where’s his public letter reaching out to his children?  Where’s his apology for destroying their family?  None of that exists, because nothing is important to Woody Allen except Woody Allen.

Why neutral is not the logical position on Dylan Farrow’s allegations

dylan farrow and woody allenI have actually lost a lot of Facebook friends over the Woody Allen molestation story, because I side very firmly with Dylan.  I recently shared an article about how what you believe is based on your personal experiences – people who have been mistreated by those in power, especially sexually, tend to believe Dylan; people who have been in power and fear false accusations, tend to believe Woody or claim neutrality.

Michael Hawkins offered this dismissive response to the article:

I stopped reading after the article repeated the same illogic as your last one: Saying we don’t know what happened is not also saying Farrow is lying.  It’s saying we don’t know.  That’s it.  Claiming otherwise is the same as dismissing the importance of evidence, a dismissal of the scientific view of the world.  We don’t know if her claims are true.  We don’t know if Allen’s denials are true.  That’s it.

The question is not whether we know what happened – we cannot know what happened — it’s whether we believe the claims of the victim.  We spend a great deal of time believing things that we don’t know – even in science, we operate off of assumptions and tentative conclusions about the world to be able to test claims.  Oftentimes, “knowledge” just means the claim with the best evidence.  Demands of necessary neutrality in response to a claim of sexual abuse is hyperskepticism, not scientific skepticism.

Michael makes the claim that neutrality is the only logical position.  That would only be correct if we lived in a void, where the rest of the world didn’t exist around the claims being made.  In the same way, legal language is inappropriate when discussing how people who are not judge or jury are forming opinions.  The standard for conviction is necessarily far stricter than the standard for forming rational opinions.  Let us look at the world beyond the “he said, she said.”

Woody Allen has a history of not respecting sexual boundaries and taking advantage of massive power imbalances between himself and his sexual partners – his history with his son’s sister, the child of the mother of his children, is enough to show a complete contempt for appropriate age relationships and the incest taboo.  He also has made jokes about how he has no sexual boundaries and no one would be surprised to find him in bed with several 12-year-olds.

Dylan Farrow, on the other hand, has nothing to gain from sharing this information except the chance of being believed, something that is part of the healing process for abuse victims.  Importantly, belief is all she’s asking for – not remuneration, not penalties for Woody Allen, just that people believe her.  Believing her costs Woody Allen nothing, while not believing re-victimizes her.

There are witnesses on who’ve come forward on both sides.  Those who have eye-witness testimony of inappropriate behavior from Allen to Dylan, and those who claim that Woody would never do something like that and there wasn’t sufficient opportunity.  Eye-witness testimony is imperfect, but it’s significant that there are people besides Dylan who corroborate the story.  There was also an investigation, which was inconclusive.  They were willing to prosecute Allen, but declined because they didn’t want to put Dylan through it.  This speaks to an inability to rule out that it happened, if not evidence that it did.

But even if you think that those who witnessed things and felt the case was tryable should be held in equal weight to those who deny the possibility of abuse and felt Dylan was not being honest, neutrality is still not the appropriate position.  Statistically, false accusations of sexual abuse by children are very rare.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – a rape is not extraordinary, a false accusation is.  Dylan Farrow is making a claim that should only be doubted if there is good evidence that she is lying.  No such evidence exists.  Neutrality is denying the reality of how common abuse is in the world in which we live and how rare false accusations are. The default position, outside of a legal context, is believing the victim.

Furthermore, claiming neutrality is a betrayal of the victim, even if you’re not calling her a liar.  Not believing her, even if you don’t think she’s necessarily lying, is hurting her and not hurting Allen.  From a cost/benefit analysis, extending the benefit of the doubt to Dylan is the most logical conclusion, as it offers the most benefit with the least cost.

I’ve found the response to Dylan’s letter revelatory.  There are many people in the world who value skepticism over humanism; being not wrong over being probably right; being neutral over being kind.  Kind not just to Dylan, but to the many survivors of abuse who are finding it hard to see the cruel treatment of a woman who is bravely coming forward with what happened to her, something many other survivors wish they had the ability to do.  Demanding neutrality from others, many of whom may be survivors of experiences they’ve not shared with you, is neither logical nor kind.

My flannel-clad boyfriend responds to 23 fashion trends men hate

PiplipPresented for your Friday entertainment.

Dustin was surfing around on Facebook and saw this video Top 8 Beauty Trends Men Hate! and asked me why he was seeing it everywhere.  I then had to explain to him this horrifically sexist Huffington Post article that had been getting a lot of flak.  I decided to record this man’s response to the things he supposedly hates.  He, by the way, is not OK with Huffington Post speaking for his taste.

You shouldn’t in any way care what any guy’s taste in clothing is, obviously, this is more a hilarious demonstration of how the article tries to paint men as terrible, fashion-savvy assholes.

EDIT: Some have found this difficult to navigate, so, once the list starts, the article is in block quotes, he’s normal text, I’m italic.

 

1. Peplums:

Like the Pokemon?

AFM: … ?

Oh no, that’s Piplup.  Yeah, I don’t know what that is

AFM: Remember the dress that Jaci was wearing at the party?

No, I don’t.  Let me stop you at “remember that dress,” I never will.  Wait the party where we first met her?

AFM: No, the one on Tuesday

Ohhhh.  No I don’t remember three days ago either.

 

2. Beanies:

I hate how girls wear those knit hats on the top of their heads

Where the fuck else are they going to wear them? That’s what hats are for!

 

3. Wedge Sneakers:

“I hate Isabel Marant sneakers…”

Who the fuck is Isabel Marant?

 

4. Floppy Hats:

“There’s this look I would call ‘the bourgeoise bohemian’”

hahaha wtf I don’t even know what those mean

 

5. Open-side shirts:

I like sides. I like bras. I don’t see what we’re complaining about.

 

6. Bright lipstick:

“because gross you’re going to get that on me.”

PLEASE GET THAT ON ME. … Is that Amy Pond?

 

7. Heavy Eye Makeup:

I literally have not noticed

 

8. Bandeau Bikinis:

unh. Why is less clothing bad?

 

9. Pointy Shoes:

I… pointy shoes are the norm aren’t they?

 

10. “Fake” nails

 

11. High waisted jeans:

“High-waisted mom jeans, especially the blotchy light and dark ones (acid wash?).”

What does acid wash mean? It’s not what I’d wear, but I also don’t want moose knuckle.  I mean fuck, whatever.

 

12. High waisted shorts:

“High-waisted shorts that basically reveal butt cheek. Too much.”
“Shorts so short that the pockets are visible. Why?”
“The return of our moms’ high-waisted shorts is the most unattractive recycled trend going on nowadays.”

I’m entirely OK with butt cheeks, one.  Two, the pockets are fake anyway, there’s a legitimate criticism.  Everyone knows that girl pockets aren’t so deep as to be useful.  I don’t remember mom wearing these, and if she did, again… I don’t remember.

13. High waisted skirts:

“I think the high-waisted skirt thing should probably be over. It’s one of those things where you’re trying too hard, it lacks a certain degree of subtlety.”

Nnnkay

 

14. Fold over ankle boots:

I honestly am not convinced that I’ve ever seen those in my life.  The editors may have invented them.

 

15. Ultra-high heels:

“Guys won’t be looking at your shapely physique if your ankles keep buckling and you walk like a toddler with a diaper full of poop and/or a drunk giraffe.”

Anti-catcalling strategy right there.  If you don’t want a guy to notice if you’re attractive, unattractive, or even exist, wear those and they’ll just say there’s a drunk giraffe.  But not really because I don’t think anyone is going to notice your shoes?  Or maybe they will?  I don’t know, I don’t shoes.

 

16. Pantsuits:

“Men’s business suits…you’re a woman, not a man.”

FUCK YOU I like it when women wear traditionally male clothing or whatever.

 

17. Drop crotch pants:

I don’t know what those are.  They do, however, look odd I guess.

 

18. Hair bows:

They’re hairbows what is the…  I don’t… what’s the problem?

 

19. Bangles:

“A gigantic number of bangles, which just gets super annoying when they’re clanging around all the time.

I’ve literally never heard a bangle.  I have no idea what bangles sound like.

 

20. Oversized sweaters:

Looks warm

 

21. Mullet dresses:

“where’s the fucking party??? You are covering the back!”

Yeah, yeah, this.  We WERE JUST COMPLAINING in number 12 that we could see butt cheeks and that seeing butt cheeks is a bad thing.  NOW WE’RE COMPLAINING THAT WE CAN’T SEE BUTT CHEEKS!?  But, I actually know what these are, I remember seeing them.  So that’s exciting.

 

22. Leggings:

“Once in a while is fine, but as a standard pant option, it’s boring and predictable. Florals spice it up a bit but they’re also a little gimmicky.”

I don’t know what a gimmick is with regard to leg covering choices. Also, again, why are we complaining about getting to see butts and legs?

 

23. Shoulder Pads:

I don’t think I’ve ever noticed anybody in shoulder pads since the 80s

I get legal threats: Cinematic Appraisals UPDATED

So I got this e-mail accusing me of slander and informing me that attorneys will be in touch regarding damages from an old post about a service called “Cinematic Appraisals.”  The writer does seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the fact that every time they e-mail me, there’s something new for the front page of Google.  In different places, this particular message seems to be trying to legally threaten me, trying to shame me, and trying to make me feel sorry for her.

The e-mail mentions a Facebook *page* with which I am unfamiliar, but I have written about their website twice — once before FtB (on SheThought, WordPress, and now hosted here) and once last spring.  The second does a very thorough job highlighting all of the things claimed without evidence on the scientific part of their website:
http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2010/11/04/cinematic-appraisals-scam-or-science/
http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/04/22/i-get-e-mail-cinematic-appraisals-mind-science-or-pseudoscience/

Now the letter — it is pasted as is, typos hers.  I’ve offered some notes.

Dear Ms. Miller,
I am shocked that you have maintained your campaign against my company even after I communicated the facts you misstated.¹ From this point forward our attorney will be the only contact because we feel it is important that people who seek to have a public voice are also accountable for their actions. I appreciate the rights our great country affords its citizens and, like most people, work hard to keep my rights from infringing on the rights of others. Thankfully, our courts have defined where your rights end and mine begin. I cannot imagine why anyone who wishes to have a public voice would so recklessly damage the business of another, especially without provocation.

In your November 4th, 2010 post, you identify yourself as a writer who spends, “a lot of time looking out for scams trying to take advantage of me” and identifies my company as fraudulently “bilking people out of their money”, even though the Home page of our website clearly defines that we do not work with writers and that we do not offer screenplay coverage.²  We have not solicited your work and you have never been a customer. However, you have gone as far as to misleadingly solicit ScriptSavvy and Carson Reeves as alternative legitimate businesses for your readers to use as though they performed the same service as our company.

You are certainly aware of your errors and the damages of your slanderous comments.³ I contacted you personally as soon as your initial post surfaced in the Google search results requesting that you re-visit our website for the facts, however you continued your campaign of slanderous advertising by creating a Facebook page labeling our company a “scam”.  Facebeook removed the page over liability concerns, yet your posting continued.  I contacted you again on April 21, 2013 indicating that we had been financially harmed by your posts and clarifying again that we are an emotional response testing company, not screenplay coverage.

Your misleading comments have financially harmed our business, slandered our business name and disparaged our products, and we will seek to recover the damage you have caused. I hope you can put yourself in my shoes and understand how you would react to someone that slandered your name or a business you worked hard to create.

Sincerely,
Christine Reynolds
christine@cinematicappraisals.com

1. By maintaining a campaign, she seems to mean not having deleted the initial post.  On her part, no facts have been offered, no questions answered, no sources or science presented.

2. “After the initial page-by-page study is complete and individual score determined, the screenplay is then studied and examined by separate evaluators for its story structure and connection strength, yielding the second analysis based on content.” I’m sure there’s some other word for this than screenplay coverage, but for some reason it’s just not coming to me.

3. I’ve yet to be offered any information suggesting my analysis was in error, despite having asked for it.

4. She technically contacted my editor with this message: “11/17/10 8:23pm  We strongly suggest you review the complete information on our website prior to making slanderous comments, as our evaluations are completely separate from script coverage and script doctoring services. Our evaluations measure the bioneurological activity of the tester. We are available to answer any questions you may have.”  My editor responded by saying she was free to say what was wrong with the post and to offer any fact corrections.  We also both asked her for any scientific evidence for the claims on her site.  There was no response.  Also, “bioneurological” is a silly, meaningless word.

5. Facts were not and are not available on the website, which is the entirety of the complaint.  Seriously, nearly every sentence makes a claim that should have a citation.

6. I legitimately have no idea what she’s talking about here.  The only thing on Facebook I can find is me sharing my post about it last spring, which is obviously still up: https://www.facebook.com/mgafm/posts/10100289115192657  Possibly there was some actual page created?  I am unsure.

UPDATE:

I got a second e-mail from the same address, this one far more aggressive.

You obviously have not consulted an attorney, you will need to do so. When you do, they will tell you that you have no defense.

Your opinion is not based on experience or knowledge, the only opinion you have shared has been a fabrication because we have never conducted ourselves fraudulently with you or anyone else and do not even offer the services you purport are a “scam”.

Professional legal counsel will advise you on the difference between expressing yourself and infringing on the rights of others through slander, product disparagement, and tortious interference. Your postings are such an obvious example of a violation of the statutes that an attorney actually contacted us.

We have the ability to change our name or simply bury your online fabrications, while recovering our lost income and marketing expenses from you for the period beginning when your slanderous campaign originated in November 2010 through the end of 2013. Thankfully, you cannot change who you are and when I worked at an educational institution, part of my job was performing background checks on any potential speakers to ensure a solid reputation and to avoid people such as yourself that recklessly slander others which could damage the institution’s reputation.

Regardless of the outcome of this slander complaint, I will keep it renewed to forewarn others. Additionally if this lawsuit, whose judgement I will personally keep renewed until every cent I am awarded has been repaid, protects the world from another aggressive blogger with nothing relevant to say, the stress of the court filings will have been worth it because I will have made the world a better place.

Safe Spaces, Free Speech, and the Internet: On Your Right Not To Be Triggered

triggerwarningI should start this probably by saying that I am a big supporter of free speech (the Constitutional concept) and also a fan of the trigger warning, when used by people who are trying to create a safe space.  Trigger Warnings are actually a great way to enhance free speech and allow yourself space not to self-censor certain topics, while also making it easy for those who are bothered by the subject to avoid it.  That said, that doesn’t mean that every space gets absolute free speech nor does it mean that every trigger gets a warning.

I am, personally, not a big user of the Trigger Warning in my own work.  Not because I think people shouldn’t use it if they’d like, but because I rarely talk about subjects that traditionally require them, I find them bulkier than tags, and don’t really think they work for Facebook/Twitter, which is where I do most of my textual interaction.  They are, to my mind, most useful when linking to something else that someone might not want to click on because it is graphic, like a NSFW warning.  I generally don’t have a problem with the idea that people are, at times, disturbed by my content.  Many are disturbed by my atheist content, some by my language, I don’t feel the need to warn people that I am going to talk about religion disparagingly and with bad words.

This post was inspired by two separate events that happened in the last couple weeks on Facebook.  The first was a post that someone made in response to MRAs trying to hurt rape victims in which the poster said in anger that they wanted to hurt the MRAs for doing that and, in the comments below, said that some people need killin’.  Some people then got angry at him for talking about violence in hyperbolic fashion about people he doesn’t know without self-censoring, because any reference to death made people “uncomfortable” and suicidal people could be triggered by it and immoderate words could lead to immoderate actions.  (It was unclear if anyone was being triggered themselves, or just concerned that it was possible; since distancing language is common when trauma is involved, I don’t make any conclusions.)  The argument escalated to basically an insistence that, to be a good person, one should be willing to self-censor anything that might be triggering.  Not to simply warn that there was content, but to completely bar yourself from speaking on the topic in shared spaces, like Facebook.

Now, to me, my Facebook page is not a safe space for other people; it’s a space where I talk without self-censorship to my friends and followers and they can tune in or shut me off, either is fine with me.  No one is obligated to listen.  It is my space to rant and complain and cope with horrible things and share exciting things and get angry at things that are terrible and happy about things that are adorable.  That doesn’t mean that what I say there is beyond criticism in comments, but I am not going to NOT talk about something because someone finds it triggering, in the same way that I don’t always avoid spoilers.  Facebook is therapeutic for me; it is how I process anxieties and questions and my own struggles with mental illness and trauma of many kinds.  There are some things that are for my gratification, and it took me a very long time to understand that that’s OK, I get to do things for myself sometimes.  I balk at the idea that who I am, the experiences of being me, require a content warning every time I open my mouth to talk about surviving them.

On top of that, I’m not going to try to stay on top of every possible thing that could trigger someone that follows me, because it’s just not possible.   I do not advertise any of the spaces in which I write to be universal safe spaces, because they aren’t.  Which leads me to the second incident.

I am a member of a Facebook group that claims to be a “Safe Space” and has a very long list of Content Warnings that anything to do with the subjects in question has to be hidden behind many returns so that people can avoid the content if they’d like.  One of the things on that list is the word “trigger,” which is apparently a trigger for people; hence, CW rather than TW.  Another thing on that list is People in Drag — there are to be no pictures of people in drag in this forum.

This made me very angry.  I expressed this anger in a constructive form, simply saying that I thought it was inappropriate for drag to be on the list, because it was creating an unsafe space for other individuals for whom drag was a part of their identity.  Would it be OK to put “black people” or “women” in your list of content warnings?  “Sorry, any pictures of someone who is not a white heterosexual male must go behind a cut.”

The person who’d asked for the warning to be added responded, saying that they were traumatized by the sight of people in drag and the moderators defended it saying that there doesn’t have to be a reason for a trigger, it just is one.  Except this person wasn’t *triggered* into having PTSD symptoms and flashbacks, they were just grossed out by it.

The result is that, in this community, because the list of triggers is so long, everyone just hides every post and tries to come up with a CW for them, often in vague useless ways or ways that are far more disturbing than the sentence long update.

This is, of course, this particular group’s right, and they can create a safe space for whomever they want, whether it includes me or not.  And it is my right to feel mildly horrified that people are equating seeing a picture of a drag queen and being grossed out with people seeing graphic depictions of rape and having flashbacks to their own trauma.

I want to be very clear here, being upset at something is not the same as being triggered by it.  I am deeply upset by many gruesome images and I dislike seeing them, but they don’t trigger me.  Almost all of my triggers are really mundane, and they happen inconsistently and without warning — I can’t ask the number 864 to suddenly stop existing, right?  I don’t have an expectation that people generally avoid anything that might trigger me, I just have strategies with coping with what it’s like to have a brain that isn’t always my friend.

In much the same way that you don’t have a right not to be offended, you don’t have a right not to be triggered.  You have a right to feel your feelings and express those feelings.  You even have a right to ask for certain spaces to be different.  But I also think it is unfair to expect friends to self-censor every public thought for your benefit and that it is insulting to equate being grossed out or upset by something to being triggered by it.  I get to ask for consideration of my needs, but I also have to accept that other people have needs as well and, sometimes, they are in conflict — and while my need to not have flashbacks does seem, on the face of it, like a greater need than someone else’s need to vent, it’s not really my place to decide that for them.  I get to decide what spaces I expose myself to and how to respond if someone else can’t make a safe space for me, but someone needing to talk about things that might trigger someone else doesn’t make them a bad person.

10 Things I’d like to do in 2014

pusheenresolutionsI never make resolutions, I tend to think of them as lies we tell ourselves through the month of January.  But I do have some goals for 2014.

1. Make people call me Doctor.  I am still in the proposal process of my dissertation, but since my advisor is leaving in May, I really need to get everything done by then.  I also just want to be finished.  Honey Boo Boo and me gonna spend some quality time these next four months.
hbb
2. Take advantage of having decent insurance.  I have had pretty awful school insurance for the last several years and, while the insurance I now have is not super fancy, it is enough that I can go see someone about my growing list of things that need attention.

3. Watch all the rest of John and Hank Green’s videos and read all John’s books.  I’ve watched both series of Crash Course history, all of vlogbrothers, Mental Floss, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and maybe 1/4 of hankgames, which leaves Crash Course sciences and literature, Sci Show, Emma Approved, and the rest of hankgames. The books are: Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson will grayson, The Fault in Our Stars (I’m halfway through this).

calvin-hobbes-resolutions4. Learn to cook some new things (I welcome recipes for picky eaters who hate to cook.)

5. Record more ukulele videos (I consider requests!) and blog at least once a week even if it’s just about my New Years resolutions

6. Finish writing my novel and novelize my screenplay.  I mean, what else am I going to do with my free time when I’m done dissertating?

7. Do something amazing for my 30th birthday (Cage diving with sharks? Tour Britain and see Cornwall, Wales, Scotland? Australia and New Zealand?? Hawaii?)

8. Be vulnerable, feel feelings, risk rejection, be OK with how I feel rather than anxious about how other people respond to my feelings.

9. Figure out where I am going to live.

10. World Cup. Experience this one and figure out how to attend the Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015.

Happy Nerdy Christmas — Santa Baby, Geek Edition

Geeky santa
Slip a Catbug under the tree
For me
Been an awful big nerd
Geeky santa
And hurry down the chimney tonight

Nerdy santa
A chameleonless TARDIS too
Bright Blue
Hope it’s bigger inside
Nerdy santa
Hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the cons I’ve missed
Think of all the morons that I haven’t dissed
Next year I’ll be comprehensive
If you make my hobbies a bit less expensive

TV Santa
Explicitly gay Sherlock
It’s not a lot
Moffat’s teased us for years
TV santa
Hurry down the chimney tonight

Science santa
Fill my stockings with Bill Nye
and Ty-
son. For a dot we do fine.
Science santa
Hurry down the chimney tonight.

Come and deck my Festivus tree
With Companion Cubes bought from ThinkGeek
I really don’t believe in you
But free Amazon Prime might change my mind

Bechdel santa,
Equal representation too
From you
It just can’t be that hard
Bechdel santa
Hurry down the chimney tonight…

DFTBA tonight…
Live long and prosper, tonight.