Salon and Jezebel: Honey Boo Boo and 8 reasons you should be ashamed of yourselves

Honey Boo Boo is a child, not a monsterAs you know, I spend a lot of my time with Honey Boo Boo because of my dissertation, and people often say disparaging things about the show and the weight of the family and other things.  And for the most part, I keep my cool, but occasionally, I read something that makes me incredibly angry.  I am loath to even link to this article, because it is so unfortunate, but here it is: “Honey Boo Boo is a monster: What reality TV did to the pint-size pageant queen” and the Jezebel uncritical repost: “Honey Boo Boo Has Turned Into a ‘Visibly Troubled’ Monster Child.”  (UPDATE: Since this article was posted, Salon has changed the headline to remove the world “monster.” Small victory!)

I am not, in general, a defender of Reality Television.  I find it fascinating, yes, but not always ethical.  That said, blaming ills of the world on Reality Television is ignoring the fact that the world created it in the first place.  Reality Television might reflect societal problems, but it’s very rarely the cause of them.  Unsafe workplaces, brutal contracts, and terrible pay, sure, but they don’t create societal wide poor education, poverty, or violence.

So when I see articles posted that use the word “monster” to describe a real little kid, I find it upsetting.  When those articles purport to be doing it because they care about the girl and come from sources that I generally find reasonable and feminist minded, I become slightly apoplectic.  Here are 8 reasons that the article on Salon, and Jezebel using it for hits without saying anything critical about it, were terrible.

1. Calling a little kid a monster is severely uncool.  Doing it in the headline to get hits is exploitative and uncool.

2. Calling a little kid a “monster” for having a temper tantrum because she doesn’t really like doing interviews on TV and for not wanting to give away her property is blowing things well out of proportion.

3. “The quick wit we’ve come to expect from Honey Boo Boo…” Have you ever even watched the show? The quick wit is from Mama June, Alana is just weird in a charming and amusing way.  Just because she’s in some of your favorite gifs, doesn’t mean she’s quick-witted.

4. Fallon intervening and trying to discipline Alana wasn’t ” Finally someone is addressing this child’s attitude,” it was shaming her in front of a live studio audience and assuming her mother was incapable of doing her job as a parent. Not your role, Mr. Fallon, and not something to be commended, Salon writer.

5. Wishing she had the chance to develop her creativity without television is ignoring the reality that the money and exposure and opportunities she’s been given from this show has meant far more opportunity to develop her creativity.

6. You have no reason to think that being on Reality Television has caused this in her.  She has been remarkably little changed from her first appearance on Toddlers & Tiaras to the second season of her own show.  Newsflash: Little kids can be bratty sometimes, and editors know when it’s amusing or not.  Your own article points to the fact that this is being edited, where on earth are you getting evidence that it is television’s fault?

7. Don’t you think publicly calling a child a monster in Salon is exactly the wrong thing to do if this article expresses your real feelings about her fate?  Do you really think that publicly shaming a little girl makes it look like you care how she is treated — because you’re treating her badly.  You don’t get a pass on that.

8. Finally, finally: Christy O’Shoney, I don’t think you’re a very nice person or a person who cares very much about Alana Thompson’s future. And Jezebel, you’re just as bad for uncritically repeating this article because you wanted hits.

I realize my blog is just a tiny corner of the internet, but if you’re decent people who actually care about this little girl you will 1. Change the title of your articles 2. Release an apology for being cruel to a child 3. Think twice before calling a child names in order to get hits.  Frankly, your behavior is far worse than anything Alana Thompson did on the set of Jimmy Fallon’s show.

Introduction to “Redneckaissance: Honey Boo Boo, Tumblr, and the Stereotype of Poor White Trash”

As you may have noticed I have been somewhat absent from these parts of late, because I have been working on my dissertation proposal for my study of Honey Boo Boo and Tumblr.  I have finally finished the proposal and will defend it next week, at which point I will hopefully be cleared to write the second half, which is the actual independent research.  I thought I would share with you the opening of the dissertation.  As you may have guessed, working more than full time and writing a dissertation leaves little time for blogging, but I thought I’d take advantage of my week of breathing room and the fact that I have actually written something.  Enjoy.

Mama June on a waterslide honey boo boo

“Who knew television audiences would be completely enthralled with a Southern family acting out every stereotype of “redneck” on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo…” – Alison F. Slade[1]

My first realization that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo had become a complex discursive phenomenon came with the appearance of an image from the show in my social media feeds.  In this animated image, June Shannon, the overweight matriarch of the show, careens down a water slide in her bathing suit with joy on her face.  This image became popular on Tumblr, with hundreds of reblogs, and spread elsewhere online.[2]  Most of the previous discourse I had encountered around the show was negative and focused on how “trashy” the show was, but, in my social media feeds, people praised the show for fat acceptance of “real” bodies and embraced June’s joy.  There were still negative comments about the show but they were complicated by people claiming identity with her around one of the same signifiers, her weight, that was used to mock her and call her “white trash.”

This study seeks to explore how online content creators engage with television stereotypes online.  Specifically, this study seeks to understand the ways in which online content that is created using a reality television show as source material supports, undermines, and interacts with the tropes of the white trash stereotype.  It also seeks to discover how online content creators participate in the construction of meaning using the show.

In particular, this study will examine a selection of Tumblr posts about Here Comes Honey Boo Boo for the ways in which online content creators uphold, undermine, and “play with” white trash stereotypes. The goal is to gain insight into online content creators’ participation in television culture and its use of the white trash stereotype as well as into how they use Tumblr to communicate. This research uses discourse analysis to examine the Tumblr content created with, around, and about the show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

In seeking to explore this phenomenon, the study addresses the following research questions: How do Tumblr users use Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in discourse explicitly and implicity about race, class, gender, sexuality, and geography?  What are these discourses?  How do these discourses adopt, negotiate, or resist common U.S. stereotypes of “white trash” and “rednecks?” How does the online audience’s role as a secondary content creator change meaning and discourse around and about the show?  Honey Boo Boo represents a unique intersection of poor, white, fat, southern, LGBT-allied, and female-dominated social actors, positioning the show along the power axes respectively of class, race, weight, geography, sexuality, and gender.  This dissertation attempts to understand Tumblr discourse about the show through the framework of intersectional theory. Intersectional theory assumes that social categories of race, class, and gender are intertwined and together constitute identity and describe power relationships. How do these axes of power interact in online discourse?  The study is an attempt to understand the online content creator’s role in creating meaning around a show that relies heavily on negative stereotypes.

Although Here Comes Honey Boo Boo debuted only two years ago, it has already been the subject of scholarly interest.  As a popular reality television show dependent on stereotypes of rural Southerners, it has offered scholars rich ground to explore those stereotypes.  Bevie Tyo examined the redneck stereotype within the show, doing a cultural value analysis of the problematic representation of the main characters and noting that the show was constructed to use those stereotypes for entertainment.[3]  Similarly, Ariel Miller did a quantitative content analysis of the show, alongside Duck Dynasty and Buckwild, to explore the construction of Southern identity on reality television and the frequency with which the shows used stereotypes.[4]  Unsurprisingly, these studies showed heavy reliance on negative stereotypes about “rednecks” and “white trash.”

But scholarship on the show has not exclusively focused on the negatives.  Scholars like Geoffrey Parkes and May Friedman have pushed back against a simplistic understanding of the show as merely exploitative of Southern stereotypes, suggesting instead that it also serves as a site of resistance.[5]  The show includes radical acceptance of fat bodies, female empowerment, and queer individuals in addition to the stereotypes about rednecks.  The show also offers resistance to issues of class expectations and, in that way, serves, at least partially, as a site of resistance against the Southern stereotypes it uses.[6]

Closer to this study’s interest, Andre Cavalcante has done a discourse analysis of the Facebook fan page of the show.[7]  Reality television and social media have been intertwined over the past decade. For example, reality television is dependent on social media for generating interest and in voting on competition shows, and social media frequently focuses on television as a source of conversation topic.  Social media has allowed audiences to interact much more closely with television while reality television has encouraged a sense of intimacy for audiences. These two phenomena have led to the creation of fascinating sites of discourse around reality shows.[8]  The tension between the resistance that Parkes and Freidman note and the dependency on exploitative stereotypes that Tyo and Miller observe is revealed in the attitudes and language used by the commenters on the Facebook page.[9]  Audiences use “the Thompson family and their show as reasons to debate the ‘proper’ and moral parameters of self, family, society and nation.”[10]

This intersection between stereotypes, power structures, identity formation, mass media, social media, reality television, and queer intersectional feminism is exactly where I want to situate my research. These studies help problematize the idea of representation issues in television, especially the relationship between what is presented on screen as the reality of the people’s lives and “actual reality,” and add to the body of feminist and critical television studies.  Cavalcante even extends this research into online social media spaces, where there has been less analysis of stereotypes, by locating his discourse analysis in the medium of Facebook. This study wishes to add to that scholarship by focusing on an area of social media that has been under-studied—Tumblr and the image macro—and that offers new insights into the stereotypes and resistance to cultural expectations while also offering insight into the cutting edge of online communications.



[1] Alison F. Slade, Amber J. Narro, and Burton P. Buchanan, eds., Reality Television: Oddities of Culture (Lexington Books, 2014), vii.

[2] “Chasingapril,” accessed May 12, 2014, http://aprilloveslies.tumblr.com/post/38232075183/http-whrt-it-rjyqn0; “Community Post: 25 Crazy Mama June GIFs,” BuzzFeed Community, October 2, 2012, http://www.buzzfeed.com/hyvesredactie/25-crazy-mama-june-gifs-7j5s.

[3] Bevie Tyo, “Coming to Appreciate the Redneck Stereotype: A Value Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (California Polytechnic State University, 2013), http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1144&context=comssp.

[4] Ariel Miller, “The Construction of Southern Identity Through Reality TV: A Content Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty and Buckwild,” Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 4, no. 2 (2013), http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/824/4/the-construction-of-southern-identity-through-reality-tv-a-content-analysis-of-here-comes-honey-boo-boo-duck-dynasty-and-buckwild.

[5] May Friedman, “Here Comes a Lot of Judgment: Honey Boo Boo as a Site of Reclamation and Resistance,” The Journal of Popular Television 2, no. 1 (April 1, 2014): 77–95, doi:10.1386/jptv.2.1.77_1; Geoff Parkes, “He’s Gonna Be a Little Gay: Redneckognising the Queer American Family in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” in Proceedings of the 4th Annual International Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (PopCAANZ 2013) (University of Southern Queensland, 2013), 138–46, http://eprints.usq.edu.au/23932/.

[6] Friedman, “Here Comes a Lot of Judgment.”

[7] Andre Cavalcante, “You Better ‘Redneckognize’!: Deploying the Discourses of Realness, Social Defiance, and Happiness to Defend Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Facebook,” in Reality Television: Oddities of Culture, ed. Alison F. Slade, Amber J. Narro, and Burton P. Buchanan (Lexington Books, 2014).

[8] Beverley Skeggs and Helen Wood, “The Labour of Transformation and Circuits of Value ‘around’reality Television,” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 22, no. 4 (2008): 565.

[9] Cavalcante, “You Better ‘Redneckognize’!: Deploying the Discourses of Realness, Social Defiance, and Happiness to Defend Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Facebook.”

[10] Ibid., 42.

I Get Racist and Sexist Hate Mail

donald sterlingIn case anyone thought that the amount of racist hate I was getting had died down since my last post about this, I am afraid I must dispel that notion.

For those catching up, Thanksgiving of 2012 my dad ceased contact with me because he found out I was dating a black guy.  Just under a year ago, I got DNA results from 23andme that said I was part Sub-Saharan African, which meant that my dad either was part black or had married my mother and she was part black, making his disowning of me more perfectly awful.  In February and March of 2014, my blog was linked to by a white supremacist website, so I shared that.

Here, then, are the kinds of messages I’ve been dealing with in response to old blog posts.  Some day, when I have free time, I think I’m going to analyze how many of these messages focus on me as a broodmare or sexual object.  I particularly like the one that accuses me of starting Atheism+, which I didn’t have anything to do with, and the one that suggests I got moist at discovering my Sub-Saharan DNA — is that meant to be a sexual comment?

 

This women ashley. Is now only good for someone to scoot their balls over her puckered lips. She is lost. No one will marry this worthless c*nt.

 

Ashley, your dad is right. You are a race-traitor. You’re gonna get beat up by your black boyfriend someday !

 

You disgust me. Your father cries his eyes out every day and you do not even understand why.

 

Your no hero, your an animal. Your father is a good man. My heart bleeds for him that he had such a worthless cu$t of a daughter.

 

Your hateful spiteful c*nt. Your shitting on thousands of years of your white ancestors.

 

He disowned her out of love. And he put himself at risk, and the outed him.

She is pure evil. Hateful and worthless POS. Set about destroying civilisation right down to her own ex familys DNA.

 

 Have all the sex with black men you want – nobody really cares. But if you think one nutcase Stormfront guy is a reason to start the ridiculous Stasi-esque organization that is Atheism+ then you’re a real quality fascist. All decent liberals hate fascists. You’re “damaged goods” because you’re a fascist, not because you had sex with a black man.

 

interracial mixers are the lowest of the low… you are a self loathing DEGENERATE… the HATE is all yours.

for anyone to suggest the only way to not be racist…is to condone or be willing to mix interracially IS HATE.

you dont want to be WHO you are, so you use racism to deflect from yourself. there is nothing more disgusting than a person with the kind of sense of worthlessness you must have in order to mix interracially. you couldnt denigrate yourself more if you tried.

 

you are the lowest a person can be.

 

this author is lowlife garbage… she absolutely is completely repulsive to the overwhelming majority of white men she will ever meet in her life. anyone…but any man or woman that does play into her mental illeness,

 

So why did your dad disown you? Because you completely messed up his genetic legacy. You put his genes at an evolutionary disadvantage by investing his genes in someone with low genetic stock value.

 

Black men and white women have the highest divorce rate in the country. Black men have the highest rate of HIV and STDs in the country. Black men are infamous for bailing on the woman after she gets pregnant. If he does that to you, and you’re a single mother with a black child, you will have zero value in the dating market. Good luck finding a decent man who will spend his hard-earned cash raising some other man’s black bastard child.

 

its not your belief systems…. its YOU. there is nothing more disgusting than you.

your “belief systems” simply point to the source of your own self hatred and willingness to have degraded yourself. now its just a matter of your living in denial, of just how truly disgusting you are.

its you.

 

Avoid this hideous turds blog site. Just an uber attention whore.

With emphasis on the word whore.

Right look, the reason i find it detestable what she is doing with her pet knee grow. Is this. Not only if she has offspring will she destroy her own family forever.

But also they will contaminate other White people.

 

When you have certain blue-eyed, blond haired types get all moist at the idea that they “are not 100% white” there is something deliciously ironic about racialists snapping back with celebrations of ‘white culture’.

More hate from racists – Coalburner edition

chimpoutlogoIn case you have ever wondered whether I continue to get racist comments for having, of all terrible things, dated someone who was not white and discovered that my DNA was not 100% white, the answer is yes, I still get hateful shit.

My number one incoming link for the last couple weeks has been from a site called Chimp Out which I have no interest in linking to, but I’m happy to just give you a taste of how awful these racist white people are.  Interestingly, these people also hate atheism+ (something I’m not particularly involved in).

 

Coalburner discovers she isn’t 100% white and says daddy is wrong for disowning her

http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymi…not-100-white/

Free thought blogs, despite the name encourages anything but free thought. It’s your typical hive of brain dead left leaning shit streaks all circle jerking their respective brand of victimhood(racism, feminism, homosexuality) It hosts a number of writers including the truly odious Richard Carrier of Atheism plus. Atheism+ is basically an attempt by the far left to attach their pet causes like nigger coddling, radical feminism and so on to atheism in an attempt to make them look rational. The atheists don’t care enough about people’s feelings you see. 

Anyway, not sure if this has been shared but this woman discovers a STAGGERING 0.5% of her ancestral composition is sub-Saharan nigger and states her old man is wrong for disowning her for dating a buck. It’s a sad read because you can see her pathetically obvious attempts at trying to twist the science to fit her views and her angst over daddy rejecting her.

 

she is a confirm nigger, if you out yourself to have nigger dna than you are a nigger. no human should touch her.

 

Why would you even want to pay $100.00 to this site which will sell your information to others including handing it to the government, people are so stupid, as far as that coal burner, if your mammy is white, you pappy is white and grandparents are yt, then why push the issue? Now as far as your pappy disowning you, that’s your fault for for being a coal burner, but you went and fucked a nigger! Now you are damaged goods.

I confess that I’d never heard the term coal burner before, but Urban Dictionary was happy to help me out.  Not all of this makes sense, but it was written by a guy named proud white man w/big dick.

A “Coalburner” is a white girl who is spoiled rotten and rebels against her wealthy or middle class parents for some imagined affront sometime in their short lives. This rebellion manifests itself in the form of fucking any sloppy pussy-ass fake gangbanger nigger they can get their nasty dick-skinners on. Also see “Mud-Duck” punishing parents by giving them 4 grandchildren from 4 sperm donors with cream-colored skin, red afros, big lips and flat noses.Also see dumb bitch riding in the passenger seat of her own car , pumping the gas and paying for it. Also see treated like shit by any white man who could have ever been an equal co-habitating partner and possible non-financial sponge, not because he’s a racist but because only someone with absolutely no self respect would confine themselves to random sexual partners of a different race who’s self- imposed disenfranchisement and liberal suborned laziness only furthers their own deep self-loathing and constant rape of the english language. example- see the names of coalburners offspring, stupid-ass names made up by people unable to spell real names correctly, ie. “spell it like it sounds”, Shawon (shawn), laqueesha (?????).

 

Interview with Board Game Designer Justin Waggle

Lineage ArtworkSome friends of mine from the before times when I lived in Los Angeles have been working on a board game for several years and are doing a Kickstarter to raise money for it.  They’ve already raised over $13,000 and have just over three weeks to raise the rest of what they need to do a big printing.  The nice thing is that, at the Purple Belt level, you’re essentially just buying the game ahead of time so they can produce it for you at a very reasonable cost.  The artwork alone is worth the purchase price, it’s gorgeous.

The game is called Lineage and it is interesting in a lot of ways, not least of all because you can learn about Eastern philosophy from it.  I’ve played many a board game with these fellows and they know what they’re about.  It’s gotten a couple of reviews, and they’ve been very positive.

I reached out to Justin Waggle to ask him some questions about designing games and this game in particular.  Enjoy.  I don’t miss LA, but I do miss the awesome people there.

1. Give me the briefest pitch of the game.

Lineage is an abstract strategy game for 2-6 players that plays in about 60 minutes. LINEAGE is deeply rooted in Chinese philosophy and carries with it the concepts of yin and yang, the four seasons, chi (energy), and the eight directions.

It’s most like these other games, ranked in order of similarity:

1) Settlers of Catan (resource exchange)
2) Tsuro (path finding)
3) Agricola (dealing with seasons and accumulation)
4) Pandemic (cooperation)
5) Arkham Horror (changing circumstances)

 

2. Who are you, what’s your background?

Rick Robinson and I started a board game company called Gray Wolf Games. We are both active members of the gaming, web series, and theatre communities while still managing to hold on to those dreaded day jobs (I am a Software Engineer and Rick is a Technical Writer).

 

3. Did you invent this game on your own?  What was the process of making it like?

I developed this game based on my ongoing training in Tai Chi and Kung Fu. It has taken three years to get it to this point. The game went through many permutations including combat dice, spinners, and directional markers (all of which were cut to simplify and streamline the game). Rick was instrumental in organizing play tests and discussing ideas. I took on the arduous task of documenting every change in thirty nine different versions of the rules. If not for my passionate interest in martial arts AND gaming, I don’t know if I would have persevered.

 

4. How’s the fundraising going?  It seems like a lot of money to make a game, is it?  Are there other things people can do to support you other than give money?  What happens if you don’t get all the money?

We are currently 33% funded. That’s just over 13K of 40K with 24 days left. In order to make the games affordable for everyone, we need to order 2000 copies. At that quantity, we are able to offer the game at $39 and if you contribute at the level, you will receive a copy of the game. If we don’t make it to 40K by the end of the month, we don’t get a penny. That’s the pressure cooker that is Kickstarter! If you’re not in a position to donate, sharing our Kickstarter link really helps us. We’re trying to reach those people that have an interest in board games or an interest in martial arts and hopefully those magic crossovers like me that love both.

Lineage Artwork

5. Give me the slightly longer pitch of the game. (How it works, how many players, how long it takes, all that jazz)

Our new tag line (I just invented it): “Think like a Martial Artist.”

In this tabletop adventure, masters secretly train students to become martial arts lineage holders, while an ambitious new Emperor tries to unify his people under one banner. Leap into the world of LINEAGE and sharpen your skills with new strategies and ever-changing circumstances.

Number of Players: 2-6 players
Age Range: 12 and up
Setup Time: Less than 10 minutes
Game Length: 20 minutes per player
Random Chance: Some
Skills Required: Strategic thought, tactics, cooperation

 

6. OK, so it seems really complicated to my untrained eyes, will someone who is impatient and not familiar with a lot of games be able to figure this out?

The actual game play is rather simple. Each player gets two pieces. Every turn, players move one of these pieces up to three spaces. The students are trying to collect five cards by visiting masters around the board and the masters are trying to hold onto their lineage. If they can accomplish these tasks and get to the center tile, they win. One player controls the Emperor and General and tries to place stones in the four corners of the board.

Throughout the game, the seasons changes, spaces become blocked or unblocked, and glass stones (chi) can be used to increase your movement. Every move you make creates a ripple effect through the game that effects all of the players. That’s where the conflict appears and strategic thinking comes into play.

 

7. Will I learn martial arts from the game?

Will you be able to master the legendary five animals of Kung Fu from playing this board game? No. You will, however, be introduced to a number of concepts that have a direct influence on real life combat situations. There’s a push and pull aspect to the game taken directly from Tai Chi’s “Push Hands”. The circle, triangle, and square are the basic building blocks of every move in martial arts. In Kung Fu class we often talk about dealing multiple assailants. This game gives you a bird’s eye view of those situations. The concept of chi (energy) is really just another way of talking about proper structure and application of force. Knowing when to fight and when to cooperate is a big lesson built into the game. LINEAGE might inspire you to take another look at martial arts (I hope it does).

 

8. Will I learn eastern philosophy from the game?  Could I justify making my undergrad philosophy class play it when we talk about Taoism?

I would love it if this game was used to teach undergrads. Just send me a picture so I can I can laugh my ass off. That would be a dream class for me. There’s a famous quote from Taoism that states, “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.” Taoism is all about going along with the natural order of things. It’s not about belief. It’s about experience. The game shows the changing seasons, changing terrain, changing chi (energy). It gives you the Yin aspect in the student and the Yang aspect in the Master. It’s a constant balancing act. You have a goal but if you go about it in a way that doesn’t respect the current circumstances of the board the you will most likely fail to accomplish it. It’s a re-training or reintegration of certain thought patterns. Hell yeah teach it to college kids. Remind them of the real world outside the fish bowl of college.

Lineage Artwork

9. WTF is sacred geometry?  Are you trying to convert me to Buddhism or something?  It’s an atheist site, we’re very suspicious.

I went to all boys Catholic school growing up so I know all about the pressure to believe and to conform. So did Rick. Sacred geometry is really just an indication that we are all intrinsically connected. From the smallest cell to the Milky Way Galaxy, the mathematics of life give us a road map to better understanding ourselves. One concept that my teacher Sijo Carl Totton likes to remind me of is that because we are all connected (through the air we breathe, through direct and indirect contact, through our intentions), we are ultimately responsible for everything that comes into our life. With our thoughts we make the world. Now who said that? Ha ha ha! I consider myself a Taoist but I’m really a dabbler and I’m always willing to question my beliefs. Google sacred geometry and trip out!

 

10. Let’s say I’m really not interested in board games where I have to learn things, can I enjoy this game just on a strictly it’s fun to game level?

I guarantee you will be able to understand this game in a few turns. I hate “educational” games because they are typically unoriginal and hit you over the head with some “lesson”. LINEAGE comes from deep philosophy but just like life, it’s up to you how deep you want to go! I personally love getting together with folks and using my devious mind to come up with dastardly moves. It’s fun! The great thing about LINEAGE is that you get to come up with clever ways to block other players and run away with victory. If you like to compete, this is great. If you like to socialize, this is great. It’s the type of game that changes according to the players.

 

11. Dude, the artwork.  I realize this isn’t a question, but damn it’s beautiful.

Thank you very much! I worked with an artist from China named Yan Li to develop the paintings. She also created the animals and chi types in the style of traditional Chinese family seals. The prototypes are very expensive to make. That’s why I only have 6 currently and why we’re trying to get the bulk discount.

 

12. Finally, will I get an actual purple belt for buying the game through Kickstarter?

After playing it, you may very well be inspired to take Kenpo or Kung Fu and earn your purple belt/sash. I’ll talk to my teacher and see we can work out some kind of outreach program for beltless people. In the meantime, keep holding onto your pants!

Lineage Artwork

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