Comments Worth Reading from Blogger Enbrethiliel

Thank you, Enbrethiliel, for leaving your insightful comments -- for over 2 years! -- on my Marilyn Monroe/Monica Lewinsky/Bill Cosby quote-mash-up blog post!
Her first comment was left in July of 2015 and her most recent comment was left in October of 2017; while there are only four comments in two years, the fascinating thing I find is that all the comments deal with different issues that have similar social dynamics as to what I discussed in the Monroe/Lewinsky/Cosby post.

From 'Team Woman,' to Cecil the lion (remember him?), to Donald Trump, and finally Harvey Weinstein's bout in the Court of Public Opinion, Enbrethiliel does not miss a step when it comes to seeing the public repeat itself every time a new issue takes the spotlight.

You can read the full blog post here including comments, or read the comments posted below (copied/pasted/unedited).

Thank you, Enbrethiliel, for sharing your insights from your own unique perspective with me and others; they have not gone unnoticed, nor unread, by me; and more people should read them! ~ Eve 



Enbrethiliel said…
+JMJ+

This is indeed thought-provoking! When stories like these break, there is a lot of pressure to have the "correct" opinion and to side publiclywith one party, to the point of turning the other into a scapegoat. But as you've pointed out, we usually end up siding with a party that we have no real connection to, in some kind of pseudo-tribal ritual.

And you're right that we're not consistent about it. If we were, we wouldn't watch anything out of Hollywood. Everything is just too tainted. Now, there is actually a woman I can think of whose books I became unable to read after I learned something about her past. When I tried "to get over it," by reading another of her novels, I just made myself completely nauseated. So I don't read her any longer. But I hope that I never think my opinion is enough of a moral law for me to publicly call her out and encourage others to boycott her books until she releases a statement to distance herself from certain people who have done awful things. And not just because they are her family members. I can't imagine the pressure on people who genuinely care for Bill Cosby to disown him or to be seen as complicit in evil.

By the way, a few years ago, I expressed some opinions in a certain forum that led to someone saying I was just on "Team Woman" and shouldn't be listened to. It baffled me because, despite what some might think about herd mentality, I really don't think in terms of what will benefit my "team." (Do I even have one???) It took me a long time even to understand what he meant about the world being divided into teams! But I see it working again, in your description of people who have rushed to demonise Cosby and Monica Lewinsky. I think everyone in his right mind is against drugging women to take advantage of them and sleeping with a married man, but in these cases, we were asked to prove it. As if we were the ones who were the bad guys. And certainly as if we were guilty and had to prove our innocence--which is totally backwards. And the way that they demand we do it is by joining the "team" that has declared itself innocent. Unfortunately, their definition of "innocent" is "as far as possible from the guilty party."
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Enbrethiliel said…
+JMJ+

I know you're currently taking a break from blogging, Eve, but I wanted to say that I had reason to think of this post AGAIN, during a discussion with someone who couldn't believe I didn't think the scandalous stories about Donald Trump and women were disqualifying. Trump himself aside, she wondered why "women's bodily security" wasn't a high priority for me.

It was a good question, so I gave it a lot of thought. And what I've concluded is that the bodily security of university-educated women in First World countries just isn't the couch I want to faint on. And yes, I do believe that is a separate issue from the bodily security of women in other situations. All the women who have come forward weren't destroyed by their encounters with Trump--and they weren't destroyed because First World Western societies are set up so that a woman who has that kind of encounter can treat it like a bird pooping on her. That is, as something worth a shower and a change of clothes, but not something that will damage her career, her chances of marriage, her family and social life, her reputation, or anything else that matters to her. The women in those stories weren't victims, but for some reason, they bought into a narrative that said they were. Now, THAT I do have a problem with.

All in all, Trump has been to me what Cosby has been to you: someone who provided hours of entertainment and never harmed me personally. (And well, as of today, most of those hours of entertainment came during his campaign!) I really think that in the end, it all boils down to whom you like and whom you don't like. Everything else is a line I remember from 90s drama Felicity, whose title character went to a completely different university at the last minute so she could follow a boy who spoke to her for the first time on the day of their high school graduation: "Ben wasn't the reason; he was the excuse."

Enbrethiliel said…
+JMJ+

It's a little embarrassing to keep leaving wordy comments under this post, but I really do remember it every time there's a new celebrity scandal! This time, the scandal is that one of Hollywood's most powerful producers harrassed and even assaulted multiple women over several decades. And this time, there's a twist! Because instead of simply being disgusted by him (as even I am), people are also condemning many of the women he took advantage of because the women chose to stay silent. Apparently, it's still okay to blame the victim for some things.

Am I the only one who remembers when the pop psychology term "enabler" first became really popular? If I recall correctly, we started using it as part of the jargon of addiction and rehabilitation. And while I agree it has a place in describing dysfunctional relationships that addicts have with some people, I don't think that everyone who doesn't stop someone else from doing a misdeed is automatically an enabler. Besides, when does it stop? As soon as a story surfaced of one actor who actually confronted the producer after the latter harassed the former's girlfriend, people started complaining that the actor didn't do enough. So he was still an "enabler." Clearly, when you want to blame someone for your not knowing that the producer of some of the most beautiful movies you have ever seen was a pervert, you'll find the label you need. And that's what I really think is going on here. If people had known about the producer in advance, they would have boycotted his movies and never come to love any of them. But they were denied the chance at that self-righteous display and may have even praised the producer's work. Ooops. So now both he and his "enablers" have to pay.

But it was reasonable to wonder, "Why didn't the women report it?" The ready answer is that the women were cowed into silence by a system that protects abusers. And I'm sure this was a huge part of it. But what I also see, now that people are posting clips of celebrities speaking in code at awards shows or openly satirising the producer in movies or TV, was that the women did report it. They reported it all over Hollywood until, as the angriest non-Hollywood voices put it, "everyone knew." They just didn't report it to those we think they should have reported it to. And that makes us mad, doesn't it? Who do they think they are not to follow the rules???

Well, most of them are now huge A-list stars with millions of dollars and major acting awards. And while it's true that they achieved this status by protecting predators (and Lord knows what else), many of them made this decision as fully-informed adults. They sold their souls; we're just mad that we didn't know in advance.

Or did we? I believe the dark connotations of the "casting couch" were well known even before I was born. Many famous women in Hollywood, including Marilyn Monroe, were terribly victimised by the system. We know all those sad histories. Did we really think things were any different now? In any case, we must have wanted to believe it. And now, as stories of harassment and victimisation pop up left and right, we find that we no longer can.


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Comments

Enbrethiliel said…
+JMJ+

What an honour! Thank you!

When I first read your post, I was thinking a lot about human sacrifice. Our mutual friend Christopher started it, with a post on the Incas and some of their child sacrifices--the best-preserved of whom are now on display in an Argentinian museum. As I commented that the poor children seemed to have been treated with more dignity than our own culture gives pre-teen starlets, something clicked in my mind. There is a sacrificial nature to child stars these days. At least we seem to delight in building them up, watching them crash, and wallowing in the inevitable True Hollywood Story that eventually comes out about them. It's almost ceremonial.

That thought led to another, and soon I could see other sacrifices--other scapegoats--everywhere. Monica Lewinsky was definitely one of them. Yes, it was wrong of her to have an affair with a married man. But can anyone reasonably say that everything that happened to her afterward was a proportional consequence of her actions? It was just easier to heap everything upon an intern than to admit that we misjudged the character of a hugely popular president.

Marilyn Monroe is kind of the opposite case. More of an idol than a scapegoat--but the role we want her to play means we also don't really see her as a human being. We've reduced her to a blank canvas for whatever we want to project upon her.

As for Harvey Weinstein . . . For the record, I believe the guy is guilty as sin, but there's a difference between bringing him to justice and just turning him into another scapegoat. I wonder if our new willingness to hear the stories and to support the victims is mostly to make ourselves feel better for gushing over Hugh Hefner all the way to his grave.

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