The Wrap, Bill Cosby, & Everyone Is Still The Worst.

About ten thousand years ago, when I was just out of college and struggling to find my niche in LA, I worked a lot of jobs in the backyard offices of wealthy, important people. (Apparently, that is a thing.) One of these people was Sharon Waxman, entertainment journalist, who, at the time, had just published her book Loot, and was starting to conceptualize The Wrap, now a fairly large entertainment site. I was hired on as an assistant, and spent a lot of my time organizing business lunch receipts for expense reports. Sometimes, I think that if I were more enterprising (or less totally terrified of Sharon – or, let’s face it, interested in entertainment journalism AT ALL), I might have been able swing a small job on the fledgling Wrap, which I could have parlayed into a nice writing career in Los Angeles, where I might have one day hired a 21-year-old idiot to shuffle receipt paper around in accordion folders.

Alas, I was not that enterprising or that interested in entertainment journalism (I was an anthropologist!), and I was pretty goddamn terrified of Sharon Waxman, so instead, what happened is that I worked for her in her home office for a few months over a summer and then got another job and started my MA and got married and then hated everything for a long time and then went to Ireland and finished my MA and got divorced and moved to the UK.

To each their own, I suppose.

Anyway, there are still sometimes when I see The Wrap mentioned on other sites and blogs and it reminds of the time when I really could have made it happen. (Real talk: there was no way in hell I was ever going to get hired as a writer for that website. I blew that on my very first day, when I expressed more interest in the subject of Loot, which was about the acquisition of historical art from around the world, than in the process of writing that kind of book.)

Today, however, on Jezebel, my favorite internet rant watering hole, I saw The Wrap mentioned for a reason that made me think less of what a networking failure I am, and more about how terribly gross people can be.

Over the weekend, The Wrap published an op-ed that was originally titled, “The Rape of Bill Cosby.” The first few paragraphs of the op-ed, written by Richard Stellar, are:

Bill Cosby raped me.

Now that I have your attention, consider this: the allegations of sexual misadventure and impropriety that have pummeled the Cos over the last few weeks is not the issue. The issue is the scurrilous environment where media outlets and journalists lie in wait, like aging corpulent prostitutes, their hair dyed flame red and their nails like elongated daggers — waiting to blow any John who dares to topple those who may be kings. It’s once again an example of the TMZ-isation of journalism.

The prized real estate that is the first screen view of news websites, or the much vied for leading news story content on the evening news has been hijacked for reports of the latest Cosby detractor, while issues like Ferguson, IS, immigration reform, and 46 abducted students in Mexico receive a momentary lapse of attention. Our focus shifts when a celebrity falls, and like extras in “Walking Dead,” our direction sharply turns, and our attention shifts to the exposed flesh of the fallen, and we grunt and drool, waiting to feast.

The concept of justice is disregarded. The statute of limitations is ignored. The recollections of events that happened as long as fifty years ago are dredged up by aging actresses who have one eye on the CNN camera, and the other on a book or reality show deal. If the statute of limitations was as long as the 15 minutes of fame that these lost souls are trying to recapture, then our prisons would be as vacant as the Holiday Inn in Acapulco (you probably have no idea what that means because you’re not used to real news). Thankfully, the statute of limitations was written to avoid exactly what this blog is about. There is no legitimacy to justice if there is no real evidence, and evidence has a way of vanishing as memories dim with the marching of time. A DNA swab on most of Cosby’s detractors if done today would most likely come up exceedingly dry.

I’m not saying that what these woman claim happened, didn’t happen. I get it — Cos was the campfire that parents would sit at with their children, and chuckle at his homespun humor and life lessons. When we all retreated back to our tents with our tummys full of S’mores and toasted marshmallows, Cos was back in his tent, banging the camp counselor after doping her with quaaludes. Yes, that could well have happened, and once those women realized the violation that they endured at the hands of Cosby, then they should have reported it then — not a generation later.

This piece has a lot of issues, including but not limited to: opening with “Bill Cosby raped me” only to immediately state that the very serious and very numerous rape allegations are “not the issue”; referring to Bill Cosby as “the Cos,” which makes this sound like it was written by Zack Morris in 1992; being super sensitive to the issue of rape by comparing it to “the Cos…banging the camp counselor after doping her with quaaludes”; and finally, shaming the alleged victims by saying that if they were truly victims worthy of our concern, they wouldn’t have waited to report (which willfully ignores all the myriad reasons rape victims don’t report these crimes, most specifically those reasons relating to power, wealth, and fame).

Taken as a whole, Stellar’s post is a poorly written piece of absolute shit – and as someone who occasionally sits down with my laptop to fire off poorly written pieces of shit that I then post to the internet, I am a veritable expert in this field.

However, all its many, many problems aside, the most entirely disgusting thing about that op-ed is the last line of the fourth paragraph:

A DNA SWAB ON MOST OF COSBY’S DETRACTORS IF DONE TODAY WOULD MOST LIKELY COME UP EXCEEDINGLY DRY.

A DNA SWAB ON MOST OF COSBY’S DETRACTORS IF DONE TODAY WOULD MOST LIKELY COME UP EXCEEDINGLY DRY.

(Repetition and emphasis mine).

Because, you know, the best way to approach your argument condemning the media’s willingness to jump at any grim story, rocketing any old fame hound into celebrity, is to mock the age and dryness of the vaginas of alleged rape victims.

What a totally respectable, really professional piece of work, Richard Stellar. Super impressed.

This is what Sharon Waxman had to say about the ensuing shitstorm associated with the publication of Stellar’s descent into madness:

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I’m all for free speech too, but you can’t write (or edit or host or publish) misogynistic, victim-blaming, total idiocy and dress it up as some fancy, reasoned, thoughtful indictment of the media. As part of his apology tour, Richard Stellar updated his original post, changing the title and adding, “As Sharon Waxman so eloquently defended me — the purpose of the blog was to bring damnation down on the media.”

Hey, guess what, Richard Stellar? If that was the purpose of your post, you are a terrible writer.

If this is the kind of atrocious bullshit that is considered a “legit contrarian view” on The Wrap, I can happily put away my regrets about blowing my big break and content myself with not being associated with this kind of garbage.

 

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On Being Pathetic & Growing Up

I missed my ten-year high school reunion this year, because it was held over the summer, precisely one month before I flew home for a two-week vacation (a breakdown of that is coming, I promise). I was a little sad to miss it, because it’s such a milestone, but in today’s world, I can keep up with those I want to talk to and spy on those I don’t want to talk to pretty easily, so the night I missed the reunion, I just ate a bunch of cookies and spent some time on Facebook.

However, the idea of a high school (or college) reunion speaks to me. Long, long ago, I was an oppressively awkward, totally self-conscious, acne-ridden teenager, surrounded by people I thought were better looking, more hilarious, more intelligent, and destined for bigger, better things. Every person I knew had qualities I felt I didn’t possess, and every day, I walked the gauntlet, recognizing only good things in others and only terrible things in myself. (Look, I know how that sounds, and I would have edited it so that it wasn’t so pathetic, but you all know about my horrible divorce, so I figure things have been worse around here.) As a teenager and young adult, I was too convinced that I was ugly or incompetent to really take any chances, so I ended up being a small, judgmental, self-satisfied little Puritan weirdo, who longed for the freedom other young people had. (I was basically the worst.)

Now that I am a (more) fully-formed adult, with life experience practically bursting out of me, it would have been nice to see people from ten years ago, because I am cool now. Yes, I said it. I AM COOL. Deal with it.

There are a lot of people I knew who were fabulous. However, in hindsight, I don’t feel like I ever had real relationships with them, because I was always so concerned with what they were thinking of me that I couldn’t ever be truly present. One of these people was a guy who lived on my dorm floor my second year, a guy for whom I harbored a year-long, painfully obvious obsession.

He was tall and great looking and funny and effortlessly cool and looked at people in the way you only read about in books – he made every person he spoke to feel like they were the only person in the world. Now, as a grizzled, jaded, 28-year-old monster, I would say that he is just a very proficient active listener, but then, when I was 19 and a living, breathing sad-face emoticon, the fact that this glowing, gorgeous specimen of male youth ever looked at me with such intensity (much less that he did it every time we spoke) was just beyond me. I could not get enough.

I adored him and was eventually heartbroken by him, as he had relationships with other people and then moved out of the country and then I never saw him again.

You know, the usual.

As it turns out, this person is now also living in England, and last week, we met up for the first time in eight years. We shared a bottle of wine and went out in London and basically tried to jam the discussion of nearly a decade of life experience into a few hours. It was really wonderful.

One hundred years ago, when we were undergraduates, we often had long, wandering conversations about music, relationships, and life, during which I would mostly just smile and nod, because what did I know about relationships or life? I would talk about things in the abstract or discuss things I always wanted to do or experience, but never had. Last week, when we saw each other again, we had the same kind of conversation – hours long, punctuated by gross jokes and references to our personal neuroses – but I could offer actual advice, real, true, hard-won universal truths about what it means to be a person in the world, because I’ve done it. I’ve opened myself up to things and done really well and have also failed spectacularly and have lived to tell the tales in dark, loud comedy clubs in England on Tuesday nights (which, by the by, are places I never thought I’d ever be).

I have lived, the good stuff and the bad, and seeing this old friend was an incredible barometer upon which I could measure my personal growth. I am both hugely different and totally the same. I have always been funny, smart, cool, interesting, worthy of being looked at like I’m the only person in the world.

The difference is: now I know.