Jian Ghomeshi, part 2

I have two concert reviews to finish, but they can wait. Don’t they always?

Here’s a picture that I’ve already regretted posting once this week:

That’s me with Jian Ghomeshi after a live Q taping in Regina last spring, done in association with the Juno Awards. I’m the taller one. Pinker in face and greyer in hair.

Making jokes is not helping in the way that making jokes usually does.

I’m not usually big into chatting with celebrities – I’m endlessly awkward and never have anything to say other than “durrr, good show tonight” even if it wasn’t a good show because what else am I going to say? I can’t usually come up with anything interesting and celebrities are surrounded by people who can.

But I really wanted to talk to Jian that night, because I wanted to thank him. Many years ago, I was big into his band, Moxy Früvous (shut it, Mike) and after seeing them for the first time, I wrote a review and posted it on the Moxy Früvous newsgroup, back in 1998 when newsgroups were a thing and I would sometimes finish a concert review within 24 hours. And then I received this:

i don’t often get involved in these things but i *had* to tell you that i LOVED your review of our Saskatoon show last week. You had me laughing out loud in front of my handy dandy laptop here in my hotel room in Edmonton. So thanks for being a fan of ours…i’m flattered when somebody so clearly smart and satirical enjoys our stuff.

There was more – a few jokes and points of clarification – but this is the part that I remember. I copied and pasted the above but could have typed it up from memory. If I hadn’t been a fan before, that would have done it – it meant a ton to me that he would take a few minutes out of his day to reach out. He was encouraging and funny and kind. I saw Früvous in concert a few times the next year; he remembered me and made a point of saying “hi” and chatting for a few minutes. It was important to me to stick around after the Q taping and let him know how much I still appreciated that.

I followed Moxy Früvous until they went on a hiatus which I think is now in its 15th year. I bought Jian’s solo EP, and listened to him from time to time on Q. I wasn’t a regular listener, but always enjoyed him when I got the chance. I remember when Billy Bob Thornton had his snit on the show, and reading comments online from Americans who were so impressed with how Jian handled the situation. Hell, I toasted the guy in my Toastmasters club, which might be the nerdiest sentence I’ve ever written.

And now we have this.

Aaron said that my comment on his post should have BEEN the post, but I disagree. It’s a big ol’ internet, there’s lots of room for anything we want to dump on it, so I’ll just make my own post, plagiarizing from myself wherever needed.

My initial comments:

I don’t know if anyone will ever know what happened apart from those directly involved, who may not say or even believe the same thing anyway. We’ll see what comes out.

I don’t have any problem believing that CBC would fire someone for a stupid reason, especially if it’s a highly-paid someone. I don’t have any problem believing that people get unnecessarily scandalized by other people’s sex lives. I know that vengeful exes exist. And if I wanted to destroy a celebrity’s reputation, this is how I’d go about it.

At at the same time, rapists/abusive partners are far more common than vengeful exes who make up stories. And if I knew I was about to have those accusations levied against me, I’d do exactly what Jian did. He sues the CBC, making the mainstream story “Jian vs. CBC” instead of “Jian vs. four women accusing him of non-consensual violent sexual behaviour.” He posts a statement before the news story breaks, painting himself as the victim with lots of “you’ll hear people say” this and that to try and colour how those claims are heard. He confesses to behaviour that most people wouldn’t publicly admit to – boy, that makes him seem like an (embarrasse d but otherwise) honest guy, doesn’t it?

I note that so far, no woman has come forward to say that she dated Ghomeshi and defends him, but who’d want to jump in on this? And anecdotally, I’ve heard all kinds of rumours about the guy for a long time, but rumours don’t mean anything, necessarily.

I hope that the allegations are untrue because 1) that kind of shitty behaviour shouldn’t happen (shitty in terms of the non-consensual nature; people can do whatever they like as long as all involved are okay with it) and 2) in my limited personal dealings with Jian, he was friendly, encouraging, funny, and kind. And shitty things feel a lot worse coming from someone you thought was one of the good guys.

Now it’s a few days later. There are now eight women who’ve come forward with accusations, including one who’s doing so openly. (Edit on 10/31/2014: make that two.) From the looks of the most recent Toronto Star article, several of the women independently corroborated the others’ details.

My thought that the lawsuit was intended to spin the story as Jian vs. CBC appears to be true, as Jian can’t actually sue the CBC for that amount, based on the terms of his collective agreement. He and his lawyers would have known that. But hey, it worked – when I was watching the CTV morning news on Monday, the story was all about Jian getting fired and suing the CBC. The Toronto Star article and the women it references weren’t even mentioned.

I don’t know how anyone can defend him at this point. And I don’t know how anyone cannot believe his accusers. Explain how you can believe that many women are just conspirators. Explain what could they hope to get out of this. Explain why women keep coming out of the woodwork to side with the accusers, but so far, nobody has said “yeah, I dated Jian – we did kinky stuff and he was communicative and caring and safe.” Explain the rumours that have been going around for years; things about inappropriate touching and an interest in inordinately young girls, and that dating him was not a good idea – rumours I had heard years ago. Rumours that Jann Arden and Tara Spencer-Nairn and Owen Pallett and Carl Wilson and Steve Murray had heard long ago. Explain the Twitter account that was posting accusations against Jian in April.

[edited to add: “but so far, nobody has said ‘yeah, I dated Jian – we did kinky stuff and he was communicative and caring and safe.’” Here’s Dan Savage with an interview with a woman who dated Jian and supports him: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/10/29/interviews-with-two-women-who-dated-jian-ghomeshi ]

I would love to believe Jian’s story, that this is all a smear campaign from a jilted ex. I want him to be who I thought he was and not who it seems he is. And if additional information comes to light, maybe posting all this will seem ridiculous. Maybe it already does. Maybe the possibility, however remote, that “several women conspired to destroy a star’s reputation and career” is the BEST-CASE SCENARIO says it all about how fucked up this all is.

I keep calling him “Jian” instead of “Ghomeshi” like we’re friends or something. And that’s the stupid thing – it almost felt like we were. Three or four emails and maybe 10 minutes of talking over a 15-year span will do that to a guy, I guess.

When I heard on Sunday that Jian got fired from the CBC, I set that picture as my Facebook profile pic. As the day went on, I became more and more certain that this would soon become a very bad idea. I swapped the picture out in short order, but I didn’t delete it – not from Facebook, not from Instagram, and I posted it here today. Partly, it’s the internet where everything lives forever anyway. But I think deleting the picture would be too easy. So you wipe him off the face of the earth. Pretend he never existed. Good news, ladies! We found the last Bad Guy that had infiltrated the Good Guy ranks and took care of him for you. All clear, shields down.

I’m leaving the picture up because it makes me uncomfortable because he was friendly, encouraging, funny, and kind. Because of what I didn’t see. Because of what I had heard and had excused away because it wasn’t provable (and, let’s be honest here, because it was unpleasant and inconvenient). Something to remember the next time I find myself thinking “that doesn’t sound like him” or “that’s not the guy I know.”

In the comments section of Aaron’s post, I started a reading list of interesting and important links. I’ll include it here, but divided into two batches (and may add more over time). The first articles are the “newsworthy” ones, for lack of a better word (it’s 2:30 a.m. as I finish this off):

The second list of articles are recommended reading:

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Posted on October 30, 2014, in posts by james and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. “Shut it, Mike!”. Lol

    Like

  2. “Hi I’m Jian, thanks for being so supportive and coming out to the gig. Did you know I have a bad reputation as an abuser of women?” Notice the quotes. I say you can’t regret posting that picture. This is all unravelling at the speed of the internet (read: frighteningly fast), too fast for that. Crazy how 3 days can undo years. You’re a fan of his work, both the music and interviews. He really is good at that stuff. It’s not like he was wearing a t-shirt that said “I HIT GIRLS!” Meeting him, you’d have no way of knowing any of this stuff. And even though you’re a handsome Dude, so far no Dudes have come forward to say he hit them too, so it’s doubly unlikely it would have even come up in conversation.

    Like

    • No, I know. But you think you’re a good judge of someone and then something like this happens and it rattles you a bit. I can be wrong? About things? Even big things?! That is not a thing I like! Unless I’m wrong about that too. Who even knows anymore?

      Like

      • “good judge of people,” that should be – not just a specific someone

        Like

        • Well maybe, I dunno if you can know someone you’re just meeting briefly like that though. At least you got to meet him and it was nice. If he’d been a jerk, that would’ve sucked.

          An ex of mine was (probably still is) a huge Harrison Ford fan. She saw him on Oprah and afterwards said ‘wow he seems like such a nice guy!’ To which I said, ‘sure he did! He’s an ACTOR! Plus, he’s on national TV! Of course he’ll be well-behaved. But he could go home from that taping and kick his dog, for all you know about him.’

          Wow. You could read that and say you know why she’s an ex of mine (!) but that applies here, too. The public persona does not seem to match his alleged (he’s not convicted of anything yet, or is he? This is catching fire so fast) personal life.

          Like

  3. Lucy DeCoutere of Trailer Park Boys has just come out regarding an encounter with Jian. This isn’t over!

    Like

  4. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Do we really know anyone?

    I wanted to wait to see how this plays out, and unfortunately for Jian, I have a feeling his cred is over. No one cares what you do in the bedroom, unless you hurt someone, Jian. Data point: BDSM is not something all women are into. and sooner or later, your rep will precede you.

    If I’m reading into this correctly, women have been talking about his rep for a while, albeit in more of a secretive / less public way.

    And why are they coming out now against him and not before? Because of the whole rape victimization thing: fear of backlash, labeled as a slut, “no one will believe me”, etc.
    Lucy DeCoutere is a brave gal to step into the light if what she says is genuine. Jann Arden and Tara Nelson-Nairn knew of his rep too. This will truly explode into something that is not gonna end in Jian’s favour.

    Like

    • Oh yeah. “Why didn’t they go to the cops?” Because he’s very powerful (in an industry that they probably want to work in, to boot), he has the backing of the CBC and legions of fans, he has enough money to hire expensive lawyers, and they have no proof – it’s he said/she said. And he might have texts or emails that make it sound like they’re into things that he suggested (when they may have revoked consent later and/or were interested in SOME things but not, for example, being hit or choked).

      I had heard rumours about the guy for a long time. Not that he was violent, but that he was into much younger women (underage, in some cases), and that he was very… hands-on. Uninvited touching. Not necessarily in an illegal way, just creepy. And I know someone who went out with him once or twice – I don’t remember all the details (and didn’t ever know all that many to begin with) but I seem to recall two points: 1) her friends warned her against it, and 2) she described him as being almost pathetic in terms of how egotistical and desperate he was. But I can’t substantiate any of this – can’t find any of the original messages now. Just things that I’ve been thinking about over the past few days. “Oh yeah, there WAS that thing.”

      Like

  5. I’ve read a lot today. There’s a consistency to the stories that is very troubling. I don’t see much consent in these stories at all. Instead I see a predator who selected women who admired him.

    Like

  6. I was a huge Fruvous fan in the mid-’90s, seeing them every time they played in New York with a group of like-minded friends. Much of their music hasn’t aged that well although I enjoy it for nostalgia’s sake, but their shows were always a blast and the guys were fun to chat with before & after the shows. They weren’t quite on the same level as BNL (who I started seeing as an opening act in NYC when “Gordon” was released), but their vocal harmonies were very impressive. The only thing I’ve heard about any of them in the years since “Thornhill” was released (late-’90s, I believe) was the Billy Bob Thornton incident…until seeing this story yesterday. As an American I’m pretty far removed from this and it’s been interesting to read comments online, mostly from Canadians. It’s amazing to know that he’s “famous” up there, and it’s a shame that all signs point to him being a pretty sleazy guy. I’m curious to see how this plays out.

    Like

    • Thornhill was 1999, and they went on hiatus at the end of that tour. I still can’t listen to that album without thinking of driving to school on cold fall mornings.

      The rest of Früvous has faded into relative obscurity since then. Murray Foster plays with Great Big Sea. Mike Ford does educational kids’ songs about Canadian history. The two together recorded two albums as the Cocksure Lads, a fictional British Invasion type band (well… they exist, BUT… you know what I mean). I had no idea what David Matheson was up to until I googled him just now (musician-of-all-trades in Toronto, it looks like).

      Jian, however, was very well-known, popular, and respected as the host of Q. He also put out a book last year that I really should have read last month when I intended to do so.

      Like

  7. “but so far, nobody has said ‘yeah, I dated Jian – we did kinky stuff and he was communicative and caring and safe.'”

    Well, here we are – Dan Savage with an interview with a woman who dated Jian and supports him: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/10/29/interviews-with-two-women-who-dated-jian-ghomeshi

    Like

  8. Man this all F*^ked!…..ummm, didn’t some poetic folk group have a album called 3 Sides To Every Story?
    (Yours,Mine And The Truth) back in 92!!!

    Like

  9. Two PR firms just dropped Jian as a client.

    rock-it promotions: Going forward, rock-it promotions will no longer be representing Jian Ghomeshi. We won’t be responding to or receiving media requests.

    Navigator: In response to numerous media requests, Navigator confirms it does not advise Jian Ghomeshi. Regrettably, the circumstances of our engagement have changed and we are no longer able to continue. No further comment will be issued.

    Like

  10. Apparently, the stuffed bear was recommended to him by a therapist. Make of this what you will.

    http://www.torontosun.com/2014/10/30/big-ears-played-really-important-role-in-life-jian-ghomeshi-told-crowd

    Like

  11. I added some links to the post just so they’d be there.

    The other members of Moxy Früvous issued a statement today: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ghomeshis-former-band-speaks-out-in-wake-of-allegations/article21411340/

    Lights, the act Ghomeshi was managing, has dropped him: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/10/31/lights-jian-ghomeshi_n_6085248.html

    His agent and his publisher dropped him too: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/10/31/jian_ghomeshi_dumped_by_agent.html

    Like

  12. Two of the women accusing him, including the lady from Trailer Park Boys, have officially pressed charges.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/10/31/jian_ghomeshi_showed_cbc_video_of_bondage_beating_sources.html

    Like

  13. I’m writing as someone who has experienced bad things in her past…. I thought I was more saavy and able to read people… You said: I’m leaving the picture up because it makes me uncomfortable because he was friendly, encouraging, funny, and kind. Because of what I didn’t see.

    I didn’t see it either. And that embarrasses me. Because I was once a victim, and I believed him. Shame on him, and shame on me for not believing his accusers from the start. I would want to be believed.

    Like

  14. Yeah, even dark humour’s not helping.

    Like

  15. Rex Murphy on this whole thing.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Jian Ghomeshi, Part 2 | This is the story of the overly ambitious eagle...

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