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Dear Jian Ghomeshi: you inspired my list of heroes. Now what?

Posted on November 3rd, 2014

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Dear Jian,

In March 2013, I was inspired to write a blog post entitled “Living Canadian Heroes.” I had been moved by the interview I’d just listened to on Q – the one you had with Stompin’ Tom Connors, replayed on the occasion of his death.

I remember thinking how often we talk about Canadian heroes who are not alive – how it’s somehow easier to call someone a hero once they’re gone, and how we should be celebrating those people who are making Canada better every day, right now – people who represent Canada with integrity, thoughtfulness, respect, and skill.

You have been one of my Living Canadian Heroes for a long time. That blog post is still sitting in my drafts, for myriad reasons. Now, I am feeling frankly disillusioned about it.

I remember talking about you with my sister one time. She wasn’t a huge fan of yours – thought you were a bit pretentious or conceited or whatever. I defended you: “But he’s AWESOME. He can interview anyone, and he’s knowledgeable about everything, and he asks amazing questions, and all kinds of people just open up to him, and plus Moxy Früvous, hello?? He’s a CANADIAN ICON.”

When the news broke last weekend that you and CBC were breaking up, I was genuinely upset.

I have been struggling to write about it ever since, but I’ve been paralyzed, watching the hope/grief scale tip inexorably toward the side where you are actually an asshole.

At first, like all your fans, I wanted to think that the CBC had made a mistake. I thought: There is no Q without Jian.

But then, I deeply love my CBC Radio, and I have always trusted it to do its research. Back when you were a teenager obsessing over Bowie, I was a wee nerdy kid already listening to Ted O’Reilly on “Stories and Music for Children,” Jay Ingram on “Quirks and Quarks,” and Jurgen Gothe on “DiscDrive.” That connection was there long before you were, and it remains.

All the same, I wanted to believe your Facebook post, so seemingly earnest (except I wanted to forget your use of the word “jilted” – a distinctly un-classy term, for you). My first impression was: who gives a crap if he’s kinky in the bedroom? Not my business, and after all, BDSM is a notoriously misunderstood form of sexual expression.

But somehow, I couldn’t find the conviction to make a comment of support.

As more opinions poured in, I wanted to remind folks – aren’t we supposed to be innocent until proven guilty? Still, I couldn’t write about it –  because something was off.

Then, more and more stories, more women coming forward, more supporters backtracking. Loyalty fizzling. Worst-case scenario looking increasingly plausible. The sleaziness that was, apparently, common knowledge in the national arts industry was shocking to the rest of us suckers… but somehow still believable.

At this point, the scale has tipped. Now, I’m finally able to write, even though it’s all been said. Even if what I write here is now irrelevant or over-discussed, I have to process this for myself.

At the risk of sounding maudlin: it feels like we, your international audience, have been cheated on. The evidence looms large that the person we thought we knew and loved has been doing slimeball things for who-knows-how-long. We’re reeling, wondering how we could have failed to see it. We’re realizing our entire history with you is tainted, and we’re questioning whether all our memories involving you are valid or even worth keeping. There were moments where we hoped it could still somehow turn out to be just a big misunderstanding, or even a bad dream.

But at this point, I don’t see how any kind of “misunderstanding” conclusion could fix this. This kind of chronic violence can’t be blamed on a misinterpretation of BDSM, or a false inference of consent. This isn’t just a bunch of “jilted” women getting mad and conspiring against you. Those who have gone public are not the vengeful connivers you describe; they just want your audience to know that there are many cats to exit the bag.

What were you thinking all this time?

Maybe you thought what you were doing really was fine. A delusion of that magnitude, superimposing enjoyment over the pain of your sexual partner, is a serious health issue. A case of hyperinflated ego that has squeezed your brain, perhaps, resulting in galactically stupid behaviour.

Maybe this is an addiction, a mental health issue you’ve struggled with. But in that case, wouldn’t a reasonable person seek help? Wouldn’t there be remorse?

Maybe you knew it was bad, and you didn’t give a shit. Or felt you were untouchable in your stardom. Which surpasses the “asshole” category. That kind of duplicitous depravity is actually filed under “evil.”

Your unsuspecting former fans will not be able to brush this off for the sake of your past work. Because unlike Sean Penn, Woody Allen, Mel Gibson, Sean Connery, and any number of other celebrities who are still popular despite violent track records, we didn’t know you were in the acting business. Your popularity was based on you being, ostensibly, you.

Ugh.

It sucks that you were so great at your job. You really could converse with anyone – you talked to Joni Mitchell, Mike Tyson, Taylor Swift, and Justin Trudeau with equal grace. You were eminently knowledgeable, intelligent, adaptable, insightful, charismatic. A champion of all the right things. I was proud to have you represent us all, as one of the most recognizable public broadcasters Canada has ever had.

I hate that if I ever hear one of your interviews in future, I will be listening for deceit and misogyny, and thinking about how your oh-so-listenable voice must trigger ugly flashbacks for a lot of women.

And Moxy Früvous… oh. God. You will not destroy The Gulf War Song or Fell In Love for me. And breaking into “your” version of Green Eggs and Ham is all that gets me through that confounded story some days. Even if you were already a reprobate in your musician days, you sure could sing one-quarter of a beautiful song. I hate that you have befouled those songs, and betrayed your bandmates.

At least, not unlike the shooter in Ottawa, through your dishonour you have provoked a useful conversation in this country – this one about rape culture and violence against women, still all too pervasive, even in Canada.

And at least we can be confident that the CBC will find someone brilliant – and decent – to replace you. It was a relief to find out that your opening essays – which have awed me on many occasions – are not actually written by you. A lot of extremely talented people contributed to your success, and will continue to do so with someone better. (While you try to get a date on some other continent.)

I can now assuredly say that I’m looking forward to it.

Signed,

Dilovely

P.S. I was really sorry to hear that your dad died. Now, I’m just hoping it means he was spared the knowledge that his son is not one to be proud of after all.

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8 Responses to “Dear Jian Ghomeshi: you inspired my list of heroes. Now what?”

  1. emerge
    3 November, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Dilovely, you are so out of his league! He doesn’t deserve you.

    …And the sunshine shone from the sunshine above…

    • dilovelyadmin
      25 November, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      … All her ideas were like smoke rings… She was a tangle of questions…

  2. Auntie CL
    4 November, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Today the CBC broadcast countless women and a few men from the #BEENRAPEDNEVERRREPORTED tweet talking about WHY they never reported. It was heartbreaking. Ghomeshi’s infamy is what got these things started, so perhaps some new opening/healing/change in our society’s views and handling of these ugly, humiliating, utterly wrong things will come about, and we will have a healthier atmosphere in which the actions are more condemned and the victims are more supported.
    Which would be the tin-coloured lining, I suppose. Jian’s alleged (who doubts it by now?) behaviour, hidden behind his larger-than-life silhouette, is now in the open for all to see. Who could possibly justify or excuse it? Or defend it in any way? I think of all the wonderful men who not only cherish and protect their loved ones, but who would come to the defence of women unknown to them, who can’t be distinguished from the assholes and criminals by their appearance, and are therefore categorically mistrusted along with the ugly few. What a loss for everyone.
    Like a dose of poison in a well of clear water …

    • dilovelyadmin
      25 November, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      You’re so right – this is unfair to all the truly good men out there, and all the people who seem like AND ACTUALLY ARE heroic personalities it would be okay to look up to… if we could trust them.

      And you’re also right that the conversation surrounding this is illuminating. Combine Ghomeshi with Cosby and you have irrepressible amounts of evidence about rape culture (it’s real!) and victim blaming (real too!).

  3. Krista
    5 November, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Hmmm…. maybe he said it years ago, in the middle of Green Eggs and Ham… “I’ll lay on whoever I want…”

    Sometimes I think I’m the only person in the world (okay, in Canada) who doesn’t listen to the CBC. Hopefully no one will revoke my citizenship; I just don’t do talk radio. Add that to the fact that I am TERRIBLE at the “who sings this song/who’s in this band” trivia, I actually had no idea who Jian Ghomeshi was (despite knowing all the words to Green Eggs and Ham and the King of Spain) until I saw his fb disclaimer (?) reposted by an acquaintance. A quick “google” later and I thought, “hmmm, Moxy Fruvous guy is a CBC host” and carried on with my day because I’ve never been overly concerned about what two consenting adults do together. But then the allegations came out. And then more allegations came out. And suddenly it wasn’t two consenting adults and probably never had been. And people started talking about it. And lots of his “fans” were defending him. And I absolutely believe in “innocent until proven guilty”, but more importantly, I absolutely believe that the women who came forward are BRAVE. A male friend asked me, “why didn’t they come forward when it happened?” and I found myself explaining rape-culture and the stigma that is attached to the victim and the dozens of other reasons a woman would try to just move on with her life without being forever branded as “that woman who was sexually assaulted” or worse, “that woman who said she was sexually assaulted”. And I really think he got it. And if the so-called “Jian-gate” creates enough conversation for a few more people to “get it” and if the women who come forward get some peace of mind and if other women start to feel that they can report these crimes and if men start to realize that they play a huge role this “women’s issue”, then maybe we can grow as a nation. I hope so.
    Wow. Didn’t realize I felt so strongly about the whole thing until I started writing. Thanks for letting me vent! 🙂

    • dilovelyadmin
      25 November, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Krista, I know. I get so mad if I think too long about rape culture and the lose-lose situations it creates – and how women are thought of as whiners or sh*t disturbers for coming forward about these things, especially when they work in boys’ clubs of whatever type… Grrrrr…

      I really, really hope you’re right that we can, as you say, “grow as a nation.” Yes.

      And BTW, there is also CBC 2 – all music! All kinds! Tonnes of Canadian! Just sayin’.

  4. Janina
    25 November, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    When the people we admire fall from grace it hurts us psychologically. And that’s a tough one to swallow.
    Who do we trust anymore? I don’t expect famous people to be perfect. I know they’re human.
    But lately too many have fallen. Bill Cosby-who I’ve admired since watching him on I Spy is also on the “Down Road”. Again it hurts to think that we have been sold a lie.
    I’d only started listening to Q in the past year. Really enjoyed it-and Mr Ghomeshi’s interviews-which were insightful and intelligent.
    I’ve never been a star-struck type…but I always thought I had a good sense of people and trusted my intuition.
    Oh well…The world has gone into the toilet.
    I guess the only ones I will believe in is myself, my close friends,family and my cats. They’ve never let me down and are honest to a fault.

    • dilovelyadmin
      25 November, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      Achh, Bill Cosby. Same thing – but worse, since he’s been an icon for so much longer, and a symbol of all the good, progressive societal things. My sister and I have been talking a lot about him, and grieving too.

      I hope the world is not actually GONE into the toilet… but I know how you feel. I’m having one of those days right now… Sigh.

      Best wishes and hang in there, Janina.

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 3rd, 2014 at 11:05 pm and is filed under Foughts and Theelings, HotButtonitis, Politethics, PopCulturalism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

 
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