Saturday, 6 February 2016

Jian Ghomeshi and the cult of celebrity

I'm sure I'm not the only person who has been feeling uncomfortable over the coverage of the Jian Ghomeshi circus taking place in Toronto this week.

It's hard to look away when somebody is being burned at the stake.

It is so incredibly unfair, this trial. The women have done nothing wrong. Their only crime is that they had crushes on a celebrity whose favorite past time was to beat the shit out of women.

He's the bad guy, but they are being judged and found wanting.

What this trial is about is the cult of celebrity. It's about the abusers and the women who adore them.

If Ghomeshi had been the guy at Walmart fluffing the bananas, not one of these women would look at him. If he was the kindly teacher, he'd be up on charges faster than Fat Albert could say, "Hey, Hey, Hey!"

But he's a celebrity, a cute little gnome like creature with a sly smile, whose winks and nudges have made a lot of women and men wet over the years. And that puts him in another class.

I've met a lot of celebrities over the years, thanks to my day job, and I've encountered a few socially. I always tell my friends and my kids to stay away from them. A lot of celebrities are creeps with lots of money and a high opinion of themselves.

Like the Eagles, those nice California boys. Who wouldn't want to hang out with them at the after party, the shindig the boys referred to as "Spread Eagle?" Who wouldn't want to get up close and personal with writers, movie stars, rock legends who blow into town and leave with girls' panties draped over the drum kits.

What happens on the road, stays on the road, right?

The tabloids are filled with tales of celebrities behaving badly. Even little Justin Bieber was accused of punching a limo driver on the back of the head.

The mantra for girls everywhere, when dealing with celebrities, should be buyer beware. And that truth is no more evident than in the case of Ghomeshi, a cowardly little snit who waited until the girl's back was turned to clock her. And he got away with it for years.

Because he is a celebrity.

And he's still getting away with it. His pit bull, Marie Henein, can barely contain her glee as she rips apart the women on the stand, humiliating them, revealing them to be nothing more than silly little girls with school crushes who kept coming back for more. The subliminal message keeps being repeated over, and over, and over again. She wanted it. She asked for it.

The pitbull kept raising questions. Why would these women write love letters to a guy who upsided them on the head, or pulled their hair? Are they no better than the heroine in Fifty Shades of Grey?

The answer, in my mind is not a simple one. They crushed on a guy, he strung them along, then he bashed them in the head. That's not about them liking it, or asking for it. It's about him, the big celebrity rejecting them. That's why these women kept writing to him, and meeting him, because they felt humiliated by him, and were made to feel small. To a person, these women -- like abused children -- wanted to know what was wrong with them.

It's not about sex. It was never about sex. For Ghomeshi like Cosby, it was all about power. They used their power, their celebrity, to feast on unarmed women, blindside them, and humiliate them. What they left in their wake was nothing less than human destruction.

Even now, Ghomeshi holds all the power over those have been brave enough to step up, and expose themselves to public humiliation. Their reward is for it to happen all over again, this time in front of the nation, the world, even.

Because they are vulnerable, because they are human, because they are damaged, Ghomeshi still holds the cards, and will probably get away with it. He bought this trial, and his big city lawyer and her website that makes people think she's straight out of Boston Legal.

And the salacious media is stepping up to make sure everybody knows every lurid detail. Ghomeshi's women are being treated no better than the Salem Witches, burned at the stake of public opinion.

What woman would ever come forth now? It's a joke, a sideshow, a freak show played out for entertainment by media who are arguing that they should be allowed to show "bikini shots"  that are "in the public interest".

If there's any good news, it's that Ghomeshi will never, ever, work in this country again. He might win the battle but he's lost the war.

He'll never feel safe walking the streets of Toronto knowing that he's being watched. Suddenly, there will be no table at his favorite restaurant. His opinions won't matter because he'll be talking to the wall. Believe it or not, shunning is a fitting punishment for a narcissist.

Shun away, Canada.

Ghomeshi may have thrown these women on the fire, but he, in the end is the toasted marshmallow.

Sweet dreams, Jian.

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