Let’s take another plunge into the gutter with Jian Ghomeshi and friends, why the fuck don’t we, eh. This time, however, we will be joined on our journey by august stuffed Canadian companion Big Ears Teddy.
You read that right. Big Ears Teddy is in the house. But he shouldn’t have to see any of this, just as he shouldn’t have to see his buddy Jian cold-cocking and choking women whom he just brought home. Toronto civics have been sucked through a wormhole, and the other side is a place in which raising the specter of Rob Ford can serve only to refine the discussion. The mayor, a loyal friend of the bottle and the pipe, has habits of shoving reporters and city councilors, playing on see-saws with his brother (that’s some sturdy playground equipment, partner), and averring that he has more than enough to eat at home, but he has so far not been accused of introducing strange women to his stuffed housemates, then promptly turning the latter around so that he can shield their eyes when he commits battery on the former.
We’re talking about an internationally syndicated radio interview host who, according to two women whom he assaulted, invited them home, introduced them to a stuffed teddy bear, and then summarily beat them up. I’m on the fence as to where these introductions fall in the realms of sadism, sad-ass pathos, and insanity, but I’m not on the fence on the question of their being abnormal. This Ghomeshi dude sounds really fucking weird.
He was suspiciously defensive in the run-up to his public exposure, too, according to Kevin Donovan, a lead investigative reporter with the Toronto Star who tried to get Ghomeshi’s side of the sexual abuse allegations against him during a dinner at the Toronto Film Festival. Ghomeshi’s behavior at this dinner isn’t probative of his guilt, but it certainly looks like the evasiveness of a guilty man.
One of the striking things about the Ghomeshi affair is that it unfolded at a glacial speed. It’s perfectly reasonable that Donovan’s investigation wonuld continue for months before his first article about Ghomeshi went to press, but his accusers were bound by no such journalistic standards. They were private citizens who had been sexually attacked. There was no reason that they couldn’t promptly raise an alarm. They could have filed police reports, petitioned the courts for restraining orders, had Ghomeshi served with written warnings to henceforth restrain himself, sent him e-mails to the same effect, contacted in-house counsel at the CBC, gone to the press, or published blog posts naming him and describing his behavior. They could have done any or all of these things. Apparently, only one of them found the courage to take any such action, and by the time she did, Ghomeshi had been preying upon women for nearly a decade.
I hear faint echoes of Jimmy Savile in the Great White North. Ghomeshi doesn’t sound as bad as Savile, and unlike Savile he was not the beneficiary of a systemic coverup of his predatory behavior, but he still sounds pretty awful, and if the allegations against him are true, or were credible at the time, the way those around him responded is a national embarrassment.
The embarrassment extends to some of his victims. It certainly extends to Carla Ciccone and her publishers at XO Jane. What they did was frankly irresponsible and selfish. If Ciccone was genuinely alarmed by Ghomeshi’s behavior, she should not have milked it for a coquettish confessional piece about her encounter with a crypto-Ghomeshian bigshot on the Canadian radio scene who, incidentally, totally bummed her out by not being gay, since a man cannot be one’s best gay friend in Toronto if he likes to fuck chicks.
Ciccone’s is exactly the kind of frivolous, openly ulterior language that readily calls sexual assault accusations into doubt. It makes sober observers wonder whether the accused in fact preyed upon his victims or is merely surrounded by scheming groupies who use false or exaggerated allegations to avenge their sour grapes. Michael Jackson, a pervy-ass motherfucker if ever there was one, used the disrepute of his accusers to his great benefit. When he was prosecuted for child molestation, his attorneys deftly made his accusers look like accomplices working on behalf of their own star-struck, thievish parents to extort a music star and then try to ruin him after the fact. The whole spectacle made Michael Jackson look to some observers like another victim of a baroque Greek tragedy set at a private amusement park. Some of these skeptical observers, perhaps, were on the jury at his criminal trial. The notion of Jackson as a victim gained credibility when he met his end at the hands of Dr. Conrad Murray, a physician who fraudulently billed himself as a cardiologist and accidentally killed him with a medically contraindicated home administration of a general anesthetic agent indicated for exclusive use in operating rooms.
Some people won’t even try to make heads or tails of accusations brought against celebrities who are surrounded by orbit upon orbit of groupies, and it’s hard to blame them. The starstruck have all sorts of reasons to bring false accusations against celebrities, and they’re often openly ulterior in their motives. Assuming that they’re full of shit is prejudicial but not entirely unreasonable. If they have money and fame, someone is reliably trying to screw them over or putting up with a lot of their inappropriate behavior in the hope of riding their coattails to easy wealth. When the accusations involve rough sex, as they do with Ghomeshi, the other parties likely have strong incentives to make themselves look unwilling. There are rumors that Ghomeshi has saved records of copious text messages from former sex partners who expressed pleasure at having been subjected to his pain. If this is the case, he has a reasonably strong defense at his disposal.
He may be in an even better position on account of the broader sexual culture of Toronto, in particular that of its club scene. Ciccone raised the specter of “game” by way of mentioning that Ghomeshi didn’t have any. Some of the most critical things I’ve read about club skanks on PUA sites concern women in Toronto. Some of the same writers have only positive things to say about women on the club scene in Montreal, so it isn’t some kind of counternationalism directed at Canadian chauvinists.
These stories make quite a bit of sense. Toronto is, forgive the analogy, Canada’s New York City. It is bar none the place to be for people who want to break into the Canadian big time. And Canada doesn’t have a second city in the mold of Chicago or Los Angeles. Ottawa is podunk. Montreal is marginal to the country at large because its residents don’t care to speaka the English. Calgary and Edmonton attract youngsters on the make in the geotechnical and engineering businesses, and Vancouver gets the hedonists. Regina, Halifax, and Moncton are major centers of LOLLZLZOLZLZOZLO you can’t seriously believe that they’re centers of anything, except for Regina, which is in the dead center of nowhere. (Okay, Churchill is worse.) No, Canadians who want to make a splash on the national scene go to Toronto. And that excludes the ones whose attitude towards Canada is fuck this joint, I’m going south of the border.
Toronto is full of prizes that are surrounded by long knives. Arguably Jian Ghomeshi is one of these prizes. He certainly seems to have such an opinion of himself.
There’s still the question of why the hell more people weren’t willing to stand up to Ghomeshi. That is, what does it take to establish a culture in which people are willing to hold celebrities accountable to the rule of law? It may require jettisoning the very belief in celebrity. They’re given special consideration because they’re considered special, after all. Celebrity is probably inimical to the rule of law, and the rule of law to equally inimical to celebrity. Jian Ghomeshi is one of these people who, well, I’d totally ditch that creep, but if I did that I wouldn’t be able to get into a Metric concert for free.
David Clayton-Thomas, a heavily medicated Canadian who saw crazy shit on the carousel, never thought up anything this freaky.