With celebrity sexual assault and harassment scandals flowing from the showbiz industry, some people (including one CNN-based commentator) wonder whether they’ll feel comfortable consuming quality products involving seriously offending entertainers and producers. Meantime, some big-celebrity fans will continue viewing their favourites nonetheless, while others may indefinitely remain in denial, as superstardom’s brightness can be blinding—especially when the product becomes legendary.
For example, Michael Jackson’s questionable history of having young boy sleepovers at his Neverland Ranch, comes to my mind as a current example, because of the enormous organized vicious attacks via various media on anyone, including big TV producers, who dare suggest that the legendary pop-music artist was a pedophile. He simply was—and still is—that great and loved.
As a pre-broadcast-era artist example, it seems that few people today know or care about the reality of acclaimed author Lewis Carroll’s unsavory photographs.
The writer of the Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass children’s novels was in real the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, an Oxford mathematics professor and an amateur hobby photographer who’d taken thousands of photographs.
He also had little girl “friends” pose nude for his camera, including Alice Liddell, after whom his famous book character was named. She was one of the daughters of the dean of the university at which he taught.
It’s widely believed, however, that actual touching was not involved with his numerous girl posers.
Not long ago I asked four peers whether they were aware of this rather unorthodox photography hobby enjoyed by Carroll. All four had no idea. One, though, became agitatedly apologetic and diversionary in her defense of the author: “So what? Woody Allen had sex with his [teenaged adopted] daughter.” Another peer replied similarly.
Astounded, I felt sure they’d not be so dismissive had they viewed just a few of the many photos of seductive poses involving small child subjects.
Acclaimed writer and commentator Will Self stated the conundrum thus: “It’s a problem, isn’t it, when somebody writes a great book but they’re not a great person.”
Frank Sterle Jr.
I, a believer in Christ’s unmistakable miracles, personally would be quite willing to consistently say grace every day of every year if everyone on Earth—and not just a minority of the planet’s populace—had enough clean, safe drinking water and nutritional food to maintain a normal, healthy daily life; and I’d be pray-fully ‘thankful’ if every couple’s child would survive his or her serious illness rather than just a small portion of such sick children.
Furthermore, what makes so many of us believe that collective humanity should be able to enjoy the pleasures of free will, but cry out for and expect divine mercy and rescue when our free will ruins our figurative good day—i.e. that we should have our cake and eat it, too?
Obviously, it’s not desirable to challenge one of humanity’s greatest institutions on record—i.e. praying and saying grace to an omnipotent/omniscient entity—a pathetic fact quite evident by the total absence of this missive in virtually every newspaper on Earth.
Lastly, is it only me, or is there some truly unfortunate, bitter irony in holding faith and hope in prayer—when unanswered prayer results in an increase in skeptical atheism and/or agnosticism?
Thus, the following poem was penned with sincere consideration of the countless hungry souls worldwide for whom there’s nothing to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day—nor any other day of the year, for that matter—COVID-19 crisis or not …
Pass me the holiday turkey, peas
and the delicious stuffing flanked
by buttered potatoes with gravy
since I’ve said grace with plenty ease,
for the good food received I’ve thanked
my Maker who’s found me worthy.
It seems that unlike the many of those
in the unlucky Third World nation,
I’ve been found by God deserving
to not have to endure the awful woes
and the stomach wrenching starvation
suffered by them with no dinner serving.
Therefore hand over to me the corn
the cranberry sauce, fresh baked bread
since for my grub I’ve praised the Lord,
yet I need not hear about those born
whose meal I’ve been granted instead,
as they receive naught of the grand hoard.
(Frank Sterle Jr.)
In his book The Interpretation of Dreams, Dr. Sigmund Freud states: “It is painful to me to think that many of the hypotheses upon which I base my psychological solution of the psychoneuroses will arouse skepticism and ridicule when they first become known. For instance, I shall have to assert that impressions of the second year of life, and even the first, leave an enduring trace upon the emotional life of subsequent neuropaths [i.e. neurotic persons], and that these impressions—although greatly distorted and exaggerated by the memory—may furnish the earliest and profoundest basis of a hysterical [i.e. neurotic] symptom … [I]t is my well-founded conviction that both doctrines [i.e. theories] are true. In confirmation of this I recall certain examples in which the death of the father occurred when the child was very young, and subsequent incidents, otherwise inexplicable, proved that the child had unconsciously preserved recollections of the person who had so early gone out of its life.”
Contemporary research tells me that, since it cannot fight or flight, a baby stuck in a crib on its back hearing parental discord in the next room can only “move into a third neurological state, known as a ‘freeze’ state … This freeze state is a trauma state” (Childhood Disrupted (How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal, pg.123).
This causes its brain to improperly develop; and if allowed to continue, it’s the helpless infant’s starting point towards a childhood, adolescence and (in particular) adulthood in which its brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of inflammation-promoting stress hormones and chemicals, even in non-stressful daily routines.
I also now know that it’s the unpredictability of a stressor, and not the intensity, that does the most harm. When the stressor “is completely predictable, even if it is more traumatic—such as giving a [laboratory] rat a regularly scheduled foot shock accompanied by a sharp, loud sound—the stress does not create these exact same [negative] brain changes.” (pg. 42)
Decades before reading Freud’s theories or any others regarding very early life trauma, I’d always cringe at how producers and directors of negatively melodramatic scenes—let alone the willing parents of the undoubtedly extremely upset infants and toddlers used—could comfortably conclude that no psychological harm would result in the baby ‘actors’ screaming in bewilderment.
Initially I’d presumed there was an educated general consensus within the entertainment industry on this matter, perhaps even on the advice of mental health academia, otherwise the practice would logically compassionately cease. But I became increasingly doubtful of the accuracy of any such educated consensus.
(And why even designate them as ‘actors’, when true actors are fully cognizant of their fictional environment?)
Cannot one logically conclude by observing their turmoil-filled facial expressions that they’re perceiving, and likely cerebrally recording, the hyper-emotional scene activity around them at face value rather than as a fictitious occurrence?
I could understand the practice commonly occurring within a naïve entertainment industry of the 20th Century, but I’m still seeing it in contemporary small and big screen movie productions.
As just one relatively recent example, in the movie Hustlers (with actress Jennifer Lopez), a toddler is clearly actually distraught, wailing while caught in between a screaming match between mother (“Destiny”) and father characters.
Within the last two years, I’ve emailed, and left a voice message with, the Union of British Columbia Performers numerous times on this matter, all to which I received no response.
Meanwhile, in January of 2017, a Vancouver dog-rescue organization cancelled a scheduled fundraiser preceding the big release of the then-new film A Dog’s Purpose, according to a Vancouver Sun story, after “the German shepherd star of the film was put under duress during one scene.”
The founder of Thank Dog I Am Out (Dog Rescue Society), Susan Paterson, was quoted as saying, “We are shocked and disappointed by what we have seen, and we cannot in good conscience continue with our pre-screening of the movie.”
This incident created a controversy for the ensuing news week.
While animal cruelty by the industry shouldn’t be tolerated, there should be even less allowance for using unaware infants and toddlers in negatively hyper-emotional drama—especially when contemporary alternatives can readily be utilized (e.g. a mannequin infant or digital manipulation tech).
P.S. The actors guild has yet to reply to my query (sent many times), a copy of which is included below. That indicates to me that either I have a point, or I’m way off and not worth their time.
Are infants/toddlers who are not aware they’re in a fake environment still used in the production of negatively melodramatic or hyper-emotional small and big screen entertainment?
I’d think the practice would’ve been discontinued by now, due to current knowledge about the susceptibilities of the developing infant/toddler brain, but I’d like to know for sure.
Thank you for your time.
Frank Sterle Jr.
There are some guys who’ll understandably hesitate at speaking in public about their particular fondness for pet felines; for, to do so, unlike with expressing affection for a good sturdy canine friend, may be generally stereotyped as a man’s non-testosterone pet-animal inclination.
And, yes, there are people out there who’d implicitly or explicitly question the normality altogether of a guy who adores his pet feline(s)—something that’s implied by first-season Seinfeld’s George Costanza. In a doubtful tone of voice and a slight shake of his head while looking aside, George says to Elaine Benes in regards to her boyfriend cherishing his two pet felines: “Guys with cats … I don’t know …”
George’s line rushed to mind after one particular response I received upon posting a short essay onto a feline-fan site (accompanied by an adorable feline photo, of course); it was from a reader subtly questioning my ‘normality’, which left me feeling both embarrassed and angry.
It also brought to mind an early-1990s Vancouver Sun letter to the editor—aptly titled “A Man With a Cat Is Where It’s At”—in which the writer, a straight guy who adored his two pet felines, responded to some recently published cat-critical commentary. He frankly cautioned straight single women about relationship-seeking heterosexual guys who love dogs but dislike domesticated felines; for, what such men really want in a mate is, basically, submission—unlike the dudes with cats who more than appreciate a companion’s independent nature as well as a silky soft touch.
Within, Steve Eykel of New Westminster wrote the following response to another letter author’s cat-belittling: “Let me take a wild guess: [the writer] is a dog person, not a cat person. It’s not too surprising really. After all, a dog will lick your hand, grovel, cringe, do tricks and generally make you feel like the big strong alpha male you wish you could be. A cat will do none of these things. Women take note! This is an acid test for any man’s character. A man who prefers dogs is looking for subservience; a man who prefers cats is looking for a partner. You heard it here first.”
I further recollected how as a teen I knew two of the (if not the most) toughest, testosterone-laden, and (like myself) straight guys around, who also cherished their pet cats—albeit, no average guy would’ve foolishly openly expressed his pet-feline enthusiasm amongst his demographic peers, lest he seriously risk being unjustly deemed a wuss or in some other way having his reputation permanently besmirched.
(Frank Sterle Jr.)
Federal governments’ subservience to all things big money is reflected in their respective regulators’ passiveness in allowing airline corporations to make the life-risking decision to end their passenger seating distancing measures.
It’s yet further proof that big business basically calls the consumer-health shots, when it should be our non-lobbied elected officials.
When the COVID-19 crisis began, the most influential voice to have the ear of Canada’s government, for example, likely were the largest corporations, particularly the airlines; the result was resistance against an immediate halt in international commerce, including overseas flights, weeks of delay that may have translated into many Canadian COVID-19 deaths.
I believe similar governmental behavior toward national airlines was evident in the U.S. and Britain.
Those doubting the powerful persuasion of huge business interests need to consider how governing officials can feel crippled by implicit or explicit corporate threats to transfer or eliminate jobs and capital investment, thus economic stability.
(PM Justin Trudeau’s recent reputation-damaging experience with SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is one scandalized example. How many more are there about which we’ll never learn?)
Also concerning is that corporate representatives actually write bills for our governing representatives to vote for and have implemented, typically word for word (supposedly to save the elected officials their time).
A common government refrain prevails, that best business practices are best decided by business itself. Yet this was proven false by, as a most consequential example, Boeing’s decision to delay the grounding of its ill-fated 737 Max planes, regardless of indicators, including employee warnings, they should be grounded and serious software glitches corrected.
CEOs are not too stupid to realize their own descendants, children/grandchildren etc., will eventually suffer serious health repercussions due to the former’s reckless decisions, but the unlimited profit objective of the CEO nature is seemingly irresistible. One might depressingly recall the fox stung by the instinct-abiding scorpion while being carried across the river, leaving both to drown.
(Frank Sterle Jr.)
AFTER having created everything, God spent the seventh day resting with His cat Simone.
The black feline lovingly brushed against His ankles, getting His undivided attention. The cat looked up into His eyes and He adoringly down into hers.
Though Simone—of very independent mind as God intended her—considered herself more her maker’s close companion than His ‘pet’, the feline was such a beautiful and peaceable animal, the creator decided to make her His own special pet.
God had made Simone’s fur a dark black—the colour that made Him the most restful. It was the peaceful colour of everything before the universe’s beginning, its current chaotic state already somewhat concerning Him.
“Could You please create for me that ‘grooming brush’ idea You mentioned to me earlier?” Simone asked God (by way of her thoughts and trilling).
“Oh, yes,” replied He with a smile, “that item. Here it is, my beloved little friend.” Holding it in His hand, He slowly bent down onto one knee next to Simone.
The cat had already flopped herself down onto one side in the midst of a loud trill, as she’d anticipated God had created yet another great thing, and the brush’s bristles instantly looked very good to the well-furred feline.
God slowly stroked Simone’s glistening coat with the bristles’ smooth rounded tips, which left His four-legged friend experiencing immeasurable jubilation. The cat slowly closed her eyes, leisurely stretching out first her feet, then her paws, and finally with her fingers extending (seemingly all one at a time).
Then, when God paused, the purring Simone gradually opened her eyes and turned them sideways to look up at her gracious ‘host’. God saw it was a good sign that the bristled creation had received the cat’s nonverbal yet ecstatic approval.
As He reached again with the brush, the feline took the initiative by gently nudging her cheek forward into the massaging bristles, her eyes squinted, almost smiling, in absolute pleasure. This action was repeated, again and again and with greater enthusiasm, on her cheeks and side of head, her purring getting louder and more pronounced. Simone lost herself in those blissful bristle strokes.
As they slowly slid across her cheeks, the bristles caused her facial muscles to slightly contract and by extension her whiskers to adoringly move forward.
Smiling wide, God once more observed His little feline friend’s endearing exultant response and knew the sensations felt quite right, with Simone continuing to move each well-whiskered cheek this way and that way to receive the most satisfying full brush stroke effect.
Simone was exhilarated by the bristles sliding along her furred skin. And it wasn’t only on her cheeks; she also experienced ecstasy when groomed on her back and sides, about the ears, under her chin and down along the curve of her neck, and more.
It seemed every part of her—even her tail!—loved that grooming brush in motion. It was heavenly, and she felt she couldn’t have cherished any other sensation more than she did those brought about by the bristles. So much so, in fact, that even a hint of drool became noticeable at the corner of her seemingly smiling mouth.
Beaming, God glanced at His cat to ask (rhetorically, of course, for He knew the brush had performed its magic exceedingly well), “What do you think of my grooming creation, Simone?”
Again laying on her side, eyelids almost closed with every part of her so relaxed, she turned her head just enough to make eye contact with God to trill and let her thoughts be known: “Your brush bristle creation is good, very good.”
God’s heart sang with adulation for Simone and the accomplishment in making such felines an abundant aspect of His universe.
Yet, He knew that cats—especially those of the colour black—would too often be systematically despised and persecuted by Man.■
(Frank Sterle Jr.)