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Varieties of Exploitation

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This account of Jian Ghomeshi’s dismissal from the CBC is fascinating and chilling reading. It’s not just that he apparently thought he could bully his CBC superiors like they were 21-year-old journalism students. What’s worse is that I suspect that in his infamous Facebook non-apology he was lying to himself but not to others — that he very sincerely believes he did nothing wrong. One of the striking things about his victims is that not a single one was in any kind of negotiated BDSM relationship with him. He was just entitled enough to think that if a woman consented to enter his house or kiss him they were therefore consenting to being punched in the face or slapped or choked to the point where one “gagged, couldn’t breathe, and felt she would vomit” without warning (let alone consent.) (Stepped Pyramid’s comments about the “kind of dime-store Bukowski worldview where degradation and desperation equal authenticity, and frustrat[ation] by the idea of treating their sexual partners as equals” seem relevant here.)

It’s probably not surprising, in light of this, that his treatment of unpaid interns involved rank economic exploitation even when they didn’t involve sexual harassment. His parting words to an unpaid intern who never saw the CBC offices and decided she no longer wanted to run personal errands and clean his house without compensation was particularly priceless:

My final interaction with him occurred when he was surprised I was leaving his apartment to go to a paying job. “What kind of future does catering give you?” followed by, “Is that all you care about, money?” Did he think helping him pack a suitcase was a bigger priority for me than eating? In my experience Jian was cordial and nice but entitled.

“WHY DO YOU WANT MONEY SO YOU CAN BURN YOUR GAMEBOY IN YOUR VCR YOU MINDLESS CONSUMER DRONE? Do you want to be like quintessential preppy Wall Street Republican Pat Buchanan? Now do go clean my toilets and pick up my dry cleaning for free and maybe you’ll be authentic enough to move to Cuba. I will, ah, meet you there.”

Moxy Fruvous – Stuck In the 90s from Tim Hamilton on Vimeo.

I promise not to inflict that one you until the next time I inflict it on you. But I find it fascinating because while normally being a good/bad person and making good/bad art have little to do with each other, in this case his bad art provides a retrospectively excellent indicator of what makes him a bad person — a poseur and self-serving hypocrite. As a rule, if someone’s idea of heaven is country made of of people just like himself, you probably want to run very quickly in the other direction.

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