Monday, March 21, 2022

TV: 'No one was looking after me!' (that includes you yourself)

"Sometimes the most loving thing that you can do,"  Evan Rachel Wood insists, "is hold someone accountable."

It's an interesting statement to feature in HBO's 'documentary' series PHOENIX RISING considering how free of accountability Evan  is when it comes to herself.  


We're not fans of Marilyn Manson.  One of us warned Jimmy Iovine in 1996 that Brian Warner (aka Marilyn Manson) was not someone to be in business with and that what came out of his brain was not something that would result in pride  twenty years from now.  Jimmy didn't listen.  And here we are with Evan Rachel Wood and four other women accusing Warner of abuse. Rose McGowan and his ex-wife Dita Von Teese state they were never abused in their relationships with Warner -- with Rose noting that one woman not being abused does not mean that the person would not abuse in another relationship.  If Brian is guilty of abuse, we're not surprised.


But, at this point, nothing has been confirmed in court and maybe things would be better for everyone if people stopped lying.

 No rain will mar your tall tales.  Except . . .


If you try to make them public.  And if you do, we have every right to stand with truth and call you out on your s**t.  Which is why we called out ROCKET MAN/  As we've noted Elton John loved and actively sought rough trade in the 70s.  So the abuse angle in his 'biographical' film is less than honest when it doesn't inform you that Elton liked S&M and surrendering control.  That's why he ended up with John Reid.  And that's fine and dandy.  If certain things are what turn you on, pursue them.  But don't play the cowering victim years after the fact and pretend like you never had a clue.  

Or don't insist, as a woman we called out here did, that her husband abused her and that it was so bad and during all of this Barbra Streisand was attempting to get you to write the soundtrack for A STAR IS BORN.  This abuse, took place in 1979.  We're not naming her here because we're told she cried and cried over what we wrote here and that she thought we were her friends.

Let's deal with the last part first.  We're not her friends.  We've never been her friends.  We know her.  One of us has known her for almost 20 years, the other for over 30 years.  We've never lunched.  We've never visited one another's homes.  We are cordial when we bump into each other but we don't even talk on the phone.  So don't deliver a guilt trip to our door about how we betrayed you.

On the former, we're sorry you cried.  But you were defending someone who is in a position of power and who was being called out by the world press for what she was doing (Aung San Suu Kyi).  We take a government attacking and arresting reporters seriously.  We take cracking down on a people seriously.  

You felt something, we don't know what, and we were forced to evaluate you.  Yeah, we did it here, but we're explaining our process.  Both of us, we accept you as you are, we don't question you (this is anyone we meet up with for the firs time) and we know that if you say something it might not be literally true but  emotionally true.  

If you're someone we meet, we're not spending our time discussing you or evaluating you.  You're someone we know and we may become good friends or not but we're fine with who you presented as . . .  up until the point where you do something that makes us recoil.  That's when we analyze.

And when the woman started defending the awful Aung San Suu Kyi, we immediately went through our brains about everything she had ever told us.  What we published?  Based solely on what was already public and she can consider herself lucky for that.  

But, yeah, you lied about the abuse at least in terms of the timeline.  Other details about it never made sense.  All the details added to paint you as the true one, the loyal one, the one who didn't lie -- strange considering your husband was a man and you would then admit to being a lesbian years later, but whatever, you were there for him 100% and would have stayed with him forever and blah blah blah, you insisted.

Sorry that we blew the lid off your memoir.  Maybe next time don't provide 'documentation' that has abuse happening in 1979 as Barbra's trying to get you to write the music for A STAR IS BORN.  

For those who don't grasp the problem, Barbra's film A STAR IS BORN came out in 1976 -- there would be no reason for her to ask anyone, in 1979, to write a soundtrack for it.  (And the woman we're not naming this time was neither married to nor dating this man in 1974, 1975 or 1976.)


We're not fools and we're not fond of 'documentaries' that only work if the audience is foolish.


So, no we're not fans of PHOENIX RISING.


What's the purpose of this HBO limited series?


To celebrate Evan Rachel Wood?


For what?  She's not that good of an actress.  She should be studying her craft.  She's a child actress who recites exactly what is on the page and makes her face match whatever she's saying.  That's acting to her.  Characters with internal conflicts?  Ones who shake their heads "no" while saying "yes"?  Things like that don't enter her empty head.  This despite the fact that she's beaming on camera with a wide grin while recalling a fight her parents had when she was a child that caused her and her brother Ira to flee the house and how "we could still hear the yelling from outside the house."  When performing, Evan  can only offer the most literal take and that's why she's not much of an actor.  As a child actor, that made her incredible to some.  (We think her performance in 13 is both brilliant and ignorant -- it's spotty and the only thing holding it together is Holly Hunter's reactions as Evan's mother.)  It doesn't cut it as an actress once you become an adult.


Her beauty?


She's not pretty. She was wrongly considered it when she was younger.  She was shiny.  And, this matters in a racist society, she was blond.  Shiny and blond passed for pretty when people weren't paying attention to things like bone structure.  Now you can't avoid and it looks a bit like Dr. Frankenstein manufactured it.  Shiny is all gone now and it's hard to believe that's not the result of too much booze -- look at her face in close ups and then note the skin of her brother Ira who is actually older than her but has better skin.

So she's not a great actress, she's not a great looker, what's left? 

Her activism.  We could applaud her for that.

But part of the activism is the self-narrative she constantly tells (and tells again in this series).

And there are just too many problems with it.


She was ''groomed'' and other things.  She was the victim.  Poor Evan.

If all the things she said happened did -- if even only half did -- ti's still hard to admire her when she constantly stretches the truth, when's she's forever unaware that she's no unique flower in the garden and when she won't take responsibility for her own actions.

At one point, she's explaining -- boo-hoo -- that she didn't know about sex and was even fearful of her own genitals.  Boo-hoo.  You know why that was?  She was home schooled!!!!! 

That's what she tells you.

Okay.  So at the age of 12, she finally learned reality when she found an old nudie magazine on a street and looked inside.  




She went to public schools.  A detail she forgets.  She went to them until she was -- wait for it, 12.  That's not in the series.  You have to do the work because no one's working for the truth in PHOENIX RISING.  So the same year she begins her home schooling, she also learns about her genitals.  Her mother, she explains, wouldn't tell her and she couldn't, she explains, count on school because she had been home schooled.


What is it with these lies?


If we were sitting across from Even in the past and she shared that,  we would have just nodded.  (Today, we would not sit across from her.  We're not consumers of self-created drama.)  But she's not sharing this as conversation, she's putting it onto the public record and it's not the truth.

 There are things she says in the 'documentary' that don't strike us as truthful but we give her the pass for it in many cases.  That's not something that she ever does for the man she's accusing. 

He called her his "soul mate" and that's something he did to others!

What guilt does that prove?  Or how is that a shortcoming?  Most non-writers have a limited amount of terms they use in their daily lives.  Equally true, someone who uses "soul mate" is someone who thinks they found one.  To find one, you have to look for one.  And so he may very well have thought that Evan was his soul mate and then, after that was not the case, met Glenda or Brenda or Shonna or Donna -- or all and many more -- thought that she was his soul mate.

It's really something to watch how the 'documentary' tries to make almost every action and word from Brian's mouth seem to be proof that he's evil, guilty and a sociopath.


"He studied," Evan's  mother snarls to the camera.  "He studied how to manipulate people.  He's a predator.  He's a predator."


Apparently, Sara Wood believes that the best way to convince is through repetition.


Well, when you don't have the facts on your side . . .


Sara's lucky that she has Amy Berg on her side.  Amy's all about blaming Brian and all about elevating anyone who will blame Brian.  Which is how many viewers will miss who harmed Evan but gets off scot free: Sara Wood.


Sara hates Brian Warner with a passion.  Because of what he did to her daughter?  If so, that's only part of it.  What she mainly hates is that she couldn't rip her daughter off anymore.  Brian ended that.


It's a fleeing moment in the series.


Brian, Evan insists, was isolating her.  He was trying to keep her away from everyone.


Isolation does exist.  It exists in very abusive relationships.  That's isolation imposed.  When someone, however, chooses to isolate themselves, that's really not about anyone else.  Evan chose to isolate.

Why did she stand away from her mother?  Brian had warned her, she briefly notes to the camera, that she was too trusting and that if she called her business manager and looked into what her mother was doing with Evan's money, Evan wouldn't be happy.  


Brian being the villain of this 'documentary' and it being directed by a moron means that everything must be reduced to the most simplistic and cartoonish terms.  So Evan doesn't elaborate on what she found, just notes that Brian was correct and she took control of her own money.


Leaving aside the assault charges (which we'll get to) we found nothing unique in Evan's story of her relationship or in her story of herself.


She thinks she's some rare flower because she didn't know who she was when she was a young adult.  She wasn't ready, she whines, for the adult world and "had no core identity."  And then, "I just remember feeling completely lost, looking for a direction to go."  Apparently, Evan never had any friends.  Early adulthood is all about not knowing who you are for approximately 90% of people.


But she wants to be special and a little princess and that's what left us gagging the most while watching PHOENIX RISING.  If Evan ever once took responsibility for her actions, it could deliver a powerful message that would help future victims of assault.


Because assault can happens to anyone.  Not just the pure, not just the noble victims, it can happen to anyone.


Instead of serving up that reality,  she has to present herself as pure, pure, pure and Brian as evil, evil, evil.


 "It didn't matter what Evan wanted, it just had to be done," she says at one point still convinced she's a one-of-a-kind.  No, Evan, people are raised to believe that.  Guys especially are told to toughen up, to be tough, to keep it inside. 


At one point, she's insisting that this lack of a ''core''  created "the perfect target" for Brian.


No, what makes her "the perfect target" as she retrospectively tells this tale is the lies and omissions she repeatedly offers.  


At one point, she admits that she hooked up with Warner in 2006.  She also suggest it's earlier than 2006 when she talks of the warnings Jamie Bell gave her as her then-boyfriend, warnings about Warner -- she and Bell broke up in 2005.  Which would make her 17 or 18.  Facts don't always line up in these so-called 'documentaries.

If you don't get that from watching it, let's steer you to the garbage Even spewed and 'director' Amy Berg captured but neither seem to have processed.

Evan states he kissed her at 18.  That's what she says.  Then, with animation of a 12-year-old girl having some snake like tentacle going into her mouth, Evan explains it was all just so hard on her.  She felt flattered and she felt nervous.  And he had said he was going to miss her and she had replied he was going to miss him and he kissed her and blah blah blah.

Set aside the garbage -- which includes that awful animation -- and use your damn b8rain just once -- which is more than Evan or Amy do.  Ignore the ecstatic look on her present day face as she tells the camera that "It was like being kissed by a god."  Zoom in on her excuse for how it progressed.  She's not at fault, you understand, because it was her first time being kissed.

Freeze frame.

First time being kissed, she explains, that wasn't for a role.  

Hmm.  So exactly what did she and Jamie Bell do while they were seeing each other throughout 2005? 

In what world does that make sense?  Though it's not read aloud, there are passages on screen of Evan's manuscript where she writes about Jamie.  Jamie was 19.  We're really supposed to believe that he was with Evan for nearly a year, dating her, and that he, a 19-year-old man, never even kissed her?

Oh, Evan, you and your mother have worked so hard at creating one lie after another.  And Amy Berg made herself a sadder joke with this film than she did with OPEN SECRET. (OPEN SECRET is a strong documentary.  Berg made herself a joke by refusing to promote the film and by other actions she took with regards to the film in what we have always seen -- and said -- was an effort on her part to make sure calling out Bryan Singer didn't hurt her own career.  She took the money to make the film but then turned coward.)

You can see Evan struggling on camera to make that lie appear true.  She quickly adds that, on kissing, she means not on camera.  Then she adds that before Manson she'd only dated boys, teenage boys, before that.  Bell wasn't a boy.  He was a 19-year-old man.  Old enough to vote.  Old enough to drive.  

Why does she have to lie?


That's the real question that emerges from PHOENIX RISING. 


In this case, 'innocent and pure' Evan began her affair with Brian when he was married.  He had, in fact, just gotten married the year prior.  Despite the fact that Evan and her mother, in front of the camera, reach back through the years to find things that were wrong about Brian  but the two women never point out his being married at the time as anything that should have raised a "red flag" (to use Evan's favorite term).


According to Evan, Brian had a Nazi fascination.  "He always said," she declares, "that Hitler was the first rock star." That wasn't a "red flag" for Evan -- not then or after.  If we are to believe her.  If we are to believe this woman raised Jewish by a mother who practiced Judaism, sleeping with a man who had multiple Nazi illustrations and artifacts was no big deal and nothing that, even now, she feels should have been alarming.  Nor when he made fun of her for being Jewish.  Not even when he wrote "Kill all of the Jews" over their bed.


She's forever sharing details about him and you have to wonder about that, especially when she declares, "From what I gathered, his mother battled with mental illness."  Is this a documentary or a dish session?  

Let's talk abuse which brings us to 2007's "Heart Shaped Glasses."  That's a song by Marilyn Manson and Brian and Even appear in the video together.  She was drugged and she was abused on the set.

Her mother wants you to know that.  Evan does as well although mother indicates it was more than just booze.  "He was giving her absinthe and whatever else," insists Mom.  Absinthe, they both agree, was flowing.  And it was just so odd.


In the same documentary, Evan tells the camera, of when they were first getting to know each other, over a year before the video was filmed, "We did what we normally did, drink absinthe."  


At any rate, here's where the assault happens or, as Evan says, "Cut to filming the 'Heart Shaped Glasses' video."


Brian and Evan are lovers of over a year by now.  They're supposed to simulate having sex for the cameras.  According to Evan,  Brian actually stuck it in while they were being filmed.


She insists that these were "things that were not what was pitched to me" ahead of filming and Mommy's declaring that this was being done, "When she cannot consent!"

It was a set with a crew.  She could have stopped at any time.  She also could have said "no."  She didn't say "no" and she didn't stop it.  She did not attempt to push him off her.  They were lovers at this point and if it did happen we're not understanding where it's all Brian's fault.  

If a man tells us he wants to make out on camera for a music video and then starts sticking it in during the filming, we can say "no" and we can push him away and we can certainly call for help.


"I did not feel safe," huffs Evan before making one of her most annoying -- and telling -- statements in the 'documentary,' "No one was looking after me."


She insists that Brian, after she was "essentially raped," forced her to tell the press it was "romantic."  She also told the press -- not in the documentary -- that there was no penetration.  


The abuse was that "essentially raped" event at the video.  It also included, according to what she is shown testifying in a hearing before government officials, her waking up to him having sex with her -- that is rape.  She doesn't claim how many times that happened. 

All Evan wants now, she maintains, is "to tell my truth."

Well we've watched two episodes of PHOENIX RISING and we're still waiting for her to start doing that.


It's really pathetic and so is Evan who seems to think she's a princess and unique and someone that the world has to rush to rescue.  Though she didn't cry "Rape" or even "No" during the filming of the video, it was -- in her mind -- the job of the crew to come between a couple -- a real life couple -- as they were making out on camera.  Time and again, she reveals just how pathetic she is.  Such as when she relates being on tour with him early in the relationship and his having throat problems so a doctor has prescribed liquid vicodin.  He's flying high on drugs at this point.  She explains 


And after the show, we were on the bus and he didn't even know where he was.  I started getting really scared because he started getting violent and throwing things and I just thought now is when the handlers step in and defuse the situation and no one did. We showed up at the hotel, the bus parked and Manson just grabbed me by my arm and yanked me and, in front of everybody, he's dragging me by my arm into the hotel and, uh, no one's doing anything.  And he goes in and he immediately starts wrecking the room and smashing things and yelling.  And I looked back at the crew member like "You're not just going to leave me here?" You know, "You got to help me.''  And I remember him starting to slowly close the door and me going, "No, no, no, you can't leave me here."  And this guy I thought was my friend.  We had been on tour for a couple of months.

How damn pathetic.  Grow the f**k up.  No crew members owes you anything and "we" were not on tour.  Marilyn Manson, the rock group, was on tour and that's who pays the crew.  Evan thinks because she's a celebrity -- one few have ever seen a performance of -- that she's owed this and she's owed that.

You don't want to go with him, after you get off the bus, walk off. Need a moment to think so you walk into the hotel with him?  Okay, once you get into the lobby, run for the counter and tell the staff you need them to get a cab for you now.  Do any number of things but do not walk with him into the hotel, into the lobby, and accompany him to his room and then blame someone else for your being left in the room with him -- for your being left in a hotel room with your lover that you've decided to follow around the country as he works in one city after the next.

Take some damn responsibility.


And while you're at it, don't just take responsibility for the past, take it for this awful series you're a part of right now.  Take responsibility for animation in the series that sexualizes a young girl.  How does that belong in a series about assault?  How does putting an animated 12-year-old girl in a skirt so short it barely covers her ass fit into a series about assault?

It's all so pathetic and all so dishonest.

Evan Rachel Wood, if everything she says Brian did wrong to her was done to her, is a victim of many things and many people: Brian, her mother, society and, yes, even herself.  Letting young viewers know now that they can make some dumb decisions and end up with the wrong person would be helpful.  Letting them know to get the hell out when warning bells go off would be helpful.

Being stupid enough at 34 to whine that, while you did not cry rape or stop him, it was a crew's job to stop whatever you and Brian were doing on camera ("essentially raped," her words) or that it was a crew member's job to keep you from the hotel room of your then-lover?  That's not taking accountability.  Evan ended up where she did due to many factors and until she's willing to talk about her own role in it, she's not helping anyone.



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