Tuesday, September 9, 2014

AAP Optics

AAP is Sport Canada*'s Athletes Assistance Program.

Athletes Assistance Program

The link should provide answers to questions about eligibility, compliance, how the financial support is received, etc. The AAP exists to financially assist Canada's high performance athletes whose NSOs (National Sports Organizations) are AAP-eligible, and who have had a top sixteen or above finish at the previous World Championships or Olympics, or who demonstrate the potential for such placement in the next World Championships or Olympics. It is not a reward for past results. It exists to subsidize an athlete's current training and living expenses while training for upcoming international events and World championships and/or Olympics.

Athletes carded for and receiving AAP support as of August 1, 2014.

Kaitlyn Lawes is also S1, and receives $18,000.

According to how AAP administers financial assistance to its carded athletes as specified in its Policies and Procedures manual (relevant examples below), and unless Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue have renounced their eligibility since August 1, 2014, their shared household currently receives $3,000 a month ($1,500 each*) in living and training allowance money from Sport Canada's Athletes Assistance Program.

There are exceptions to the residency requirements (see document link above) that anyone at Scott and Tessa's level could easily meet.

At Skate Canada, Mike Slipchuk (Skate Canada's High Performance Director) would be responsible for compliance oversight. An NSO's AAP-related responsibilities include (but are not even close to being limited to), the following:

The carded athletes themselves must sign the AAP agreement affirming that they understand and are in compliance with AAP policies.

More policy:

This is athlete assistance for Olympic, para-Olympic, and certain qualified categories of non-Olympic sports. It's not assistance for a couple of ice dancers watching from the stands at HPC as they transition from competitive athletes to mentors/advisers.

It's not a subsidy for show skaters whose days and nights consist of golfing, going to school, shopping, hanging out at the nonexistent family farm, walking red carpets, having girls night outs, enjoying musical theater, or pretending to golf or camp with the fake girlfriend. It's a subsidy for high performance athletes in training.

I suspect there's something Scott and Tessa aren't telling us. What are the odds?

Unless the athlete is injured or pregnant, in which event, a) the athlete in question can take off four months, during which time it appears AAP considers the athlete's training status to be the NSO's purview, not AAP's (so in Scott and Tessa's case, that's Slipchuk), or b) if the athlete has to curtail a full training/competitive schedule for a longer period of time due to illness, injury or pregnancy. In the latter event, they will continue to receive their full AAP assistance as long as they set themselves up to return to full high performance training at the earliest possible date, as per these guidelines:

Scott and Tessa receive the monthly living and training allowance awarded S1/S2 carded athletes.

From what I've been able to read so far (haven't found Skate Canada's own AAP document yet), most winter sport carding cycles end after the sport's competitive season concludes (often spring to spring), for each of the nomination period's two eligible years. It would certainly be odd if Skate Canada's cycles began/ended somewhere in the middle. But, whenever the given sport's cycles run, AAP compliance must be maintained month-to-month.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Concept of Not You (2)

There won't be a new post til this coming week, so I've split the current post for a new comments section.

Why would a privileged figure skater who has the entire world kissing her ass announce that Taylor Swift's Kiss My Ass Shake It Off number was her #themesong in the process of making a pointed spectacle of how rude and uncaring she intended to be and was entitled to be?

Did Tina Fey sideswipe Tessa Virtue at the Golden Globes? Have the tabloids been running her down?

I don't think so. The media is up her ass. She's got her twitter followers fawning over her, calling her stunning, gorgeous, brilliant and role model. She's got twitter followers praising her every time she clears her throat on twitter. She can't mention Benjamin Moore paint without a Valspar representative on twitter offering to hook her up with free Valspar. She's got videographers using their own talents, time and energy, free, to create material celebrating her work with Scott, videographers who consider it an honor.

Yet somehow this woman positions herself as an underdog, and the people who are really powerless, the little bugs/pesky fleas she and Scott manipulate and disparage, are her oppressors. Does she not appreciate what she's got - not even enough to recognize that she's much better off than the great majority of her fans, and maybe she should keep that in mind when she and Scott execute their agendas?

It doesn't seem like it. They're the only two people in the world. Just as Davis and White felt entitled to appropriate the poverty of Detroit as a public relations value add for their marketing, Scott and Tessa repurpose vulnerable, well-intentioned, eager-to-please, less successful, less privileged people - supporters of their skating - as adversaries/enemies so they can show off how strong, resilient and courageous they are. That's pathetic.

Two teams who are so privileged they have to manufacture adversity. Adversity was image for Davis White, and it seems like adversity helps Virtue and Moir thrive as skaters. It's a thrill on the ice, why not take it off ice, even if they're so privileged/cosseted/praised it has to be fabricated? That's not self-indulgent at all. Imagine being so privileged you can set up people's best wishes, good intentions and happy birthdays on a twitter account YOU created and publicized as one of your many oppressive burdens.

That's a lot of privilege there, let me tell you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Concept of Not You

This post is working up to its point, so the first few paragraphs aren't THE point, but setting up the point.

The kindest construction I can put on what Tessa did yesterday is solidarity. Scott is bashed for rudeness on his past birthdays (but only on the blog, which is a joke, right). Rather than "show him how it's done" on her twitter, thus showing him up, Tessa is also rude. She deliberately joins him in the Coliseum and cues up Fuck You Shake It Off on the soundtrack before the lions are uncaged on both of them instead of him alone.

So, in the most charitable possible hypothesis, Tessa did what she did yesterday because of criticism of Scott on one blog, and the rest of the fans who are "innocent" - all the fans everywhere else who fall over themselves being nice - can just suck it up - she has a point to make and a cross to climb, and a middle finger to throw up.

Make no mistake, Tessa knew she was going to do this from the day she joined twitter. #bekind

Under most circumstances, it might be egocentric to wonder if what Tessa and Scott do is in any way driven by what the blog says. Why would they direct their behavior towards one blog instead of keeping in mind the legion of fans NOT on the blog, who are incredibly nice to them.

In this case, I don't think it's egocentric to wonder if the blog gives them their cover story to be really meanspirited. They were meanspirited before the blog. The blog shows up and criticizes them, the blog becomes a reverse engineered excuse. They WANT to pretend the blog stands for all fans. It gives them a pretext to be dicks to very nice people, to tell themselves fans deserve what Scott and Tessa dish out. Scott and Tessa are in the continual offensive position, pretending they're playing defense.

Who wouldn't treat legions of really nice people like crap just to flip the bird at one?

That's the most charitable way to look at yesterday, because yesterday had nothing to do with shipper fans wanting a front row seat to, you know, the incredibly intrusive, personal experience of a figure skater wishing happy birthday to her skating partner on her public twitter account. Yes, fans would have been excited/happy if she'd done it, like the time Alex Paul shouted out Mitch Islam's birthday on HER twitter, even though they share a house and she could say it straight to his face in the kitchen.

In other words, yesterday had nothing to do with shipper shit that fans wanted from Tessa.
It wasn't about HER. Neither she nor Scott ever EVER understand when it's not about them. It's always about them.

But it was about this: 

Tessa joins twitter. Her account is public. She reached out, she's brought Scott into the conversation. (#partnerincrime). Fans respond. She interacts. She set it up, she made the first moves, she requested people's attention.

Then she purposefully shows up on his birthday where all of these people are eagerly asking her to pass on their best wishes, and she pretends she can't hear them. She makes a point of being there in order to demonstrate: "I'm ignoring you."

She didn't have to shout him out in a unique tweet. Her rudeness had nothing to do with not wanting to wish her husband happy birthday on twitter. It's about showing up to let people know she's ignoring them on purpose. Some fans said "Would you say happy birthday 'when you see him'" - careful not to assume she'd see him on Sept.2. She could have said "will do."

It really isn't about fans wanting to see her publicly engage with him on his birthday. It's not about fans thinking she doesn't care about Scott enough to say happy birthday. No matter what fans tell themselves, they know damn well she acknowledged his birthday. They'd rather pretend it's about Scott and Tessa than talk about the truth: it's about how Scott and Tessa treat them.

It's about how Tessa made a point of being on twitter on September 2 in order to make a show of ignoring all the people who had the effrontery to think it was okay to wish Scott a happy birthday on her twitter.

I hope we're all ashamed of ourselves, forcing the woman to get a twitter account, demanding that she reach out to fans, insisting she keep it public. Same with Scott. Sorry Scott!

This is about how they treat other people, not about what other people want from them. They have never understood the difference. The two concepts are NOT always connected.

Prior to Worlds 2013, Scott and Tessa were in London with a few Skate Canada officials/staff who were speaking to a group of London business people about the opportunities built into hosting the Figure Skating World Championships in their city. As London natives, Scott and Tessa were there to promote the glories of London to those planning to attend the event. Recall that they've been doing interviews, promotions, public relations for about sixteen years at this point. They sit down. The journalist gives them lead ins to start talking about London. They react as if he's fishing for personal information.

It wasn't about them. When he kept circling back, trying to find another way to get through their thick skulls, they shifted, deflected and parried.

Debbi Wilkes, Skate Canada's then Director of Business Development (previously Director of Marketing and Public Relations) is an idiot. What kind of idiot, though? Did she completely fail to prep Scott and Tessa - that kind of idiot? Or was she idiot enough to believe that a pair of married twentysomething adults who have been doing this for sixteen years would have the brains to know that when they're in London to promote London, the job is to promote London?

There's something about Scott and Tessa where they like to think of themselves as beset and besieged, misunderstood, always up against it. In skating, I get it. It's easier to get motivated when everyone's against you. It also seems that they create programs that give them these kinds of challenges - will we be able to get on top of these extraordinarily difficult programs in time to crush it at Worlds? As Scott once said, he likes things to be hard. They like to feel "we have each other, who cares about the rest."

What's the deal in their p.r./off-ice life though? Why do they do the same thing? On ice, it gives them fuel. Off ice, in order to put themselves in that underdog position, they have to treat their supporters like garbage until the supporters start to protest, and then they use that protest as fuel to get defensive and defiant. They deliberately hurt other people - the supporters of their skating - to get a psychological fix for themselves. (#likeitornot!)

They have odd concepts of strength, odd concepts of adversity.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fans on the short bus

Happy twenty-seventh birthday to Scott Moir, still officially pretending the woman he's been married to since shortly after his twenty-second birthday is not his wife. Still officially pretending his daughter doesn't exist.

It's been mentioned below that Alma Moir has started following Kaitlyn Lawes. I guess pre-season on this love story is now over.

When I look at the latest group of newly-minted VM fans, they are exactly the same as the 2010 group of VM fans. Publicly exchanging fan fic and speculation, but believing if they tip toe, Scott and Tessa won't notice. Fingers crossed, if everybody's real quiet, Scott and Tessa might work up the courage to tell each other how they feel and maybe even do something about it.*

It's ridiculous, but I can't disparage it too much, because it's what all fans do with all real life "OTP"s. It's only Scott and Tessa who mock and exploit the hell out of it, fans never knowing the joke's on them.

People inside and around figure skating who endorse Scott and Tessa's behavior believe what they do is justified because of the kinds of fans around figure skating.

The reality is these are the only sorts of fans figure skating wants and acknowledges. These are the fans Scott and Tessa cultivate. When these are your fans, you've got a year-in/year-out free pass.

From the comments section in the post below:
August 27, 2014 at 9:13 PM
I don't like how the ISU conducts itself. It's insulting to the supporters and consumers of figure skating that they're sold a bill of goods, expected to swallow it, and further encouraged to support the sport financially.

But, huh. According to your logic, why should I care about that? Why should I care about being told D/W's win in Sochi was legitimate even though it reeked of ISU corruption? Why should I care about how that impacts other people in detrimental ways, perhaps in ways that I will never see or know about in great depth?

The bullshit with your above post and so many others like it is that when V/M are getting screwed by a corrupt organization that can fuck with them and its audience and paying supporters JUST BECAUSE IT CAN GET AWAY WITH IT, the criticism of that is deemed acceptable. When V/M fuck with their audience and paying supporters JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH IT, the pathetic and poorly constructed "why do you people give a fuck???" attempts to redirect the conversation come raining down.
In the two posts below I considered if corporate sponsors, particularly "Please be aware we are SATURATED in integrity" brands like Lindt chocolate, would feel comfortable partnered with star athletes of any other sport who were doing to their supporters what Scott and Tessa are ritualistically doing to theirs (outlined in the posts below), including all the backdoor, hashtagged: "look at me with @scottmoir @fakegirlfriend #staycool #rolemodels" bullshit they generate on other people's accounts.

I think no. I think those that handle sponsorships/relationships, etc. for the particular corporations/networks/publications/publishing houses that partner up with Scott and Tessa are comfortable trampling over checkpoints only because it's figure skating. The key is status. We have no status, so they don't bother with standards.
When people show you who they are, believe them.

Maya Angelou
Once again, I looked up Steve Milton, sportswriter. He's written nine "books" about figure skaters. Nine. In all that time - two decades -  he hasn't felt the need to read CoP, or recognize for himself the difference between a step and a turn, an edge or a flat, which - nobody's surprised. I look forward to his tenth and eleventh figure skating books.

When he writes about hockey and football he writes about the actual game, which he knows, because, you know, real sport.

He's in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame for his work as a football journalist. Per The House of Anasi's bio he's a National Newspaper Award finalist, multiple Ontario Newspaper Award winner, and Gemini Award finalist. The House of Anasi is the publishing house that put out Scott and Tessa's book all about their platonic love, "written" while Scott and Tessa were married and expecting their first child.

You'd think a legit guy like this would have a qualm or two about pumping out a book under his name that markets itself as the truth, but is a complete, total hoax, but apparently he had none. Why no qualms, Steve? Because it's us. Scott and Tessa deserve the publicity, celebrity and financial opportunities that come from selling their true story, but they also need to have that precious truth unsullied by skating fans knowing anything about it. This makes complete sense to everybody around them. I feel pretty sure that, given the green light by his subjects, the eminent sports journalist Steve Milton would, without a second's reflection, happily explain why it's okay to write and sell a fake biography as a true biography as long as it's to skating fans, and how Milton's first duty/responsibility as a journalist was protecting the likes of Scott and Tessa from the likes of us.

Everybody involved in the sham appears cloaked in sanctimony. Scott and Tessa should be protected from the unseemly interest fans have in their relationship. Scott and Tessa should also be able to profit from the unseemly interest fans have in their relationship. Scott and Tessa are entitled to encourage prurient interest in their relationship and their private lives, so they can keep profiting.

Everybody feels that way about every project Scott and Tessa undertake - a couple of reality shows, latest sham rollout, getting themselves on social media. Look at Shannon Woodhouse, the program manager of the University of Western Ontario's Joint Motion program. She's not risking anything when she uses her public social media account to facilitate the latest round of Virtue Moir hoaxing of the public.

From the University of Western Ontario's landing page:
Public Accountability
The University of Western Ontario is committed to openness and transparency in all our operations.  We are an institution supported by and accountable to the people of Ontario and of Canada, and we make every effort to provide information as to our activities and to monitor our performance in key areas of interest for all the constituencies we serve.
They mean in how it conducts itself as a university, not whether or not one of its employees goes out of her way to help set up a public hoax for the personal benefit/agenda of the local heroes. Besides, Woodhouse covered her ass. She just waxed fanlike, and said she saw Lawes/Moir together. We know what she was doing, and so does UWO, but she can get away with it. Apparently when companies like Lindt, and public institutions like UWO commence to bragging about transparency, it just means in the areas in which they're accountable. If they're not accountable, none of that shit matters. They're all doing it right in front of us, they can thumb their noses at it. We do now see just what all this trumpeting of integrity is worth. It's situational. Some people, such as figure skating fans, are too low status and inconsequential to be treated with the most rudimentary respect. Hell, it's not even the absence of respect that's on display here. It's contempt.

Alma Moir, who has just become one of Kaitlyn Lawes' followers on twitter, has coached UWO's synchro skating team for three decades, and coached at the Ilderton Skating Club since forever. That's how she earns her living. She's a notable in London and Ilderton, and for at least seven years she, and her entire family, which includes other Moirs who coach at the ISC and at UWO, have actively participated in hoaxing, tricking and aggressively manipulating the supporters of her sport and the fans of her son and his wife. Nothing wrong with it, and by "wrong" they mean "We can get away with it."

I suppose it's possible that Scott and Tessa lied their faces off to Steve Milton, a guy who knows all of the key players going back two decades. If so, they exploited his name and credentials, and deceived him into putting his good journalistic name on a bunch of lies, making a fool of him and potentially damaging his reputation down the line. I wouldn't put it past them to do it because they suck at making connections, or doing any kind of action/result math.

But I don't think so, because Tessa was awfully pregnant at that book signing Milton attended with them, and he's subsequently reiterated their platonic status, taking the obligatory sideswipe at fans while he was at it.

And as it went for Steve Milton, so it went for the "W' network. I think the W network might have been cautious about a reality show featuring a couple of champion tennis players who were married with a child, but for the reality show pretended to be single/dating others while instructing the public to tune in and see their real lives, like it or not. Those champion tennis players might be hesitant about it as well. But at least we know ethical concerns wouldn't be a factor. The question is only, "Can we get away with it?" and with champion tennis players, it might have been a gamble. Figure skating is a different ball game. Everybody now knows that in figure skating, you can make anything up and pretend it's true. You can get away with anything, on ice and off. Just look at all the people going out to make the most of that. It's instructional, that's for sure.
*This group of fans, who see Scott and Tessa as real life fantasy figures, who discuss, speculate and create fan fiction in plain sight in public areas of the internet, are the only fans that Scott and Tessa recognize. And yet, Scott and Tessa lie about THESE fans. All of the fan fic these people write is a triangle. In these fan fictions, the authors believe in Jessica, Cassandra, Kaitlyn, and position Tessa as looking in from the outside. None of these people are writing fan fiction about Scott and Tessa, the married couple with a daughter. These fans that BELIEVE Scott and Tessa, and everything they do pivots around swallowing those lies, while Scott and Tessa, when they interview, pretend these are the fans who keep thinking they're romantically involved.

The mutual condescension is interesting. The fans are patronizing Scott and Tessa, protective of a Scott and Tessa that don't exist, protective of a couple of celebrity ice dancers who in their eyes, remain in some sort of high school level social dynamic (IOW, they're at the same level as these fans) and lack any of the sophistication that anyone who is in the public eye acquires after six months, let alone after seventeen years. Scott and Tessa patronize and condescend to these fans. These are the fans Scott and Tessa want, but they also distort what these fans believe. I wonder what these fans think when Scott and Tessa do their spiel about "We're not together and we don't know how to convince people other than to just keep repeating it!" Do they think Scott and Tessa are talking about the blog? Then who were Scott and Tessa talking about in the years they said these things before there was a blog?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kaitlyn Lawes' twitter post split in two

There will be a new post later (but probably after the weekend), and the commments section is getting unmanageable again. I've split the twitter post to open up a new comments section.


What if an athlete pretended to be an orphan, talked about the challenges of growing up without parents, did a reality show built around their background as an orphan, but meantime, his/her parents, who raised them, were alive, well and helping to write the script?

What if an athlete were single, but presented himself/herself on social media as married with kids, hired people to fill those roles, and their entire network of fellow athletes/media personalities/sponsors thought there was no problem with it and helped him/her market this version of themselves? Did a lot of second hand image drops showing him/her enjoying vacations/events/outings with their "family"?

Is the reason we don't see more stunts like [Scott and Tessa's hoax] a matter of media self-policing, not broadcast rules and regulations? (Although after Scott and Tessa have normalized it, surely we'll see comparable situations going forward.) Suppose the tabloid media didn't follow the participants in a show like The Bachelor, didn't pay for dirt on the participants, didn't routinely uncover stories, background and other information that runs independently of ABC's narrative on the show. Would the ABC broadcast network have any problems casting a married or gay man as The Bachelor vis a vis a bunch of married or gay women, or women in committed, serious relationships as the candidates for the final rose, promoting them as single, available, and hoping to find love on the show? How come ABC doesn't do that if the absolute opposite of the truth is legitimate material for a reality program? I'm guessing if they did, it would fine with standards and practices, fine with the FTC, but they couldn't pull it off because they'd be exposed by the tabloids and the public would no longer buy into the show, and that's all. There's no regulation that says they can't do that, as long as it's produced by an entertainment division, and the fact that it's the entertainment division supersedes any marketing hocus pocus. Read the label people, and ignore the marketing.

Where is all of this Scott and Tessa lying as marketing leading?

When all of this gets imported to twitter and is combined with direct marketing of Lindt and pb chocolate milk, how okay is it?

It looks to me that Scott and Tessa exploit the cracks in the wall - working the fact that their chosen reps aren't familiar with figure skating, skating culture, or their past practices, that the media doesn't follow the sport or its personalities, or that Scott and Tessa have a habit of changing their stories.

When I've read reactions to Robin Williams' death, there was this article:

Social media cross-promotion

with this central observation:
I'm talking about a trend that's repeating itself whenever someone famous passes away, and it's one that's almost unique to big news websites. Namely: how can they turn the death of someone famous into as many mouse clicks and screen taps as possible? Within hours of Williams' death, the internet was awash with stories examining every possible angle, each vying for your attention. There's something deeply unsettling about it, yet it now appears to be The Way Things Are Done.
To put this into context: a man, who had been suffering (and that's exactly the word) from depression, one of the least understood illnesses on the planet, took his own life. He was 63, was survived by a wife and three children, all of whom were left trying to put the pieces of their lives back together. They were greeted by stories looking at any possible angle from which to get traffic to a website.
Shit, Ford Motor Company piggybacked. Disney did too.

This trend where major web pages exploit a tragic event (and a shit ton of cross-promoting blog backlinks in comments sections follow suit) is disturbing, but it's still a matter of taste and respect, or lack of same. None of it violates FTC guidelines. It's callous and exploitative, but it's not marketing a hoax or a lie, and the latter seems to be where the social media line would be, except where is it?

Tessa and Scott are partnered with Lindt Chocolate, and Tessa direct promotes Lindt on the same twitter she uses to manipulate the public into believing her hoax about her personal life. Kaitlyn Lawes has spammed her twitter with plugs for pb chocolate milk and used that same twitter to help Scott and Tessa hoax their fans and the supporters of their sport. They've recruited countless people to help them do it, and these people do it with enthusiasm.

How acceptable is it to introduce the corrupt aspects of skating culture into social media partnerships with sponsors, apparently because if it's just your "personas" or "business," shadiness is okay?But then continually, insistently, set out to convince the public that it's not business/personas, but the real you? Interesting tactics from the daughter of a litigation lawyer.

How informed are the people who work with Scott and Tessa? Why doesn't it matter that they're doing this? Is it because it's figure skating, and figure skating is such a corrupt clusterfuck, thanks in large part to the behavior of the North American side of the sport, that there are no limits or boundaries at all, on or off the ice? Scott and Tessa are capitalizing upon, and exploiting, the seamy side of figure skating culture, encouraging their reps and their sponsors to take as patronizing, dismissive a view of it as Scott and Tessa do themselves, as the media does, as everybody does. So much misinformation and disinformation is pumped into the public discourse nobody knows what's what. Take advantage, Scott and Tessa! It's just your sport and your sport's culture; it's a ridiculous sport with pathetic fans. Go as low as you want.

What a legacy for the greatest ice dancers of all time. This shit has overshadowed their skating. Skating as a "sport" is so corrupt that nobody can talk about Scott and Tessa's magnificent skating without examining why they weren't allowed to defeat Davis White in Sochi, so their skating legacy has sort of become an "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody's around, does it make a sound" situation. If nobody can acknowledge that Scott and Tessa have a legacy of being the greatest ice dancers of all time because acknowledging that opens the Davis White can of worms, do they actually have a real legacy? They do very little to keep attention on their skating; they're working overtime manipulating the public about their personal life, using the same sleazy tactics off ice on us that the ISU used on ice against them. I'm curious if the reason Scott and Tessa get a pass is specific to the sport of skating. Nobody takes skating seriously - not the media, not the skaters themselves. Corruption is standard practice on the ice, obviously it's anything goes and more off the ice. One suspects that those partnered with or representing athletes in other sports would tighten the guidelines a bit, but as it's just skating and skating fans, who cares. Tessa and Scott certainly exploit the hell out of that attitude, which is difficult to reconcile with two people who claim to love and respect the sport they're in and what they do.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kaitlyn Lawes twitter!

Great exchange! Figure skating challenge up next! #Trillium2014 #crossfit #guesswho

Did u know Kaitlyn Lawes is the 3d most followed lady curler on twitter! #16.2k

Hey Kaitlyn Lawes lost all other punctuation on her keyboard/phone! #somanyexclamationpoints


I don't know which is worse - this or Jessica's winks and hearts.

All of the questions in this post are rhetorical. I haven't done enough research to have the answers.

Part of this blog and blog comments section has been looking at social media marketing, including its standards of integrity. I'm curious about how come what Tessa and Scott do, which is to combine deceiving the public on twitter with promoting their sponsors on twitter, is okay. Lawes does the same thing. Mostly I wonder if we must then assume that Lindt and pb chocolate milk can be considered participants in the manipulation and hoaxing of the public about Scott and Tessa's relationship.

Most people inside Scott and Tessa's network know they're married and have a daughter; this network can be described as enormous. Scott and Tessa must be getting feedback that their tactics are fine. It seems to me they've been innovators in using social media to not just actively promote a hoax, but in actively gaslighting the supporters of their skating, and those who follow figure skating. They're not reactive. There's no pressure from the media. Scott and Tessa instigate.

That last, the "it's not us - it's you" (actually it's "it's not us - it's them (fans)) is the "unique" component of all this - to actively and repeatedly report to the people you're lying to that you're being nothing but truthful, and, taking it a step further, to assert that the people you're lying to are confusing fantasy/performance with reality. You present yourselves as constantly needing to get out there and set people straight. (Which is another lie - they lie about their supporters. Apart from the blog, Scott and Tessa's false version of their status isn't questioned online.).

Until the reality show, one might argue that the people who partner with Scott and Tessa - other athletes, sponsors, representatives - aren't aware of Scott and Tessa's tactics. Figure skating doesn't get much coverage, nor do the personalities in the sport get coverage unless they're actively seeking it out. People in entertainment, talent management, other sports, event production, and sponsorship might be under the impression Scott and Tessa function like a lot of couples who maintain a platonic facade for privacy reasons, although even before the reality show, Scott and Tessa went into way more detail about how platonic they are than other couples have ever done. They repeatedly did entire interviews in print and video where that was all that was discussed. With Scott and Tessa, it's a little difficult for anyone to pretend to believe they're just working from a defensive position, but if you're not keeping track, that assumption can be made. But once they did the reality show, nobody could pretend that anymore.

This type of situation hasn't been addressed by the FTC (or, in Canada, the Canadian Competition Bureau, the FTC equivalent), or made it into any social media best practices guidelines. I imagine nobody at the FTC/Canadian Competition Bureau is even aware this sort of thing exists - Scott and Tessa are unique, after all. With the internet, rules and guidelines evolve in response to issues as they come up.

FTC/Canadian Competition Bureau

The linked article discusses the FTC's ability to govern Canadian advertising and sales practices (I imagine what Scott and Tessa do isn't sales/advertising, but marketing and promotion).

Here's the combination of factors that I question, wondering mostly if this is okay, and will become common practice:

1. Scott and Tessa publicly insist they are single and dating other people.
2. Scott and Tessa are married to each other, and have a daughter.
3. Their extensively promoted reality show, "Tessa and Scott," which aired on the commercially broadcast W network geared towards "women's programming", told us Tessa and Scott are each unmarried, are platonic, are not a couple, and told us Cassandra Hilborn was Scott Moir's girlfriend.The actual facts are Tessa was his wife, he was a married man, they have a daughter, live together as a family, and he was not dating Cassandra Hilborn.
4. W is an "entertainment" network, not a news channel; but their marketing of  "Tessa and Scott" stressed that we'd be seeing Tessa and Scott's actual life, the real them.This promotional angle was specifically built around Scott and Tessa's honesty, transparency, sincerity, and genuine character. Scott even took to insisting it was a documentary. (I don't know if describing your personalities as genuine, sincere, etc., rather than using the words "honest" or "the truth" to describe the content of the show you're promoting, constitutes a technical out, but marketing guidelines are ALL about those semantics.)
5. Scott and Tessa repeatedly portray the public as self-deceived in wishing or wrongly suspecting that Scott and Tessa would ever be or are together as a couple.
6. Any review of fan discussion outside this one blog will demonstrate, going back years, that fans do not and did not challenge Scott and Tessa's version of their relationship, and Scott and Tessa were not and are not responding to persistent or vocal skepticism from fans.
7.Scott and Tessa are proactive. They frequently introduce the subject of their relationship, using every social media, legit media and reality television manipulation and flat out lie under the sun.
8. Scott and Tessa use the same platforms they use to lie to the public to promote their sponsors. Do the sponsors know?

Does this mean a public figure can basically tell any lie they want about their personal circumstances on social media, market it, and have it be validated by legitimate media, sponsors, other public figures?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The meanest person is always the smartest person

From Dictionary.com
Role Model


1. a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.
This post is a continuation of the post section below that talks about #ALSicebucket challenge. It revisits past behaviors that have been discussed here before, with the understanding that these behaviors reflect patterns that continue to surface in Virtue and Moir's interviews, in the reality show, and on social media. It's organized around the idea that, while many of Scott and Tessa's choices in public relations and marketing appear to be calculated based upon what they believe will work on the absolute lowest common denominator (a/k/a "skating fans"), as well as what they believe will most effectively exploit and disparage that segment of the public, these choices are more telling about Scott and Tessa.
I believe Virtue and Moir are role models for other elite skaters when it comes to skating and training.They’re role models for how to be polite, low maintenance, considerate and gracious while the center of attention in public.They’re role models for how to be well put together and poised when rubbing elbows with notables.

The thing with Virtue and Moir as role models beyond those areas is they never appear to grasp any larger picture.Tessa, in particular, appears susceptible to imposing thought systems on everything beyond her personal framework. God forbid she take in what's actually out there. She's the original forest for the trees archtype.The woman is always looking for a state of the art filter, the best life edit app.

All of their lives, they’ve been at the center of the frame. It’s been about them.Tessa, in her social media presence, comes across like the stereotype of a sorority girl every parent wishes their daughter would be. Why can’t you be more like that nice Tessa Virtue. As skaters and athletes, they’re role models. Beyond that, there are skaters who are douchier, but also plenty of skaters who do a better job as role models a regular person could look up to. What Patrick Chan, Jeremy Abbott and Paul/Islam did with the #ALSicebucket challenge is absolutely effortless, but you never see Scott and Tessa thinking of it. Everything outside a universe that has the two of them as its focal point is just a metric.
It’s a bit ironic that the post below looks at the merits of raising “awareness”, when Scott and Tessa’s apparent lack of awareness around some basic issues of empathy, common sense and how "A" connects to "B" has been so marked during their time in the public eye.There are few supposedly intelligent public figures who are more obtuse.
I guess what they do works, if the goal was to turn many of their fans into eager, panting puppies, desperate to appease and please.What it looks like to me is a lot of fans are behaving that way in order to encourage Virtue and Moir to stick around. Fan dynamics tend to be the same no matter what fandom we’re talking about, but as far as I’m aware, this particular aspect seems particular to Scott and Tessa fans.This worry that if fans do something wrong, Scott and Tessa will cut off the supply of Scott and Tessa. I don’t see other fans worrying like that. Even Meryl Davis fans who respond angrily when her looks or skating are criticized don’t appear to worry that criticism will drive Meryl out of the public eye.
IMO there’s a failure on Scott and Tessa’s part to ever really consider what’s outside the frame. What’s outside is other people. Fans have another existence apart from their fandom.They’re human beings. In their public behavior, Scott and Tessa only consider fans as fans.That’s fine most of the time, but there are times it’s helpful to remember, before you open your mouth, that they’re also people. The beaten puppy syndrome described in the above paragraph is a consequence of Scott and Tessa’s manipulations over the past seven years. Fans know there's something elusive and shifty about Scott and Tessa's public personas, and many fans seem to believe that if they modulate their behavior, and control the behavior of other fans, Scott and Tessa will allow themselves to come more clearly into focus.That's the game. Scott and Tessa's appearance on twitter and instagram is just the most current iteration of this dynamic, a dynamic driven by Scott and Tessa's constant public relations mind fuckery.
Scott and Tessa don’t appear to make very obvious connections, of the sort that require empathy and a grasp of basic context. As many blog participants know, a few years ago Scott made a rare appearance on his facebook page, requesting suggestions for a profile picture. Until that point, his profile pictures had been of him alone, all of them as interesting as if someone had pressed the shutter by mistake.The only thing missing was a blurred thumb across the lens.* His request made it appear as if he were finally willing to have a "real" profile picture. As he's not an utter moron, he knew fans would suggest an appropriate photo of himself and his skating partner.

After entertaining earnest suggestions from fans over the course of a few days, his request turned out to be a fake-out. He left all of those fans with egg on their faces. Imagine the fans who took some time and thought, fans who sat at their computer looking at a few pictures before deciding on the one to suggest to Scott.Their suggestions and links were posted on his fan facebook wall for everyone to see. Some fans spent time trying to choose not just a picture they liked, but one they hoped might appeal to Scott. Everyone was trying to respond in a way that would encourage Scott to interact more on facebook.There’s a vulnerability in that.They trusted his request. How the hell does he miss that? If you’re only thinking about yourself and your clever gimmick, if you’re not considering that the other side are people with feelings and lives apart from the fact that they’re “fans”, that’s how you miss it. If you lack respect, you miss it.
If you’re unusually stupid, you miss it.There’s that, too. It’s not the fake-out itself that’s problematic, but Scott’s failure to make the basic connections that would let him know that what he planned was mean before he even did it.That’s why I say they’re up their own ass. Sure, he hadn’t shown up on his facebook in forever and day. Of course, when he does at last pay a visit, requesting input from fans to boot, fans are going to be extra excited – but also extra polite and cautious, so he’ll be encouraged to reach out more. Naturally, when it turns out to be a “gotcha”, he’ll look like a dick.
Think of those fans realizing he probably never even looked at their suggestions.Then falling over themselves to excuse him.
I’m pretty comfortable saying that just about nobody but Scott Moir, Tessa Virtue, some of Skate Canada's directors, and Moirville would do something like that in the context Scott did it.The mean of it would be obvious. No matter how douchey people are in private, most people don’t want to show their ass in public.
Flew right over Scott’s head.That’s the kindest, most benefit-of-the-doubt interpretation.
That’s them all over.Virtue and Moir have information.The public/internet fans, officially at least, don’t.The person who knows stuff someone else doesn’t is the person with power. Scott and Tessa use that power to humiliate fans all the time. But does it count if fans don’t realize they’re being humiliated? I think what possibly embarrassed Scott about the facebook trick was he was caught. Fans saw what he did. I don’t think the actual concept of humiliating fans bothers him much, as long as it can’t officially be traced back to him.  
A large component of the sham is creating and repeating a narrative that will later be deployed to leave the fans to blame for all the lying and manipulation Scott and Tessa have done.The general lack of decency in this agenda isn’t a consideration. For Scott and Tessa, it’s all about appearances, all about lack of accountability. It’s all narrative. Actual decency, actual integrity, actual empathy is irrelevant. It really is exactly the mirror of the Davis White trajectory to the gold medal.The exact same damn thing. Both things occurred within North American figure skating culture, a culture which is a piece of fucking work, going by the two teams at the top.
The failure to connect "A" and "B" also showed up in Scott's infamous “I’d trade places with my brother because then I’d have a beautiful daughter” remark.What human being would think of something like that and not hear alarm bells before putting it out to the world? Scott. He was too distracted by the triple twist, back somersault clever of it all. Up his own ass.
So many other skaters would make those connections automatically. Geez, I haven’t been on facebook in a long time, if I show up and pretend to care about their opinion and it turns out joke’s on them, I’ll be a dick. Automatically, they’d know it. Scott and Tessa don’t. They’re used to being the best on the ice; somehow that appears to have convinced them they’re also the smartest two people in any room. But it doesn’t look like smart. It looks like mean. I wonder if they think there's any difference.

*Facebook is free, so it stands to reason.