Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tessa Virtue. Winning.

This post is not that well organized, thematically, but I'm working through my own thoughts about Tessa's lying, and Tessa's demeanor, without yet having nailed down all the reasons I've developed the impression that this season, she's become extra peculiar in the lying department.

Scott's remarks after the GPF got all the attention, but there was also the interview he and Tessa did together after the free skate while still in costume. Tessa's chipper, Stepford parroting of their free skate talking points was so tone deaf to the emotional climate after the free skate scoring, as well as to the competition everyone had just seen that I actually felt protective. She's so programmed it's almost rude. Ungenerous. Sometimes the robotic sound bites are simply inappropriate. There are times when Tessa's adament refusal to be real (in the professional sense), her refusal to genuinely engage, no matter how briefly and no matter how innocuous, tangential or appropriate the context may be is bizarre. What the hell is she afraid of?

It was like in shutting things down, she was actually exposing too much. There's pageant-like, and then there's Tessa.

Yes, Scott was in a funk and pissed off, but he's a big boy. So are we, so to speak. And we all, you know, saw for ourselves the freaking competition and we could also see his mood. We're not blind. And, it's fine.
She couldn't acknowledge any of it. I don't mean emote or vent, snark or do drama. Simply acknowledge it, in public, or evidence awareness of the actual competition experience they'd just had - that's all - and that her partner's mood was obviously not on board with the talking points.
Why is this such a virtue, excuse the pun - this reality allergy? Are they so bent on being a "you say potato, I say potato" couple for public consumption that being "genuine" is just persona like anything else, and has been assigned to only Scott?
I don't think Debbi Wilkes and Tessa have much in common as people, except this - they both seem to believe their words can override what people see and experience for themselves. Repeat certain words and you'll hypnotize people into buying your message and people will ignore stuff like life experience, evidence and common sense - and overlook stuff that's just happened in front of everyone's noses. That requires a pretty inflated opinion of one's own ability to persuade. It's also insulting.
Tessa recently referred again to last season's Canadian Championships, where she and Scott not only didn't compete, but failed to attend. She again declared that she and Scott had really wanted to compete, were ready, and were disappointed their coaches ruled it out (neither even attended as spectators - and hell, Jessica Dube* was skating singles there). Maybe because everything worked out for Tessa and Scott last season, secret-wise, Tessa believes people couldn't see? It couldn't be that people were polite, chose not to publicly discuss certain things on fan boards - no - they were just freaking blind? Shit, that's insulting. Tessa, where is your gratitude? 

We all saw your body when you and Scott skated to "Let it Snow" at Winter Dreams On Ice. Every skating show has fans with video cameras. You chose to put yourself out there. Most people/fans chose to shut up - including the media (some of whom had fun using phrases like "cut the cord") - about why your body was different - even more "different" than when it was "different" the last time you skated in public. Many people chose not to notice - when they actually had noticed. Even if some fans had different ideas of why your body was different (steroids from shin treatment, too much chocolate, rebellion against the regimen were all speculated as alternatives to the obvious) -  different it was and competition-ready it wasn't. We saw it. We saw you. How you looked and moved. You decided to skate in front of fans aiming their zoom lens your way. We didn't go peering into your window.
I swear to God that because they got away with it they actually think people didn't see. They assume people are that stupid. Their success of last year is all due to them being clever. We had nothing to do with everything working out. It was all them cleverly pulling it off because they're smart and we're idiots. Hey Skate Canada - back pats for everyone.
So why not look a gift horse in the mouth. God forbid you show respect, and quit bringing up how you were oh so prepared for Canadians and so disappointed your coaches nixed it. We - fans - had something to do with your success in pulling things off last season. Give people credit instead of going out of your way to insult them. It's you that's lying, so a little humility isn't out of place.I know you guys are special, special, special and all, but seriously.
Lately, I've kind of wondered if Tessa isn't so ruthless about lying because she's gotten sucked into competing over it. Her lies versus what some fans think. She's as big a competitor as Scott. Scott says they're both perfectionists on the ice, but says that off ice, he's not so much, and she is. Her strict perfectionism extends to lying. Of course we all know perfectionism can bleed over into pathology and with this crowd, it often does.
I'm not talking about the relationship denial and Jessica hoax per se, but more Tessa's rigid supervision of adverbs and pronouns in even the most casual public exchanges.
This season Tessa's controlish tendencies have become very pronounced, to where it acquires the opposite of the presumed intended effect. It's making people wonder "WHY is she so rigid about it?" Real platonic people don't talk like that, behave like that. They're not control freaks about the platonic memo. Because it's not necessary if you actually are platonic. Get it Tessa?
Tessa and Scott have much more in common as personalities than either admits. But one stand-out difference is their comfort level operating inside a lie. Scott's ambivalence sometimes appears to verge on a combination of sabotage and a purposeful counter-programming of his own lies (for example - his often deliberately intimate behavior with Tessa when he knows people are watching). Tessa, OTOH, seems much happier lying than with truth of any kind. She's like that Holden Caulfield quote from Catcher in the Rye:
I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.
That's her. As relates to her public persona - if Tessa is being spontaneous, funny, sharing colorful and charming supporting detail, talking about feelings, being casual and off-the-cuff, taking a moment to "think" about her answer  - she's lying. Her shins in 2010 and counting the steps to the refrigerator. Her sobbing prior to TEB 2009. The Accidental Lip Brush in practice. Incommunicado vis a vis Scott for 2 months in 2008. Dating outside the sport. The happier and more at ease she seems, the more she's lying. It goes beyond "the nature of our sport" because please with that, Tessa.

(Some of the most eye-rolling lying is the image-messaging - a little video clip of skaters heading into or exiting from the Worlds banquet, Scott and Tessa ostentatiously walking several feet apart. If they walk alongside they're admitting they're a couple! Or Scott and Tessa on video at the same dinner table for the Yuna Kim show dinner in Korea, but for a major close-up shot of one table, Scott had squeezed himself in at that table so the video would show him and Tessa sitting separately. This is the same event where Tessa had to teleport herself to and from practice because nobody wanted her on the bus. This kind of stuff is absurd.)

This all reeks of perversion, ego and power-tripping on Skate Canada's part, but the takeaway from the Moir/Virtue side feels more like they've gotten sucked into competing with fans (and Skate Canada has too, of course) - and Tessa is the spearhead there.

It often seems as if the original rationale for the lies has been lost, and the lies are now mostly competition, and being control freaks for the sake of it.

Some fans think she and Scott are lying about being together. Well - know she and Scott are lying about it. But them knowing it isn't on her timeline**, so she is going to stick to her timeline and even extend it.

She overdoes it to where she comes off like a robot. She interjects qualifiers when it's not necessary, and by being this scrupulous she calls attention to her own anxiety and her need to control the topic.

Somebody who really wasn't with their partner wouldn't be this ocd about it. Stray adverbs and pronouns wouldn't be a big deal, because the truth was the truth, and the truth would be - not together. So - everybody's relaxed.

She's not. She's the strict principal of the School of Adverbs and she makes sure that even the most random topic gets a "separately" built into it. For example, more than one skating duo was asked by the "Orange Team" fans at TEB if they ever lie to their coach about being sick. At least one team was not a couple, and felt no need to emphasize that the other person would be at the rink waiting (i.e., not
next to me in bed, oh no no no), or use "I" instead of "we". They comfortably mixed both; no worries.

What Tessa does calls attention to itself. What platonic duo is this intent on reinforcing they're platonic even when the topic is far away from the "couple" issue?

Tessa and Scott both lie in public about not being together, of course, and on social media Scott poses ickily and weirdly (i.e., some of his "I'm here but not here" and "This isn't the real me - look at my clothes and facial expression" poses) with his fake girlfriend. So the hoax sort of has his face on it.

But on the lying front, Tessa is the one patrolling stray "we"'s and "us"s. And it looks to me like she's getting even more rigid. Why? Their official status is "not together." So what exactly is she policing? People's THOUGHTS?

That's what I think. People's thoughts.

The rules say, if a couple says they're not together, they're not together. As Scott and Tessa are basically in the entertainment business, they're able to control what's asked about their private lives - if anything - and they control the personal information - if any - that's shared. Scott already gets weird pms, advice, requests, etc., from fans, so they're not fending off that stuff either.

Why, when Scott mentions Tessa does his hair every day, does she swiftly interject "almost" every day? If she wasn't on-the-spot with that qualifier, what would happen? People would think? People already think stuff. People would think they were RIGHT about what they were thinking? Or people might surmise Tessa was sort of implicitly saying they were right? So Tessa is going to make damn sure no one ever has the chance to think she's conceding something?  "You'll never catch me for one second even hinting at an admission Scott and I are even closer than we let on - not for one second. I'll make sure of it."

What is up with her? It's none of her business what people think. If someone like Jessica Simpson can figure that out, you'd think Tessa Virtue would know it.***

Michael J. Fox's Book Lucky Man describes how even after his Back to the Future/Family Ties heyday had passed, he lived in a bubble and liked it that way. He and his family inside, everybody else outside. The bubble didn't just keep fans on a particular side of the divide, but a lot of other things - every day life matters most people handled directly were handled for him. Then he had trouble coping with Parkinsons - a lifelong condition, not something to battle a
nd defeat - and the bubble was a big reason his coping skills were deficient. He got a great therapist who insisted he deal with things the "bubble" had protected him from dealing with before. Basically, although he was a happily married dad, genuinely nice guy and successful actor, his therapist insisted he grow up.

Scott and Tessa are weird not because of their history (their intimate attachment going back such a long time), their sport, being figure skaters, being gold medalists - but because their self-preoccupation/obsession/self-consciousness (which also goes way beyond what's required by either the sport or their personal life circumstances) has been encouraged to be OTT and creates weirdness in their public persona. And it also seems to me that since the national governing body of their sport is currently controlled by unusually immature a
nd egocentric personalities, that immaturity is encouraged in Scott and Tessa. They're treated like special needs children, not like sports personalities and you can see the strange from space. It's not THEM or even their history that's strange. It's how they've handled themselves and perhaps, most of all, been encouraged to think about themselves.
Next week's bronze medalist in pairs at Canadians. I expect DubeWolfe to receive a comfortable cushion ahead of Lawrence/Swiegers in the short to hedge against anticipated fumbles in the long. Jessica got everything else she said 'would be great' this season - all that remains is the podium finish at Nationals. You have to figure it's a done deal.

**The only time it's okay for fans to have "thoughts" about VM is when THEY authorize it (like their coy talking head clip about being in Paris an extra day). Unauthorized thoughts? Don't. Tessa will CUT you. 

***When I look at Tessa's claim that she reduced her cell phone contact list to seven people, I think what an incredibly privileged option that is, even for an elite Olympic-track figure skater. Does she know that? How many people are in a position to do that months on end? How many have a circle of family, friends and associates willing to enable that?

Everybody's private. Everybody's sensitive. Half the world would appreciate more personal psychological space. There are lots of self-conscious, introverted, smart, sensitive people who'd like things organized around their preferred activities and comfort zone but it doesn't work like that. Sensitivity isn't a privileged status. You still have to suck it up, get over yourself and deal with your choices, not make a decision to exploit other people and dupe them because you want the profit of your choices but not the parts that are pains in the ass. 

Except -  if you're someone who lives in an environment where, confronted by a set of challenges (Olympic prep, a physical condition), you can actually alter that world and have everyone around you assist, then you might feel entitled to an awful lot of other things too. Buy my book, purchase skating tickets, make us popular so we can leverage that for business deals, ignore that I'm holding my nose because I'd prefer all of you disappear even though I love performing and chose a public career. Please understand it's my right, because of my sacred feelings, to lie my ass off at every turn and come up with new lies to package and sell. "It's the nature of our sport" is a cop-out. It's MY nature. 

What's going on is - what I'm withholding is mine, not yours, and I don't want to share. But. I want the money and position I'd get if I sold it, so here, have some more bullshit - I insist. Although there are ways I can have privacy and keep to myself what belongs to me while conducting a successful career all without expoloiting well-intentioned people and making absolute fools of them, that adjustment is both inconvenient and not a priority. Let's be honest - the people I'm duping are only those types - you know <eye roll> - and treating people like that with contempt is pretty much "part of our sport". They're basically asking for it by being so needy and ridiculous. I/we don't intend on making that adjustment anytime soon. 


  1. TSN's "this weekend" nationals commercial...the only pairs team shown is L/S...twice. Who would be in charge of that? A media person at TSN with awareness and a sense of humour? or Skate Canada trying to cover suspicion a la "two! programs"?

    Great post, the weirdness is....I originally leaned towards the hoax because it made all the little weird things make sense (icky photos, off ice pda). Now the weirdness hits you over the head with a brick even when you know what's really going on.

  2. Pre-emptive b.s. about LS versus DW? Sure. That's right out of their playbook. Look, we LOVE L&S! We SUPPORT L&S. Pay no attention to Dube/Wolfe's actual potential, Jessica's history, her favorable assignments this season versus L&S - her outsized promotion for a typically less-than-mediocre effort at Western Challenge. If she gets the pairs bronze at Canadians, it wasn't set up by us, no ma'am and sirs. If we had any idea in advance their sp scores would give them such an eyebrow raising cushion, would we have promoted L&S in the run-up to Canadians?

    God they suck.

  3. Did you see the new Tessa interview on SkateBuzz? SkateBuzz doesn't even try anymore lol. And the interviewer interrupted Tessa! omg idiot! What a stupid federation.

  4. I did. I prefer this girl to Debbi, that's for sure, the girl is similar in manner to the voice conducting skater Q&A's at Champ Camps. On the downside, the girl is an idiot getting stuck on whether Tessa has bacon on her Tim Horton breakfast sandwich. Skate Canada doesn't GET it. Even when they imitate, they imitate the wrong stuff. The girl was on camera, she interrupted repeatedly over a breakfast sandwich, and Skatebuzz continues to use an old school muffled hand microphone instead of just wiring a mike to the skater or doing whatever Champs Camp did. That mike wielding is especially obnoxious with Debbi. "The fall" - boom. "Do you know what they said?!" - boom. It's unnatural and inhibiting. Maybe that's what they like - keeps control in Debbi's hands, literally, or whomever they've got running the interview. Skatebuzz repeatedly shows it's more interested in itself than the skaters. It's really trying to showcase SC personnel.

  5. Hmmm it seems that Jessica Dube is no longer competing in singles - what a shocker! NOT...well we will see what type of "spin" the commentators will spew starting tomorrow...

    1. "[well we will see what type of "spin" the commentators will spew starting tomorrow...]"

      I wouldn't be surprised for the spin about Jessica to be all about what a dedicated pairs skater she is - so much, in fact, she should get super-high marks in pairs, as a reward for her great dedication. So we the fans/spectators, will be told she and Sebastien are really good, regardless of what they actually do on the ice.

      All speculation, of course. But Skate Canada does have a recent history of building up Ms Dube for anything and everything, beyond what she's producing skating-wise.

  6. I figured out why Tessa looks so evil - she has that Sanpaku thing where the whites of your eyes show on the bottom. It freaks me out every time. There's also the possibility that she's truly evil.

    But no way do I think she was ever pregnant during her down time. She was severely underweight at Olys and probably let herself go after being away from the Canton anorexic machine. I definitely agree though that she seems ruthless and manipulative. The way she controls herself to prevent any cracks from showing is actually having the opposite effect.

    I get that SC wants to perpetuate this wholesome image and that none of their pairs are getting it on - but why did they let Weaver & Poje spew out that ridiculous interview about living together, shopping for Christmas presents together, and being with each others families? Platonic, right. I really LOL'd at that one. I guess because V&M are more "famous" their romantic junk has to be more tightly controlled.

  7. If you go back and watch her up until and including the Olympics, she looks so "real" and genuinely happy (minus the injury in 2009 where she's obviously in pain). Like she's so content and excited by being a ballerina on skates. Or like the holding hands in Paris interview, even though it was strategic it wasn't hostile. Now she always has Stepford face.