Monday, October 12, 2009

Blindfolded and Spun

Barry Crimmins, too long absent from this vale of soul-making more vulgarly known as "blogging," attempts to call off the jackals that have descended upon former child actress Mackenzie Phillips (perhaps best known for the sitcom One Day at a Time but whom I'll always picture as the spunky little squirt riding in the front seat with Paul Le Mat in American Graffiti) following the drug and incest revelations involving her father "Papa John" Phillips in her just-published memoir High on Arrival. America has become a nation of three hundred million armchair judges making snap moral decisions based on easy hindsight and pious lecturing, and enough already. Crimmins:

When Ms Phillips let the word "consensual" slip while being interviewed on Oprah the other day, she armed her detractors with all they needed. I wonder if any of these people have ever been mugged. I wonder how they'd feel if their mugging was videotaped and someone edited the tape to only show them handing over their valuables. How would they feel if they were then blamed for willingly giving the perpetrator what he wanted?

And so a lot of people now justify harsh judgments of Mackenzie Phillips because she was a "junkie" who "consented" to an incestuous relationship. They ask why she had no moral compass while ignoring the fact that she had been blindfolded and spun ever since she was small child. In such dizzying circumstances, she never once had the kind of clear mind needed to give informed consent to anything. John Phillips never gave his little girl the moral guidance that is a child's birthright. Instead, he made sure that she felt complicit in her drug abuse and sexual exploitation, assaults and rapes. That's what mega-perps like John Phillips do. They turn children's lives into unspeakable hell and then instruct their victims to blame themselves for their pain. The rest of the time they make sure that their prey understands just how unspeakable everything is. And they do this while counting on the average person to snicker away from such situations with seedy little jokes rather than summon the courage to confront the unspeakable. Because of such societal cowardice, John Phillips was able to hide in a bright spotlight.

Now Mackenzie Phillips has sold the legacy her father left her -- the tale of terror that is her life's story. Many will, and are, saying that because she stands to derive a profit from her book "High on Arrival," we know all we need to know about her motives. This is nothing more than an attempt to punish her for speaking the unspeakable...

I suppose there are also those who would question the timing and motivation behind Tyler Perry's recent disclosure of being brutally abused as a child (since he's the co-executive producer and one of the promotional forces behind Precious, a forthcoming feature film about struggling to overcome horrendous sexual and physical abuse), but the truth is that violence visited by adults upon children is an ongoing, underreported epidemic that only seems to draw attention when a celebrity comes forth or the cruel details are too hellacious to ignore.

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