This Does Not Justify Abuse

It is the 4th of September 2009, and I am carting my suitcase with all the belongings I can fit inside down Dodwell Street, turning right like I had on so many school mornings, on the way to the bus station. Today, I have tears streaming down my face.This is not, as much as I’d like to admit it- the first time this has occurred. But the suitcase is new. My father’s voice rings in my ears as I plod down the asphalt, I remember with a shiver, as he walks into the room.

Entering without knocking, he demands to know where my latest performance of”Sweeney Todd” DVD was- I told him the truth- I had no idea. The performance was filmed but the show had been lost to the sands of time. I had tried every person available who would talk to me to track it down, to show off my first leading role on the stage- but to no avail. This was the time where a rational mind would shrug, and move on to more important things. This was not acceptable. My young memory does not lend itself to the entire statement my father made; but I remember the words “I’m sick of it!” before he punched me in the face for the final time.

It is the 24th of September 2008, I stand on the Great Wall Of China, breathing in the chilly air and posing for a photo. I have been listening to Muse’s “Apocalypse Please” on my CD player as the fog slowly dissipates and I climb slowly higher to reveal the breathtaking landscape beneath me and the lyrics scream “AND THIS IS THE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEND! THIS IS THE EEEEEEEEEEEEND! OF THE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORLD!”. It is one of the most surreal moments of my young life. I am celebrating my 18th birthday, all expenses paid by my family.

It is  August 2003. I am in Japan eating fish with a loving and nurturing host family who have the most adorable toddler of all time, and who put up with my weird habits of visiting the Official Sly Cooper Website, checking for announcements of the latest sequel of a video game of my favourite Anthropomorphised Raccoon Thief- at all hours of the night. I drink green tea and almost get conned by african american cap dealers and get a whole concert hall of Japanese school children to waggle their eyebrows at me back and forth as we wait in a state of boredom for the friendship ceremony tributes to finish.

All expenses paid by- take a guess.

Our parents, if they are right for the job, will do the best they can with the child and tools they have. They will try to make you strong, smart, and independent. They will test you, and above all they will support you. My parents did those things, because they believed in me. Countless concerts, rehearsals, lessons of instruments, karate, rugby, holidays, restaurant bills- the list goes on.

It is December 2008. I am being told “You are scum” by my father, on a bus to Rome. This vitriol stems from my lack of hearing his request to pull my seat up, to give him more leg room. With headphones on. Yet, I tried to take it with a brave face and absorb the beauty of my European trip, all expenses paid by my family. And the trip “was” beautiful, I met a love of my life there. I kissed her in the darkness and held her hand at a Welsh Lake which will be ingrained in my memory forever. I ate cotton candy with my brother Kirby at the Eiffel Tower, and I basked in the warmth and smell of mulled wine with my mother in Rothenburg.

But this does not justify abuse.

I was homeless.

I depended on the friendship of friends for a long time, and it has affected my trust and need for companionship and parental figures ever since. I am a insecure depressed individual who appears brash and arrogant because that is all I knew how to be in my family. 

There are two things however, I do not mention on a regular basis about my history of abuse in my family.

The first is this: My father was not the only guilty party. He does not deserve that blame alone.

The second: My mother, who I love as dearly as my father, despite everything- did nothing to stop the abuse happening in my family. And while hers was of a less emotionally harmful variety, she was no stranger to abuse when things got heated. Name calling and gaslighting was, sadly, a common technique.

She never made my father get therapy like I requested.

She never physically intervened when my father and I fought.

She never once called the authorities.

Because to her, she never saw it as abuse. She likely still doesn’t.

It is this month of May, 2016, and my family and I have fought again. This time, it is about opening my mouth. I had posted an article about abuse, estrangement and mother’s day, where I lamented that no matter what I was never going to be close with my mother. She read it, despite my privacy settings specifically stating that she ‘couldn’t’ and began a furious tirade I had not seen in some time. A tirade of how ungrateful I was and how much she had done, she demanded I take it down and publicly apologise, and what do I REALLY think of her?!

This, as it turns out, was a long time coming. See, as hard as it is to imagine. My family still has issues understanding my resentment. Despite the, y’know, homelessness. They consider it a rough patch in an otherwise healthy relationship. Despite, y’know, the beatings.

What do I think of her? As it turns out it’s what I think of my entire family.

I will never ever forget the things they’ve done. They’ve shaped me, helped me become the person I am. They’ve instilled in me a sense of pride in my work and a passion for helping out the little guy. They’ve tried their best to understand my passions.

But not once, for a second- do I believe they have tried to understand my pain and disappointment. Through their actions, and I say they for a reason- I was left to fend for myself. They have been willfully ignorant, happy to resort to emotional blackmail stating “All The Things They’ve Done” like the things above, to justify their current behaviour.

And, at the end of the day, have made no effort to change.

At the end of the day, they beat their child.

Not once have I heard an apology from them for initiating it, or for letting it happen, and continuing to justify it.

They did many things, and I love them despite their failings.

But this does not justify abuse. And I refuse to keep my mouth shut, just to make them comfortable.

I just can’t do that anymore.

See The Best- Fuck The Rest.

Today I installed my new keyboard and so I am happy to report I am typing away happily without fumbling around, like an Australian politician trying to decide if gays should marry.

Classic comedy aside, though- I want to talk about something that’s bothering me- “Best Of” algorithms. The simple version is the most popular posts get on the top of your feed, so everyone can see it.

Facebook was the first to take part in this with its newsfeed putting the “best” posts out there. This is abhored by many, and many go out of their way to work around this- because quite frankly what the website thinks is the best and what you’re interested in often doesn’t align. Sadly, now twitter and instagram are going to be implementing a “Best Of” too.

This is a terrible, terrible idea.

The internet is a sanctuary. A place where the socially awkward could put out their comic or music or fetish art of darth vader and a gnome, and through the internet, it had a chance.It gave us a megaphone, we were for once on equal footing. We got our ideas together, put them out there, crossed our fingers, reached out to who we could and hope it got people’s attention.

Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. It’s all messages in bottles,hoping someone picks it up and reads it.

But when it did click? It was amazing. Take for example this here comic:

You knew exactly what this was, didn’t you. (If you didn’t I’m really surprised you’re reading my blog)

When The Force Awakens came out, this was the comic that made the rounds and was on EVERYBODY’S facebook pages. All the feels, etc.

Now, as you can see, the artist released this first on tumblr, which has yet to do “Best of” algorithms. It is a chronological order of post, with no favouritism given. Classic internet, essentially, and while it’s debatable how much that affected its popularity, never less the comic flourished and popped up everywhere!

Now let’s compare that to a post on my facebook page, with a meagre but respectable 462 fans, recommending the immeasurable Melbourne actor Laura Jane Turner (who you should give a look at). My post reached 9 of those fans.

Not 90. Not 19.

9.

This is because of FB’s algorithm.

This is Diet Internet, and it tastes fucking disgusting.

To put it bluntly, facebook’s algorithm for pages of any kind AND personal profiles is at best broken and at worst, a horrible example of corporate greed.

It wasn’t, once.Facebook gave everybody the same footing. Then DietInternet popped into the market, and FB invested, hard. Soon, fans couldn’t see their beloved idols work. It was hidden. They had hidden it behind a paywall.

You have to pay to reach your fans who want to hear from you.

Think about it this way. You’re a comedian, you build a following, a dedicated audience, you get them to come to the gig, in a free venue! Awesome! They all arrive, are excited to hear from you. You’re about to hit the stage when the owner of the venue grabs your arm and says
“I’ve put your audience in seats that are soundproof unless I push this button, and I won’t unless you pay me $10”
“…Uh, okay, for like the show?”
“HAHAHA… No. For each joke you make.”

What do you do? They’re there. They want to hear you. You’re broke, but maybe you’ll recoup costs eventually? Moving them all will be such a hassle, maybe just try and make it work.

Is this unfair? Not necessarily. You chose that venue after all. Is it however, pretty goddamn despicable? You bet.

And now, instagram and twitter are following facebook’s lead. Having popular people continue to be popular making their popular post super popular, while those who could really use the soapbox to take off will struggle.

Sadly, I don’t think it’ll stop at “Best Of”.

Next, you’ll see a paywall.

Then you’ll be encourage to pay.

Then you’ll be penalized not to pay.

Then you’ll cough up when you have to, to sell that comedy or like the Star Wars comic above. You will pay, because you have nowhere else to put your stuff.

To put it honestly? I have no solutions.

Once upon a time, if you put something out there, it had a chance. It had as much of a chance as anybody- because the internet gave us all the same megaphone. In our world today connection is so much easier. Putting your work out there and finding your audience is a steady workload of promotion away.

Now it’s about being popular, or coughing up the cash.

That should not be enough. Work should not go under the radar just because they don’t have the funds to reach an audience, especially an audience that has already come to see them at the venue.

But, sadly, that’s the direction social media is going down.

This is utterly despicable and ultimately out of our control. We are getting a free service, and we have no choice but to swallow the bitter pills they give us, or move on.

The internet is becoming less and less equal.

And now I’m sad.

Keyboards=Life?

I haven’t written in a while, and there’s a bunch of reasons why that I don’t particularly want to get into- but I have an observation I feel like jotting down.

Bit by bit, my computer has slowly been losing its keys. I am now missing… Hold on…

5 keys, and two are barely holding on. This makes writing not difficult per se, but harder, certainly. So I have a proposition.

Consider for a moment that every person has a full keyboard to type on. This keyboard is opportunities for life, love and happiness.

Now think of race, gender, sexuality, creed and all the other things that can be used against you, just for being who you are. Add greed, willful ignorance, and sadism, and a dash of “FUCK THIS SJW POLITICAL CORRECTNESS”

Imagine that each of these is a key ripped off the board. Maybe for some it’s not too bad. Like your “b” or “j”. Maybe for others, though, it’s a vowel “A, U, O”… Imagine having to try to type like that for the rest of your life, maybe never even knowing any other way.

If you’re not white, male and straight…? You probably know a little bit of what I’m talking about.

Let’s cut the bullshit a bit at a time.

Must Try Harder

This past week I have worked every day. Weekends included. Performance, study, assessment, auditions, or children’s entertainment.

Yesterday I spent the morning cleaning and trying to relax after a stressful week, and received a phone call.

The phone call nicely told me that my services were no longer required.

An hour later they had picked up my gear.

After the phone call I had a boost juice and felt so sick I stuck my fingers down my throat and vomited it up just to feel better.

Today they did my final invoices, with a three word response to my effort:

“Thanks for that.”

Today I didn’t go out. I felt sick. I felt beaten, I felt like a rudderless ship.

Today I tried making progress and found my engine was stalling.

Today I tried to find a new agent and was told “We’ll get back to you when we can”.

Today I wanted to throw up the few bites of waffle and strawberries I bought as anything in my stomach felt like poison.

Today I watched what work I could have done fly by as I wrote this message to no one in particular.

Today I drank water as I couldn’t keep down anything else.

Can’t keep down.

Can’t keep up.

Can’t.

Can’t I do anything right?

Can’t I just get started making money doing what I actually want to do? Can’t I be accepted as who I am, not something someone wants me to be? Can’t I be doing what I want?

How long can I keep this up for? When do I just stop trying?

Must try harder.

Hard to try.

Harder to stop.

Can’t keep it down. Won’t shut up.

I wish I could.

I really, really do.

All I can do is try.

Must try harder.

 

Tiny Little Cuts

I’m not going to share this anywhere, because I can forsee it not meaning anything to anyone other than myself.

I don’t even have a point beyond this: Rejection sucks. To be an actor is to have yourself be rejected on a regular basis. I do not have a thick skin. I try to not let things get to me, but they do. I question often whether this is the right industry for a person like me to be in. All I can say to that is that my passion far outweighs any scars I have, and this pain I currently feel will get better.

But fuck me dead, does this hurt like the dickens right now.