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.

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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.) Let's say the tabloid media didn't follow the participants in a show like The Bachelor, didn't pay for dirt, didn't routinely uncover stories, background and other information that runs independently of ABC's narrative about the participants on the show. Would the ABC broadcast network have any problems casting a married or gay man as The Bachelor, and a whole bunch of married women, gay women, women in committed, serious relationships as the candidates for the final rose, telling us they were all 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?

What it looks like to me is Scott and Tessa working 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.
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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 just 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

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

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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

noun

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.

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*Facebook is free, so it stands to reason.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Who couldn't see that coming

ETA, more articles questioning #ALSicebucketchallenge.

you_don_t_need_an_ice_bucket_to_donate_to_als_research.html

There's another headline: "Stop Dumping Ice Water on Your Head. Just Give Money."

Apparently icebucketchallenge wasn't the ALS ice bucket challenge when it began, despite revisionist attribution to ALS sufferer Pete Frates. It was a dare among a bunch of athletes (a golfer and race car driver among them) to either dump the ice water or donate $100 to a charity of their choice. Matt Lauer, for one, took the challenge prior to its association with ALS and donated to a hospice.

Says the article:

"Watch the golfers’ videos and you’ll see the stunt was really just about getting their friends to film themselves doing something dumb for no reason. The charity part was an afterthought."

The altruism was tacked on. Maybe future viral trends will give more thought to the algorithm, as this one pretty much encouraged people NOT to give money and do the stunt instead. Ultimately many participants realized that was pretty tacky and opted to do both, and once ALS commandeered the trend, a lot of money was raised for ALS. But, I do think that if athletes or other celebrities are going to have a public presence on social media, putting a little thought into what you're doing and saying and why you're doing and saying it isn't too much to ask. Otherwise it just comes across as sorority-level social fun and games, and considering a serious issue is usually the pretext, the hijinks can seem incredibly insensitive if the issue isn't highlighted, or is marginalized, and becomes simply a pretext to have a good time.

There's also this article on HuffPost:

@Icebucket challenge - why you're not really helping

In the case of icebucket challenge, I disagree with Huffpost when Huffpost says all that was accomplished was getting people to talk. A lot of money was raised when #icebucketchallenge was eventually affliated with ALS, but I think that's because the terms of the challenge became so widely publicized people were shamed into donating. Everybody who poured a bucket on their head was on parade as somebody who declined to donate, so very rapidly people started saying they were doing both. That said, I think most of these stunts DO end up the way Huffpost says they do:
Slacktivism is a relatively new term with only negative connotations being associated with it as of recently. The whole thinking is that instead of actually donating money, you're attributing your time and a social post in place of that donation. Basically, instead of donating $10 to Charity XYZ, slacktivism would have you create a Facebook Post about how much you care about Charity XYZ- generating immediate and heightened awareness but lacking any actual donations and long term impact. Previous examples of slacktivism are not hard to find- remember in 2012 when everyone, and I mean everyone, shared the Kony video? Very few people knew who Kony was, how they could donate or where they could get involved- but all of a sudden, these viewers (myself, included) could contribute! We could share the Kony video on our Facebook and Twitter -- and while doing so, eliminating any chance we may have had at donating our time or money towards an actual prevention or cause directly related to the capture of Kony. You see, we valued our social posts at an incrementally higher cost than a donation- and by placing a sub-concioucs value on our Facebook post or Tweet, we told ourselves that we had done our part in trying to find Kony and then were able to pleasantly shift our thinking back to what we were going to eat for lunch. We had helped. We had participated. We patted ourselves on the back. We had tweeted.
As I've said before, among other things, this blog chronicles Tessa and Scott's p.r. and marketing, and in the process, it's often helpful to examine p.r. and marketing initiatives overall.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Marina thoughts. Plus - pregnancy: do your research

Long post. When it comes to the Marina section, this may be one of those posts where my thoughts are imperfectly worked out and get sorted later in the comments section, or via editing, as my perspective becomes better organized.

On the pregnancy front, it seems to me that those who insist Tessa shows no sign of pregnancy must know that plenty of women don't show mid-way, or even most of the way. It's just that these fans have made up in their own heads that Tessa Virtue is not one of those women. A lot of comments section discussion works off stuff that only exists in people's heads. They decide something or other is not possible for the version of Tessa they, personally, have invented, and they see no reason why what they've made up shouldn't be treated as valid. I see this mentality reoccur constantly in the comments, although of course it doesn't describe everybody.

Alternatively, another reason some people might fixate on the idea that all pregnant women project a balloon shape is that's the only sort of pregnant woman these fans believe they've ever personally seen. When they've crossed paths with women who carry differently, they failed to perceive that she was pregnant, and continue believing pregnant women all look the same. As with much of this mindset, if they don't see it, it doesn't exist.

Yahoo:


Image linked by participant in comments section (thanks):

I like the above image as it's easy to see this woman is pregnant (relation of her abdomen to her pelvis, for one) but in addition to carrying small, she's got a pronounced s curve in her back that can trick the eye into thinking it's simply her posture. Due to her proportions/contour/how she's carrying it would be a cinch for her to dress as if she's not at all pregnant. She could stand differently and look even less pregnant. Tuck her butt under and she'd even be flat, you might say, because that pregnancy slope isn't just mild, it's a continuous plane - it doesn't abruptly jut forward. Look at this lady. I bet she doesn't even have the abs of an Olympic gold medalist in ice dance.

I was going to post a bunch more photos but they're all the same. If you've decided the Tessa Virtue that you've made up in your head is a woman who, if pregnant, would show stereotypically (even though there's actually no such thing as typical) a million pictures won't make that worldview shift.

*****

I was debating posting my thoughts about Marina, as I think the discussion has, at times, gotten down to disagreeing on first principles. When that happens, you just have to agree to disagree; you're not going to change someone's mind on the fundamentals. This post is not an attempt to change minds, but to express my own views, even though I'll reference contrary views. My views start here:

I think Marina/Canton remains the best training center for Tessa and Scott, and Marina the best choreographer for the team. I have thoughts about the political influences that may direct where VM train, if they do continue, and will mention that when the post reaches that point. But to start, I refer to this latest article from icenetwork.com:

icenetwork article on Marina, Canton and current teams

I think the key is fluidity and collaboration in the process of building a program. Here are excerpts that highlight why I think this is the best training center for Tessa and Scott:

"This is actually really different for me. Nikoli did all the work by himself," he said. "I think it's really great. Every coach can see one piece of program from [his or her] own view, and everyone wants to give you the best. When you skate in competition, everybody has different tastes, and I think our coaches have the same [goal] but different tastes. If you want to be a good skater, you have to feed on these different [viewpoints]."

Since her days with G&G, Marina has been a collaborative coach/choreographer, and yet some fans have decided, and, having decided, insist, that she refuses to allow outside influences, despite that fact that collaboration and proactively bringing in outside influences has been the hallmark of her training process since she became a choreographer. She encourages her skaters to do the same. To the extent Scott and Tessa are self-determined and draw upon outside resources, they are modeling Marina, not working against her or despite her. IMO they're not outliers in her program, but represent the fullest expression of Marina's style of working -  a style that can only be completely fulfilled by skaters possessing the talent, and the smarts about their talent, that Scott and Tessa possess. Everything known about Marina points to a person who gives her skaters all the tools, all the resources, to be used and understood by the skaters themselves as full collaborators/participants, responsible for themselves, and self-reliant. Of course, the more ability a skater or pair of skaters has, the better this works. Of course the skater has to be receptive.

There is so much "say the opposite" in figure skating and figure skating discussion. The fan meme that maintains Marina does the opposite of what she actually does is just part of the pattern. In that meme, Marina is too easily threatened and Virtue and Moir went to Swan against her wishes. No, this is not the position of every person who is not a Marina fan, but this is the song sung by many who have disliked her for years. This particular criticism is something they've made up, all contrary evidence dismissed. I guess mentioning this may appear to be argumentative/trying to convince, but it's more me acknowledging that, when I highlight Marina's collaborative process, there are fans who inexplicably assert that she doesn't collaborate, or only collaborates when there's no choice.

ETA - To address something I read in the comments section below the previous post: it was mentioned that D/L (think it was them) and Jeffrey Buttle don't have that much experience choreographing ice dance. To which someone else retorted, "JMB and Swan didn't either, and that turned out pretty well!"

I have to ask myself:
Is this person comparing floor dance specialists/choreographers to ice dance/figure skating coaches/choreographers as if it's the same job? If that's the case, Virtue and Moir's horizons broaden. They won't need to train at another rink. They can just get choreo/coaching from Derek Hough. What more would they need?

I get frustrated when the "ice" part of ice dance is minimized by some fans (again, not all fans, and not all fans who aren't Marina fans).

Marina is changing music for the free dance. We tried already a few different styles. That is the way she works. Every day she speaks about it a little bit different, maybe she found another idea. We have all of the elements for the free dance: lifts, spin, footwork."

That's called process.

Marina is thinking like a professor; she knows what she is doing.

I love the thinking like a professor.

When was the last time somebody invented a new turn, new step? When ice dance fans look for innovation, what do they mean? For me, Marina works better with rhythm and music than any coach around. This is subjective, but I think a lot of people aren't musical, or aren't in touch with rhythm. That is where, for my money, Marina is absolutely brilliant. Just compare her to Igor. Igor is a musical washout, as far as I'm concerned. That's why his choreography, even though he steals and reworks and repurposes like everybody, seems so clunky. There are other choreographers/coaches who put together really nice programs, but IMO they don't use rhythm as well, aren't as insightful about tension and release, anticipation/propulsion, counter motion, etc., either (by insightful I mean, what parts of the music to use when you want this to occur, and where to place it in the program).

That was something I started understanding when I originally began watching Dancing with the Stars. I saw successful singers who couldn't hear or feel music/rhythm when trying to dance. And conversely, there were contestants with almost no range of motion (like 66 year old George Hamilton in 2006) but wonderful rhythm, who were able to put it across. Anyhow, I think that's the biggest obstacle to some people appreciating Marina - the ones who don't hear/feel how she's put it together with the music. Even her work-for-hire (like her blues program for Dube/Wolfe) uses the music with movement so much better than similarly put together programs, to energize the skaters and the audience.

The musicality in Seasons didn't appear as accessible to some as Carmen, but I love this wonderful post from fan forum:

http://www.fanforum.com/74168395-post211.html

In my favorite part of this post, the author describes what she/he understood about Seasons prior to the point where her sensibility was finally affected by Seasons (an event that occurred in a later performance). Bolded parts are mine:

I was hearing the nuances in the music that Tessa and Scott play within choreographically - nuances which aren't always rhythmic but are sometimes beautifully subtle alterations in pitch. I also felt like I had a decent grasp on what they were trying to do - and project - from a movement standpoint. But as far as the overall texture of the program was concerned - that overarching sensibility it's supposed to stir - it wasn't there for me like it was with so many of their past programs (and this season's SD). And I thought, "eh, that's all right. If it's not there for you, it's not there. Doesn't change the fact that it's a gorgeous, intricate, conceptual program that is gold medal-worthy" (and of course, the skaters performing the program are feeling and connecting to it), which is what matters.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where are the Tessa's Tour Tweets?

Last we heard from Tessa:


It's as if her twitter account vanished into a social media Bermuda triangle somewhere between the airport tarmac in North America and the Sea of Japan.

Edited because China is not Japan.

Where's all the "See these flat abs but I'm also fat because pastries?" What happened to sharing on social media her one-for-all, all-for-one team spirit showcased at the ISC golf event, while bonding with Olympic teammates, and during skating seminars with wholesome Canadian youngsters? Is Artistry on Ice chopped liver? We've got international travel, enthusiastic audiences, a bunch of other great skaters, and these costumes:


Nothing to say? Okay, they're not Kaitlyn Weaver, but skating stars don't come more lively and personable than Volosozaher and Trankov, who are also in Japan, and Maksim and Scott are meant to be friends. You'd never know from Tessa's twitter account. Maybe Tessa's ipad/iphone adapter malfunctioned.

ETA again: Since I confused DW's Japan tour with VM's China tour (or, I believe, it never registered it was in China, which is on me) I checked to see if it's possible to tweet from China, and apparently with a VPN, or with a phone with international roaming turned on, it is. Further googling showed that the firewall isn't even fireproof for Chinese residents, as one North American reports that her daughter is staying for three weeks in China with a friend of hers, and the friend's family has facebook (another blocked site). The US Embassy also tweets air quality reports to Americans in 3 Chinese cities, and those Americans have to be getting the tweets.

It might be a bit much to expect Tessa Virtue to want to work around a twitter block even with a VPN or roaming, being as she's so brand new to social media and so all thumbs on the internet. And besides, she's a recent product of Canton, and Canton is a place where, if Meryl Davis and Charlie White are anything to go by, they like to respect international local custom even if it's repressive.

Let's see how Kaitlyn Lawes is doing:
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Plucky, this one. No "Tour 1, Kaitlyn 0" here. No wine and pastries mention either, but otherwise she and Tessa are like a couple of tuning forks.

Love this ensemble:



 A/k/a  https://allthetropes.orain.org/wiki/Hide_Your_Pregnancy

 Scott does look a little douche-istic, standing by with a box and a water bottle while Tessa's loaded down like a mule, but ... priorities.

I've been giving some thought to the sponsorship situation within this entire sham matrix, because it was getting depressing, the number of high profile corporate entities willing to partner up with a set of athletes engaged in actively hoaxing the public. It appeared to me that if you wanted to employ a bunch of athletes to tell us all how great your stuff is, you didn't want those people to habitually lie their faces off whenever they went on record. Even if people don't know the athletes are liars now, it could bite your company in the ass down the line. Especially when you're partnered with Scott and Tessa, who tell the opposite of the truth. What are potential Audi buyers supposed to think? Holy shit - Scott and Tessa are partnered with Audi - does that mean the engine mounts will give out, twist upward and pull open the throttle, causing rapid acceleration while disabling the brakes?

 Famous car recalls

Scott and Tessa say "Lindt is great chocolate!" Uh oh. How badly is Lindt contaminated with rodent effluvia and invisble particles of stainless steel?
Then I refreshed myself with marketing nomenclature, and confirmed that there's a difference between sponsorships and endorsements, even though the terms are frequently used interchangeably. I do think it's significant that so far Scott/Tessa and Kaitlyn Lawes/The Curling team, and all of the different Canadian athlete configurations we've seen on twitter, are shouting out sponsors, not so much lining up endorsement deals.
Sponsorships tend to be partnerships with an entity/class/category. Even if that entity is a human athlete, the partnership is with that human as an athlete, and generally the brand covers its bases by sponsoring a number of categories of athlete, thus emphasizing that the affiliation is brand/athletics, or, even better, brand/support of athletics/athletes, and not brand/individual personality. (I wonder, too, if there's any restrictions about renumeration; if the money needs to go to the athlete's athletic-related expenses, even if the "related" part can be stretched.)
Endorsements, OTOH, are brand/personality, and expose the brand to more risk should the person(s) representing their brand turn out to be a big, fat liar every time they open their mouths in public.
This link addressed the issue most directly:


From the link:
1) research findings that consistently show sponsorship generally fosters more positive feelings and behavior toward brands than endorsements; and 2) partnerships with organizations are less risky (though not risk-free) than agreements with individuals in terms of the likelihood of bad publicity due to scandal.
That makes sense. One approach - celebrity endorsement - just validates celebrity worship, while sponsorships align the corporation/brand with sports. As well, we can see where the corporate veil is between a given sponsorship of an athlete or category of athletes all connected by particular credentials - Olympic team, a developing sport, a para-team organization, women-in-sports - and an endorsement deal where the corporate entity is employing the athlete as a celebrity and creating an association between that athlete's individual appeal and individual credibility, and the brand. It's nice to know corporations still give a shit enough to at least cover their ass with semantics.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cute Ice Princess Blog Looks at the Finnstep

It's just camera angles. From another camera
angle her left blade is actually OFF the ice.
Were it not for Meryl Davis fans, I would never
understand the importance of camera angles. From this angle,
it appears that the skater is on the ice. From that angle,
it looks like the skater is in the Kiss'n'Cry.

Thanks very much again to cuteiceprincess tumblr and to Lady B. And once again, Meryl Davis fans are invited to explain how Lady B has it all wrong.

Finnstep: DW's skating doesn't match their protocols

Okay, here we go. Let's remember that Lynn Rutherford justified VM's Finnstep levels in the Olympics by pointing out that VM had failed to get their levels in the past. That's it then. She's a figure skating "journalist", after all. Like every single mainstream figure skating journalist in existence*, her deal is, "I'm a figure skating journalist, but I'm not a technical specialist" which means "I write about figure skating but don't actually know what I'm talking about when it comes to what went on out there. I trust the judges when they produce results I support, and so should you even if you don't like the results. Should any observer deviate from the agreed upon official narrative (such as the inventor of the Finnstep disagreeing about how the Finnstep was scored), just disparage his credentials." This stuff about you need to be a technical specialist to write about the technical side (which is the damn win and lose side!) is hammered home to us fans, who are nevertheless supposed to invest ourselves in this "sport." Then there are the times a journalist gets worked up about an outcome, but, not having educated him/herself in the twenty years they've spent writing about the damn thing, makes a half-baked hash of it when attempting to challenge dubious results (looking at you, Steve Milton).

It's notable that people like Lynn Rutherford are interested enough in figure skating to work for publications dedicated to it, which means they write, tweet, attend competitions, etc., but they never manage to get interested enough to actually be able to tell what's going on for themselves. They like to tell us it's impossible to tell for yourself unless you're some sort of "specialist." Figure skating journalists have been using that one for years. Those who presumably do know technique, such as P.J. Kwong, don't talk about it when they discuss figure skating with fans and pretend to know nothing about it when a team like Davis White hijacks the Olympics from the rightful winners.

Yet mere fans, who have not spent years writing about skating, or rubbing elbows, are able to read and understand the rulebook, and evaluate a skater(s) performance vis a vis what's in the rulebook. Turns out this sport is observable. Turns out, the rules are comprehensible and applicable to real stuff. We can familiarize ourselves with the rules in whatever language we speak, and then see if the skating and the scores make sense per the rules.

The likes of Rutherford, and those in the comment booth pretend this is impossible to do. Per them, the only way to evaluate the legitimacy of a protocol is to see if the skater has been given similar protocols before. Cuteiceprincess tumblr, along with quite a few other fans (who are, of course, ignored because then the propoganda jig is up) disagrees. You can actually evaluate a protocol's legitimacy by looking at the skating. What a concept.

Here's Lady B:
The next image makes you see two keypoints that are needed to assign the level 4 to the first sequence of finnstep. To Tessa and Scott was awarded Level 3 and a Level 4 for Meryl and Charlie. Let us see for a moment

FIRST KEYPOINT: the woman must do twizzle and a half, and end on a right foot with an “outside back” edge.This edge must be CLEAR. And the foot with which he comes have to be ONE. We see clearly how Tessa comes with only one foot (the left is oriented forward as it should be to give the draw back on the right foot instead is on the outer edge) and a clear outer edge.
Meryl instead not only arrives on TWO FEET but even over a non-defined, completely flat (as is also visible in the gif).

Again, the gif.


This keypoint has been given the right to both Tessa and Meryl.

SECOND KEYPOINT: After another twizzle and half, the woman has to come with a light foot, right, forward, on a CLEARLY outside edge.
Now, let’s see how Meryl and Tessa are clearly arrived with a flat edge and not defined (not by chance that keypoint is the most difficult to reach). The blade is straight and there is a clear tilt in either of both Tessa and Meryl.

NEVERTHELESS, to Tessa is not given the keypoint, while Meryl yes.
Conclusion: Tessa, a keypoint only earned a level 3.
Meryl two keypoints not deserved, level 4.

What’s the story?
How is it that Tessa and Scott are counted at infinitesimal and Meryl and Charlie is not it?

I would like to remind you that the judges have MEGA replay of what happens during the keypoints and the keypoints that are fundamental to assign levels.

This thing happens all too often in the steps sequences, where Meryl and Charlie seem to automatically level 4 even if their blades are miles away, while Tessa and Scott struggling to get a level 3.
In any case, this is another chapter.

As usual, it seems to me that is rewarded the performance and not the difficulty and true technique. All the more reason why the Tessa and Scott shall be made a higher standard and will have to have everything perfect (all executed perfectly) to win, unfortunately.

As it turns out even when Virtue and Moir are not only better than Davis White, but as near to perfect as ice dancers can get, they're simply not allowed to win. We were all sold a bill of goods about the "storyline" of rival ice dance teams. There was no rivalry. VM were cast as foils meant to legitimize Davis White. Davis White are beating Virtue Moir! Ergo Davis White must be terrific! That's it. Virtue Moir spent the past quad propping up Davis White so Davis and White could appropriate what they did on the ice and pretend to best it. Virtue Moir were only fodder.

P.S. - Re-reading this analysis and looking at the screen caps, Meryl missed both key points in this performance, yet Davis and White got L4.

ETA: Figure skating is consciously, aggressively, perpetuating fraud not just on the ice but off the ice. It's connected. Both are tied to the current culture in the sport, with an accompanying condescension and sanctimony. Davis White are so deserving and it's disrespectful to question the outcome in Sochi. And hey, did we mention Virtue and Moir are GREAT people?

_____________________________
*As ever, excepting those figure skating journalists who write on their own web pages, or for skating-centric websites, but who do not influence how figure skating is discussed in mainstream media, on twitter, or in the comment booth.