Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Before they had nothing in common

Barry Mittan 2003 - Virtue and Moir Real Crowd Pleasers

I read this 2003 article (excerpted in large part here), written by the late, great photojournalist Barry Mittan, long after it was originally published. It remains my favorite. Mittan gets out of the way, and Virtue Moir aren't control freaking their way through the Q&A, jackhammering themselves into their respective rigid public personas.

"South Carolina" might seem like a random dream destination for Scott Moir circa 2003, until one reads that girls can get married in South Carolina at age fourteen.

Skating is a family tradition for the Moirs. “Everyone in my family skated,” he said. “My mother is a figure skating coach, my dad played hockey and coached and my two older brothers skated. I started skating at three, got my first dance partner at age eight and started skating with Tessa at nine.” Virtue had a slightly different reason when she started at the age of six. “I didn’t want to be the only one in my class who couldn’t skate when we went on a school field trip to the arena,” she said.
Virtue began dancing with Moir when she was seven. “I am still trying to do singles, but once I got a dance partner, things just kind of clicked,” she said. She competed in singles last year and finished second at the All Ontario Championships. She almost has her double Axel and is working on triple jumps. Both skaters decided to try dance due to the influence of Moir’s brother, Danny, a senior ice dancer. The two teamed up when Moir’s aunt, Carol Moir, who coached both of the skaters for singles, decided they would make good dance partners.
The dancers train in Kitchener-Waterloo with Paul MacIntosh, Suzanne Killing and Rebecca Babb. They train for three hours on ice Monday through Friday before school and two hours off ice after school Monday to Thursday. That includes conditioning, aerobics, weight training, and balletics, although they each have approach the barre differently. Moir, who also plays hockey, was adamant that he takes ballet “only for skating purposes,” while Virtue, who has had classes since she was three, said, “One of the highlights of my life was the summer I spent at the National Ballet School when I was nine.”
Killing also choreographs the couple’s dances. Moir’s favorite compulsory dances are the Blues and the Golden Waltz, while Virtue likes the Paso and the Samba. He listed the Rocker Foxtrot as his hardest compulsory so far while she thought the Rhumba was the hardest. This season they skated to “Les Poissons” and “Concerto Sopra Motivi dell’Opera” for the original dance and “Malaguena”, “Eres Todo En Mi”, and “Tres Deseos” for their free dance. “I like to skate to anything interesting and fun,” Moir said, while Virtue noted that she liked “something lively, dancy and fun.” Off ice, Moir listens to the top 40 while Virtue listens to almost anything. She also plays the piano.
For fun, Moir likes to hang out with friends and plays sports. “I try to play as many sports as I can,” he said. He plays forward on a house league hockey team. Virtue likes to dance, spend time with friends, and shop. “I study ballet and modern dance,” she said. Moir likes to read action books and watch action movies, while Virtue likes mystery and comedy books and almost any kind of movies. Both are dog lovers. He has a dog named Diamond, while she has two dogs, Keeta, a Shepherd Cross and Maddie, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. She also lives with a family in Kitchener-Waterloo with a dog named Duffy. Both skaters keep the stuffed animals that are thrown on the ice.
For holidays, Moir enjoys going to a lakeside cottage in Muskokas, north of Toronto and enjoy time off at his family’s home. Virtue said, “My family often tries to add in a few days of vacation time around a skating event or competition.” She has enjoyed traveling to Chicago, Lake Placid and Vienna and hopes to go to Paris, Italy and Spain one day, while Moir wants to see Hawaii and South Carolina.
Both of the skaters are attending Bluevale High School, where Moir is in tenth grade and Virtue in ninth. The dancers have not decided on a post-skating career although Moir listed airlift paramedic and Toronto Maple Leafs trainer as possible careers, while Virtue has thought of being a lawyer or a teacher.
Moir said that he most enjoyed skating because of “the experiences, performing and the people you meet.” Virtue said she’s enjoyed “friends I’ve made, performing in front of a crowd and the dresses!”

*They forgot to mention Kate Virtue relocated to Kitchener-Waterloo and Tessa lived there with her. Maybe because she didn't.

P.S. - About twitter sightings and other social media fakery:

Who has Jessica Dube dated since her sham stint ended after Worlds 2012? She's not sharing on her facebook, when her facebook used to chronicle every step she took with Scott Moir. Even after it was restricted, her profile picture did the job. How come when she was "dating Scott Moir" she was spotted thither and yon according to fans, not just with Scott, but in full make out? Since her sham stint terminated, she's been on Battle of the Blades, a program that has more of an audience than any single program Jessica ever skated in her competitive career. She works at Journey to Excel, in the  high profile city of Toronto. She attended fashion week last year. Are we to presume Jessica Dube hasn't been on a date since she was replaced in the sham by Cassandra Hilborn? She's invisible now? Where are the lower ranked skaters who admire her, where are the people whose aunts know her sister and are at the same wedding as Jessica, what happened to various fans who claimed to recognize her in bars or restaurants or airports? Where were the sightings around the BOTB venue and the Journey to Excel facilities?

David Pelletier has a womanizing reputation thanks to getting with Jamie while still married to his first wife. Has he become a monk? He's been on BOTB as well, as a competitor (and won) and on the sidelines. He's on twitter. Did he have plastic surgery to change his appearance? Is there a vow of celibacy? How come he hasn't been "spotted" with anyone since Tessa moved on with Ryan Semple? For that matter, how come all of those people who "spotted" Tessa and Pelletier never had their phones or cameras with them, but the people who "spot" Tessa now so often do? Who is David dating?

Then there's Meryl Davis and Charlie White. They wore gold medals in Sochi and stood on top of the podium. They were stars of one of ABC's top-rated programs and Meryl Davis was announced as the winner. The program had fun keeping Davis fans guessing about her relationship with Maks (and boy did Maks bolt from that the second the show ended, even if it meant people had to think he was getting with JLo). Thanks to frequent close-ups of her in the audience and frequent shout-outs by Charlie, Tanith Belbin's profile rose as well. They're publicly engaged. Where are all the tweets telling us that Charlie and Tanith are right here in this restaurant? Meryl Davis and Charlie are such stars, the paps stalked them to the group vacation they took with the DWTs pros and papped Charlie/Tanith's engagement canoodling. Is Meryl in the same religious order as David Pelletier? She's never out with a guy. Nobody ever sees her with Fedor.

I think she's not seen with Fedor because fans don't WANT her to be with Fedor, so they don't make it up. And because thus far, her relationship with Fedor is by implication only, not ramped up like Tessa and Scott, so Meryl isn't causing it to be done (unlike how the pap stuff on the post-DWTs vacation was - a set up).

I just find it amazing that Tessa is spotted out and about so consistently with Ryan Semple, when she went years without ever being spotted by people on social media, not even when she "dated" Ryan Semple in the past. She gets a twitter account and - voila! She's spotted with him all the time, and it's documented with photos. Was she just not famous enough before she joined twitter?

Has Scott, the guy who partied so hard he was said to be a creepy, coked up hooligan this past spring, reformed so much he never goes out anymore? How can he go so long without being "spotted" #greatpeople, #goldmedalistsx2, #staycool. Or is he just so in love he and Kaitlyn never leave the hotel?

Tessa gets a twitter; suddenly it's Tessa who is being spotted left and right. Before she got twitter, she must have been invisible at every wedding, restaurant, bar, and next day event at both TIFF and fashion week. She gets twitter, suddenly every random on the street can spot her blocks away. Scott's facebook worked the same way. So did Jessica's.

I'm also curious about when Ryan Semple became more famous than Scott Moir. Someone tweeted that her sister was at a wedding, seated at the same table as Scott and Tessa. Why didn't the sister whip out her phone and commemorate the honor, since it was exciting enough to pass on to her sibling? How come this only happens when it's Scott/Kaitlyn or Tessa/Ryan? 

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?