Defaming the Public Persona

As many of you already know, I started a campaign yesterday to help get a book pulled down on Lulu’s website that defames such authors as Mary Sangiovanni, Brian Keene, and Kealan Patrick Burke, to name just a few. Generally speaking, I’m usually too private a person to get involved in author drama. However, as many of you are already aware, Nickolaus Pacione has been a thorn in the side of real authors and real publishers for years and years. You can check out two long threads about his racist, homophobic, and misogynist history here and here. I won’t go into specific details about him because I’m sure you probably already know about him, plus, I’m sick of him getting publicity for being a douchebag. But I’m also sick of him taking swipes at authors because, in his own words, “they are public personas”.

As if that makes it all right.

This got me thinking about something. Peeps, this isn’t right. It’s so not right it isn’t even funny.

I was a little upset about how Brad Pitt was recently assaulted by a fan at the premier of Maleficent, as well, and it got me thinking about how the public approaches celebries. I know so, so many authors and musicians who have been stalked, harassed, berated, criticized (above and beyond their work), analyzed, scrutinized, dissected, and abused by their so-called reviewers, readers, fans, and by the public in general. And still I say–this isn’t right.

Public personas are not playthings. I get that celebrities live under the public gun. I get that they’re expected to live in an almost godlike puritanical state of awesomeness, or otherwise they become rag-mag fodder. I know this is the way of things going back to Old Hollywood, but it still doesn’t make it right. Authors aren’t even considered top celebrities (or most aren’t, anyway–we’re more like the redheaded stepchildren of celebrities) and still I see some being treated little better than trash to be used and tossed aside–not real people, just fantastic, Frankenstein-like creatures to be gawked at.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: public personas are people like everyone else. And they deserve the respect and privacy you would show your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends. Writing a book, movie, song, or whatever, does not mean they are entitled to be stalked, assaulted, their families threatened, their children afraid. It doesn’t mean they haven’t suffered so much to get where they are, because, take it from me, most have. In many ways, celebrities have suffered even more than the average human being to be where they are, and most (not all, granted) deserve the fame, money and attention they receive. They’ve worked hard, and they’ve suffered worse. Hell, Rob Zombie once said he slept homeless on the floor of a pizza shop in the years before he signed his first contract. Fame does not happen overnight for most, and it doesn’t happen magically.

These are the types of things I think about when someone takes a private hatchet to a public persona, following them on social networks or contacting them privately so they can attack, threaten and harass them. Most fans are very cool, don’t get me wrong, and we author types wouldn’t get anywhere without them, but some jealous and hateful wannabes, like a certain person mentioned above, just need to shut the fuck up and sit down. They need to learn there are real consequences to libeling and defaming public personas. It’s awesome fans like you guys who need to step in and help stop online harassment, even if the focal point of that harassment is someone the online bullies feel “deserves it” because they’re well known or successful in their chosen art form. These are just playground bullies all grown up, plain and simple, and no one deserves it, famous or not.

If you see online harassment of a public persona and you know you can report it, please do, even anonymously. And if you have, I thank you! Many of you have already stepped in to stop the aforementioned defaming, and I have to say, such things reaffirm my belief in the basic goodness of the human spirit.

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