Leeann Tweeden, Al Franken, The Patriarchy, Change

The Al Franken problem is developing in ways too important and interesting to not explore further. So here is a handful of semi-connected but mainly distinct thoughts on the matter.

Let me say at the outset, I’m biased. I like Franken, I think he is one of the best US Senators we’ve ever had in this country, in its entire history. I am very reluctant to let sophomoric or stupid behavior of many years ago cause us to lose this resource. I also know that his resignation is at least 50% likely, in part for reasons I will explore below, but I choose to remain in denial of this for a while longer, and that’s good enough for me.

It is hard to hear Leeann Tweeden’s story (in her own voice) and not want Al to resign, even though Leeann Tweeden herself has suggested he not. In fact, it is tempting to invent a truth machine we attach to all members of Congress, and ask about prior sexual harassment or abuse (especially while in Congress), get rid of them all, and replace them with women. We would almost certainly end up with a female-majority congress, and that could change the way this country works in several very positive ways.

(On the third hand, it should be on record so we do not forget, that Leeann Tweeden, while credible and clearly a smart and thoughtful person, is a FOX employee — off and on — and it is not hard to draw a line connecting the Roy Moore election and the present dust up. I am increasingly convinced that this is not relevant here but I feel the need to keep it on the table at least for now.)

Here is the Leeann Tweeden Interview and Al Franken’s Facebook apology. I think it is important for people to see both. Watch the entire interview, there is quite a bit of interesting insight here, across several subtopics, all the way to the end. It is long but it is your responsibility to see all of it before you form an opinion. Tweeden is very credible, Franken was a real jerk.

For his part, Al’s apology is very sincere, and as noted by Leeann Tweeden, comes from a place of honesty. One gets the sense after hearing Tweeden’s interview that the two of them could come to a reconciliation and Franken can go back to work in the Senate, were it up to her. I have a feeling that is now how it is going to work out, though.

The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.

I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.

But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.

While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.

I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.

And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.

The Picture vs. The Mash

People on the internet are being stupid again. And I’m sorry if this offends you, but there is about at 70% chance that this applies to you. But don’t worry, it can be fixed.

There are two separate and distinct issues at hand, and many people are accidentally (so far, eventually this will become deceitful) conflating and confusing them.

THING 1: There is a photograph of Franken mugging a shot with his hands in grab position just over the thoracic area of Tweeden’s flack jacket, while Tweeden appears to be sleeping. You can see by the shadows, that Frankens’ hands are not touching her, and you can see by Franken’s facial expression that this is all some sort of stupid middle school level joke or prank. I’ve heard (subject to correction) that the person who took the picture claims that Tweeden is awake, and that this whole shot is a funny setup of a joke. If on the other hand she is asleep, it is a cruel prank.

THING 2: The other thing is the rehearsal mash. A mash is a forceful unwanted kiss. Or, it could be a kiss that is not unwanted but ends up being forceful in an unwanted way. According to Tweeden, Franken insisted on rehearsing a kiss they were planning as part of a skit he wrote, and she did not want to do that. He kept insisting and eventually she acquiesced, and when it happenned, according to Tweeden, Franken kissed her very forcefully (see the video) and in an unwanted manner. For his part, Franken says he remembers it differently but has not elaborated on what that means.

Here’s the THING. Even though the photograph is stupid and embarrassing, and possibly abusive, it does not illustrate the mash. They are two different things. Now you know.

Support Our Troops: Forgive Franken

Watch this USO show. Take note of the remarks about shooting into a village that it was illegal to shoot at, the fecal humor, and the sexual humor. This is what the troops want, this is what USO gives them. Have a look.

Bad behavior is not excused by bad context, but it is potentially explained that way. Should we have USO shows that make light of war crimes, and that use bawdy humor to entertain the troops? Some will say yes, this is what keeps up morale, this is how we support our troops. I expect everyone who would make such an argument to come to Franken’s defense regardless of their political motivation!

Early Stages

Hollywood and the world of entertainment are reeling (no pun intended) with the accusations and revelations, firings and resignations. People are identifying, correctly, not only the US Congress but also various state legislatures, as places where male harassment of females is widespread and largely unchecked. Corporate America outside of Entertainment is so far not too affected, but that is not for long, probably.

Those cultures have to change. So do places like the USO as well, places where bad behavior is rewarded and held up as morale building.

And sports. Don’t get me started on sports.

I do wonder why this is all happening right now. I know why it is happening now instead of, say, during the middle ages. But I don’t know exactly why it is happening now as opposed to, say, 2011 or some other recent year. I also wonder why the dam burst when someone took their finger out of the hole known as Harvey Weinstein, and not back with Cosby. Is that a race thing? Supreme White society expects such things of an African American entertainer? Or was it just unclear to women what the consequences of coming out would be then. Maybe it DID start with Cosby, that was an important dry run.

And of course Trump being president has caused a reset, a re-calibration, a regrouping, across the board with respect to all the issues, especially those surrounding gender and race. That may be part of it.

In the end, I hope we can save Al Franken but I know we probably can’t, and maybe shouldn’t even want to.

If Al Franken resigns, Governor Mark Dayton will appoint a senator. It will be a female. Who will it be?

And, in my next post, I predict the future: How The Franken Thing Is Going To Play Out

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34 thoughts on “Leeann Tweeden, Al Franken, The Patriarchy, Change

  1. Yeah, there’s a questionable theory among some comedy writers that the heart of humor is about thumbing your nose at “convention” and making things happen at the expense of others. There’s so much of this that it’s as though people are failing to distinguish watching bad behavior in a contrived situation and behaving that way in reality. Or put another way, if the fourth wall crumbles, do you become an obtuse character in your own personal sitcom, always “on”?

    Humor is certainly contextual; Seth Myers does some interesting meta-humor where he brings on an African-american woman and a gay women to deliver punch lines to jokes he “can’t tell”. Trump on the other hand, adopts stand-up rhythms to spew pure stite. Likewise, Limbaugh is presented as hilarious, funny-because-it’s-true entertainment instead of the mean, manipulative propaganda that it is.

    Personally, I think we should at shelve a lot of the old Catskills and burlesque show attitudes (not to mention minstrelsy) put the forth wall back in place, dial back the stupid, and move on into the 21st century.

  2. > is a FOX employee

    I don’t know where she is now, but she was originally for Fox Sports, appearing on Best Damn Sports Show Period many times.
    Al Franken says he doesn’t know what was in his mind in the photo, but he does know. He likes jokes about getting woman in their sleep, and this was another one.

    The mash, wasn’t just that. LeeAnn agreed to the rehearsal, she knew what Al was up to, and went along with it. She’s probably used to guys harassing her in her career as a Playboy model. What she claims to be surprised by and violated by, is this- when Hollywood rehearses or films kisses, there is no tongue, just some pretending. Al went all in. Lots of prostitutes won’t allow this.

  3. and it is not hard to draw a line connecting the Roy Moore election and the present dust up. I am increasingly convinced that this is not relevant here

    No. Stop. That is too damn close to people like mikeN, ron, billson, and others saying “well if she was offended she shouldn’t have waited so long to speak up”, or mikeN’s asinine post just above, or other scum who say “if she hadn’t been there” or “if she hadn’t dressed like that…”

    Don’t drop to the low-level scummy apologetics the right-wing posters on your site engage in all the fucking time.

    1. No, I’m not leaving his off the table. It is not apologetic, it is prudent. I am not making a very strong statement here, and I even very meaningfully put it parentheses. I’m being cautious and realistic, is all. It may very well not be anything at all, as I stated.

    2. Dean, she agreed to rehearse a kiss with Al Franken. She knew that Al wasn’t doing it out of artistic necessity. Indeed, the whole kiss was in the scene at Al’s request.

  4. Cut and paste ended too soon: this should have been included (and emphasized)

    but I feel the need to keep it on the table at least for now.)

  5. Actors live in a different space than other people. As an actor, you have to be willing to do things that normal people (I call them ‘civilians’) won’t do. It comes with the territory. If you agree to be an actor in a scene where you have to kiss someone, then you kiss them. And you rehearse it. And you rehearse more than kissing in many cases because of what you need to do to make the scene work. I’ve done this. I’ve kissed men. I’ve kissed women. It’s what you do. You’re trying to create something like real life and you have to do messy things sometimes. Or don’t. You can always turn down a job.

    Even if it’s comedy (and I do improv, so I do comedy) there is still a craft and you still work at it. I’ll say, having done both comedy and drama, comedy is harder on an actor. It doesn’t get the respect, but you have to go places that you won’t go in a dramatic scene. And it taxes more muscles. So just because this was a comedy show for the USO doesn’t mean that you just blow it off and say “It doesn’t matter. I don’t need to rehearse. It’s not that big of a deal.” If you’re a professional, every show matters and you give it your best, no matter what. If a skit says I’m have to kiss Al Franken, then that’s what I’m going to do. And I’m going to rehearse it. I’m not dying to kiss Al Franken, but it’s part of the job and I don’t want to screw up any part of the performance. I was trained, and I personally believe, that you approach every scene as a professional because it’s not something you can just ‘turn on’. It’s more important to be a professional in a rehearsal because you’re building the muscles. But I digress.

    Now, in her interview, she says, “I’m not an actress, I’m just a host.” So she and Al aren’t in the same space, for lack of a better term. Actors know that they do what the script calls for. If you can’t do it, you turn the job down. She should have turned the job down. She never should have agreed to do a skit where she kisses him. She just shouldn’t have agreed to do any skits at all. If you just want to host, then just host. But don’t say you want to be in on the acting bit if you really don’t. I doubt it would have been a problem. Actors (and she admits she isn’t) know their limits and they don’t take jobs they can’t handle. And you can say that Al Franken was a dumb comic, but he had been a professional writer and actor for decades at this point and he was used to a certain level of professionalism from people he worked with.

    And part of this is the idea that somehow Al Franken wanted to kiss her. He must have been looking for a reason to kiss and grope the swimsuit model. I can’t speak for Al, but I have had situations where I haven’t been that attracted to a scene partner personally, but I still had to do it (and it isn’t because of any physical issue. I was out in Los Angeles, where everyone in your acting class and theater is at least an 8 if you’re going to rank attractiveness. There aren’t any ugly people in Hollywood. The only ugly person who works in Hollywood is Linda Hunt because she’s just that awesome.)

    And I will freely admit that I have a sort of ‘meat market’ approach to all of this. It’s part of the gig. I know that I’m not being judged by how smart or how talented I am. I’m being judged by what people see on the surface. As an actor, you have to embrace that or at least make peace with it. It’s not a business for people who want to appreciated as whole human beings with the entire range of experiences and emotions. You’re just another piece of set dressing to a director or producer in most cases.

    1. Again, your dishonesty, or lack of ability to read at all, is amazing. I said nobody said that only one side is responsible for everything bad.

      The sites you like – breitbart and worse — are operated purely to push racist, bigoted, anti-poor, anti-minority, anti-fact, materials to the lower racists and low lifes in the general population. The people who work at those locations and who pay attention to them make a decision to lie, spread racist material, and so on. Scum.

    1. Why do you assume they are all Democrats? Haven’t you been saying that the Republicans are RINOs? This should make them basically Democrats and equally likely, under your theory that Democrats are the predators?
      I wouldn’t presume anything like that. If I asked who was the least likely candidate among all presidents and nominees, George HW Bush would come in maybe second behind Romney. Gore would be up there and yet he ended up divorced over it.

  6. Your DeanShip said “Again, your dishonesty, or lack of ability to read at all, is amazing. I said nobody said that only one side is responsible for everything bad.

    The sites you like – breitbart and worse — are operated purely to push racist, bigoted, anti-poor, anti-minority, anti-fact, materials to the lower racists and low lifes in the general population. The people who work at those locations and who pay attention to them make a decision to lie, spread racist material, and so on. Scum.”
    —————————————————————————————-
    Your recurring theme is to make scandalous charges against
    anyone whom opposes you.

    It is either due to the fact, that you have no debating points
    or you simply enjoy debasing people. You, dear Dean, are a
    Dyson and an ill functioning one at that.

    Old man bushneck, is also a pervert and needs to retire
    from any and all limelight.

    1. “anyone whom opposes you

      Your grammar is no better than your integrity.

      It isn’t a scandalous charge, it is a fact. Breitbart and people like them are on record supporting nazis, the KKK, white supremacists, and other low-life scum. I have a feeling, based on your odd defenses, that you like folks in those groups yourself because you’re such a good “christian”.

    2. Give him a break. His and Greg’s favorite newspaper Washington Post published the headline:

      White nationalists angered by Mexican immigrant’s acquittal in Kate Steinle’s killing.

  7. MikeN said “Why do you assume they are all Democrats? Haven’t you been saying that the Republicans are RINOs? This should make them basically Democrats and equally likely, under your theory that Democrats are the predators?”

    I don’t, Mike but as I stated hear, it is bi a ratio of 3 or 4 to one.

    The morals of Progressos have a lower threshold. Former Gov
    Mark Sanford (R), should have never been elected to the House.
    He my still be a member of – My Zipper has fallen but I can
    still get it up.

    And Oldman Bushneck, should be known as the pinch and
    flinch president. It was good to know, that the entire Bushneck
    family voted for Ms Uranium Rodham, which finally exposes their true
    ideology. Northwoods RINOcans.

  8. Your Deanship said “Your grammar is no better than your integrity.

    It isn’t a scandalous charge, it is a fact. Breitbart and people like them are on record supporting nazis, the KKK, white supremacists, and other low-life scum. I have a feeling, based on your odd defenses, that you like folks in those groups yourself because you’re such a good “christian”.”

    Oh you Grammar NAZI !

    You only can throw mud. There are your facts. We do not
    want your petty Socshevik prejudice.

  9. BBD, the Gay Shepherd, has a well known
    leftist streak.

    I do not consider him unbiased in any fashion.
    He is an news anchor, yet he engages in adding
    his own opinions and editorials.

    He is tainted by his own words.

    Fox and Hound, has just announced that they have
    traded Shep to CNN. for Cooper Anderson and two
    unnamed anchors.

  10. Shepard Smith: CNN Is Not “Fake News” LOL; LOL

    He also suffers from Trumphobia.

    He is an excellent anchor guy but has that internal
    need to preach his social justice schemes.

    He had to advance the cause of his “community” GLADD
    and LGBTQ, rather than staying silent.

    He is using Fox and Hound as his social platform – utterly
    disgraceful.

    1. He simply reported what the rest of us have known for a long time – that the uranium stuff was lies made up by the right wing to smear HRC. But even though this crap has been debunked now by Fox itself, bellends like you still keep on repeating it. Jesus hates a lie, you know.

  11. Shep has debunked only himself, BBD.

    Where is his prima prima facie? How did
    the Clintons get so rich – being “public”
    vassals?

    And once again you are no shaky grounds camrade.

    https://www.americanewshub.com/2017/11/17/identity-uranium-one-informant-revealed-video-showing-briefcases-full-cash/

    Why even the Slime says it is true!

    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html

    1. No matter how hard you try, you can’t turn the uranium lie into anything other than fake news. I should add that I’m not even vaguely interested in defending HRC as I am British; the only reason this matters is that the endless and blatant lying by rightwing fake news sources pisses in the face of democracy.

  12. BBD, your dialogue consists only of your personal
    dogma, rather that providing points of facts.

    I am afraid your application to the prestigious Oxford
    debating team has been rejected.

    Perhaps we can have tea and crumpets, at my manor.

    BTW, your public health system is a human disgrace,
    much like your national renewal energy and our VA
    healthcare.

    Cheerio, Old Bean.

  13. I believed her story until, I went to some of her web site. Her nude video of humping a motorcycle was disturbing. Her interview just 3 months ago with Howard Sterns was so bad I could hardly watch it. Howard caught her in a lie. She said she gave up going to Harvard to model. He said whaa, you must of had some great SAT scores. What did you get. Shes say I don’t remeber, 1200. He says no you can’t get into Harvard with a 1200. She says a they look at other things. He say hmm, I don’t think so, maybe and changed the subject.

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