To the woman on her cell phone, whom I have known now some two plus years. I need not name you, you should know by now who you are. At least, that’s how you carry yourself.
I could hear you across the room. At your decibel, I could probably hear you from the moon. The point is I heard you, laughing. No. You were not laughing. You were cackling. Howling like a banshee and gossiping to your friends about your client.
Your client was an older woman. Not yet elderly, but certainly on in years. She needed your help to clear a case for herself, and her son, who is handicapped.
“What a LOSER!!” I heard you exclaim. And why? Because he still needs her to take care of him, even though he’s just slightly under me in age. “What kind of an invalid still lives at home with his mommy?” Is what I could hear resonating through the building. And on and on I have heard this from you about all in his position. And some are not even fully grown yet, but here you are, insisting that instead of relying on a cane or a crutch, they should just “quit being lazy” and live exactly like you do.
I heard you make fun of the boy in his 20’s, who try as he might, just can’t seem to get a job. I heard you make fun of the mother of three, who should have learned not to ever let a man inside of her, to grant her those little ankle biters, and instead, just close her legs, fight the world off, and again, live just the way you do.
To the woman on her cell phone, I’d like to have a chat with you. Of course, I will be denied this, as the only time you ever speak to me, is when my husband is in the room. Oh yes. You claim he’s not your type, and you beg him for advice because “he’s soooooooo brotherly” you swear, but when his back is turned, and I once more become invisible in your eye, I can hear you, again on the cell phone, talking about how sexy his voice is, how handsome he looks in those Rockabilly shirts, the coils of his freshly washed curls and the way his face is a a balance between smokey sensuality and boyish charm. Oh kind maiden. If you could only hear my voice when he is not present, if you would let me have audience with you outside of my invisible state, I could elaborate to you how high I have made that smokey, sultry voice of his crack in the bedroom, but I digress.
To the woman on her cell phone, let me paint you a picture of why your chiding of the handicapped boys irks my very core.
I have a little brother. Much like a practice son, he has been the apple of my eye since the first time I saw my mother’s stick turn blue in the bathroom of a restaurant we were not welcome in. I can still remember the sweet scent emanating from his bassinet the day he was born, a miracle in my then five years on this planet, after false contractions and family stress almost cost me the greatest thing to hit my childhood.
But as he was growing up, I noticed his knees didn’t bend right. Climbing was a chore and he needed more help than the average boy. Then one day at seven, he collapsed, screaming that his knees wouldn’t hold him up anymore.
We took him to a doctor, who sent him to a hospital, who stuck him full of holes and then left him in a dark room, before finally announcing he had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. From there, we had to whisk him off to one quack after another, before finally getting him to Shriner’s, and onto the medication he needs to walk.
Shriner’s is a wonderful hospital, but it is a charity. It’s the last ditch effort for those who couldn’t get on Medicaid. You’re greeted with a competent staff of doctors, but not before also being hounded by DCFS, a group of strangers who demand more and more paperwork, threatening to take your youngster away from you forever, unless you can prove to them that his inability to walk is medical, and not the cause of abuse.
To the woman on her cell phone, I wish to spend a day with you, get to know you better, see what I can learn through your eyes, or better, have you see the world through mine.
Perhaps you would like to travel back in time with me, and meet me at age twelve. Stand beside me as I am interrogated by men and women much older than my parents, asking me if I’ve ever broken his bones or abused him, and am I the reason he can’t walk, or is it mommy or daddy? Sit with me in the waiting room for four, five, six hours between tests, beside the father on crutches who is wheeling in his teenage boy, who can’t even turn his head. Sit alone while my mother coaxed my brother to get just one more needle to see-saw through that vein, while we hear the howls of a Mennonite woman, just beneath the age of twenty, holding a pillow and screaming, because her one baby is in the ground, a second will join him, and a third is in the ICU, a foreign term meaning a room full of lights and sharp objects going through your baby while you sit in a world your parents forbade you to understand. Maybe I could get you to play with me, join me for charity Bingo night, with a little girl who is bald from chemo, and a big brother who might not make it to see six. Or maybe you’ll wait outside for me, while you watch the 89 year old Shriner with a bad hip help a little girl who can’t speak English onto a gurney. Is the hospital too much for you? No problem. Come back to my house, which was balanced poorly on a beam with insulation made of newspapers from the Truman administration. As you breathe in the mold from my Posen, Illinois bungalow, you can help me fasten a new gauntlet on my brother’s wrist, slap a knee brace on him, and help him learn how to hold a pencil all over again. I’ll pour the cherry 7UP while you press firmly the pencil guards to the recycled No 2 Ticonderoga for him.
To the woman on her cell phone, maybe you could say I am angered by your handicap jokes. Maybe it is because my doctor recently told me that now I am “one of them”. That I may need to be on medication for the rest of my life, to help me deal with a skin that rejects the elements and the brain that throbs hard enough for me to see stars.
Or maybe it’s because I’m holding a memory of all the children who are no more, whom I used to see every other week at Shriner’s. Maybe I’m holding the smaller me, who held the smaller brother, who had to be told too early that sometimes medicine and a Pokemon card just can’t save everyone he plays with.
To the woman on her cell phone, I see you hate on those who just didn’t get out of mom and dad’s house before twenty one. I apologize. It must be so hard for your simple mind to comprehend that not all of us are lucky in the job market. That sometimes your spotless credit score and PHD just can’t get you a better job than flipping burgers, or any job at all. That the 1960’s died out before your were born, and that the Baby Boomers who were handed jobs with little to no education, turned around and voted into office an ex-actor who instilled banker-friendly laws that added just a few more hoops to jump through when trying to grab that job that can make those ends meet. I’m sorry that you can’t grasp that the economy tanked several years ago, and that we are going on generation three to know a depression only made comfortable by the electronics and Wi-Fi we can’t afford, the same you use to convey your hatred of those not 100% like you.
To the woman on her cell phone, may you continue to scoff at others. May you continue to howl and cackle, pointing and enjoying your brand of faux humor at those who are less fortunate than you.
And may the world show you the same mercy your pristine pores are showing your concealer plastered skin, so that you know not what it feels like to step into the shoes of those you mock on the phone to your girlfriend.
Koriander Bullard is an author, cartoonist and human rights advocate. Keep up with her on Facebook!
The recent divorce announcement between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard took a seriously disturbing turn last Friday when it became apparent that domestic violence allegedly committed by Depp was the root cause of their breakup.
A LA County judge apparently felt the evidence was credible enough to grant Heard a temporary restraining order against Depp. According to court filings, Depp is alleged to have consistently physically and emotionally abused Heard during the entirety of their year-and-a-half long marriage.
According to Heard’s testimony, things reached the breaking point in April, when Depp’s alcohol and drug consumption combined with his short temper to create a ticking time bomb. On April 21st, Depp no-showed his wife’s birthday party, finally making an appearance while under the influence of drugs and wine. They reportedly got into some sort of heated argument, likely due to him showing up after the party had ended with a wine bottle welded to his hand, with Depp throwing a temper tantrum and becoming physically violent towards Heard.
After Heard threw him out of their home, Depp stayed away until May 21st, when he returned feigning peace. According to Heard’s testimony, midway through their conversation, Depp became unglued and started becoming aggressive and violent again. In response, Heard dialed a friend to get help. Depp became furious and allegedly slugged Heard in the right eye with her cell phone before smashing it and several of her other personal belongings.
Photo Courtesy of TMZ.com
Heard filed for divorce two days later. I can’t say that I blame her. For some bizarre reason only known to the judge in charge of the hearing, Heard’s request that Depp be ordered to undergo anger management and substance abuse counseling was denied despite it being apparent that even that he is in desperate need for both. I suppose then they believe that Heard slammed into a door, or used makeup then. Not helping is that the LAPD claim there is no credible evidence of abuse, as if we can trust the notoriously crooked and starstruck LAPD.
Of course, Depp is in full denial about being a drunken, perpetually stoned woman-beating creep. His legal team is doing everything possible to slander Heard as an opportunist who only wants money, especially since Heard has requested $50,000 a month in spousal support until she marries again.
What is even more disturbing than Depp’s behavior is how the masses have instantly jumped to his defense despite the overwhelming evidence of heinous spousal abuse. Just a random sampling of some of the comments made by these armchair defense attorneys include some disgusting claims as:
1) Depp couldn’t possibly have punched her in the right eye because he’s left handed.
2) This is what happens when a man marries a lesbian. (Note: Heard is openly bisexual and was in a long term relationship with a woman prior to hooking up with Depp.)
4) That bruise was caused simply by running into a door.
4) She’s desperate for money and fame.
5) He’s such a talented actor.
6) We’re forced to blindly accept a woman’s claims, lest we be called sexist.
7) She’s a trailer park trash scam artist!
8) She showed up at the courthouse looking like she was Mother Theresa. With that look, who could think she was anything but innocent!
9) She’s spinning the story into something it wasn’t.
10) She is able-bodied and works for a living and did throughout that short union so for her to go rooting in his bank account is gold digging plain and simple.
11) He was deep in grief over losing his mother.
12) He’s so dreamy. She just can’t appreciate what she has!
So in other words, according to these peons, Heard is solely to blame for this entire scenario, while the guy who has a history of violent behavior towards women and has battled drug and alcohol abuse gets off scot free. It’s yet another example of the disturbing pattern of blaming the woman whenever a domestic violence dispute emerges.
Let’s debunk some of these disgusting remarks before we go any further. To claim that it is impossible for a left-handed person to hit someone in the right eye is beyond idiotic. Targets do not discriminate when it comes to receiving blows. The same goes for the running into the door excuse that is the most popular excuse given by domestic violence victims too scared to tell the truth for fear of being killed by their abusers.
Heard’s sexual orientation doesn’t excuse for one minute what Depp did to her. The same goes for his supposed skills as an actor. Using Heard’s bisexuality against her is just a convenient excuse for those who hate and fear the LGBTQ community to engage in what they like to do best. Acting brilliance doesn’t excuse deplorable behavior against an individual’s spouse.
As for claims she’s desperate for fame and money, with a $9 million personal net worth and instant name recognition, I dare say that Heard already has plenty of both as is. I believe her request for spousal support is an attempt to hold him accountable for his actions, which is something Depp has managed to evade with every single one of his broken relationships to date.
In her divorce filing, Heard also made mention that Depp has prevented her from accepting several plum acting roles in a bid to control her. The pro-Depp contingent have leapt upon this as proof that she’s lying, but a quick look at Heard’s credits on the Internet Movie Database reveal that she may be telling the truth. In the 15 months since marrying Depp, she only has two completed films and is currently filming another. She had appeared in five 2015 theatrical releases, but those were all filmed before her marriage to Depp. A mere three movies for an actress who was very prolific and in-demand in the years BEFORE marrying Depp is definitely a sign that something was amiss.
As far as the idea of being forced to believe Heard’s claims because she is a woman and to oppose her would brand one a sexist, I say it is truly sexist to use such an excuse to discredit a clearly battered woman. So are the childish insults that Heard dressed up like a saint or that she’s trailer park trash.
Depp’s legal team has been pulling every trick in the book in an attempt to discredit Heard. Well, of course they would. Would you expect them to admit he’s a booze swilling, dope taking woman beating creep? Their official statement to the press states that:
“Given the brevity of this marriage and the most recent and tragic loss of his mother, Johnny will not respond to any of the salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies about his personal life.”
So they’re using the length of the marriage and the loss of Depp’s mother as convenient excuses. No surprise there. Nor will it shock you that his legal team is alleged to have leaked an item to the tabloids that alleges that Heard was having an affair with model/actress Cara Delevigne. It’s awfully convenient since Delevigne is an openly bisexual actress who is a close friend of Heard’s and a favorite target of the mass media. Naturally, the news media have swallowed this unproven tripe with relish.
I have no stomach for anyone who makes excuses to justify abhorrent behavior such as domestic violence. There is absolutely no excuse or circumstance that justifies and excuses domestic violence. I have no respect whatsoever for any man who beats a woman unprovoked. In fact, I have no respect for any spouse of either gender that abuses the other.
I believe the primary reason why so many have leapt to Depp’s defense is something I call the starstruck factor. People often become so starstruck by a person’s charisma, talent or cachet in Hollywood that they are willing to overlook a creep’s flaws. How else to explain why the cinema world still fawns over director Roman Polanski, despite the fact he is an unrepentant rapist who raped a 13-year old girl four decades ago?
Despite being the box office equivalent of fugu (the Japanese blowfish that is extremely toxic when poorly prepared), Depp still commands respect and acclaim as a brilliant actor who is a colossal hunk. You’ll hear about how dreamy he is. I guess some people haven’t realized that even dreamboats can become nightmares.
When I see a woman who is visibly bruised and clearly distraught, I believe her when she says she was physically abused. I believe Heard, not the so-called brilliant heartthrob actor. This is a woman in deep physical and emotional pain. The fact that so many are blindly defending Depp is yet another sign of how far we have devolved as an enlightened society.
Written and Illustrated by Koriander Bullard
Not too long ago, a friend of mine joined a Facebook community for book lovers. For the sake of protecting her privacy, let's pretend her name is “Mina”.
Now Mina is a very friendly and generous lady. She didn’t just want to promote her own book, she wanted to promote the books of authors she thought were really cool. So she would share their links, talk about how wonderful their stories are, and then she would buy a book or two, read it and then offer a spare copy in online giveaways. Her community is set to “open” so I could read for myself that she is always minding her P's and Q's and doesn't troll.
Then one day, it happened. I log onto Facebook to find that some psycho has started a social media campaign against Mina. Let's call the psycho woman “Avery”.
From what I can piece together from the long-winded ramblings Avery posted, at one point, Avery considered herself to be Mina's Facebook “friend”. (Note the quotations?) One day, Avery took a comment Mina made about a romance novel WAY out of context, thinking it was about her and not about the fictitious character Mina was talking about. Then she threw a hissy fit because Mina shared a picture Avery had set to “public” and had the nerve to say it was a cute photo. Before anybody could figure out what was going on, Avery launched a Twitter and Facebook campaign, accusing Mina of trying to steal her husband, (who lives three states away and had no clue this was going on) trying to seduce her son (who is turning one next week) and of trying to claim one of her books as Mina's book (a book that by the way, was ripped off of someone else) and sell it on Amazon (which at the time, Mina did not have access to) while demanding Mina be blacklisted by every book community around the globe.
A week earlier, my brother told me of another “community crisis” involving two men over the age of 25 on one of Capcom's forums. The two fought over which interpretation of Mega Man was the best and whether or not Capcom was hiding pro-Muslim sentiment in the background of a game they released two PlayStation consoles ago. The same day, my husband told me of a public meltdown he saw a 22 year old man had on a Fallout Facebook group over someone else's fan-fiction, and I had to ban nine people from one of my Sailor Moon pages when I caught them (ages 19-35) hurling slurs at each other because they couldn't agree on what level of Transgender Sailor Uranus is.
The streets of my home town are still stained with dried blood splatters over countless fights among tween and teenage girls (and 25-45 year old men who behave like tween girls) over which boy band was hotter, Jacob vs. Edward and whether or not John Cena belongs in the Hall of Fame.
The sad part is that this is all very normal in the average fan community.
Back in 2010, I started receiving death and rape threats, because I made a three minute music video where I dressed up a CGI model of Vocaloid's Miku Hatsune in a Hello Kitty costume. I was hacked several times, earned a hate shrine on the internet, and then had strangers send death threats to my family members. It wasn't until the ring leader came out as a 30+ year old math teacher who was also stalking several tween girls that I saw a break in the madness, and the emails themselves didn't cease until I started sharing around my wedding photos, proving I was now under the watch of a gun owner. And why did my family and I get harassed?
Because I offended a “community” I never even asked to be part of.
Worldwide, we have always had problems with fan based communities, ever since the first “fan club” was ever created. Fans of anything imagine a list of “rules” they insist complete strangers obey in order to enjoy the same thing(s) as the rest of the hive, and when they catch someone not 100% like they are, they rally their troupes for an all out war. Then, they flip the script, pretend to be a victim, and claim they're only “protecting” their concept of “art” in the form of stalker behavior.
And if we are going to claim the title of adulthood, then we need to stop accepting this madness as “normal fandom” and start rejecting it.
The celebrities and companies responsible for our fandoms already did, and decades ago. Have you ever seen a celebrity reaction when they hear about their own fan clubs?
For as much money as people have dumped into fan clubs over the years, it never has gotten them any closer to their favorite stars. These clubs, half fan-made and the other half marketing scheme, sometimes charge exorbitant fees to get a membership card and a t-shirt, and yet not one single, solitary member has ever been on a first-name basis with their favorite star or creator. Not a single fan-Wikia has ever gotten anybody a better spot in line, better concert seats or even a mention on an official album, video game credit roll or even a spot as a gopher for the merchandise table of a Power Ranger at a Comic Con.
In fact, the average celebrity doesn't even know they have a fan community or club, and they never see a dime from either. And certainly not from those fan-drawn shirts being hawked all over the place.
Don't believe me? Just mention your fan community to a celebrity at the next convention, and watch as their eyes widen, they open-mouth smile a “WOW um thank you!” and then dart their little, overpaid pupils in the direction of the next fan or security, depending on their level of discomfort.
Trust me, all that Facebook drama you put yourself through is just not worth it.
Let's pretend that I'm a fan of Captain Folder and his sidekick Manilla Mike, the Legal Lad.
My Facebook profile is a picture of me, wearing my Captain Folder cap, a Captain Folder t-shirt while holding my Captain Folder and Legal Lad action figures. I share this photo on Twitter.
If Ka-POW comix (publisher of this pretend series) likes my picture and re-tweets it, cool.
If Belvadere Twizzlestix Esquire (the pretend creator) likes my picture and thanks me for being a fan, that's beyond awesome!
If a few people happen to “Like” my picture, hashtag and share me, great!
But I really don't need to join a community to like Captain Folder and Legal Lad.
I don't need a group of strangers harassing me all day and night about whether or not my picture is “offensive” to them, or if I'm wearing a shirt now deemed “uncool” or dictating to me how to address Legal Lad's budding sexuality. He's ten years old.
I don’t need some fashion challenged hipster psycho-analyzing Captain Folder, trying to convince him or herself that the power suit and cape are all a part of his super-ego “persey” any more than I'd want to listen to a long-winded speech about whether or not the story takes place in an alternate reality in which the Foldermobile is a real-life hybrid, or if this series is all just a fantasy Frank Folder is having in a dream somewhere, after coping with the loss of his secret Mistress, Penny Pencil.
I don't need some Emo kid with “daddy issues” and a sexually confused DeviantArt page bombarding me with their depressing re-imaginings of the characters, when there's a movie studio already working on it. I also don't need their graphic and age-inappropriate “Loli” digital tracings of Legal Lad in his underwear.
If a fellow Captain Folder fan wants to befriend me, awesome! I'll be glad to chat all day with you about Legal Lad helping to foil the plot of The Stormy Stapler in order to rescue Damsel Deadline. I'd also be happy to look up the answers to any question you have about the characters.
But don't be surprised if I skip out on joining the Facebook Community. There's just not enough hours in the day to handle that much fan-created drama.
Koriander Bullard is an author, cartoonist and human rights advocate. Keep up with her on Facebook!