OT: On Fry and Being Out(spoken)

Some people think of Armitage when they see a poster advertising a musical for children. Some are reminded of Armitage thanks to coincidental acronyms incorporating the letters RA. Others attend hoity-toity cultural events, only to find their thoughts meander back to their mood-booster of choice. Guess which group I belong to? Right, the latter. Pretentiously patronizing a cultural event celebrating the work of a literary great – and coming away with a number of thoughts relating to Mr A. I am not sure whether *he* would find that flattering.

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And neither would Stephen Fry, who was the guest of honour at last night’s conversation event on the occasion of Bloomsday. Bloomsday – for those not au fait with English-language literature from Ireland – is an annual commemorative event, celebrating the writer James Joyce. The name refers to the main character of his novel Ulysses, which chronicles one day in the life of the main character, a Dublin jew named Leopold Bloom. The day described in the novel is June 16th, 1904. (Joyce, btw, picked this date because it was the day that he met his later wife Nora Barnacle for a first date. What a declaration of love!!!) Organized by the Dublin James Joyce Centre, this year’s Bloomsday featured Stephen Fry in conversation with Senator David Norris, a well-known Joyce expert, ex-professor of literature (Trinity College), outspoken gay activist, former presidential candidate and Anglo-Irish eccentric.

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Georgian architecture on North Great George’s Street – Joyce passed them by on his way to school

I made my way to the venue on a balmy summer evening, accompanied by my young daughter, who is a huge fan of Fry’s TV panel show QI. We passed through North Great George’s Street, a beautiful Georgian street which also houses the James Joyce Center, and which leads to James Joyce’s alma mater, Belvedere College, a prestigious Jesuit secondary school, where the event was taking place. We were very early and had to wait to be admitted to the auditorium – but being early meant we snagged fabulous seats in the sixth row from the front, on the aisle, and with a direct view of Stephen Fry. After a rather long delay, even for Irish standards, Fry entered the stage among much applause – and some hilarity on my part when I spotted him carrying a bulging briefcase onto the stage. Once seated in two big comfy chairs, they jumped straight into the conversation.

And what an opener. Prompted by Norris, Fry repeated his quip on when he knew that he was gay: “At birth, I looked back at the womb and decided I am not going back up there in a hurry.” With two gay activists in conversation, it was clear that a lot of time would be spent discussing Fry’s homosexuality. But perfect raconteur that Fry is, he managed to weave his own life story with the topic of the evening, James Joyce. A detour took the audience to Fry’s discovery of ” language” via The Importance of Being Earnest and the memorable line “I hope, Cecily, I shall not offend you if I state quite frankly and openly that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection.” This sparked an obsessive desire in Fry to read more by Oscar Wilde and to find out about the playwright. What he found was the certainty that he had found a kindred spirit – and the fear that his own life would mirror that of Wilde because of his sexual preference.

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Joyce’s school – Belvedere College – in the centre at the top of the road

Undoubtedly sensitized by recent discussions in our fandom, I listened with fascination when Fry admitted he had been the subject of much bullying in school. Language had up to then been a toy to play with – to express himself in the most beautiful way – but now turned into a tool against bullying, directed at his tormentors. If they were threatening to manhandle him, he would say “Oh, don’t touch me, you’ll give me an erection” – and the perpetrators would recoil, just as Fry wanted. An inventive, proactive approach to defend oneself against bullies, beating them with their own weapon, rather than passive enduring?

The conversation skipped to Fry’s view of the recent marriage equality referendum in Ireland. What was Fry’s view on that, Norris wanted to know. Fry said he had been doubtful about the outcome, especially after the disappointing results of the British general election shortly before the Irish vote. When the Irish overwhelmingly voted for gay marriage, Fry was overjoyed. He interprets the “yes” vote as a sign of the “new Ireland”, a country that has stepped out of the shadow of the dark, sinister, Church-dominated past. Not the Celtic Tiger-Ireland either – not a country “that’s in it for a quick buck” as he termed it, but a new country.

Fry quoted beautifully from Ulysses – and interestingly a long passage from the “Ithaca” chapter of the novel, which lists the affinities of woman and moon:

What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier returning to the range, admire?

Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator’s projection: its umplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8,000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides: its subsidence after devastation: its sterility in the circumpolar icecaps, arctic and antarctic: its climatic and commercial significance: its preponderance of 3 to 1 over the dry land of the globe: its indisputable hegemony extending in square leagues over all the region below the subequatorial tropic of Capricorn: the multisecular stability of its primeval basin: its luteofulvous bed: Its capacity to dissolve and hold in solution all soluble substances including billions of tons of the most precious metals: its slow erosions of peninsulas and downwardtending promontories: its alluvial deposits: its weight and volume and density: its imperturbability in lagoons and highland tarns: its gradation of colours in the torrid and temperate and frigid zones: its vehicular ramifications in continental lakecontained streams and confluent oceanflowing rivers with their tributaries and transoceanic currents: gulfstream, north and south equatorial courses: its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs, and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew: the simplicity of its composition, two constituent parts of hydrogen with one constituent part of oxygen: its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea: its persevering penetrativeness in runnels, gullies, inadequate dams, leaks on shipboard: its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea: its solidity in glaciers, icebergs, icefloes: its docility in working hydraulic millwheels, turbines, dynamos, electric power stations, bleachworks, tanneries, scutchmills: its utility in canals, rivers, if navigable, floating and graving docks: its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe) numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90% of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon.

This is typical Joyce – there is more beauty in *hearing* these words spoken, than trying to understand them. Try it out yourself, read them to yourself, aloud. Wait until the husband/children/house-mates have left the room. The combination of sounds flows like a bubbling stream – beautiful. And Fry’s wonderful enunciation and stage-trained articulation made it a feast for the ears. This alone was worth attending the event for. And here is something that I would *much* rather like to hear RA read than some limpid, soppy love pomes [sic].

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David Norris and Stephen Fry at the Dublin event. Bulging briefcase at Fry’s feet.

Of course there were many more things said, but my memory eludes me. Maybe my brain was already busy making a few comparisons and drawing some conclusions. One thing I love about Fry (and his dialogue partner David Norris) is that he is so outspoken. He is not afraid of voicing an opinion, or of potentially provoking disagreement. Fry, of course, has the advantage of having the image as an intellectual, a well-informed polymath. He exudes authority (on the matters he talks about) because he has shown himself knowledgable and articulate through his books, his documentaries and his TV-show appearances. That can’t necessarily be said about “other people” who until now have mostly spoken about their work. It is slightly unfair comparing Fry and RA, anyway, as I am certainly not as “invested” (personally interested) in Fry as I am in RA, so I do not “place his (Fry’s) words on the gold scales” as we say in German. Therefore I am much more inclined to give Fry the benefit of the doubt than RA. BUT – I simply found it refreshing that Fry speaks his mind freely. He is not afraid to declare his opinion. For instance, he pronounced Dylan Thomas “putrid” – surely a rather controversial statement about a well-known, celebrated poet. And at a literary event where there are bound to be knowledgable people in the audience.

But this little piece of snark reminded me how much I enjoy hearing *definite* statements, provided they are backed up with a logical argument. A clear “yes” or “no”. Something that enables me to classify the speaker’s opinion, and to give me insight in his/her tastes, opinions, preferences, values. Sure, outspokenness runs the risk of angering and alienating an audience. I’ll be honest and admit that I was ever so slightly put out by the aforementioned obvious rejection, if not disgust, that Fry directs at the female anatomy. But there was a lesson for me in that, too: There is nothing personal in that. Not everything is said in order for it to be taken personally. As much as Fry could be scolded for not having properly judged the “destination of his words” (particularly in a room full of women), I think there is also a responsibility of the audience for the “reception of the words”: to filter them, to assess the intent, and to avoid the temptation of feeling personally affronted by anything that goes against our own convictions/preferences. Communication is always two-way. Words are spoken with intent. But they are also received with intent. Negotiating both is the challenge.

In all, a thoroughly enjoyable evening that ended with standing ovations for Stephen Fry who once again proved his worth by being entertaining, insightful, reflected, intelligent and full of knowledge. I appreciate how he “puts himself out there”, exposes his life, his views and his faults to the public eye. That is not something that everyone can and should do, and maybe the “blank slate” that others create is more perfect for projecting our own desires and interpretations on them. But a bit of controversy is like a breath of fresh air – stimulating the synapses and tickling the brain. Mine was certainly “Fry’d”. In a good way.

 

51 thoughts on “OT: On Fry and Being Out(spoken)

  1. Sounds like an amazing evening! Thanks for sharing! Yes, Fry is smart, funny, well-informed and generally seems to know what he’s talking about, I love that. Oh, and we love to watch QI as well at our house. 🙂

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  2. Wow – you find me green with envy right now. What would I give to see this man in the flesh! He is one of my (very few) heroes. He is such a bright mind, so well educated, so universally informed, so clevery witty. He makes a point, has an opinion and stands by it. So rare in these days. And the way he uses his language like an instrument – or rather like a weapon – makes me fangirling all over the place.
    And you speak from my heart: Not everything is said in order for it to be taken personally…. Words are spoken with intent. But they are also received with intent.
    THIS. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you!

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    • hello i.f. 🙂 Yes, it’s hard not to like Stephen Fry. Or not to at least grudgingly give him respect. I almost universally love everything he’s ever done or written, including his latest autbiogr about his cocaine addiction. For me he is the embodiment of “leading by example”. And from observing him live (and once even in the “green room” behind the scenes of QI) I get the impression that he really *is* the way he presents himself. Gregarious, yes, but also very self-critical, humble, moody, cheeky, intelligent, honest. I’d love to have an hour with him.
      And hehe, it seems I have developed a knack for snazzy little aphorisms. I should collect them and sneak them into those ubiquitous quote pages…

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      • So you are far braver than me! I would love to see him once – but have definitely no need for a personal encounter. I would be far too intimidated by him. I think the worst thing you could do to him, is to bore him. And I would be either completely speechless, or a terrible bore, or not be able to come up with a coherent sentence in English. Probably all of it at the same moment. Well, he is certainly not a canvas for my phantasies – but I have deepest respect for his work, and I love his books and TV works, as far as I have access to it. I treasure my Jeeves+Woster boxset. 🙂

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        • Ha, I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective. But well, I suppose I am not brave but am rather overrating myself, thinking that I could sustain his interest for an hour. I’d probably stay away from praising his work, anyway – I have a suspicion that most celebs find that unoriginal and boring.
          My gateway Fry was “Peter’s Friends” btw. I had to overcome my initial dislike of Wodehouse (ooops, that immediately disqualifies me from being talked to by Fry) to enjoy J&W. Now, J&W is one of my favourite series ever… Have read all of his books, too – particularly loved that he *dared* to reimagine a particularly nasty part of history in “Making History”.

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  3. Es gibt offensichtlich bestimmte Themen die uns zur Zeit verfolgen……Homosexualität und mobbing. Wobei Euer Votum bei uns in D heftige Diskussionen ausgelöst hat. Angeblich soll etwas Ähnliches auch bei uns vorbereitet werden. Überfällig wäre es längst, glauben kann ich noch nicht daran.
    Fry hat offensichtlich genug Stärke und Selbstbewusstsein um alles auszusprechen woran ihm etwas liegt. Bewundernswert! Da ist er bestimmt schon einigen Menschen auf die Füsse getreten. Aber ich kann Dir nur voll zustimmen, auch ich bevorzuge “outspokenness” und würde gerne jemand ganz bestimmten heftig bis zum Zähneklappen schütteln und um seine klare, offene Meinung bitten. Kein Wischi-waschi-Geschwätz (eigentlich würde ich das gerne übersetzten, aber dann verliessen sie mich….) Und er/Du hast so recht: Communication is (should be) always two-way!
    Ich werde den Text heute Abend in aller Ruhe alleine und laut lesen, jetzt rennen gerade zwei Jugendliche um mich rum, das ist nicht so passend……
    Danke für das ausführliche Teilhaben an Deinem Event! ❤

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    • Tja – Homosexualität ist immer noch ein Thema. Und ich muss einschränkend sagen, dass zum Jubeln trotz des überwältigenden Ja-Votums auch in Irland noch nicht alles im Reinen ist. Ich glaube, es muss sich alles noch ein, zwei Generationen setzen, bis die gleichgeschlechtliche sexuelle Präferenz zur gleichberechtigten Normalität geworden ist. Aber die Grundvoraussetzungen dafür müssen JETZT von den gesetzgebenden Organen geschaffen werden. D’land ist mächtig hintendran!!
      Jawoll – klare Worte! Das mögen wir als Deutsche ja sowieso sehr gerne. Ich selber habe mich von meiner ursprünglichen Direktheit im Zuge der Assimilation im Ausland leider auch etwas “einweichen” lassen. Fakt ist nun mal – man kann nie *allen* gefallen. Da ist es doch besser, eine klare Linie zu vertreten, auch wenn man damit Stellung bezieht. Aber vielleicht erwarten wir diesbezüglich bei einem “Entertainment-Fuzzi” ein bisschen zu viel. Ich sag ja auch immer – der is’n Schauspieler, kein Theoretiker. Und persönlichkeitstechnisch wohl auch eher diplomatisch-harmonisch gepolt. Kann ich auch akzeptieren.

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    • And it is healthy to be reminded of that every once in a while. Despite gagging a bit at Fry’s “not going back up there in a hurry” quip – and the wholehearted laughter of many a homosexual man in the audience around us – I did not feel that Fry was being misogynist, or the male audience for that matter. There – I received the quip with the intention of not being affronted. Worked. And back to appreciating Fry.

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      • I would never think of Mr Fry as a misogynist. In his books there are lots of passages where he spreads his apprechiation for his female coworkers. He is a longtime friend and admirer of (divine) Emma Thompson for example. Or his sister Jo, who is also his personal assistent.

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  4. Thanks for this–I enjoyed it immensely. But please tell me Fry did not quote that entire Ulysses passage from memory. Now, THAT would be intimidating!
    I think I recall hearing at some point that Fry was for a time celibate, that in fact the whole idea of bodily interaction with another person put him off. So when I think of his aversion to female bits in that sense, it’s not as jarring. Still can’t help mourning the loss to the female gender and coveting his large, ungainly and lovely person 🙂 But in fact his homosexuality has shaped him to be the person he is. The discussion of his reaction to bullying is a perfect example of that. One sees the same sharp wit in drag queens because they have to find a nonviolent way to deal with the hostile comments directed at them.

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  5. Am so jealous of you right now :). Thanks so much for sharing – reading this was supremely entertaining.
    Oh, and honestly, when I first read that particular statement by Fry, it made me chuckle. The man does have a way with words… And at least it’s not as bad as Dan Savage who famously proclaimed that female genitalia reminded him of “a canned ham dropped from a great height” (and there’s a mental image you’ll never forget). I do think Fry is very respectful of women, as a rule.

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    • I had forgotten you could read this 😉 Actually, the first time I heard the statement, the word womb had been replaced with “bazooka” – maybe that’s why I reacted a bit miffed by it…
      Re. Dan Savage’s description – I have been traumatized forever by a friend’s description of it as “Fleischsalat”. Good think that I don’t like Fleischsalat, anyway…

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  6. Kommunikation ist keine Einbahnstraße. Oh wie wahr ist das gesprochen. Auch der Zuhörer muss sich nicht so schnell zum “Opfer” von Botschaften machen. Schöner Appell an die Eigenverantwortung. Damit entfällt schonmal ein Großteil möglich hochkochender Empörung 🙂
    Hat es deiner Kleinen auch gefallen?

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  7. I’m very jealous. My impression of Fry is he is very VERY intelligent, well-read, and articulate and a pleasure to listen to. I hope one day to sit in on one of his discussions.

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    • Yes, definitely a very clever man – and also analytical and articulate enough, to draw conclusions and formulate criticism. If you ever get the chance to attend a talk, do go. It’s always special watching someone, who has got something to say, speak live. (felt the same about Armitage in conversation at the Old Vic last year, or the time I heard Michael Palin in Dublin. Heck, even Margaret Thatcher who spoke at my university in the US in 1995. The charisma of these people, whether you agree with them or not, is fascinating to observe.)

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  8. I’d add a piece to this: speech occurs with intent, as does reception, but we can never truly know what that intent is on either side when it comes to others. (Using “you” and “I” here abstractly, i.e., not referring to you and me, but to two people): Although I may know what I meant to say, and I may know how I understood something that someone else says, you do not know what my intent was either in speaking or understanding what I said — you can only deduce what it was based on what you would think if you had said the same think, or had the reaction I had. The possibility that you conclude that I am perceiving something with ill will doesn’t say anything about my actual intent in perception, only your perception of it, which is heavily based on your own world of notional possible responses and mostly independent of anything to do with me (unless you know me and my history particularly well). If you can’t hypothesize a meaningful reason for my having said what I said, or one that you find sympathetic, you will be likely to attribute either misunderstanding or concrete malice to me, or to question my sanity — no matter how sincere and real for me my own intent was in responding. (I hope this isn’t getting hopelessly abstract.) So when, for example, RA says “x,” and I say, “to me x means _____, and this is my reaction,” it’s really pointless for a second fan to say, “_____ wasn’t what he meant and you misunderstood his intention,” because the second fan can’t fully know what RA intended, and neither is she likely to know why I reacted in the way she did. In essence, the second fan saying that I misunderstood is almost always only saying that she did not understand or could not come up with a way to empathize with the intent behind my reception of the statement. I tend to think in situations like that that it’s pointless to explain why I react as I do. People who know my history in the fandom know why. Any explanation that I come up with for why I reacted as I did has already been written off by the fan once she’s stated that I’ve misunderstood, because that statement embodies her position that she can’t find a basis for empathy with my position.

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    • Absolutely right. That is the whole crux and difficulty with communication: Understanding what is being said means not only assigning meaning to each of the words and the combination they appear as, but to see them in context, AND to determine the intent they are said with. The latter can never be identified for sure – you are absolutely right. Well, unless we are expressly told what the intent is. But that is exactly why communication is so interesting – interpreting what is being said, seeing the connections to previously said (or unsaid) things, making the connections with one’s own thoughts/ideals/preferences/experiences. A bit of a puzzlle, or guess-work, of course.
      You are right – there is no way of arguing with how someone else feels affected by something that is expressed. Therefore I would never say that your reactions are wrong. they are just different from mine. However, I *do* think that it is possible – by way of empathizing – to also consider other possible reactions, and to let that inform my own. That’s certainly how I negotiated that quip of Fry’s that I found initially a bit offensive. I went over it in my head and decided that ok, yes, a gay man would find the idea of *sex with a woman* “disgusting”. But that didn’t mean he found *women* “disgusting”.

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      • re: is it possible to empathize? Oh, sure. I wouldn’t go to minority civil rights groups meetings, either, and expect not to hear any jokes about white people and our behavior, or that if such jokes were told, that it would not sting for me to hear them. This is something that one has to accept in a situation where one is in a privileged majority, IMO, although I know that’s not a consensus opinion. Many worse things have happened to me in my life than that a gay man makes jokes in public about not wanting to have sex with women (and I don’t want to have sex with gay men either, so we’re even 🙂 ). Although I am not sure I would call the state of mind that I occupy at that moment empathy. I sympathize with the speaker’s troubles, but I don’t share the feeling, nor do I find agreement with the person making the joke, so much as that I understand and accept where that person is coming from, why they make the joke, and why they and others think it’s funny.

        But: do people empathize? I would say, on the whole, no, we do not. And to me, that is the crux of the matter and it is why these discussions end up being so fraught — because empathy does not equal agreement. People see their own position, and they are willing to empathize with their affective object in the situation, but not with other fans who disagree. They insist that if you understand why someone said something and empathize with that person, you must agree. In my case, for instance, I understand what Armitage tried to say, I understand his explanation for why he said it, and I even empathize with certain points within what he said, but I don’t agree — and that is where empathy on the part of the third-party observer who is commenting on what other fans say seems to break down. In social media situations, we typically only really want to empathize with those with whom we agree, just as we only want to defend free speech for speech we like or endorse.

        I don’t know if you’re following the whole John Green thing at the moment, but elements of that incident have a similar dynamic.

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        • Well, I accept that that was a shitty example I used in my post but I do not think that empathy is impossible in Social Media situations. Note that I didn’t say that I will change my opinion just because I empathize. I am saying that I can understand better where someone else’s opinion is coming from if I put myself in their shoes. And then I can possibly step back and feel less offended by what they say, or ignore it.
          Slight change of subject – but I am really NOT of the same opinion as RA when it comes to reacting to cyberbullying by “turning the other cheek”. But what’s the point of communicating that? My opinion is only just one opinion on cyberbullying. So is his. Impasse.
          What’s happening with Green? Haven’t heard anything about that.

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          • I just saw that. Honestly, he just digs himself deeper and deeper into the hole he’s digging. Matthew 5:38 is one of those points in the Gospels that push every negative Jewish / Christian relationship button there is. If you want to pick a verse from that sermon, dude, you should go with v. 46. But it’s not fair for me to quote it at him. I had to memorize it when I was 12, and who knows if he’s even read it. I’m at an unfair advantage.

            Some tumblr SJW made a comment that she found the way Green interacts with his fans creepy, and then made a veiled implication of pedophilia (suggested that his closeness to his fandom is like a dad who watches little girls at the swimming pool with prurient impulses). A mob formed to try to get him to respond. His response (paraphrasing) was that he does not sexually abuse girls, and that he was going to distance himself from tumblr. Tumblr has been awash with people attacking each other over this. I can understand the impulse behind the statement that wants to criticize Green for his relationship with his fans, but I do not agree with it. Similarly I can understand the impulse that wants to defend Green, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. I assume this is because other than thinking that Green is a good novelist, I am not invested either in Green or the Green fandom. If one were, one’s willingness to empathize with people whom one does not love would be lowered.

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            • Jeepers Creepers all around. WTF re. Green. Tbh I think there is something to be said for ignoring bullshit when one sees it. Entertaining crap like that and moving to defend oneself always looks as if there *is* something in it. (Sure, I am guilty of doing that all the time…) And the fall-out from it – everybody suffers. Fans feel rejected, turn on each other, blame game at a tie. Honestly – *why* are words constantly “put on the gold scales” all the time? I know, freedom of expression and everything, but as I said, there *are* (at least) two factions in every fight. Some fights are just really not worth engaging in.
              There, that is my emotional response to that example. Maybe I should’ve thought longer about it.
              As for the bible quote – I had and have no idea about the implications of the context it comes from. While I strongly disagree with the sentiment of “turning the other cheek” in the context of cyberbullying, I did not really know there was also something else implied in it.

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  9. Love Stephen Fry, QI is must viewing for me, I look forward to a laugh at the end of the day. Fry and Alan Davies are great together, so much passes between them unsaid and I always wonder what they’re like after the show. I have read one of Stephen’s books so far and I watched a TV program of him when he appeared live in front of a big audience by himself in Sydney a few years ago. He just stood there and talked about anything and everything, it was amazing. Thanks for your report Guylty xx.

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    • I had the opportunity to observe them after the show, in the green room. They are both congenial guys, but in the green room each of them were doing their own thing. I suppose that’s just normal, considering that there are fans and people in the green room who want to talk to Stephen or Alan, so they don’t monopolize each other’s time.
      If you can check the episode of “Who Do You Think You Are” with Fry. He goes in search of his Jewish family (in Slovakia). It is an extremely touching and insightful episode of the family history programme. (Available on youtube!)

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      • Yeah, I enjoyed Stephen in WDYTYA, it’s another of my favourite programs. They repeat them a lot here in Aus’ and I’ve seen him in it twice now. I’ve not seen Alan Davies though and I know he did an episode because he’s mentioned it on QI but we didn’t get that one for some reason, I would have remembered it. Happily we get a lot of things British on TV here :o)

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  10. I confess that I’ve seen Stephen Fry for the first time in the online event PJ organized for fans before DOS. Stephen had a lot of space, considering that his role wasn’t very important and we (me and my hubby) were wondering who he is. We were impressed by his personality. Thanks for sharing, a pleasant reading! Glad you had a nice time with your daughter, too! Can’t wait to read your comment on BC’s Hamlet (I am not a big fan of BC, he’s ok in general but never made me “feel” anything special).

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    • To some extent I thought that Fry was a very surprising addition to the cast of The Hobbit – I really would not have expected him to be in there. But he really embodied that smarmy mayor of Laketown so well. Perfect casting, actually. He’s a fantastic actor, and just seems to be himself when he appears as Stephen Fry. I really like that about him.
      As for BC – great actor, also very articulate and professional as a celebrity. But doesn’t grab me as much as RA does. I really look forward to Hamlet – won’t happen until the autumn, though…

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  11. I did not know who he was, other than an actor. My fault for not doing my own research. Thank you for giving us a good look at an interesting and entertaining event.

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  12. Ahh so enjoyed reading this last night on my bus home, sorry it was too late to form coherent thought for response. And my coherence is always put to shame when i listen to him. I like him a lot and admire him a lot. I am so drawn to the universal knowledge he has, i’ve always found that fascinating, partly because i like to just find out information myself. For no particular purpose, just because it is fun to know, which is why i like QI as well. But he’s something else, somebody said he may possibly be last ‘renaissance man’…

    What also fascinates me is his love of technology, anything new he has it and has tested it 🙂
    With so much knowledge and sheer curiosity about the world i am not surprised he has strong opinions and he doesn’t shy away from colouring those opinions with his personal feelings. I don’t always agree but he makes extremely good arguments. Just listening to him talk about any subject is an interesting experience.
    You just made me want to listen again to that radio programme about making an argument on a subject in just 1 minute without repeating yourself 🙂
    I also like the fact that he is not a theoretician, he puts his knowledge behind real life causes and supports them passionately. He alone has raised awareness about mental health issues in this country tremendously.
    His answer to bullying is brilliant 🙂 He was lucky i think he was born with such a sparkling mind and inquisitive personality 🙂 His view on female parts is funny and meant as a joke 🙂 He’s allowed in my book quite a bit of political in-correctness 🙂 Part of his charm is i think that he is not so straight laced.
    There is such a tiring tendency these days to clean up communication to the point where it has become utterly boring. I’m not saying thought should not be given to what is said, certainly it should, but it is important that arguments are made healthily and in informed ways. I think SF is a great example of expression. He’s had more than a few arguments and has been offensive sometimes 🙂 But he’s human and life does not make us spotless, it is ok to be controversial sometimes. He’s got a lot to say which is worth listening to that i’m not bothered by taking some things with a pinch of salt.
    As to the homosexuality discussion, my personal opinion is that as long as we still (need to/have to) talk about it specifically we are not yet in normality. We’ll only be in normality when being heteroesexual or homosexual or any other kind of sexual will not make any difference at all to the way we lead our lives outside personal relationships, when it becomes as irrelevant as hair colour or eye colour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Polymath, renaissance man – his knowledge surely is impressive, and more than just general. What I admire about him is that he doesn’t use it in a patronizing way, just throws it in. But I suppose that is his personality? He seems to personify the “Oxbridge-educated English Gentleman” stereotype – but then he contradicts that with his homosexuality and his love of technology because you wouldn’t think that a “tweedy type” like him is into all that. I laughed out loud when he pulled his MacBook Air from his briefcase during the conversation and pulled up a document where he had saved all the quotes he wanted to read from. (Norris, who is very much an old-school man, sneered and pulled his leg for that 😉 )
      As for homesexuality still being a matter of discussion – totally agree with you there. The aim is to make that a non-topic in the sense that nobody will bat an eyelid at the sexual preference of others. It really doesn’t matter. But for the time being, I am glad that Fry is so outspoken about it. He really has helped making it all look normal.

      Liked by 1 person

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