Friday, June 12, 2009

Lynn on never letting people go

Lynn Johnston has a new blog entry. My comments on it follow the parts I am quoting.

My friend Alice called last night. She has just lost her mom and felt like talking.

A late night phone call sets off alarm bells for me when it comes to Lynn Johnston. Lynn has told stories in the past about her friend she would talk to just before bedtime. They both put on full makeup or they both put on negligees purchased at a thrift store and talked to each other to tell each other they were beautiful. Those situations seemed so strange; I wondered if Lynn was just making it up.

I wished I could have had that last meaningful talk, that reconciliation, say the things that needed to be said. But it never happened. Mom died and I stayed angry for years. That's just the way it was.

And by “for years”, we mean up to at least 2 weeks ago on CBC's "The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos" where Lynn’s abuse at the hands of her mother was mentioned as a part of her introduction. I have a real difficulty with this. Lynn did an extensive interview back in 1994, for Hogan’s Alley, where she told the interviewer, Tom Heintjes, about how her mother abused her. Lynn’s mother passed away from cancer in 1991, so there was no chance of repercussions from her mother.

Then a few years back, Lynn Johnston did a podcast interview where she significantly changed the story she had always told about how her son Aaron had taken pictures of a car wreck of someone it ended up that he knew. Lynn used this story for the comic strip sequence where Michael Patterson took pictures of Deanna Sobinski’s car wreck. In the podcast, Lynn changed the story to one where Aaron took pictures of a girl who had hung herself from a tree in a public park. It was so different, the 2 stories could not both be correct. It was at this moment, I came to doubt things Lynn Johnston has said in public. Unfortunately for Lynn, in her interviews, she simply strengthens that belief. In her interview with Macleans magazine, she accused the entire town of Lynn Lake, Manitoba of being casual adulterers, to the clear disbelief of the interviewer. She was interviewed by the Peterborough Examiner and told a story about how her ex-husband had stolen all of her money, so she didn’t have enough to buy groceries. Both of these were obvious lies.

That doubt culminated into outright disbelief, when Lynn Johnston personally responded to one of my Coffee Talk comments asking her who Patty Weise and Chrissie Boehm were, the ladies credited for art on her children’s book Farley Follows His Nose. Her response was that she didn’t know who either of them was and that she had done all the art on the book. Then later, she told the Toronto Star she hired a watercolourist to colour the book. So, she lied to me.

When I go back to the Hogan's Alley interview in 1994, what I notice is that not only does Lynn Johnston claim abuse from her mother, but she blames her father for not protecting her, and her mother’s father for abusing her mother, and her father’s father for abusing her father. It’s too over-the-top for me. I doubt the whole story now. When she brings up issues with her mother in this Blog entry, I wonder what those issues were, and if they were real or imagined.

Alice told me that before she left home to see her mom for the last time, she asked a friend from her church if there was a passage she could read from the Bible, any scripture that would help her and her mother through this difficult time. Instead of recommending words from the bible, her friend just said, "Say to your mother: I forgive you, you forgive me, I love you, you love me...it's ok."

I'm OK, You're OK, by Thomas A Harris MD. I have seen Lynn espouse his philosophy before in the comic strip. Note that this advice is being asked before Alice sees her mom for the last time. In the next paragraph, Lynn is going to change that story slightly. This adds to my doubt that Alice is a real person.

During their days in the hospital, as her mom became increasingly weak and disoriented, Allie tried to start the conversation that would resolve everything. Her mom would say "not now, let's talk later". Then, she told me "I just said it straight out...Mom, I forgive you, you forgive me, I love you, you love me...it's ok."

So, instead of the last time she sees her mom, it is sometime during her days in the hospital. Either Lynn is taking a little dramatic license here, or she doesn't have the story straight.

I told her I wish I'd had that same advice before I kissed my mom goodbye. These things resolve themselves over the years, but oh how nice it would have been to have let the dark stuff go before she died. I thanked Allie for telling me this and......

As for Lynn Johnston, she still hasn’t let the dark stuff go. I don’t even need her intro on CBC's "The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos" to tell me this. This blog entry is proof enough.

I wanted to pass it on to you. Who knows, it might make a difficult time a bit easier. LJ

Not really for me. If I said that to my mom, she would say, “Forgive me for what?”

By the way, I am going on a Boy Scout trip this weekend, so the Howard Bunt Blog will be on hiatus for a few days.

11 Comments:

Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

It is powerfully hard to take Lynn at her word given her inability to tell fantasy from reality; sadly, she doesn't realize that even if she sincerely believes what she says, it doesn't make it not a lie.

And, on a personal note, you deserve a break from all of Lynn bullhuckey having been given such a fragrant whiff thereof.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She lies with the effrontery of one who knows that she has many Kool-Aid drinking acolytes who will believe her no matter what she says--or at the very worst, will excuse her inaccuracies.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A late night phone call sets off alarm bells for me when it comes to Lynn Johnston. Lynn has told stories in the past about her friend she would talk to just before bedtime.

Have you ever heard of sundowning? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundowning_(dementia)

I learned about it in the last year of my mother's life; other health problems carried her away before things got even worse. Lynn's a bit young for it, but not too young. (As I meditate on my age & genetics.)

As a non-Mom, I can't criticize Elly's/Lynn's parenting from experience. But I note that Lynn managed to distance herself from inconveniently aging parents--was that "abuse" the reason or a lie to excuse her absence? Elly, of course, spent little time with her aging Mom. And her treatment of Jim was disgraceful.

Hit a nerve here...

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last time I mentioned the possibility that maybe Lynn's horrific stories of abuse at the hands of her mother -might- be exaggeration or distortion over at Foobiverse, it wasn't taken well. Apparently there's a sizable group there that believe such abuse would explain Lynn's emotional problems perfectly.

Eh, who knows.

She's also given more six different versions of what real life story inspired the Lawrence-coming-out arc. Each one completely contradictory. (Though they've tended to grow more sensational over the years.)

6:38 AM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

She's also given more six different versions of what real life story inspired the Lawrence-coming-out arc. Each one completely contradictory. (Though they've tended to grow more sensational over the years.)

Has she given different versions for this? The only one I've ever encountered has been that she drew on Ralph Johnston's story. What were the others? (Just curious!)

7:15 AM  
Blogger Quijotesca said...

Not really for me. If I said that to my mom, she would say, “Forgive me for what?”

It's even worse with abusive parents. In emotional abuse, it's common for parents to project their attributes on to their children, so it's more likely for parents to decide they forgive their children for their imagined offenses in hopes of winning the child over to start the whole abusive cycle over again. Or at least, that's what I assume tactics like that are for. I've yet to get the "forgiveness" act from my mom, but considering she likes to act like such a martyr, I imagine I'll get it at some point.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Has she given different versions for this? The only one I've ever encountered has been that she drew on Ralph Johnston's story. What were the others? (Just curious!)"

Starting around the time the story was being nominated for awards, she began to shift from "inspiration" to "I always knew Lawrence was gay, right from the moment I first introduced the character", and it grew and morphed in the years since then.

By interviews given in 2007 this had evolved further and further, it becoming that she had wrote it because of the murder of Michael Boncoeur, absolutely no mention made that this was a master plan or that Ralph Johnston had given her any help at all.

(I remember around 1999, there was an interview where she said it was inspired by a friend who died of AIDS)

6:17 AM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

Thanks, Anonymous--now that you mention them, some of those examples do sound familiar. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that Lynn has no compunctions about altering continuity in the strip, since she retcons "real" life so freely.

6:40 AM  
Blogger forworse said...

Anonymous

Thanks for the summary. When reviewing the collection books, I began to get the feeling that Brian was being established as the gay character, especially as his mother began to worry aloud to Elly that Brian didn't seem to be interested in girls, or Brian's lack of a high school sweetheart he could marry. I can't remember if Brian joined Mike and Gord in the tree outside Molly's room, but there might have been other hints I can't remember right now. Then all of a sudden it was Lawrence who came out and Brian faded into the background and conveniently moved to Japan.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Aaron took pictures of a girl who had hung herself from a tree in a public park"

If this is remotely true, I find such behavior (the photographer's, not the victim's!!) unbelievably disgusting, callous, insensitive, disrespectful, and completely appalling.

My kid just graduated from High School. However:

In the past month, TWO of her classmates committed suicide, influenced by whatever "insurmountable" pressures they felt they were under at the time. This is (are) a horrible tragedy (tragedies), and NOT!!! a "photo-op" - and NO paper in my local area sought photos for publication or such. It would have been completely inappropriate, and downright rude and nasty to the anguished and caring families involved.

3:27 AM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

This is (are) a horrible tragedy (tragedies), and NOT!!! a "photo-op" - and NO paper in my local area sought photos for publication or such.

Anonymous, that's another thing that makes this version so unbelievable. In both versions, Lynn says that Aaron was shooting video for the local TV news (he was a cameraman). While it's plausible that Aaron would expect a shot of a car wreck to appear on the evening news, there is no way he'd believe that they'd actually show a suicide hanging from a noose in the park. Even if he were crass enough to want to shoot it, surely he'd know better than to expect to see it on the broadcast.

3:42 AM  

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