November 21, 2018

My dear bloggereenos,
I hope you’re having a not-too-rough pre-Christmas time this year. I’m just showing my head briefly to share a mighty interesting article with you. It’s already six years old, but it still rings true today. Having survived two major Smear Campaigns and cyber mobbing by toxic people myself (one in 2006, one in 2011), this article crawled right up my alley, and I thought it might help someone out there who had to endure the same. Enjoy! Yours truly,

André

The Smear Campaign — View it as a Badge of Honor
by My Emotional Vampire, Facebook, 29 June 2012.

The Smear Campaign ~ View it as a badge of honor! Don’t let them bring you down, you’re too damned beautiful, courageous, intellegent and strong.

When healthy people feel upset about something, they may get angry. But toxic people don’t just get mad — they seethe — and wage a devious smear campaign. One of the clearest indicators you’ve got a mentally unstable person on your hands is smear campaigning. Smear campaigners carefully and strategically use lies, exaggerations, suspicions and false accusations to try destroying your credibility. They hide behind a cloak of upstanding heroism and feigned innocence in an attempt to make as many people as possible think their efforts are based not on their vindictiveness, but on upstanding concern.

As a smeared person, what you are most likely “guilty” of is saying no to someone who is, in some way, failing to respect your boundaries, refusing to follow the same rules as everyone else, or someone who is spreading toxicity and manipulating. Someone entitled. Someone sneaky and vindictive. Someone who is hurting you or taking too much.

While standing up for yourself is the right thing to do, toxic people simply don’t believe you have any right to refuse their mistreatment, and they will set out to “punish” you for having any opinions that differ from theirs.

Virtually all smear campaigners can be counted on to have traits of “Cluster B” personality disorders. Narcissists and sociopaths are among the most virulent smear campaigners, and histrionic and borderline people may also opt to smear those who upset them. Not surprisingly, these four disorders are classified as the “dramatic and erratic” high-conflict personalities.

Narcissists can fly into a vindictive narcissistic rage if questioned instead of receiving compliance with their demands. Sociopaths often have anger management issues and are driven solely by their own wishes, without regard for the rights of others or for consequences. Histrionic people create drama and conflict wherever possible, and they require little to no incentive to do so. People with borderline personality disorder have difficulty controlling their emotional reactions, and may become intensely angered by what others interpret to be minor matters.

Regardless of the reason for the smearing, all smear campaigns work virtually the same way, following a very predictable pattern of the usual dirty tricks and underlying motives. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the anatomy of the smear campaign.

SMEAR CAMPAIGN TACTICS:

Discredit & isolate the victim | Play the victim and/or hero | Lie-exaggerate-manipulate | Manufacture fear | Label the victim inferior | Hurt the victim for spite

The difficulty with saying no to toxic people is that they are already hazardous. After all, if they weren’t toxic, you wouldn’t have had to say no to them in the first place. Most abusers simply want what they want and will not be denied without unleashing a torrent of phony martyrdom and vicious slander all about you and how you are an abuser. Their story will be warped, slanted and twisted until there’s not one atom of truth left in it.

Lies will be sprinkled in to try making their audience fear, prejudge and rebuke you for the supposed evil you’ve perpetrated against this innocent lamb (or a vulnerable, well-respected person). You didn’t ask for your boundaries to be respected — you are a vicious animal who attacked them, and you’ve supposedly attacked others, so everyone needs to “be careful” of you if they want to be “safe”. Everyone should stand up on behalf of this good person by shutting you out and standing up against your “abuse”.

If the the abuser is a coworker, they will try to get you into trouble or fired; if they are related to you, they will attempt to have you kicked out of the family or to make you feel left out. You must be marginalized and cut off from the pack so you will be left feeling weak and alone. It is the payback the smear campaigner exacts for the fact that you got in their way. They want you sorry you were ever born, and they know how much it will hurt you to be shunned and turned against, and how powerless you will feel without the assistance of others.

The smear campaigner must see to it that anyone they are telling these lies to is “kept sweet”, and they will play the good one, the nice helpful one, the innocent one who is only trying to warn people of how secretly evil you supposedly are when nobody’s looking. They’re doing their coworkers, the family, or society a grand favor by bravely speaking out against your misdeeds and righting a wrong. They cleverly play the friendly everyday good person who is upstanding, supportive and likeable, just like the people they’re trying to reel in. They would never do anything wrong or unlikeable, not them.

The smear campaigner needs to make their audience think they are a perfectly innocent person who was shockingly blindsided by your supposed evil, unreasonability, overemotionality or mental instability. Smear campaigners’  goals are to create mistrust of you, fear of you, and condemnation of you. If they think their audience may not swallow the lie that they have done absolutely nothing to contribute to the matter, they may admit that they have done something very minor, but that your response to it is outrageously unreasonable (or completely incompetent).

Popular lies of the smear campaigner include statements and insinuations that you are mentally ill, incompetent, untrustworthy or unreasonable. The smear campaigner does this so that if your legitimate upset shows, the observer will attribute it to irrationality, ill intent or instability, and not to your normal upset at having been badly mistreated.

Most people who use smear campaigns have several things in common.

The smear campaigner must work to make people believe them. They will put on a good face, agree with their listeners and feign integrity and kindness. Carefully tending to his or her image as an innocent and upstanding whistleblower who is bravely speaking up against evil is a necessary part of the smear campaigner’s plan. Whether smear campaigners claim to be your victim or just a conscientious bystander (or both), they know that being seen as “the good one” fools the most people possible.

This is a righteous and brave warrior of truth — not someone who is having a tantrum because you got in their way when they were doing something wrong. This is not a cowardly tyrant who is seething with revenge — certainly not. This is just a decent person who is bravely trying to help others by spreading the word to be careful and avoid a monster of an abuser — you!

Smear campaigners may claim that they don’t want to say anything bad about anyone, and that it’s “not like them”, but they just have to say something about you in order help good people snuff out your supposed evil. They must break with their usual humble moral humility in order to step up and save the decent people of the world by finally exposing the truth about you that nobody has ever known!

Of course, it’s not the truth; it’s a smear campaign. But most everybody wants to support a person who has been hurt by someone abusive and will rush to their defense, so that’s the role the smear campaigner often plays — the good and innocent victim-hero. Smear campaigners play on the sympathies of others, using people’s empathy to gain social leverage against their victims.

Most smear campaigners are highly narcissistic, and narcissists cannot ever be expected to apologize, come clean or admit any wrongdoing, even if caught red-handed in their lies. They truly believe, in their own way, that a smear campaign is the right thing to do to you, because you have opposed them, and you should have known better than to do such an unthinkable thing, so it’s simply all your fault they’re smearing you anyhow. They’re teaching you a lesson — agree with whatever they want, or else. You “asked for it”, and they’re teaching you better.

Smear campaigners are like spoiled playground bullies who kick another child when the teacher’s back is turned, just because the child doesn’t give them whatever they want. They cannot be made to empathize, and they are well-practiced in their abusive games, because they have been playing them all their lives.

If you should become the subject of a smear campaign, you may find the following practices to be helpful in reducing or eliminating the damage.

1. Immediately discontinue speaking to the smear campaigner. If you can’t possibly do this because it’s a work situation, limit the time spent talking to this person alone as much as humanly possible. Abusers lie and manipulate, and prefer to have all their conversations with their victims when the victim is without the benefit of witnesses. Abusive people don’t like witnesses, so avoid being alone with them at all cost. That’s when the abuse will be at its worst, and that’s when you’ll say the things they will cruelly twist into lies later. Deliberately approach them to have any unavoidable conversations in public, while standing in line at the water cooler, in a busy hall, while in a vehicle with others, or in a packed elevator. They may attempt to weasel out of the conversation by suggesting you have it later, in their office, at their house, or another isolated environment. Avoid this by cutting comments down into very small pieces. For instance, don’t ask what the plan is for the big sales project while flying by their door. That’s a conversation for later, when the two of you will be sitting down alongside Jane (surprise!) whom you thoughtfully arranged to have join you to help take notes. Right now, as you race by their office, you just need to know “one quick thing”. If you’re invited into a more lengthy discussion, let them know you’re rushing and you’ll get back to them. Then carefully plan that interaction, too, or they’ll take the upper hand.

2. Put things in writing. One of the great benefits of the electronic age is, we can have an instant and verified copy of every piece of correspondence we send. If you absolutely must speak to the smear campaigner and you have the option of saying whatever you need to say in writing, do it. Having a record of exactly what has been said by you is invaluable protection against distortions and misrepresentation. Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) what you send to the smear campaigner to a third party whenever possible. When writing the content of the correspondence, do not say anything you would not want everyone to read. If you do, it’s guaranteed that everyone will soon be reading it (or what’s left of it after the smear campaigner’s creative “editing” work).

3. Know the lay of the land, and act accordingly. If the abuser is a coworker, you have two options: sit down with management or leave the position. If the abuser is a supervisor, you can approach senior management, however you may still have to leave the employer (or at least that particular role). If the abuser is a family member, your options are similar: approach others to see if you can get support, and stop seeing abusive/unsupportive members. Unfortunately, the great majority of families in which there is an abuser are not at all supportive of members who demand that the abuse stop, and members of these families often turn against the abused member. Dysfunctional families are irrational and incapable of meeting requests for healthy boundaries, and no contact with some or all of the family may be your only option. If your work environment is similarly dysfunctional and the abuse is not seen through, not looked into, or you’re not taken seriously, then the problem, like with abusive families, is a deeper and more systemic one, and leaving will be your best option, no matter how much you may have wanted to keep the job otherwise.

A summary of important pointsto remember about smear campaigns: Smear campaigns are typically conducted against people who have stood up against some form of unfairness, abuse, or entitlement.

Narcissists are highly active smear campaigners, and those with other “high conflict” cluster B personality disorders such as AsPD, BPD and HPD are prone to smearing others.

A smear campaign involves lies, exaggerations, and cultivation of mistrust toward the victim.

Smear campaigners insinuate that the victim is mentally ill, unreasonable, incompetent, untrustworthy, or abusive.

Smear campaigners typically play on the sensibilities of others, using people’s empathy and morals to turn people against their victims — most often for having done nothing more than disagree with the smearer.

A smear campaigner prefers to make others think they are good people who are rightfully standing up against the victim’s supposed immorality or abuse.

Smear campaigners play the victim, the hero, or both.

Smear campaigners try to ostracize their victims and make them feel alone, unpopular, and unsupported by others.

Smear campaigners enjoy the feeling of having “gotten back at” their victims, and believe it is completely justifiable — even fun — to mistreat someone for having an opinion that is different from theirs.

Smear campaigners do not acknowledge the wrong they do, and cannot typically be expected to genuinely confess or apologize — even after they’ve been proven liars.

Do not speak to smear campaigners unless it’s completely impossible not to. If you DO have to speak to the smearer, do so only in the presence of others and in copied emails/properly documented letters. Plan ahead to prevent being put in difficult positions by the smear campaigner.

Lastly, remember that you do have the right to make fair and healthy requests, and if you are smeared as a result, smearing is an unreasonable and unacceptable response.

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“The Ghosts” in Romania (postponed)

André Schneider and Judith Magre in “Les Fantômes”.

Great news!
Les Fantômes has been nominated for Best Feature Film at the Serile Filmului Gay International Film Festival in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Were quite happy to be »in competition«. Originally, the festival was supposed to start tomorrow, but last week, we received the following E-mail from Sebastian Ivan, the festivals programme coordinator: »We regret to inform you that the GAY FILM NIGHTS International Film Festival is to be postponed for next year, as all of PRIDE Romanias volunteers have actively been engaged in the campaign to boycott the anti-gay referendum in our country, a campaign which has proven successful. The festival will take place between the 15th and the 21st of April 2019. We will keep you in touch with any new developments regarding the festival. Also, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions or comments. We would like, once again, to express our appreciation for your work and thank you for your patience.«
Keep fighting the good fight, Romania! Dont let violence and hatred ruin your spirit! Were looking forward to travel to Cluj next spring to present our little movie. Love from Berlin and Paris!

August 18, 2018

The Ghosts (»Les Fantômes«) — A Look Within
by Amos Lassen, Amos Lassen Reviews, 4 July 2018.

For me, the greatest perk to reviewing is the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. In 2011, I reviewed a little German film, Alex and Leo that was written by André Schneider who also played the part of Alex. I found the film to be beguiling (I also used that word in my review some seven years ago) even though the film was far from perfect. I heard from Schneider after I posted my review and thus began an online friendship that I count as one of the important friendships in my life. We have never met but I follow his work and I see the changes that Schneider makes along his way to be a top film director (not like Spielberg or Fassbinder) of films that reflect our community. I am always flattered when he asks my opinion about something he has done and this takes us to The Ghosts.

The Ghosts is a small movie and as such it reflects what we hold in our minds. Nicolas (André Schneider) is a very successful novelist who has moved into the Paris apartment where his late grandmother once lived. He soon finds that the apartment fosters anxiety and apparitions. Nicolas is a loner and actually only has one friend, Natalie (Judith Magre), an elderly woman who has the ability to soothe him with words. Natalie knows just what to say and is well aware that she is talking to a man in the arts and she is well aware of the temperament of artists so she stays away from saying anything that can bring about disillusionment.

Natalie understands that Nicolas is gay and she tells him (after his having sex with an escort) that he must find a wife because companionship is so much more important than the instant gratification that comes with sex. Natalie is an advocate of respectability and while she is quite narrow in how she sees it, it fits perfectly into Nicolas’ new living arrangement that reflects his grandmother’s and not his own life.

Then there is the strange young man who shows himself at the apartment and Nicolas realizes that there are times when he sees him and there are times he cannot. He sometimes sees this man in his nightmares. This reaches the point of upsetting Nicolas to the point that he calls the police but this only lands him in an even stranger situation.

We learn that Nicolas is Austrian thus making him »a target for the wrath and contempt of the racist police officers, just as he’s a handy whipping boy for the rages of a continually dissatisfied neighbor.« Now the question arises—is Nicolas truly being haunted and if he is who is doing the haunting and why.

The mood of the film is established quickly with the opening of the drama, we see a metronome clicking and watch Nicolas as he sets out his tea service in the way it has been done for many years. We immediately are aware that something is missing in Nicolas and that his isolation is affecting whatever he does. It also appears that he suffers with some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder.

We see a very strange and tense meeting of Nicolas and a hustler (rent boy) named Guillaume (Pierre Emö). We are to believe that Guillaume is there as a substitute for Nicolas’ regular escort, but we also get a sense that maybe this had been planned all along. In effect, it is Guillaume provides lightness to a very dark film. He is raw in his sexuality yet he comes across with an innocence and naiveté.

From what I know of Schneider, I see where he found the idea about Nicolas who like so many of us is concerned that his life is moving quickly and past him. Schneider tells us that The Ghosts is, among other things, definitely about the fear of death, the fear of not having lived before you die, and the fear of being alone… or not being alone. There are hints that the apartment is haunted, and we wonder whether the many people who come into Nicolas’ life are ghosts. Perhaps they have something to say about how the new world seems to be. Is it indeed haunting that we see or is it the results of alienation? It certainly is a reflection of what is happening in both Europe and North America nowadays.

You have undoubtedly noticed that I have not tried to explain the film or said much about the plot, if there even is one. I am not sure that I can explain what we see here because I have a feeling that this is a very personal film for Schneider. I suspect everyone that sees it will come away with their own idea of what happens here and to me that is the sign of a good film. As for what I see here, all I can say is that I am still thinking about it. Schneider told me that this is his last film. I hope that is not true but if it is, I wish him the best. I have a feeling that we will still be in touch.