Friday, February 5, 2010

More on Pete Townshend.

Check out this article written by Pete Townshend one year before he was arrested.

Article: A different bomb.

It concerns a friend of his who committed suicide. She revealed to him that she was molested by her father. Repeatedly.


One day, in an open counselling session at which adult men and women of all ages were present, she suddenly revealed her central issue. From as early as she could remember, as an infant girl she had been sexually abused on a regular basis by her father, and in his presence by several of his friends. At first, she referred to her father as a 'priest'. Later she revealed that these were members of some kind of religious cult. A charity with which I am involved paid for her to go for treatment for depression at The Priory last year. She was greatly improved when she came out. Partly I think because her story was believed.

Everything seemed fine, but then she started to slip:

For all of us who helped her, including several women who themselves experienced similar sexual abuse as children, her suicide was both a tragedy and an act of brutal insanity. What pushed this woman to the brink was not self-obsession - though God knows she enjoyed her share, like any individual ensnared in alcohol or drug addiction - it was the fact that she discovered her father was in a new relationship and had access to some young children.

He addresses the abuses portrayed inTommy:

In my writing in the past - especially Tommy - I have created unusually unmerciful worlds for any infant characters. I am often disturbed by what I see on the page when I write - never more so than when I draw on my own childhood. Some people who were abused in their childhood have written to me to say how much they identify with the character of Tommy. But what is powerful in my own writing, and sometimes most difficult to control and model, is the subconscious material I draw on. It is what is subconscious in me that makes me scream for vengeance against my friend's abusers, rather than an adult understanding of what went wrong.

He admits to being abused as a child:

I remember no specific sexual abuse, though when I was young I was treated in an extremely controlling and aggressive way by my maternal grandmother. This is not unusual. It might be described by some as insignificant. Almost everyone I know experienced similar stuff at some time or other - many friends experienced more extreme 'abuses' and have no obvious adult vices as a result.

The article takes an interesting turn. He explains how porn sites use software triggers so that if you visit a porn site, even more pop-ups will appear that showcase something worse. In this case, he experienced a pop up that actually showed an infant being raped. The caption read: sex with children is 'not illegal in Russia'.

This image drives him to infuriation. He is smart about this and consults with his lawyer:

The awful reality hit me of the self-propelling, self-spawning mechanism of the internet. I reached for the phone, I intended to call the police and take them through the process I had stumbled upon - and bring the pornographers involved to book.

Then I thought twice about it. I knew I must NOT download anything I saw. That would be illegal. I spoke off-the-record to a lawyer. He advised me that I most certainly should not download the image as 'evidence'. So I did nothing. I mentioned this shocking internet experience to a few people close to me. It became clear very quickly that some people I spoke to thought that if I had searched using the right words, my exposure to that terrible image would not have occurred.

It might be strange to hear that I was glad I found it. Until then, like my ostrich-like friends, I imagined that only those who communicated on the internet using secret codes, private chat-rooms and encrypted files would ever be exposed to this kind of image. But I learned through this accident that such images are 'freely' available through the machinery of common search engines and User-Groups, and are openly available for sale through subscription via credit card. I was then concerned that there would be those 'providers' of paedophilic porn who felt the need to regularly 'refresh' their supply of images, as is the pornographic 'norm'. It is a chilling thought isn't it?

Indeed it is! Why did he write this article?

Why am I suddenly writing this today? My friend who committed suicide was the victim of an active but secret ring of paedophiles. They are still at large today. Only those who knew my friend, and believed her story, feel any urge to speak up against her abusers. But we have no proof. It is frustrating, but for her, at least, the pain is over. It has all gone public now. On the internet, vigilante groups and individuals work obsessively both to trace and block certain porn sites and to offer - through 12 Step programmes for sex-addiction - probably the only way out for some ensnared by addiction to what the internet has to offer.

His research leads him to a conclusion that I have not read---EVER! It almost flies in the face of what articles have presented in America:

It is not statistically true that all abusers of children were once themselves abused. That can happen, but often
- as in the case of my suicide friend - abuse is part of a reward system of power conferred from one adult person to another. But among paedophilic pornographers I believe validation matters more than cash.

In the end, he does not recommend any activist take matters into their own hands:

The subconscious mind is deeply damaged and indelibly scarred by the sight of such images. I can assure everyone reading this that if they go off in pursuit of images of paedophilic rape they will find them. I urge them not to try. I pray too that they don't happen upon such images as did I, by accident. If they do they may like me become so enraged and disturbed that their dreams are forever haunted.

He went to group meetings for abuse victims and obviously knows whereof he speaks.

Okay, enough of this! Visit the article yourself to read the full story. I am speechless but grateful he had the courage to write this. British police, btw, believe Townshend's motives and 'cautioned' him. He agreed to this and admitted that was a mistake. There's no doubt he considered himself an 'internet vigilante'. He also revealed that John Entwhistle wrote 'Fiddling About' in Tommy because the subject matter was just too painful for Townshend.

I also feel validated, in a way. I've always felt that Tommy was the first major cinematic/rock effort to address child abuse. Whatever went through director Ken Russell's mind is something else! However, the man who originated Tommy freely admits:

Sometimes this all feels so bloody futile. But I am determined to do my bit. I made a lot of money out of that poor little sap in Tommy. Now I understand how easily he could be recreated as a real child in our present society. I feel driven to try to change things.

From: Pete's diary.

This excerpt of 'Fiddle About' from the play is more chilling than the movie:

You know what I think I'm going to do? Go into the next room and put on my DVD of Tommy!


Sharon said...

I had a stray memory surface tonight, while playing Rock Band 2.

We did Pinball Wizard, and I remembered hearing in church--not necessarily Trinity--that it was The Who's idea of Jesus. I don't know if it was part of a David Benoit scare-a-thon or what, but I thought you'd find it interesting.

Dwayne Walker said...

I heard that also. The religious angle of Tommy was also a point of criticism when I first saw the movie at 13. I think it's more subtle than that, but when did you ever know fundamentalists to be able to catch on to subtlety?

I don't think even Pete Townshend knew what he was unleashing on the world when he created that rock opera. He has written it comes from his subconscious, and that is an uncontrollable force within all of us.

Today, I look at Tommy but I'm not seeing a mockery of Jesus/Mary/Joseph. Instead, I see someone who was forced into his shell because of abuse. When he came out of the abuse, after his mother smashed him through the mirror, he could now see/hear/feel.

Most victims feel so alone when they come out of the abuse that when they reach this moment of clarity, and no one else is around to say 'this happened to me', can feel like they're bringing a new message to the masses.

Really, they're not. It's just dealing with abuse is so hush-hush that the first time one gets clarity, it's almost necessary to have a rush of ego just to balance out all the bashing one experienced in life. Hence, one might start feeling 'messianic'.

Within the child advocacy world, I've noticed a few people who are going through the 'Tommy as Messiah' stage. They have recovered, want to help others recover, need the ego rush after years of having their ego abused. This, in turn, makes them 'rock stars'.

They have people willing to enable this, until even that becomes uncontrollable leading to their downfall.

I've experienced it. I've seen others experience it. That's why I think Tommy is such a masterpiece. It presents the truth, but it's an uncomfortable truth. The kind of truth that can only come from our uncontrollable subconscious since most of us don't allow our conscious self to engage in self-criticism.