As many of you know, I was recently Disney and Marvel's guest for the Iron Man 3 red carpet premiere. (Ah-MAZING film, by the way! Seriously...Go see it!) I had a wonderful time, and got to experience a ton of the magic that Hollywood has to offer. I ate at the Saddle Ranch at Universal Studios, I got to interview Ty Simpkins and Gwyneth Paltrow, I walked the red carpet with the stars, and I even got to eat at the famous Mel's Drive In. One of the other things we did was visit Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.
This is where "the incident" happened. For anyone who has been to Madame Tussauds, you know that it is not only fun to take silly photos, it's encouraged. Our group of bloggers did just that. We had a blast, and it was all in good fun. There was one photo in particular that caused an uproar. Our fun-loving Disney rep, Marshall Weinbaum, posed with a group of bloggers in a photo that was meant to spoof the National Lampoon Vacation movie poster. I was there when the photo was taken, and it was all in good fun between friends. Marshall posted this fun pic on his Facebook page, and then it happened....
A few very childish and presumably jealous bloggers caused an uproar over this photo, and even took it without permission and made edits to it to make it appear sexist and crude. They implied that the Disney bloggers basically worship Marshall and are willing to do anything...and I do mean ANYTHING....to work with the brand. They called him horrible names like "raging douche-bag" and even attacked his character. This spread like wildfire, and is still causing quite the stir online.
I WILL NOT PROVIDE LINKS TO THESE POSTS....These women seriously do not deserve the added attention or page views. I won't post the photo, either, out of respect for Marshall who has elected to remove the photo from his Facebook page.
Clearly, the women who wrote these defaming articles do not know Marshall. If they did, they would not make such accusations. I have been working with Marshall for a couple of years now. He is honestly one of my absolute sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met. He is kind, caring, and genuinely gives a damn about the moms and dads he works with. I am proud to call him a friend. Marshall is the true definition of good character, and he does not deserve this type of bullying.
This is serious, folks....A man's good name is being drug through the mud for no good reason. His reputation is at stake. All because someone made assumptions and took offense to something without even knowing the story behind it.
This is damaging not only to Marshall, but to the bloggers he works with. Claiming any blogger who defends Marshall is in Disney's pocket is slanderous and could damage a blogger's reputation as well. As bloggers, we work hard to build good relationships with our readers as well as with brands. These relationships are based strongly on honesty and trust. To imply that we can be "bought" in any way is highly offensive.
I am going to be real here...Yes, I have been blessed enough to have gone on 2 Disney press trips. But I assure you, I didn't have to jump through hoops to get invited. Nor have I ever asked Marshall for anything, or expected it. When I share Disney related news, it's because I am enthusiastic about the brand and genuinely WANT to share. Yes, the trips are nice. Fantastic, even. But they are never expected.
This situation hurts me on so many levels....I am sad that someone would stoop as low as to post such hatred about someone they don't know personally. This is bullying, plain and simple. As adults, we should know better. Words DO hurt. REAL lives are affected by bullying. It seems to me that people tend to forget that those they interact with online are REAL people with REAL feelings.
They have careers, they have families, they have friends....They have pasts that you might know nothing about. That person you bully online might have been bullied as a child. That is not something you ever fully get over. The memories are painful, and when bullying happens, one is taken back to that place of fear and insecurity. BULLYING HURTS!
True story (and this gets personal): I was never bullied in school, thankfully. But, I did have an incredibly abusive first marriage. When I was very young, I married a man who was not very nice to me, to say the least. I was hurt physically, sexually, verbally, and emotionally. I was not allowed to have friends. I was isolated. I was not allowed to be or think for myself. I was told on a daily basis that I was worthless and would never amount to anything. I was told I was basically unworthy of love or kindness. I became timid, meek, and self-loathing. I also developed social anxiety and was bulimic for years. I did damage to my body that I have to live with every day of my life. Hopefully one day I will be able to afford to address these issues, but for now, I have to live with it.
Other things I have to live with are extreme shyness, social anxiety, fear of meeting new people, and low self-esteem. (These things are getting better everyday.) Even though this bullying and abuse ended years and years ago and I am in a great place in my life right now. I have 3 beautiful children, a husband who treats me like gold, and I own my own Mercedes and house in full. (What 31 year old can say that?!) Even though life is wonderful, all it takes is one unkind remark to take me back to that place I was in when I was being put down. This is how bullying affects REAL lives. WORDS HURT....
I am also the parent of a gay teen. I have seen him terrorized at school, and it broke my heart. He was depressed, timid, and didn't have any friends to speak of. A good part of the reason we moved to Ohio was to give him a fresh start away from his tormentors. Thank God, the bullying has stopped. He now has tons of friends, is an honor roll student, and is a different kid.
Okay, so I have totally veered off topic here, but I wanted to explain first-hand how bullying has affected MY life, and why I am so passionate about putting an end to it. When I see people I care about being hurt by the words and actions of others, it makes me sad and it makes me angry. No one deserves this kind of treatment.
Marshall Weinbaum is someone I genuinely care about. He is a wonderful human being, not just a faceless guy behind a desk that can "do" something for me. He has an amazing sense of humor, a big heart, and is a joy to know. He truly gives so much of himself to the blogging community. (And no, I don't mean the trips, either.) He interacts with us. He jokes with us. He asks how we're doing. He gets to know us as people. I think that people forget that when you deal with someone on the internet, you're dealing with a real human being.
So seeing my FRIEND Marshall being slandered and crucified the way he is breaks my heart. As adults, we should know better than to feed into online drama and bullying. We should know better than to behave like catty high-school kids. These women had no right to steal a photo that was taken in jest and make it something crude and ugly. They had no right to attack the character of a man they have never met. They had no right to attack the bloggers who have grown to love him as a friend. They had no right to bully.
The important thing to think about is the fact that we're parents....If we want to raise a generation of children who are kind and have empathy and tolerance for others, we need to lead by example. "Do as I say, not as I do" simply doesn't cut it. Kids learn what they live. Let's take a stand, be supportive of those who are bullied, and act out of kindness. If not for ourselves, for our kids. For their futures.
I would absolutely love it, and take it as a personal favor, if each and every one of you could leave something positive on any negative posts you see about my friend, Marshall. Heck, on anything you see about anyone who is being put down. Marshall is a strong person, so while I know he's hurt by this whole fiasco, he will pull through and he will be okay. He has a TON of supporters and friends who love him.
But please...As parents and human beings, let's make it a point to lead by example and show the bullies that love really is stronger than hate.