In the year since his acquittal of sexual and physical assault charges, there have been sightings of Jian Ghomeshi in Toronto grocery stores, at a particular Yorkville salon and even at Soho House in New York City. Other than that, he seems to have fallen off the face of the earth (undoubtedly to the joy of many), remaining silent on social media since October 2014.
As the entire country is now aware thanks to a flurry of social media activity that dominated new feeds yesterday, the disgraced former CBC Radio star has officially resurfaced.
Breaking his two and a half-year silence since he famously tried to explain the bombshell abuse allegations and subsequent dismissal from CBC in a Facebook post, Ghomeshi took to Twitter (a new account that has 742 followers at time of writing – a far cry from the hundreds of thousands he used to have) yesterday morning to casually announce a new podcast.
“Hi. For those interested, here is something I’ve been working on … The IdeationProject.com,” tweeted Ghomeshi, with a link to a website.
Hi. For those interested, here is something I’ve been working on… https://t.co/IksyTcjAlZ
— Jian Ghomeshi (@JianGhomeshi) April 10, 2017
According to the website, The Ideation Project is a “creative adventure with the aim of taking a bigger picture view on newsworthy issues and culture, with the goal of asking questions and starting conversations.” All content – including the words, music, recording and production – is original by Ghomeshi (“it’s all original because nobody wants to work with him,” tweeted one user) and covers range of topics, from “politics to philosophy to pop culture and the human condition.”
It’s safe to assume that the site has already had thousands of visitors, as curious eyes and ears from across the country can’t help but to check out what it’s all about. It hasn’t exactly been met with praise or recognized as anything too profound. But enough about the site; our intention here is not to promote it.
Not surprisingly, his announcement didn’t go over well, with countless Canadians taking to Twitter to slam both Ghomeshi and his new project.
Don’t support #JianGhomeshi‘s comeback. Don’t follow, don’t tweet @ him, don’t listen to his podcast. Silence him as he silenced survivors.
— Michelle da Silva (@michdas) April 10, 2017
Me, after seeing Jian Ghomeshi has a new online project… pic.twitter.com/0h00B1Fapm
— Steve Adams (@SteveAdamsWpg) April 10, 2017
Jian Ghomeshi launching a podcast during Sexual Assault Awareness Month shows the level of judgement we’ve come to expect from Jian Ghomeshi
— Simon (@simondrex) April 10, 2017
#JianGhomeshi is trying a comeback. I hear he has a role in the new series “Law & Order: Making Victims Unit”.
— Ed the Sock (@EdtheSock) April 10, 2017
@JianGhomeshi I’m interested in seeing how long till you succumb to the urge to groom the 1st pretty gal on here who thinks this is good.
— Gordon Comstock (@keeptheasp) April 10, 2017
Anyone who goes on Jian Ghomeshi’s new podcast is garbage.
— Rachelle Goguen (@rachellegoguen) April 10, 2017
Knowing Ghomeshi, it’s obvious that his desire to create will never go away; regardless of whether there is any audience there to consume it. According to whispered conversation, in addition to mastering his culinary skills and clocking hours at the gym, he had been spending his time alone writing in the months – now years – since the first allegations of abuse were made public.
While nobody expected to see him working the room at a media event in the near future, I knew he would resurface at some point; he isn’t the type to anonymously retreat into the shadows forever. I just don’t think any of us expected it to be so soon, and, frankly, so casually and unapologetically. I assumed any attempt at a comeback would be in another country and years from now, once visions of his face didn’t conjure up such raw, fresh intense emotions in the minds of so many. While it came as a shock to everyone, I am sure that seeing his image splattered across news channels was an unexpected slap in the face for the women who faced him in court as they started their workweek.
Those who have defended him on social media, however, point to his acquittal and the fact that he is deserving of a second chance to reinvent himself.
“Don’t mistake his silence as an admission of guilt,” I remember one media peer telling me at an event in the months following the allegations. “He has a lot to say from his point of view, and when he does, people will be shocked.”
So, I had assumed that any slight chance at a career comeback would begin with his own words and insight on the issue, perhaps in the form of a book, essay or article that offered a platform for his voice to be heard, whether we liked what he had to say or not. I expected it to involve discussions of consent, workplace conduct, regrets, growth, lessons learned and personal reflection.
What I didn’t expect was for him to carry on like nothing happened, as though the same talent and insight that made him a star is enough to overshadow everything else (it seemed to work for Casey Affleck, after all) and win back former fans. It was almost as though he had casually quit q a few months back and decided to surprise his “fans” on a Monday morning with the new launch.
Acquitted or not, the conversation about things like consent, boundaries and abuse isn’t over just because his trial is, and choosing to ignore what happened out of the gate wasn’t the best idea for Ghomeshi.
Echoing the words of accuser Kathryn Borel, many people point to the fact that Ghomeshi still hasn’t answered for his alleged actions or commented on the trial. Whether the new podcast is a precursor to a greater discussion of the allegations and subsequent trial – potentially on an interview circuit should any media decide to bite – remains to be seen. As the CBC reports, Ghomeshi has turned to the PR firm Reputation.ca to promote the project.
“He’s kind of gone through a difficult period of reflection in his life. He just felt it was time to start working on a new artistic project,” publicist Matt Earle told CBC. I’m sure the public would be more receptive to hear the things he has learned as a result of this reflection as opposed to supporting his new work. One thing is for sure; resurfacing with self-promotion isn’t likely going to help his cause.
Do you think Jian Ghomeshi is making the right move by resurfacing with self-promotion over self-reflection? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.