JT LEROY’S JUDGEMENT DAY
Writer Lauren Wissot emailed me after I blogged about the Antidote Films vs. JT Leroy verdict with a link to her own blog, Beyond the Green Door, where she’s posted several pieces about the case. Wissot takes the pro-Laura Albert position in two posts, beginning with:
I guess I’m trying to find the humor in all this because, frankly, Laura Albert’s Kafkaesque nightmare scares the hell out of me. Though the defense lawyers have broached the subject of Albert’s psychiatric history on the stand, Albert’s mental health is irrelevant. (Though as a good friend of mine pointed out, amputees who run marathons are called inspirational for turning disability into creative pursuit, so why isn’t Laura Albert being held up as a hero for turning her emotional “disability” into art?) No, this case is solely about a book – published as fiction, optioned as fiction, end of story. And this is why even the sanest of artists needs to heed the wake-up call, this frightening cautionary tale. As an author who published a 100% nonfiction memoir as fiction (only because my U.K. publisher’s “brand” is erotic fiction so I didn’t have much of a choice), will I one day be sued because my story happened, because I actually exist? Sound crazy? Laura Albert’s being sued right now because she exists and JT Leroy doesn’t. Fact is the only hoax, the only fraud perpetrated, is by a judicial system that could allow a baseless case like this to even come to trial.
And, in a post-verdict piece entitled Judgement Day,, she offers:
This case was not about Laura Albert masquerading as a teenage, truck stop prostitute, but about getting revenge for the shame caused when one feels they’ve been suckered. Not too long ago this same level of intense mob hatred was directed at author James Frey after his supposed memoir was revealed to be fiction. But James Frey is not another one of Laura Albert’s alter egos. Mr. Frey published fantasy as hard fact. Laura Albert published JT Leroy’s “memoir” as fiction….
Instinctively I knew Albert’s defense had miscalculated when they chose to address her mental health (irrelevant to the case) instead of sticking straight to the facts. This wasn’t a criminal trial, I thought, and any attempt to gain sympathy for a person able to talk her way into celebrity friendships could only backfire, with the jury instead seeing Albert as a manipulative woman hiding behind her past abuse. Playing (psychological) defense instead of turning the tables and playing (willing accomplice) offense carried an implicit admission of wrongdoing. The defense shouldn’t have taken responsibility – the bait – for a criminal act not committed. There should have been no apologies made for JT Leroy’s birth, no excuses or remorse. To paint Albert as a frail, helpless victim is absurd. She’s strong enough to have become an accomplished writer who fought for her work to get noticed, with or without her alter ego. The point isn’t that Albert didn’t know what she was doing – the point is that everyone else on some level, whether they’re willing to admit it or not, did.