Stephen King Really, Really Apologizes for Inadvertently Suggesting on Twitter that Dylan Farrow is a Bitch
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Stephen King Really, Really Apologizes for Inadvertently Suggesting on Twitter that Dylan Farrow is a Bitch

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | February 5, 2014 | Comments ()


I told myself I was never personally going to post on this subject again after the disasterbacle over the weekend, but as someone well intentioned who nevertheless made some terrible choices of words, suggested something I in no way meant to suggest, wrote about something that I did not properly research, and got called out harshly by a lot of people I really respect, admire and appreciate, I can sympathize with Stephen King in this matter.

However, let me just make this very clear before anything I say is confused: This post is NOT about the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen case — of which I express no opinion at this time, other than that Dylan Farrow ought to be given the benefit of the doubt — but about Stephen King’s poor choice of words when discussing the matter.

See, after Dylan Farrow’s open letter in the NYTimes discussing the sexual abuse Woody Allen subjected her to, Stephen King took to Twitter and said something that … well, it didn’t come out right. On Twitter, Author Mary Karr asked: “Dylan Farrow’s open letter alleging sexual assault at age 7 by Woody Allen: Right or wrong to post it?”

King’s response:

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 9.12.54 AM.png

OK, well, most people who see that Tweet will immediately think that Stephen King is suggesting that Dylan Farrow was being bitchy. Or that Mia Farrow was being bitchy. And, indeed, that’s what many on Twitter thought, and they laid nto him. Stephen King is 66 years old, and though he’s had some experience on Twitter, he’s probably not used to being shredded apart with such immediacy. If my experience is anything like his, the thoughts passing through his brain as the responses rolled in were: “No, no, no! That’s not what I meant. Oh, sh*t sh*t sh*t. Oh f*ck. What do I do? How do I make this better? How do I take this back? Surely they don’t think that I actually think that. I would never … Oh God! This is horrible! I adore these people, and now they hate me? WHAT HAVE I DONE? I’ve let so many people down. How do I fix this? *crawls into corner, weeps*”

King’s initial approach was to take to Twitter and attempt to put out the fire.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 9.20.17 AM.png

But Stephen King knows that that’s not going to be enough. Not in this day and age, in an environment this bloodthirsty on a topic this toxic. So, we took to Facebook and tried to better clarify himself in a medium that allows him more than 140 characters at a time.

Those of you who follow Twitter will know that recently I managed to put my foot in my mouth and halfway down my throat. A good many people came away from my tweet about the Woody Allen controversy with the idea that I had called Dylan Farrow or Mia Farrow (or both) a bitch. That wasn’t my intention, but the conclusion on the part of some readers is understandable. I used the wrong word to describe not Ms. Farrow—either Ms. Farrow—but a sad and painful mess. Some people seem to believe that writers never use the wrong word, but any editor can tell you that’s not true.

Those of you who have read my work—Carrie, Dolores Claiborne, Rose Madder, and Lisey’s Story, to name four—will know that I have plenty of respect for women, and care about the problems and life-situations they face. My single-mom mother faced plenty, believe me. And I have no sympathy whatever for those who abuse children. I wrote about such abuse—and its ultimate cost to the victim—in Gerald’s Game.

The maximum number of letters in a Tweet is 140. I think the following would fit: I apologize for screwing up.

Just know my heart is where it’s always been: in the right place.

(Source: Facebook via Uproxx)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Holly

    What a thoughtful apology. Accepted, Mr. King.

  • ZombieNurse

    I'm honestly surprised that so many people immediately assumed he was calling one, or both, of those women bitches. My first reaction was that he meant that the situation was a bitch. You know, like someone saying, "That's a bitch, man" when they mean something sucked. But, as a writer, he used fancier words.

  • --

    So many people make assholes out of themselves on twatter

  • Between him and Barbara Walters, this should work as a perfect lesson in Knowing When to Shut the Fuck Up.

  • stardust

    I'm glad he apologized, too. All day yesterday I was having a hard time listening to the Dark tower audiobooks (I'm in the middle of at least my 10th listen) and putting aside my anger at someone whose work I've loved since I was 8.

    Dustin, if it makes you feel any better, I (along with a thousand other people) told him to fuck off via Twitter. So, you're in lofty company. (I jest. You know I heart you. )

  • RipCity

    what is the article that shall not be named??? I'm so curious now

  • premie

    I tried to look for the "article that shall not be named" but I didn't see it. Let me guess, it was deleted. You know, I think this is a disturbing trend. Maybe I just didn't see it and it wasn't deleted but I'm noticing more and more blogs are removing content and deleting posts because they later (or immediately I suppose) find them offensive. I think it is better to leave this stuff in place and respond to it or update it to give the proper context. This smacks of cleaning up or rewriting history. I could be wrong, its just one of those things that gives me an immediate negative reaction.

  • Daisy Miller
  • premie

    Thanks Daisy and I'm glad my concerns were unfounded.

  • ERM 275

    It was not deleted. I believe it was from 2 weeks ago so you just didn't look far enough. I found and skimmed it earlier (sorry I'm not going to take the time to find it again and post link).

  • manting

    Pajiba does do this and more often than one might think

  • pajiba

    We do? I recall doing it once, because a joke post went over REALLY BADLY and it was basically unsalvageable, but I have no recollection of ever having done it otherwise.

  • manting

    I just checked and you are right. The last two times a post got pulled that I had been reading were both from AICN. Since you are both movie sites and use DIsqus I sometimes confuse the two. My apologies - Im going to be over here eating humble pie.

  • crispin

    I believe a large majority of the comments here fall into the category of the "palpable bitchery" he was referring to.

  • $78742978

    Maybe if he had experience with sexual assault as something other than a plot device he'd be more careful when addressing it.

  • Lee

    As harsh as people were to King and Justin I'm glad they were called out. Someone needs to introduce King to twitlonger. You can use more than 140 characters on Twitter or use multiple tweets to clarify yourself. Poor choice of words indeed in response to a painful letter.

  • HelloLongBeach

    At least he gave an acceptable apology. As in, we can accept this apology because its an actual "i'm sorry" and not "I'm sorry but MY feeeeeeeeelings!!".

  • Hazel Dean

    Exactly. This is what I was trying to say, as well.

  • Hazel Dean

    I am glad you both apologized. The impact of what you say is more important than the intent behind it, and people need to learn to take ownership of the consequences of their words, inadvertant or not:

  • John W

    God I just love twitter.

  • Ruthie O

    “No, no, no! That’s not what I meant. Oh, sh*t sh*t sh*t. Oh f*ck. What do I do? How do I make this better? How do I take this back? Surely they don’t think that I actually think that. I would never … Oh God! This is horrible! I adore these people, and now they hate me? WHAT HAVE I DONE? I’ve let so many people down. How do I fix this? *crawls into corner, weeps*”

    I was one of those folks who sharply criticized the article-that-shall-not-be-named, but I will always love Pajiba and the writers on this site because of THIS. Thanks, Dustin, for really hearing what people said, and weirdly enough, for letting our disappointment crush you-- it's a sign that you really do love us and care. You're the bomb dot com.

  • disqus_dIn5QsXhrL

    Agreed! I had also posted a couple of comments on the last article about this topic and was one of the people expressing my disappointment in its stance. I think it was mostly because the Dr. V article was still kind of fresh in my memory. I was starting to feel worried that Pajiba might not be the kind of site I always thought it was... that maybe it had some level of privileged-straight-cis-male apologism lurking under its surface.

    But reading Dustin's response to our comments, and this post, and his piece on poverty in America - and taking the long history of his writing on this site into consideration - I am sure that this isn't the case. Dustin, I think you're great and I hope you keep writing good shit. And I'm amazed at how much you've overcome in your life.

  • Feralhousecat

    I have read all of the books advertised in this apology. None of them
    were very good and none them accurately portray what
    it is to be a woman, let alone an abused one. Offering his unsolicited opinion on this subject was a bad idea.

  • AngelenoEwok

    One of the reasons I stopped reading him was that I started to get a whiff of...exploity-ness to the way he writes about abusive situations. It just seems to be a well he draws from frequently, and the way he uses those tropes for shock value started to bother me more and more with each book.

  • mzblackwidow

    now we watch as all the "I never liked/liked him less recently" folk leap onto the bandwagon and turn this into a huge life changing moment about Stephen King. Just because he writes for a living does not exempt him from poor word choice. He is one of many 100s of people who passed comment on the situation, which was brought into an open forum by an "open letter". I honestly don't know how a large group of people make it through a day, with all the painstaking scrutiny they must give every single syllable of every word said/written on any subject with ANY degree of sensationalism.

  • AngelenoEwok

    I don't think it's a huge life changing moment about Stephen King. I think his original tweet is utterly unremarkable in its clumsiness and clueless-ness. Just responding (honestly) to feralhousecat's comment about that one facet of his apology.

    I more or less believe in the sincerity his apology, TBH. I've seen a lot of normally nice and reasonable people step right in it when talking about this story in the past 4 days. But I stand by my assertion that I'm squicked by the way he writes about abuse. I felt that way about King's writing long before I knew anything about Dylan Farrow.

  • Dove of Doom

    Who solicited your opinion? You have to admire the sort of person who anonymously declares that someone with the courage to engage in public discourse is in the wrong for simply stating an opinion and continues to pile on even after that person admits they made a mistake. Who exactly does he get his license to address the issue from? You? Any random abused woman? Or do all abused women get to vote on whether Stephen King recieves a solicitation for his thoughts on the subject? Given that Dylan Farrow's piece was an open letter, it was open to all whom it was addressed to, in other words everyone, to respond.

  • Feralhousecat

    King has every right to state his unsolicited opinion in the public arena. So do I. My unsolicited opinion is that he used poor judgment.

  • Dove of Doom

    You certainly do have the right to speak your mind, just as Stephen King does, and just like him you don't require solicitation, permission, or any other prerequisite to make it legitimate. And if you had the track record of Stephen King, said something inartful and ambiguous, and then apologized, I would take you at your word and move on.

  • becks2point0

    I think the opinion was solicited but still pretty disappointing. Oddly, this may be the most horrific thing King has written in years.

  • Naye

    whooaaa shots fired! lol

  • Feralhousecat

    When dealing with something of this nature, unless a party
    directly involved publicly solicited his opinion, he should have had the sense to keep his mouth shut.

  • becks2point0

    Definitely. Even in that case it may be smarter to keep your mouth shut publicly.

  • snrp

    Yeah, bringing up his books was in very poor taste ("I totally have a nuanced understanding of child abuse! The Space Cowboy, amiright?")

  • Joe Grunenwald

    "While you're considering my apology, maybe you'd like to buy one of my books? Here's a list of them and a link to Amazon."

  • Joe

    I won't lie, I'm more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume no ill intention largely because he is Stephen King and no other reason.

  • He has a history of using the word "bitch" to describe an untenable situation in his writing. "A bitch of a..." He may not write women well, but he generally writes them with respect.

    ETA: As someone who acted as a witness for a case involving similar accusations, it is truly a bitch of a situation. As a witness for the accused, with a high degree of certainty as to their innocence, you still do not want to dishonor the claim of the child or prevent a thorough investigation. If there is any chance, you have to look into it. In the situation I was involved with, the accusation proved false but the accused was still fired, held in prison overseas, and will carry this accusation for life.

    A bitch of a situation, and one which no one not directly involved has any business commenting on.

  • Jiffylush

    Why can't people just shut the fuck up?!

    There is finally a Dark Tower movie or maybe TV show and now he feels the need to comment on a daughter's accusation that her father molested her.

    Do your job, mind your own business and SHUT THE FUCK UP!

    edit - You weren't there you have no idea what happened and if you have something to say other that support for the child or family keep it to yourself. It's fine to support a person that is accused of a crime, but in a case like this you don't go after the accuser.

  • thebeardedlady

    When my kids were little I used to explain that saying you're sorry didn't always mean that you were wrong but that sometimes it meant you were sorry someone got hurt, regardless of intention. As a Constant Reader, I was upset when I heard about the tweet but I think his apology was the way to go.

  • becks2point0

    I get that it's easy to use the wrong word or phrase and come off quite differently than intended but what exactly was he trying to say? What was the right word he was going for?

  • wonkeythemonkey

    Maybe it's a Maine thing? Maybe he's accustomed to using some variation of "bitchery" to mean "totally FUBAR"? I don't know, I'm just speculating here.

  • PDamian

    My impression is that he intended to say that the public conversation -- the Twitter and Facebook posts, the editorials, the letters to newspapers, etc., etc. -- were beginning to sound bitchy. Poorly stated, but frankly, accurate, as a lot of what's being written about Dylan's editorial is downright mean.

  • Naye

    I don't think so...He connected two thoughts; "Id like to think it's not true" "There's and element of palpable bitchery" with AND. Let's be fair "bitchery" reduces to either "bitching" or "being a bitch." He came in on the side of the defense, and his next statement tied into it. It just doesn't seem like he was having an inner battle in 140 characters. I don't know why any celebrity feels like there is appropriate opinion that can be said about what should be a private family battle tragically playing out over the media. Man just SHUT UP!

  • Kate the Greatest

    This "private family matter" stuff is really beginning to piss me off. If Woody Allen is a child molester, he deserves to be shunned. Just because we can't ever know definitively whether he molested his daughter or not doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to write him off for being an asshole, which he almost unquestionably is. Is it a private family matter when a man kills his wife and/or kids? As long as it's kept to your little family unit, does atrocity not count for anything?

  • Naye

    I'm saying that this is basically a war of words within a family. Yes, it's about heinous accusations, but it's about something that nobody who is not directly tied to this family AND those events can speak on, at least publicly. Therefore, it is a private family matter. About a tragic situation. As much comparison as there is, this isn't Roman Polansky, who was convicted of his crimes and has yet to face them. This is now just a public battle of he-said, she-said. No matter WHO I believe it can only be sorted out by the family (since the courts washed their hands of it years ago), therefore it is something that needs to be private. We're all just voyeurs of a tragic story. That being said I believe Dylan. But what i believe doesn't matter. I can act on my beliefs by not supporting Allen, but it will never be my place to publicly speak on what happened.
    EDIT: I dont like my wording of something that "needs" to be private. I agree that the world should know the outcome. But privacy is in the details.

  • kirbyjay

    I'm agreeing on the "family matter" thing. Child molestation is not a family matter, it is a crime against children.
    I have no idea whether Woody Allen molested her but his fascination with very young women ( Soon-Yi, Manhattan, one of the first movies I ever walked out of because I found it creepy) tells me that the propensity for pedophilia resides in that man, and that the fact that an adult Dylan Farrow would have no reason in the world to put herself through more abuse, other than the truth.

  • And Then I Say Something

    He seems to be claiming he meant the whole situation has "an element of palpable bitchery". I get using the wrong word or using a word with an unintended connotation, but this seems wholly different. I can't imagine labeling any fiasco as having an element of bitchery. "Yeah, my car wouldn't start in the cold yesterday. What palpable bitchery!"

    My impression is that he was referring to either Farrow and got called on it. I'd love to give him the benefit of the doubt, but from an intellectual standpoint I just can't understand what he's saying any other way.

  • Feralhousecat

    The man writes for a living. I'm having a hard time believing he didn't say what he meant.

  • Sara Habein

    Yeah, but writers have editors to save us from ourselves, and Twitter doesn't have that. Writers are just a fallable in word choice as anyone else.

  • Salieri2

    And King more than most people badly needs editing. [Said Douglas Adams more wittily in Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul]. His best works are his short stories and novellas--this is a guy who needs some room to spread out & develop an idea, but not too much, or he Tetsuos all over the place, suffocating us with his word-blobby repetition and overexplainytude.

    His terrible, horrible attempts at writing women whom women find realistic have always made me assume that there's just something he fundamentally doesn't get about us--I thought Dolores Claiborne was a nice try, mind you. Good enough, at least, that I figured he had help. Is it any surprise that, launching out on his own, sans editor, 140 characters, he combined two of his greatest weaknesses? One more Tweet, he'll be writing himself in as a character.

    I buy his apology, which seems heartfelt and thoughtfully composed, but while I think there's a pretty good chance he honestly didn't understand the definition of the word he used:

    noun: bitchery

    1.bitchy behavior.

    ...I think it's entirely possible that he would have used it anyway, because he doesn't get how "bitch" actually works when applied to my people.

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