true crime

Felicity Huffman gets two weeks in “the joint”…

Last night, as I was about to go to bed, I read the news that Felicity Huffman, of Desperate Housewives fame, was sentenced for her part in “Varsity Blues”, the college cheating scandal involving dozens of people that has gripped the United States since the spring. Wealthy parents were paying off university officials to get their children into prestigious institutions of higher learning. Although most of the parents involved aren’t necessarily famous, there have been a few Hollywood notables involved in this case– namely Huffman, Lori Loughlin, and Mossimo Giannulli.

I was shocked to read that Huffman and fellow actress Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, had spent thousands of dollars in bribes in bids to get their daughters enrolled in prestigious colleges. Loughlin, who famously portrayed the wholesome “Aunt Becky” on Full House and Fuller House, and has been on a bunch of other family friendly shows in the interim, is probably watching Huffman’s case with interest. Loughlin and her husband have pleaded not guilty, and they will go on trial. Huffman, by contrast, pled guilty and threw herself at the court’s mercy.

Felicity Huffman paid about $15,000 to a fake charity to get someone to change her daughter’s answers on the Scholastic Aptitude Test so that her scores would be higher. Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of spending over $500,000 to get their daughters, Isabella and Olivia Jade, into the University of Southern California as fake members of the crew team. Neither daughter has ever participated in crew and, in fact, Olivia Jade even publicly stated that she doesn’t even care about college. She had a thriving social media influencer business going until this mess came to light.

Naturally, many Americans are outraged at what is clearly a case of people abusing their wealth and privilege to get ahead. Every year, thousands of students work extremely hard to legitimately earn their spots at top U.S. universities. It’s not fair to them that super wealthy people, like Huffman and Loughlin, can simply pay people off to get their children into the “right” college.

Since the spring of 2019, many people have been wondering what these privileged parents can expect as the court system begins to hand down punishments. Huffman was the first among them to be sentenced. After what I’m sure was a very stressful summer, Huffman got her answer yesterday. On October 25, 2019, she will present herself to a federal prison to serve her fourteen day sentence. The facility Huffman will be assigned to will most likely be minimum security, though I’m sure the experience will still be horrifying. She will spend fourteen days in the prison, pay a $30,000 fine, and complete a year of supervised probation. She must also complete 250 hours of community service.

I think Huffman’s sentence is just, although I can see by the angry reactions on social media that not everyone agrees with it. Many people seem to think she should spend a lot more time incarcerated. For some reason, a lot of my countrymen are in favor of putting people behind bars for years and years. We, in the United States, have a very revenge oriented culture, particularly when it comes to crime. I’ll admit it, when I get angry enough, I often want revenge, too. Ultimately, though, I think justice should be more about rectifying wrongs than exacting revenge.

Felicity Huffman isn’t a career criminal, nor is she a violent person. Her two daughters are grown and are reportedly quite humiliated by these events. In fact, I’d say the biggest loser in Huffman’s case, is her daughter, Sophia. Because her daughters are grown and Huffman is clearly distraught about the effect her actions had on her relationship with them, Huffman definitely won’t be repeating her crime. And while I can understand why so many people are outraged that such a privileged woman got such a “light” sentence, it doesn’t serve society to lock up Huffman for years. All that would do is punish the ultimate victim, Huffman’s daughter, who now has to live with the fact that her mother very publicly communicated that didn’t believe her child could achieve academic success on her own.

Moreover, Sophia Macy did not take a spot from another aspiring student, since the college she wanted to attend did not allow her to audition and, in fact, didn’t require SAT scores anyway. The young woman was reportedly horrified that her mother went to such lengths to rig the results of her college application, and it’s caused a serious rift in their relationship.

About that prison sentence– I found an interesting article about what it’s like for famous and/or wealthy people like Felicity Huffman to go to a federal prison. This is a woman who lives in a beautiful home, has people who cater to her, and has complete control over her comings and goings. She will enter a system where she will be strip searched, be forced to wear a used uniform and used undergarments, and will eat awful food, endure unpleasant smells, non-stop noise, and non-stop lighting. She may encounter inmates who resent her for being rich and famous, and guards who hate their jobs and take it out on her. Conversely, she may also meet inmates who try to take advantage of her. Or, looking on the bright side, perhaps she might make a friend or two and learn a new skill. Who knows?

If I were Felicity Huffman, I think I’d try to look at this experience as a way to add to my bag of acting tricks. She will experience incarceration, which will probably be hell for her. But perhaps in a future role, she can draw on her experiences and bring realism to the part. And while it might feel like she’s in for an eternity, the two weeks will eventually pass and that part will be over. A year from now, she’ll be almost past this mess and able to put it behind her. Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, by contrast, will probably still be fighting for their freedom.

I was a late fan of Huffman’s, having not discovered Desperate Housewives until around 2008, when Netflix used to send me DVDs in APO mail in Germany. I used to be a real television addict, but I don’t watch as much now, and it often takes me some time to get into the popular shows of today. Sometimes, I don’t discover a show until it’s been off the air! Although I had heard of Huffman’s husband, William H. Macy, because I was an ER fan from the day that show started, I was not really a Huffman fan until I got into Desperate Housewives. I haven’t watched anything else she’s been in since then.

I have empathy for Felicity Huffman’s situation. I think she thought she was doing the right thing, trying to help her daughter get ahead in life, even though her daughter no doubt already has a lot of privileges most people don’t have. But even Huffman admits that she messed up, has expressed sincere remorse, and is willing to do her time and pay the fines. I, for one, wish her luck.

Standard
complaints, rants

reddit is great for raging…

You’d think that someone like me would enjoy reading reddit, a site that bills itself as “the front page of the internet“.  I’m always looking for topics to write about and I love reading and writing a good rant.  However, aside from the occasional reference to reddit in news stories or forum posts, I don’t really frequent the site very often.

Somehow, I got hooked up to push notifications for reddit’s r/rant page, which is where people who need to vent their spleens go.  More than once in the past week or so, I’ve gotten a notification for a juicy ranting on reddit.  Unfortunately, the notifications always come when I’m in the middle of something else and I’m not fast enough to click the link before it disappears.  This morning, I finally clicked and found myself staring at a page full of glorious profanity.  I do enjoy a little profanity and, in fact, read a couple of my old posts from my Blogspot.  I will candidly admit that even I was a little shocked by my own use of foul language.  On the other hand, I’ve never been one to hide that I swear a lot.

My dad used to tell me that swearing was the mark of someone with a limited vocabulary and intelligence.  I disagree with that notion.  I happen to have a great vocabulary and, although some people may claim I say and do “dumb things”, actually, I don’t.  I don’t know where the idea comes from some people that I’m “dumb”.  Could it be my blondish grey hair?  Could it be because I giggle a lot?  Because I’m the youngest child in my family?  Because I’m a female?  Truly, I’m not a stupid person, and those who dismiss me as “stupid” are usually sorry later.

But anyway, the point is, I do cuss a lot.  And yet, even though I cuss, and sometimes even indulge in the “sin” of name calling, I do cringe a little when I read some of my more impassioned rants, like this one.  However, that particular post was also influenced by something offline which negatively influenced my mood.  I guess, when I’m outraged and indignant, it colors my writing, regardless of what causes the upset.

In any case, even though I swear a lot, I have to admit to being a little turned off by the cursing on reddit/rant.  Maybe it’s because a lot of the swearing came from insolent teenagers in the midst of a psychic meltdown.  Having been through the storms of adolescence myself, I don’t wish to relive them by reading profane rants written in Internetese.  Also, poor grammar and spelling are very irritating to me.  It’s like listening to a choir singing flat, which is also like nails on a chalkboard to my sensitive ears.  I don’t mind cussing if it’s done creatively and humorously, but when every other word is “fuck” or “goddamn”, it becomes boring in a hurry.

On the other hand, sometimes profane rants are hilarious… like this one.  Evidently, this poor soul tried durian fruit for the first time and wasn’t impressed.  One of the commenters described the distinctive (emphasis on stink) odor as “smelling like garlic, hot garbage and really stinky feet all at once.  The smell is so overpowering (and I ate it still partially frozen so it wasn’t at peak odor) that there’s really no separate taste that I could distinguish.  You’re just eating garlicky, hot garbage, foot-fruit.”

That’s quite a vivid description.  I don’t think I’ve ever tried durian fruit myself.  I do remember the Vietnamese bartender at Fort Belvoir once brought some in.  She said it tastes like pudding or custard, but before you can enjoy that, you have to get past the stench.  Most people probably won’t bother with it when they can have chocolate.

No… I think if you’re going to write a “fuck” filled rant, you should limit it to a funny topic like trying durian fruit for the first time.  Don’t write a rant like that about anti-vaxxers, which is a serious issue that puts a lot of innocent people at risk.  I mean, I get that it’s contentious and infuriating, but one or two fucks will be fine.  Your rant loses its impact when every other word is “fuck”.  And people do need to read and heed rants that call anti-vaxxers to task, especially since once almost eradicated diseases like measles and mumps are making a comeback and actually killing people.  Ditto for this rant…

I mean, what’s s/he trying to say, anyway?

I need to spend a few minutes reading some of these reddit rants, though.  They might remind me that, in the grand scheme of things, my problems are pretty small.  At least I’m not Lori Loughlin, right?  Looks like she could be headed to the big house before too long.  You know things are pretty bad when Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms is offering unsolicited prison survival tips.  Of course, they were directed at Felicity Huffman, who is pleading guilty to her part in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal and could also very well be off to jail before too long.  But Huffman is not in as much trouble as Loughlin and her husband apparently are.  Hell, maybe they’ll rant on reddit, too.  Bonus points if they cuss a lot.

Standard
education

Gaming the system… a couple of moms flunked the test.

I suppose it’s about time I offered my opinions about this college admissions scandal involving Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. If you haven’t been living on a distant mountain top, you’ve probably already heard about it. Apparently, both of these well-known actresses are in deep shit with the feds because they paid bribes to get their daughters’ college admissions packets shored up so they could attend elite universities. Huffman is married to actor William H. Macy, who apparently wasn’t involved or arrested when federal agents showed up to take Huffman into custody. Loughlin is married to fashion designer, Mossimo Giannulli, who was reportedly complicit in the affair.

Huffman and Loughlin are probably the best known of the dozens of people caught in this sting. Both are beautiful, successful, and most importantly, wealthy, actresses who live in California. Loughlin reportedly wanted her daughters, Isabella and Olivia, to attend a top flight college because she’d never had the opportunity. As for Huffman… I really don’t know what the motive was. I guess she just wanted her daughters, Sofia and Georgia, to have the “best” education. Unfortunately, these parents all resorted to cheating and bribery to get their daughters ahead. Sadly, I think their tactics have backfired spectacularly.

I read in one article that Lori Loughlin and her family would probably suffer more from this than Huffman and Macy will. That’s because besides Loughlin’s acting gig, the family is heavily tied to corporate America. 19 year old Olivia Jade has a very successful Instagram gig with millions of followers, as well as a burgeoning YouTube channel. She has publicly stated that she doesn’t even care about going to college and, in fact, isn’t available to attend classes due to her work schedule. Why she couldn’t just work, instead of taking away another student’s spot at a top tier school, is beyond me. She’s absolutely gorgeous, and obviously making more than minimum wage… at least for now. There is no shame in working and/or skipping college. It looks like Olivia Jade is about to learn a hard lesson, Paula Deen style. Brands are already distancing themselves from her. What’s more, if she ever did decide to pursue a more “normal” profession, are people going to take her seriously? She’s been publicly outed as an academic fraud! Lori Loughlin has been dropped from Hallmark and will not be making any appearances on next season’s Fuller House episodes.

What is especially sad to me, though, is the idea that the children of Lori Loughlin, Mossimo Giannulli, Felicity Huffman, and William H. Macy feel like they even need to attend a school like the University of Southern California. There are so many great schools in the United States. It just seems like a shame to me that they had to resort to fraud to find one that suits their needs.

I have written in depth about my college experiences before on my old blog, but here’s a very quick recap. When I was 18, I wanted very badly to go to James Madison University. I didn’t have the grades or the SAT scores, so I went to less competitive Longwood College (now Longwood University) instead. It turned out to be a fabulous place for me. That’s where I learned to sing. Discovering that gift and having the chance to develop it changed my life. If I had gone to JMU or Virginia Tech, I sincerely doubt I would have ever had that opportunity. Mike Pence, who debated Tim Kaine at my alma mater in 2016, might have helped put Longwood on the map. Alas, he called my school “Norwood” instead. For that gaffe alone, I’d never vote for him, not to mention his penchant for calling his wife “Mother” and obsession with controlling the uteri of all women.

Twenty-five years after I graduated, there are still professors there who remember me. My husband, who graduated from much better known American University, often marvels at how close-knit and nurturing Longwood obviously is. I keep in contact with several former professors, thanks to social media, and still have so many friends from those days. To me, that is a big part of what college is supposed to be about, besides learning. If you don’t care about college, why go? Especially if you’re already gainfully employed!

Olivia Jade Giannulli is only 19 years old. She’s legitimately beautiful, and simply being that beautiful will open a lot of doors for her. Add in the fact that she has very successful parents who are obviously interested in seeing her succeed and you have someone who really didn’t even need to be a Trojan. Maybe she could have gone to college later, if she wanted to, but she’s clearly not even ready for college and doesn’t want to be there.

And then there are the schools themselves. Clearly, this is something that has been going on for a long time. How seriously can a person take the colleges that were identified in these scams? Obviously, the admissions staff lets these frauds through. I have mentioned that I once worked as a temp at the College of William & Mary’s admissions office. I know how overwhelmed those offices are, particularly at this time of year. But the whole reason for having an admissions office is to find the best students. Somehow, Olivia Jade and her sister got into USC as “athletes”, even though they weren’t actually athletes. How does that happen?

I read that Lori Loughlin and her husband paid about half a million bucks to get their special snowflakes into USC. I bet she’s going to pay a hell of a lot more, once all of this is said and done. Felicity Huffman supposedly paid about $15,000 to help her daughter cheat on her SATs. Although she was considering helping her younger daughter in the same way, she ultimately decided not to. I think Huffman has done her older daughter a huge disservice, since it will now be harder for people to trust that her accomplishments are her own. In her desire to “help” her daughters get the “best”, she has saddled one of them with the stigma of public humiliation. That will probably be difficult for her to overcome.

Well… everyone makes mistakes. This mistake is definitely a “whopper” for Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and all of the other people out there who felt they needed to cheat in order to get their kids into the “right” college. Maybe I haven’t set the world on fire with my own post collegiate endeavors, but at least I know I got into my school entirely on my own merits. There’s a lot of value in that knowledge. I think Huffman and Loughlin would do well to watch some public television or something… they need to be reminded that cheaters never win.

Standard