The strange lives of Andrew Blake

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News Media Commentary
Title: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake
Commentator: Aja Romano
Date(s): 22 February 2015
Venue: The Daily Dot
Fandom:
External Links: article on the Daily Dot; Archived copy
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

On 22 February 2015, Aja Romano published The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, an article on notorious fandom member Andy Blake (aka Thanfiction, Amy Player, Victoria Bitter, Jordan Wood, etc). Many fandom people found the article to be overly sympathetic to Blake, whose checkered past includes documented fraud and theft, as well as brainwash and abuse of other people.

Fandom reaction and ongoing discussion

Discussion on Fail_Fandomanon

The article was quickly brought up on F_FA. From the first of many discussions about the article:

It really plays down his role in Brittany Quinn's death and also, I think, just how dysfunctional things were when he was living in LA with Abbey and the others. Aja seems set on some kind of redemption for him, and I find it quite disturbing. [1]

The article also does not mention that Blake presented as female earlier in his life. While understanding the desire not to cause transwank, commentators noted that this omission obfuscated the story that Romano presented.

It also bothers me that the article never once mentions his original Amy Player identity or refers to his Victoria Bitter as anything other than "VB"; maybe Aja is just trying to head off transwank, but I'm not sure that you can tell this story accurately while pretending that he never presented himself as female to anyone ever. [2]
And, I mean, if you are trying to write a sympathetic article that gives him the benefit of the doubt (which I wouldn't, but that's another issue), I think it's clear that a lot of his over-the-top lying when he took on the "Jordan Wood" identity was prompted by having realized he was trans and making really bad choices about how to transition to a male identity, which is actually the part of this whole mess I can sympathize with most. Leaving that part out doesn't help his case. [3]

The flippancy of the ending line of the article ("And so is the fascination with which we wait for him to reveal his true colors — whatever shade they may be.") was also criticized:

[We] already know what his "true colours" are. His "true colours" are the ones that he's been displaying in an ongoing, repeating pattern of abuse that's lasted almost fifteen years. [4] [5] He's been doing the exact same thing, every time, for more than a decade now! The only thing that's varied over that time is the level of balls-to-the-wall effrontery of whatever scam he happens to be running at the time. It's not fascinating, it's depressing and shitty and writing half-assed, misleading articles about the Great Mystery of Andy Blake is irresponsible as fuck. [6]

Initial responses from Andy's victims

Abbey (kumquatwriter), a previous partner of Blake's and victim of his manipulations who has blogged extensively about her experiences,[4] wrote on her tumblr on 22 February:

So, this happened.

I’ll post thoughts at some point.

Was creeped out as hell that he’s wearing a Strokes t shirt I bought him. Or rather that I bought “Elijah”. [7]
Likewise, winjennster, a more recent associate of Andy who was quoted in the piece, wrote the same day:
So here this is. Make what you will of it. I’m kinda surprised, because I told Aja (bookshop) a lot more about my former friendship with Andy and she chose not to use it. [8]

Later that day, winjennster added:

To be honest, I’m tempted to post the transcript of her interview with me. It ripped me apart to share everything I shared and I’ve been worried about this for months. Now I’m not sure I care anymore. I don’t know. No matter what I say, it’ll get spinned and distorted. However, I will say this. I’m displeased by the direction the reporter chose to take.[9]

Further reactions, the draft article, and professionalism

In response to criticism, Aja stated on her Tumblr that her editors had modified her original draft, which she claimed was not as favourable to Blake. Some fans have speculated that Aja herself was taken in or brainwashed by Andrew Blake[10], but Aja's Tumblr post declared that "I definitely personally believe AB is, if not actually dangerous, actively manipulative.... AB does not have my empathy, and it’s my deepest hope that the article published today does not make anyone second-guess their decision to stay far, far away from him."[11]

On February 22nd, Aja said that she would post the transcripts of interviews she conducted for the piece "next week".[11] This did not occur on schedule, and apparently in response to multiple questions about it, Aja posted on her Tumblr on 10 March:
If I say I’m going to do something I usually do it. It might take me a little while to get around to it, but I haven’t forgotten and I haven’t somehow gone back on my word or turned into a giant raging hypocrite with no integrity whatsoever, and I also reserve the right not to have to explain over and over again that I’m still doing the thing I’ve already said I’m going to do, so, you know, if you want to assume that I’m a giant asshole without just asking me directly if I’m still going to do the thing, that’s fine, but all you’re doing is giving me more incentive to drag my feet doing the thing, because I’m doing hours of work on this thing on my own free time and of my own free will, and while you have the prerogative to assume that because i’m running behind schedule i’m some sort of vile asshole hypocrite, all you’re doing is making yourself look mean and judgmental and like someone who’d rather rush to conclusions than just straight up fucking ask me. my email is on my damn tumblr. you can use it any time.[12]
Aja's rant prompted a post from valancyredfern that called for her to be accountable:
No, I am not going to e-mail you. I am going to address your public post publicly.

You just blamed anyone wondering where your promised work is for your own foot-dragging. Take responsibility for your own actions. Stop playing the martyr. You wrote a swoony puff piece on Andy Goddamn Blake. You know what he is, you were active at fandomwank for long enough, and aren’t you a journalist? You stuck your name on that article, you made money from it, and now you’re whining that people are trying to hold you accountable for your actions.

Suck it up. Keep your promises. You keep insisting you’re a professional. Then act it. You’re not a poor little BNF sadly beset by haters. You’re a journalist whose integrity is in question. [13]
Abbey's reblog and commentary later the same day was also critical.
I’m going to go ahead and speak up for those of us who had our lives, our pain and our experience mined for Aja’s poorly written “article” since it is OUR words she’s sitting on, and OUR stories she corrupted.

Aja repeatedly ignored requests from the very people she interviewed for updates on the article while it was being written. She ignored requests from others who requested her original, “unedited” article that she claimed was so different from the version she blamed on The Daily Dot (although she did send a copy to me, which I have decided I *will* be releasing as soon as I can hack out some time this week to convert it from email to post).

I am disgusted. She used us with little to no respect, distorted our stories (and I say this having read the unedited draft!) and continues to ignore us.[14]

This post prompted quick contact from Aja,[15], and Abbey posted later on the night of March 10th:

Aja has requested that I not release her draft article and gave reasons she has not released the interviews. I told her to state a date and location for the interviews to be released. She said her tumblr, by the end of the month. Therefore, I will be holding the draft article until that date. Furthermore, and because I am angry, I will state publicly that she said it was an act of trust to show me the article privately and that she hasn’t heard from anyone requesting the draft version. I replied that I know of at least three who requested interviews or draft article and I’ve no reason to doubt them. And that it was an act of trust to vouch for her to my fellow victims.[16]

There was further scrutiny when Aja blocked multiple critics on Tumblr.[17] Tumblr user notreallyhappeningtoday asked if Abbey if she had an opinion on the situation. Abbey's post of 11 March was damning, calling Romano an "unprofessional coward", reiterating that the original draft was still very favourable to Andy Blake overall, and included the "true colours" closing line. Abbey also detailed what she perceived as a veiled threat to release off-the-record comments.[18] As of 12 March, Abbey was among those blocked by Aja.[19] While discussing this on F_FA, anons added that, despite minimal or nonexistent past interaction with Aja, they had been blocked as well, with their criticism of Aja being the only common thread.[20]

On 12th March, delwynmarch published a transcript of his exchange with Aja Romano.[21]

On March 13, winjennster commented further on the article:

I told her about everything. I think she used like one quote from me? It took me like three weeks to even agree to talk to her, I got so worked up about it I didn’t sleep for three days before the interview - and that’s it. A whole of nothing. It’s like, what was the point?[22]
I feel dirty and used were Aja is concerned.[23]

On 13th March, 1purp0se published a detailed breakdown of their problems with Aja's piece. Specific issues included the use of Brittany Quinn's death as a "lurid emotional hook"; mischaracterizing Andy Awareness blogs as promoting the idea that Andy was responsible for Quinn's death; ignoring the self-serving aspects of Blake's apologies (widely considered 'fauxpologies'); not acknowledging the systematic manipulations Blake subjected Abbey to; general poor writing and misleading statements.

The bias towards Andy’s narrative in this article is evident. It could have been written so many other ways, but Aja went with this way. I understand the journalistic device of leaving descriptions and open questions, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions, but this article was irresponsible in the ways it did that. Andy is an abuser: he should not have the final word. And yet that is exactly what Aja gave him. [...] The use of Brittany Quinn’s death in this article as a prop upon which to hang the rest is repugnant. It is utter hypocrisy to accuse AA blogs of using her death to hound Andy when in fact it is this article that uses her death both to attract readers and to discredit AA blogs.[24]

Between mid-March and the end of that month, Aja and the Andy Blake article were brought up several times on Fail-Fandomanon. The discussions were generally critical of Aja, and there was speculation on whether the interviews would be posted.[25][26][27][28]

Transcripts and Aja's draft

On March 30th, an anonymous Livejournal post asked kumquatwriter: "are you gonna release aja's rough draft since the month is over?", to which kumquatwriter replied, "Ain’t over yet, nonny. And the plot, it has thickened. Be patient."[29] KW later clarified that her comment was not in reference to Andy Blake threatening legal action, as a follow-up question speculated.[30]

On April 1st, KW posted her correspondence with The Daily Dot on her Tumblr and blog, the later of which also featured screencaps of the Daily Dot's letter.[31][32] KW's post begins with the backstory, describing her disappointment and anger at Romano writing an article that "[glorified] Andy's cult-building", the issues around editorial blaming and the draft article that Aja sent her "that was supposedly very different from the published piece (spoiler alert - it wasn’t)", Aja's declaration that she would publish the interviews, and KW's intent to release Aja's draft at the beginning of April.[33] In an email to KW, Austin Powell, the Managing Editor of the Daily Dot stated that he wanted to "explain [their] editorial decisions and address some important issues surrounding the story". He explained that Romano was never authorized to share earlier drafts with KW, or any other person. Regarding the interview transcripts, he wrote:

Furthermore, Ms. Romano has no authority — and therefore should not have promised — to post, publish, or provide you or any other source with the transcripts of her interviews. Again, the transcripts are owned by the Daily Dot, and only the Daily Dot has the right to control their dissemination.[34]

Powell further stated they were planning to publish the interviews themselves, and gave a timeframe of "around four weeks" for this to occur. He also asked kumquatwriter to confirm that she would not publish the pre-publication draft.[35]

KW's post included her response to Powell, in which she wrote:

When you publish an article about a known abuser and cult leader, the risk that some statements may appear “defamatory” must surely be accepted. A failure to accept this risk results only in the sidelining and silencing of victims, as is evident from your final published article. [...] It is of course understandable that you seek to protect yourselves from litigation, but you also have an ethical responsibility to Andy’s past and potential victims, a responsibility that in my opinion you failed to meet. You published an article that portrayed an abuser and cult leader as a fascinating person, one who might be “worth the risk” of involvement. It was your choice to end it on that note. You also allowed Aja Romano, your reporter, to utterly fail to interrogate Andy on his many excuses and claims, claims that the article could have at least questioned without fear of legal reprisal. (For example, in the interview, Andrew Blake admits to sexual abuse of victims, offering spurious defense, and yet Ms. Romano had no further questions on that topic, apparently. This is an astonishing oversight for someone who represents herself as a professional journalist and an appalling opportunity offered to an admitted sexual abuser to excuse his own behavior.)[36]

Kumquatwriter also registered her displeasure with Aja's interactions with both herself and fellow victims of Blake, stating "She has been rude, dismissive and extremely sloppy in her “research” and her treatment of all of us." Kumquatwriter perceived a lack of professional conduct in Aja's actions and pointed out that Romano had made the draft available to her:

As regards the draft shared by Ms. Romano, if she had no authorization to share it, or to make any promises regarding the release of information and interview transcripts, perhaps this is something you should take up with her. Particularly , particularly since she has publicly and consistently blamed her editors as being at fault. Her continued unprofessional behavior reflects very badly on The Daily Dot, and I know that I am not alone in my opinion.[...] Your attempt to place the responsibility on me for limiting the distribution of this article is highly inappropriate, as are your vague threats of legal reprisal.[37]

Kumquatwriter stated that she would not be releasing the draft article, but also noted that she could not be responsible for other copies of it.[38]

Lively discussion on F_FA ensued: nonnies discussed the validity of The Daily Dot's legal claims, their editorial policy, the draft article (see below), and Aja herself (many threads on the latter ended up being frozen by the moderators).[39]

Analysis of the draft article

Very shortly after Abbey's post and the beginning of the F_FA thread, the draft article was posted in full to FF_A by a nonny who said "Here is Aja's first draft. Not gonna say who I am or where I got it so everyone involved can maintain deniability."[40] The draft article was quickly saved at Pastebin and on Scribd.[41][42] Analysis of the article began immediately, with the general consensus being that the draft article was not "very different in tone and especially in focus", as Aja had claimed.[43] One commenter made an in-depth analysis, concluding that "there's a lot of pro-Andy's story in both, and most changes I can see come down to editorial punchiness. That said, Aja's original is actually more skeptical, though how much more skeptical I leave up to you all to decide."[44] Others commented on Aja's writing style.[45]

The situation was quickly written up on Fandom Wank by sockyskullhead.[46]

Also that morning, anonymous Andy Awareness blogger The Tea Blogger posted a detailed comparison/critique of the draft v. final article. In summary, they concluded:

In summary, apart from the vitriol directed at the warning bloggers in the published article, what we’ve read on the Daily Dot’s “Kernel” magazine is not much different in tone from Aja’s original draft. She was just as accepting of Andy’s claims about “alters” and “delusions” and just as ready to excuse Andy’s admitted sexual abuse in both versions of the article. Her depiction of Abbey was initially more muddled and ambiguous. Her first draft included very little from her interviews with Cara Loup, L. B. Lee[47], Abbey, and the anonymous DAYDians that did not make it to publication, a couple more significant quotes from Meg, and absolutely nothing from Winjennster. And the end of the article, which many complained cast Andy as an intriguing bad boy similar to Christian Grey, is more enthusiastic about him in the original draft.[48]

Later that morning, The Tea Blogger followed up with a shorter post highlighting some main points; namely that in the draft, Aja: never mentioned Victoria Bitter except by the initials VB; was credulous of Andy's claims; excused his admission of sexual abuse; did not include a single quote from winjennster (though some quotes from other people were included and later cut); and did not disparage the warning bloggers. They also quoted a section Aja wrote describing Blake's lack of interest in topics other than himself:

A few minutes later, as our interview is wrapping up, he mentions that his friends are spending the day in Portsmouth, Virginia, where I lived for three years. I perk up, talk about living there and how much I enjoyed it. It’s next door to his own neighborhood of Hampton Roads, but he just stares at me blankly. My attempts to make small talk go over like lead bombs.

After the interview I keep thinking about this moment. It bothers me, but I don’t know why. It could have been that he was lost in thoughts of Quinn, and that small talk so soon after his discussion of her death seemed disrespectful. Finally it hits me that what bothered me was Blake himself. Despite being extremely friendly, open, and casual for the rest of the interview, in that one moment, the moment when I went off-script, it felt like he could barely be bothered to feign interest in me as a human being—as though unrelated small talk wasn’t in his playbook, and the moment I went outside of discussing him, he dropped the pretense of being interested at all.[49]

It was noted that this anecdote directly contradicts Aja's other statement "Blake obviously can’t turn off the magnetism that’s drawn people to him for years".[50]

Tumblr user Lady Wendreda published her interview with Aja, where they talk about their experience as a former DAYDian.[51] Kumquatwriter also published an interview with a DAYDian on her tumblr - one of the people who was involved in the 'Trail of Tears' hike. KW prefaced the interview with the observation that Aja had exclusive interviews with three people (winjennster, the DAYDian whose interview she was publishing, and Lady Wendreda) of which she used very little material: given the leak of the draft, "it’s now public knowledge that little to no additional information from these interviews were used even prior to “editing.”" The interviewee called Blake an "abuser" and stated that he was "a textbook narcissist/histrionic [...] He needs the attention, he needs control, he needs the power over others."[52] Tumblr user valancyredfern reblogged the post and added that Aja's questions were "leading, simplistic, and shallow."[53]

Carlanime, who was approached for an interview by Romano, published their correspondence. Though they did not end up being interviewed, they exchanged several emails with Aja. Carlanime had been "online-friends-or-acquaintances" with Blake, but he broke off the friendship when she empathised with kumquatwriter about body-shaming.[54]

In March 2013, Romano had published an article, "The 10 best tales of online drama from 10 years of Fandom_Wank", that discussed Andrew Blake.[55] Tumblr user notreallyhappeningtoday reposted the section of that article devoted to Blake and added:

Sooooo....Romano. You can’t pretend you didn’t already know half of the things you so neatly elided over in your most recent, supposedly ‘in depth’ article, where you had confirmation of things that you had so happily indulged in divulging earlier. You didn’t even need your vaunted ten minutes to research what the rumors were, what his history was. -You knew what they were-. [...]

You hurt people with your article. You hurt people who had already had scars from Blake, and you did it without even a breath of a second thought. People who had not spoken of their time with Blake in years—they offered their private pain to you, believing that you would give them a voice that could be heard far and wide. You took that trust, and you -spat- on it. You left abuse victims feeling re-victimized and soiled, as you wrote an article that made their scars seem like paper cuts, and gave their abuser an article about -his- pain, and -his- trouble, and how hard it has been for -him-.

God! Irresponsible and cruel don’t even BEGIN to cover what you have done. [...] This is the year that any doubts of your professed innocence melt into the earth—because you willfully seized on this as a way to get yourself involved with the second greatest wank on your list—considering that you were already part of the first! You pitched this article for your own glory, and you didn’t care how the fallout harmed bystanders and participants. [..] -You- certainly weren’t worthy of the confidences given to you. They were brave, and they spoke out—and -you-, Romano, you ignored their pain and their truth, and you gave them back only pain redoubled.[56]

Throughout all of this activity on the first of April, Romano did not comment publicly on the issue. The reasons behind the silence were speculated on by nonnies.[57]

Commentary

Comments: MetaFilter

A link to the article was posted on MetaFilter, sparking a number of comments:

Holy crap, it's Victoria Bitter! That guy is bad news. And now I have Fandom Wank nostalgia. [58]
What's more, it's Aja/bookshop/bnfshavemorefun writing about him. It's like never leaving journalfen. [59]
Why no mention of Amy Player in all this? Fake charity, identity theft charges were filed. I get it about "dead names" but this character has had multiple identities and names and victims. Same author's Dailydot story from 2013. [60]
Oh my God, that guy! I remember him from my LOTR days! More seriously, what a vaguely sad, strange story. [61]
Probably the reporter wasn't sure how to address Blake's birth identity of Amy Player without seeming transphobic. For a long time, some people thought that the Andrew Blake identity was a long con and that he was not actually a trans man, just working the angle for a while. But it's apparent now and he deserves that much respect. [62]
Yeah, I met him during the LOTR and Victoria Bitter days, at a con in Baltimore. He was at that time presenting himself as a young Scottish woman, who seemed mildly unhinged but not excessively so by fannish standards, and had submitted several LOTR vids to the vidshow, most of which were pretty awful to the point where I felt sympathy for him. Caught up with the whole VB/Amy Player/Jordan Wood/Andrew Blake saga years later, and was boggled to an extent from which I have never entirely recovered. [63]
The author ID'ed Player in the 2013 story. Possibly to get the "exclusive" interview, deals were made. Player was the name used in the identity theft charge in Oregon. Blake's a con artist, and I'd say no respect is deserved. [64]
Yes, a deal was cut to get the interview, Aja said elsewhere that Player/Blake wouldn't agree to the interview if she was honest about their past history. [65]
Every con artist and manipulative cult leader leaves a swirling, horrible shitstorm behind them; Blake is no different, and the fandom part is irrelevant for that part. This just looks more weird/dramatic from the outside due to colorful stuff like channeling Legolas (LOTS of cult leaders "channel spirits"), and people like Blake take advantage of the fandom geek-social-fallacy ethos of "we can't ostracize people, that's MEAN." Seriously. This is "abusive and mentally ill person with a fandom hobby" problem, not a fandom-specific problem. [66]
Oh, lord. I haven't had a chance to go through this yet but I do hope Aja has mentioned the time he applied for one of those HP sorting communities and claimed he had fought both for and AGAINST the IRA even though going by his own timeline he is the same age as me and would have been an underage teenager during the entirety of the 90's.

I think both hogwarts_elite and platform_93/4 still have his applications up. It's fascinating reading if you have the time and inclination. How anyone bought that makes me despair for the average person's grasp of world affairs.

The more I read about stuff like this the more glad I am I'm not involved in any kind of fandom or Twitter/tumblr. It seems like a swirling, horrible shitstorm.

This is more livejournal (and its clones)/Tumblr and in my opinion, it's the only way to truly experience fandom in all its depraved glory. [67]
On the one hand I can see how the status of Blake's genitals or the gender assigned to him at birth might be irrelevant. On the other hand, we're looking at an in depth psychological profile of the guy, leaving out the fact that he's a trans man seems somehow wrong.

If the author had mentioned somewhere that Blake was a trans man it'd seem less like she was trying to conceal it from the audience, or that there was something wrong with being a trans man.

On the third hand, I can see how in a piece that's already got a high "let's go gawk at the freaks" factor, it could be leading to some serious transphobia to bring up Blake's gender status.

All that to the side though, dang it's amazing how people like Blake can suck people in? Is it a talent for finding those vulnerable to his sort of BS, or a matter of throwing out BS and seeing who doesn't recoil, or is he just so good that even people who would normally recognize BS get tricked? Some combination of the three?

I also can't help but wonder how much of Blake's headmates/possess/otherkin/whatever thing was pure fraud, how much was tailoring a lie that would resonate with his intended victims, how much was just useful justification for his own manipulation and pathology, or what.

Dang. [68]
After looking at some of the background, this piece seemed excessively credulous and more generous to Blake than it could have been on a number of fronts. [69]
What a strange article. I wonder who made the decision to feed the ego of a habitual con artist by giving him an "exclusive interview" with terms and conditions where he can own up to everything he's ever done and apologize and heroically stand up against all those mean bullies who just won't accept that he's changed? [70]
Fandom is also a place where people can safely try on a series of identities (as does, for example, rapidly switching religions or running through six start-up ideas in a row), which give a manipulator more room to hide in a culture that accepts this chimerality as part of a search for self-knowledge. That also may tempt participants into things they might not otherwise do, because they see it as a safe place to TRY things, to step right up to the brink of their comfort zone -- which, again, is largely a good thing and helps people grow, but when it's NOT a safe space and that manipulation of boundaries is being used not for growth but abuse, that's a cult. [71]
It's kind of interesting that this article comes out now, framed the way that it is - after a few weeks of other articles highlighting online mass mobs who destroy their blameless victims without care for the truth, it seems like it would be easy for someone who hasn't been following this drama for a decade to accept that Blake is being persecuted by a Tumbler mob.

And the adults in the room shouldn't be afraid to speak up if they see someone sketchy preying on young members

This is definitely how fans and former victims who speak out against Blake see their actions, and unfortunately I think Aja Romano's article characterizes them more as ostracisers than as adults in the room. [72]
At least if he keeps his identity (or doesn't try too hard to hide it) from one fandom to the next, people can be warned. Although from what I understand, he's shown such a pattern now that changing his name might be insufficient to hide for long. This is why I feel vaguely icky for enjoying as much of Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness as I did. It does a lot of things I really enjoy in fanfiction, but. (It also does things I don't enjoy as much, like give me far too clear a view of the author's id by way of Neville's characterization, but that's par for the course in much popular fanfic.)[73]
It's amazing how much CAN change in 10+ years, and how much actually doesn't. Because I'm not the same person I was back in Fandom Wank's glory days, not by a long shot... but AB seems to be the exact same con artist he was back in the day, despite how much he doth protesteth to the contrary. [74]
Yeah, I don't think much of Aja for essentially enabling Blake with a piece like this. He peddles his dangerous bullshit again and again, in fandom after fandom, to the point where fans who knew him of old circulated posts warning his new fandoms about him on Tumblr. I happen to think Blake deserves fandom-wide shunning if only to keep vulnerable newer fans from falling prey to him and starting the cycle all over again. If Blake really wanted to change and really wanted to make amends, he'd stop his con artistry and try a brand new day identity in a new fandom. I'm sure a ton of notorious fandom wankbait targets have done just that. But Blake is far too much of a narcissist to ever do that, and this kind of "reporting" only enables his narcissism.[75]

Comments: Fandom Wank

On 15th March, the situation was written up on Fandom Wank.[76] The comments included:

Three main issues: (1) the article never effectively circles back to its opening hook (which makes it read as exploitative of Brittany Quinn); (2) the article "flow" reads as steered by Andy's comments; (3) the closing line "spins" as largely positive: "And so is the fascination with which we wait for him to reveal his true colors—whatever shade they may be." It's not overtly swoony, but overall sense is that Andy's detractors all need to get a life and that we should feel Andy deserves a chance. On the first: hard to get beyond someone who has betrayed you to that extent, I think. As for the second: don't like the attempted sell. To judge by Aja's comments, this is perhaps not the effect she was going for. If she was trying to give a subtle impression that he's creepy and dangerous, she didn't write well enough to pull it off.[77]
Honestly, I don't think any of the interviewed parties are unjustified in their anger. And Aja, honey, you can blame your editor all you want but ain't nobody buyin' it.[78]
Aja literally cut down to only one word what was, essentially, an exclusive interview with one of Blake's most recent victims. [...] Deciding not to use previously-unrevealed first-hand testimony of an infamous serial abuser's most recent abuses is not exactly something it makes sense for a journalist to do. It's both unethical and bad business - someone else is gonna print that shit before you and get your clicks!

And there's this sentence: "But new rumors have continually surfaced that he’s allegedly as controlling and manipulative as he ever was." At the time that she wrote that, she literally had first-hand testimony in hand that matched up with Blake's earlier abuse patterns. She knew that these were not "rumors." Even if she hadn't had that specific interview, or disbelieved it, there's a lot of evidence for the same things Jenn was reporting publicly available online, written within the last year by current victims who don't understand how alarming the stuff they're saying about his treatment of them looks. Even his own damn blog is pretty transparent about what he's up to. He was trying to groom teenagers in the SPN fandom as recently as the #AffectedByHate psueicide panic at New Years.

Aja's not the most astute person in the world, but she could not possibly have just missed all of this. I'm not going to speculate on her motivations here, but she clearly made a deliberate decision to leave all the recent stuff out and cast doubt on Blake's detractors in order to make it look like he might have reformed.[79]
Honestly, to me this looks like an abrupt about-face on Aja's part, or like she fell for it hook, line and sinker when it comes to Blake's excuses that he always trots out. I remember her writing a different article about Cults as Broken RPGs that referenced him and what he did to Abbey quite heavily, and when Blake was going around "courting" Teen Wolf fandom members, for lack of a better term, she put up a post[5] on her own Tumblr about the whole thing, warning people about him. So this new article is just all kinds of baffling to me. I don't know why she fell for it this time.[80]
Personally, I wouldn't say it was swooning. It's blunt about his abusive behaviour, his manipulation, and the fact it's continued even after his 'therapy breakthrough'. It doesn't come down on either side of the fence regarding Quinn. Though I'm sure Aja received a lot more negative stuff than made it in to the article, I suspect some was cut simply for being repetitive and bogging down the narrative of the article. The trail of destruction Andy has left behind him doesn't make for a pacey and readable article. I also suspect Aja's dragging her feet because the original isn't significantly different to the posted article, because that's how Aja wanks.[81]
I know she's trying to be protective of AB as a trans person but I can't believe the lengths that have been gone to to obscure that Not mentioning that "VB" was Victoria Bitter for one. (Even though it is a manly form of beer.) And it's definitely pertinent.[82]
I think most of the problems with the piece are due to her mediocre journalism, not a pro-Andy stance. The dodgy end line, the haphazard use of claims and allegedly, the contradiction, I'm pretty sure are all Aja. It's why don't think the draft will be particularly different - good editing would have ironed a lot more out of the article. But it's also why I'm willing to ascribe to ignorance Aja what others ascribe to malice. [83]
Oh, Aja.

Seriously, this girl needs to learn to write, because she did an amazing job of putting forth exactly the impression she (allegedly) didn't want to give.

Also 'allegedly' and all its variants no longer look like words.[84]

From the second Fandom Wank entry:

The main thing I take away from all of this is that the Daily Dot had NO IDEA what kind of hornet's nest they were stirring here.[85]
The first draft, is more disorganized and dithery. "Oh, I'm musing this way, and that way, and maybe it's super serious, but maybe not, I just can't decide, how can I know? And what does anyone know about anything anyway? Dither dither dither..." The final version is also disorganized and dithery, but, by de-emphasizing the negative experiences of those who dealt with Andy, it ends up reading spun more positively toward him.[86]

References

  1. fail-fandomanon, February 22, 2015
  2. fail-fandomanon, February 22, 2015
  3. fail-fandomanon, February 22, 2015
  4. In 1998, Blake wrote Star Trek: Voyager and Due South fiction using the names Strwriter and Voyagerbabe see Strwriter's posts at alt.startrek.creative and Voyagerbabe's posts at alt.startrek.creative and due South: Strwriter's posts at alt.tv.due-south and Voyagerbabe's posts at alt.tv.due-south fandoms
  5. first reports of Münchausen by Internet and sockpuppetry: see The tale of Amy's first online scam: Ciyarra the Child Prostitute
  6. fail-fandomanon, February 22, 2015
  7. kumquatwriter
  8. winjennster winjennster on tumblr, 22 February 2015
  9. winjennster on tumblr, 22 February 2015
  10. delwynmarch posted an interview transcript on Tumblr in which they said, "Far more troubling, however, is the way you seem to be letting yourself get manipulated by Andy Blake."[1] Possibly the source for the comment in the article itself, While researching this article, I was forced to defend myself from concerned attempts to essentially deprogram me from Blake’s influence[2]. After the fact, whether or not Aja had been taken in was discussed on Fail_fandomanon.[3]
  11. 11.0 11.1 Andrew Blake, Archived version, Tumblr post by bookshop, 22 February 2015.
  12. "If I say I’m going to do something ...", Archived version
  13. I am going to address your public post publicly., Archived version
  14. Kumquatwriter, Archived version
  15. Kumquatwriter, Archived version
  16. Aja draft article, Archived version
  17. notreallyhappeningtoday,
  18. KumquatWriter, Archived version
  19. I sent the following to Aja Romano this morning.,
  20. Fail Fandom Anon,
  21. Stay away from Andy "Thanfiction" Blake!, Archived version
  22. winjenster on tumblr, Archived version13 March 2015
  23. winjennster winjennster on tumblr, Archived version13 March 2015
  24. The Article - Hiding In Plain Sight, Archived version
  25. Fail_Fandomanon: Wank thread, 21 March 2015
  26. Fail_Fandomanon: Aja?, 23 March 2015
  27. Fail_Fandomanon: Wank me the wank of your people - Aja/TF, 28 March 2015
  28. Fail_Fandomanon: Wank-a-block!, 30 March 2015
  29. kumquatwriter on tumblr, 30 March 2015
  30. kumquatwriter on tumblr, 31 March 2015
  31. April Fool, Archived versionkumquat writer's tumblr, 1 April 2015, archive link
  32. April Fool, kumquat writer's Wordpress blog
  33. April Fool, Archived versionkumquat writer's tumblr, 1 April 2015
  34. April Fool, Archived versionkumquat writer's tumblr, 1 April 2015
  35. April Fool, Archived versionkumquat writer's tumblr, 1 April 2015
  36. April Fool, Archived versionkumquat writer's tumblr, 1 April 2015
  37. April Fool, Archived versionkumquat writer's tumblr, 1 April 2015
  38. April Fool, Archived versionkumquat writer's tumblr, 1 April 2015
  39. Fail-Fandomanon: Wank Me Up Before You Go-Go - Aja and Thatfucker, 01 April 2015
  40. Fail-Fandomanon: Wank Me Up Before You Go-Go - First Draft, Archived version04 April 2015
  41. Pastebin: aja romano daily dot andy thanfiction first draft, 01 Apr 2015
  42. Scribd: Original Draft of The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version01 April 2015
  43. Aja's tumblr: Andrew Blake, Archived version22 February 2015
  44. Fail-fandomanon: Re: Wank Me Up Before You Go-Go - First Draft part 5 (final), 01 April 2015
  45. Fail-fandomanon: Re: Wank Me Up Before You Go-Go - First Draft part 5 (final), 01 April 2015
  46. Fandom Wank: Aja vs Abbey Round 2: The April Foolsening, 01 April 2015
  47. Lee, who is multiple and runs a website with resources for healthy multiplicity, wrote a complete rundown of an email Blake wrote to fan blogger carlanime, in which he claimed to have dissociative identity disorder. Apparently none of the material Lee provided to Aja explaining why Blake's claims were offensive BS made it to press.
  48. The Tea Blogger: Today’s the day, everyone., Archived version
  49. The Tea Blogger, Archived version01 April 2015
  50. Fail-fandomanon: Re: Wank Me Up Before You Go-Go - First Draft part 5 (final), 01 April 2015
  51. Lady Wendreda's tumblr: My Interview Answers for Aja, Archived version01 April 2015
  52. kumquatwriter's tumblr: Interview with a DAYDian, Archived version
  53. valancyredfern's tumblr, Archived version
  54. carlanime's tumblr: Aja did not interview me, Archived version
  55. The Daily Dot: The 10 best tales of online drama from 10 years of Fandom_Wank, Archived version11 March 2013
  56. notreallyhappeningtoday's tumblr: For Contrast's Sake, Archived version02 April 2015
  57. Fail-fandomanon: Re: Wank Me Up Before You Go-Go, 01 April 2015
  58. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by nicebookrack March 2015
  59. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by rewil, March 2015
  60. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by ldeefixe, March 2015
  61. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by kalimac, March 2015
  62. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by Countess Elena, March 2015
  63. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by Kat Allison , March 2015
  64. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by ldeefixe, March 2015
  65. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by tavella, March 2015
  66. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by nicebookrack, March 2015
  67. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by bgal81, March 2015
  68. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by sotonohito, March 2015
  69. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by pseudonick , March 2015
  70. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by muddgirl, March 2015
  71. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by Eyebrows Magee, part of a much longer post, see Fandom as a Safe Space, March 2015
  72. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by muddgirl, March 2015
  73. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by suelac, March 2015
  74. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by elsietheeel, March 2015
  75. Meta Filter: The Strange Lives of Andrew Blake, Archived version, comment by yasman, March 2015
  76. Thanfiction Wank: Aja vs Abbey, posted by sockyskullhead on 15 March 2015.
  77. comment by white_serpent, 17 March 2015.
  78. comment by thoms, 18 March 2015
  79. comment by snarp, 15 March 2015
  80. comment by thoms, 18 March 2015
  81. comment by solelyfictional, 15 March 2015
  82. comment by suzycat, 15 March 2015
  83. comment by solelyfictional, 16 March 2015
  84. comment by tez, 17 March 2015
  85. Fandom Wank: Aja vs Abbey Round 2: The April Foolsening, comment by dragonsong12, 01 April 2015
  86. Fandom Wank: Aja vs Abbey Round 2: The April Foolsening, comment by white_serpent, 01 April 2015