Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On the whole Debby Ryan DUI situation

So it's been just over a month since Debby Ryan got arrested for DUI and just under a month since TMZ publicly revealed it, forcing a rather lame and form-letter response from Debby (or more likely someone from some PR firm). In that time I've been thinking about how to respond to that (and getting sick) and I suppose enough time has passed that people might be wondering why I'm trying to bring this topic back up in the first place. Part of that is my fault, I wanted to put this out sooner but again, I became distracted and sick. The thing is, while it might not be something Debby herself is willing to relive, the subject of drinking and driving (or just drinking) is a pretty damn serious one, and one I think is worth revisiting. I'll explain why right below.

Waaaaay back in October when this blog was still pretty much brand-spanking new - while, on the other end, Jessie was nearing its last episode - I wrote a post explaining why I'm so enthusiastic for a show almost everybody else in the world calls the worst ever. I mentioned a big part of that was because when I first "discovered" Jessie (and Disney Channel as a whole) I had just gone through a really bad break-up and discovered I had to undergo chemotherapy for cancer, and Jessie (and Good Luck Charlie, and other shows) just happened to be the perfect comfort food at the time. It also helped that, quite frankly, Jessie was of much better quality back then then when it was when GMW first premiered (and when Christian and Sean would've been first exposed to it). 

I also mentioned that, in due course of having experienced both a bad break-up and cancer at pretty much the exact same time, I had been undergoing some stress. I hinted that some of that stress, particularly from my ex, may have been from our overall relationship and not just the break-up itself, with this quote, " hindsight, she might'e directly contributed to that [stress that] I wasn't aware of at the time (those details are a bit outside the purview of this blog, to be honest, so you'll just have to keep guessing I guess.)"

Well guess what, thanks to Debby it is within the purview of this blog now so you don't have to keep guessing anymore.

You see, my ex-girlfriend and I, we broke up because she was an alcoholic.

Now, there is no excuse to be an alcoholic (I'll get into that later), but if there's anything that comes even close to being a so-called valid excuse, I guess she certainly had it. She started drinking and going down the path to alcoholism because she had survived multiple instances of rape and sexual abuse in middle and high school.

Either one of those events by itself - rape, or alcoholism - is enough to change your life drastically. Much more than my own battle with cancer, which by comparison is outright small. Even though I hadn't known her prior to when she became alcoholic, I can tell, if nothing else by the stories she'd semi-lucidly (more on that in a bit) tell me, she was a much different person back then then when I had started dating her, and there's just no way this post-alcoholic version of her can be described as "better" or "good." She had lost jobs, lost relationships, and lost her driver's license when she had barely just earned it. She started losing interest in things and grew paranoid and suspicious of the wrong people while welcoming exactly the people she should be suspicious of. She had, well, "hung out with the wrong crowd" - and by that I specifically mean she would hang out at raves with people who knew she was a fucking alcoholic and would fucking take advantage of it by sexually abusing/raping her even further, or how she would sit at the very back of the class in her college courses so that she could pass out from being drunk without the professor knowing - and how one time when she woke up it was because the asshole sitting next to her was fondling her breasts. Yes, it is heartbreaking and it frustrates me to no end that there's nothing I could do about it. Maybe even more than the battle with cancer this is the reason why I've been so tied into Jessie - you see, my ex was a redhead like Jessie (well, a fake redhead but then again so was Debby). In fact her hair was pretty much the exact same shade of red as Jessie's hair circa Season 1-ish (and while I'm at it in another freakish coincidence Debby and I even share the same birthday - May 13 which happens to be this, uhh...Friday. Whee.). Whatever reason for my attachment for this show is going to seem silly no matter what, but maybe the reason why I grew so attached to it was that, I don't know, maybe it allowed me to play out some sort of stupid fantasy where I could still be with her in a world where she hadn't been raped and driven into alcoholism.

So it really resonated with me when Debby started speaking out about being in an abusive relationship. I was like, yeah, I knew someone who was exactly like you, or at least I like to think she was exactly like you, down to the whole abuse things. And then this DUI thing pops up, and I'm thinking, yeah, now the resemblance is starting to be a little uncomfortable. 

But that's enough personal story - but yes, I do want you to know where I'm coming from, exactly, and why the DUI thing against Debby upsets me. I haven't been there, but I knew someone who had, and it wasn't fun for either of us, and it's especially heartbreaking when I was kind of hoping that at least I could look up to Debby as an example that not every woman has to resort to the kind of "coping" that my ex did that ends up leading to even more of the very thing she's trying to escape in the first place. And that no duh I'm upset to discover that Debby is an alcoholic.

"Oh, but Debby isn't an alcoholic, she just made a stupid mistake." Well, again, take it from someone who's had to deal with exactly this, and trust me on it - Debby Ryan is most likely an alcoholic.

For someone who keeps talking about Uber on social media (even well before she was essentially forced to when she got arrested, back about 9 months ago in August and even prior) and for someone who knows very much that she's a role model, she really should know better than to get behind the wheel of a car when she's drunk. I can't attest to what exactly happened or how much she had to drink, but supposedly she had a BAC of .11 which is .01 above the old standard of .1. It doesn't take much to get to the current standard of .08 but it certainly does take more than one or even two beers, even at Debby's weight, to get to .11. 

Not to mention, drinking tends to be habitual for alcoholics. People who drink socially might drink enough to push the .08 limit or even close to what Debby got busted for, on occasion, but alcoholics tend to drink like that every night if not all the time. My ex, granted, was an extreme case because she drank all the time - literally. On our first date she was showing off an engraved flask her sister got her that she used to drink in class, which granted even I'll admit was a warning sign (but we had so much fun that date I didn't care - and granted, until it just reached a tipping point it was fun being around her, alcoholic or not). We were trying to apply to study abroad together and she showed up to the interview drinking Malibu Rum. Since I had to drive her everywhere anyway, she figured she might as well drink while she was being driven around. I had literally never known her sober, and it got to the point where I was wondering if her blood was literally pure alcohol itself and how the fuck could she even function. That's another thing about alcoholics - alcohol very literally is a drug, and they build up a tolerance where they're not only phased by their inebriation but they can't even function without it. I'm not saying that's why Debby lost track and got such a relatively high BAC - in fact I'm hoping it's not the case at all. But it's a possibility that I'm now faced with realizing.

And another thing is how seriously she's taking it - which, in all honesty, I don't think she's taking it seriously at all. I mean, let's face it, the only reason she apologized for it at all was because TMZ broke the story - if the police report had gotten lost in the paperwork, if someone at TMZ didn't realize that this 22-year-old woman named "Deborah Ann Popp" and had listed her occupation as "laborer" was in fact known to most of the world as Disney Channel "superstar" Debby Ryan - nobody would've known about it and she'd never had to own up to it with such a lame, near form letter-quality apology. It absolutely does make me think that she thought she could've just swept this entire thing under the rug, taking advantage of the name on her driver's license and listing some lame false occupation to fool the inevitable gossip sniffers like TMZ, and that in turn makes me think she doesn't take this seriously one bit. She's been in Hollywood her entire teenage and adult life, she should know better. She should've known that someone would've gotten wise eventually and she should've owned up to it sooner, before it broke out on TMZ (where she could control the narrative) and if nothing else make an actual sincere apology and some effort. That's exactly what her own former co-star Phill Lewis did back in the day - and when I say back in the day, I mean 1991, before Debby was even born - when he was driving drunk and he ran into and killed a woman who back then was the age Debby is now. He owned up to it, he started an anti-drunk driving group when he got out of prison and now he's very active in the anti-drunk driving movement. 

And then I read stuff like this from Crazy Days and Nights about how Debby isn't taking this seriously and "doesn't know how to handle herself" and I'm left wondering if it's true. Or stuff like this from the Daily Mail, where Debby is all happy and smiling about having to bum Uber rides to everywhere and how having her likely new or near-new $40,000 (actually probably closer to $50,000 after options) Audi sitting in a police impound lot as evidence with a huge dent on the side shouldn't be regarded as a problem at all. 

Maybe it was just a stupid mistake, but my own personal experience casts a lot of doubt on that. I don't know, and maybe I should be glad that I don't know, even. I'm ready to forgive her, but again, my own past and personal experience makes me hesitant to do that. Moreover I'm worried for her, and I'm hoping this isn't just the tip of something bigger. Honestly, the near-palpable apathy I felt from her performance in the last season and a half that closed out Jessie makes me wonder, makes me think of when hanging out with my ex quit being fun and amazing and started being a chore and more and more about her just trying to goad me into stupid beer runs for her because 1.) she's banned from driving and 2.) she's banned from the freakin' liquor stores themselves (seriously). And even then I refused to break off the relationship, she broke up with me after I became less and less enthusiastic about entertaining her ideas of how dates should be nothing more but beer runs. I guess I really am a sap for that.

...but, again, some of - actually, damn near all of - the happiest memories I have around that period in my life, if not my entire life, were with her. Even as her alcoholism kept driving our relationship, straight into the gutter, I was hoping that there was still a chance I could reclaim the happiness and awesomeness I had with her. And a part of me wants that to be true with Debby too, that she can reclaim whatever had been tarnished from this incident and she can go back to being a kick-ass actress or at least achieve better success than what she had with the stigma of being a Disney Channel Princess. A part of me read the rare positive blind item and think that the Debby that wants to be kind and against the cynicism of Hollywood is still in there - but a part of me thinks I'm a fool for thinking that, because it didn't work the last time either. 

Well, c'est la vie. I can't control her life, I can only hope she isn't so fucked up she can't make good decisions and right the ship of her life in this crazy sea we all live in.


  1. I'm not sure if Debby Ryan is an alcoholic but I really hope she's not. Fantastic post, very well written.

  2. What continues to baffle me with celebrities is they don't have to take a taxi, they can actually afford a limo so no one sees them drunk. Why do they continue to put lives at risk by getting behind the wheels drunk? I continue to say that until we have a stick policy in place for all 1st time offenders, people will try to get away with it.

    Faith Brady @ KHunter Law

    1. Now, on the one hand I don't want to diminish the importance of anti-DUI efforts. And I certainly also don't want to indicate any support for right-wingers of all types.

      But here is an example of what Rush Limbaugh would call a seminar caller (I'm sure there's some equivalent terminology liberals like me could use to avoid having to reference Limblegh but I can't think of any at this time).

      This lady probably just wandered in here based on search engine results (I still don't have the hang of Blogspot so I don't know how to bring up those metrics) to leave a comment and - here's the important thing - leave a link back to her employers at the law offices of Kim E. Hunter, PLLC which conveniently has a bunch of stuff related to seeking legal advice when you've been busted for DUI!

      Faith Brady here probably doesn't even have a clue here that we primarily review shows and movies on Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and related or like-networks even though it's very literally quite spelled out in very large letters at the top of the blog and, oh yeah, also by the blog's URL.

      I'm not going to delete it because hey, a comment's a comment (and it's still infinitely better than the Trump-voting neanderthals that Last Man Standing tends to attract) plus I kind of find it amusing to leave it up.

      Not that anybody's going to read any of this anyway.


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