Bad Bad Bad Bad Barbara Ellen: The Bad Take Machine S**** The Bed Over Ghislaine Maxwell

A disgraceful columnist disgraces herself again.

Like the racism factory, the bad take machine never stops. Being a columnist is a powerful brain rotting drug over time; the need to constantly have an opinion, even when you don’t actually have one formed through the natural processes of thought and passion, can lead to increasingly wayward positions.

Editors are motivated to encourage that behaviour; wild takes result in anger and attention. Angry clicks are the functionally the same as positive ones when it comes to showing traffic numbers to advertisers. 

All of this brings us to a true MVP of the bad take economy. Sing it to that familiar Beach Boys tune: 🎶 Bad Bad Bad Bad Barbara Ellen 🎶. The Observer columnist’s long history of terrible takes would fill an entire email newsletter in their own right, but there’s just no time for that. We can only look at the latest example which sits like a fresh turd in a beautiful garden, in today’s edition of the Observer — Barbara Ellen’s take on the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell. 


Barbara Ellen is not a psychiatrist or psychologist. She is a columnist and journalist whose work mostly appears in The Observer now, but who cut her teeth, like many of the worst operators of the bad take machine, in the British music press; in Ellen’s case — the New Musical Express. I make that point to indicate that the following assessment is supposition, rather than the considered opinion of a mental health professional: 

[Maxwell’s] essential tragedy is that she was scared of Epstein. Not physically, but afraid that she would be cast out of the golden circle of power. Everything about her screams, ‘major daddy issues’. A scream so long and loud that there is little chance that a serial exploiter like Epstein wouldn’t have heard it. This doesn’t make Maxwell another victim -- she had more than enough resources to take her issues to a therapist instead of dragging innocents down into the mire. Just le’s not rush to ‘burn the witch’, when there’s a chance to examine and understand the person… 

Ghislaine Maxwell is charged with grooming girls as young as 14 as well as taking an active role in the abuse, along with perjury when Epstein was alive and she refused to assist in the case against him. Maxwell is innocent until proven guilty. However, were a powerful man in the same position as Maxwell, there is no chance that Ellen would have written, nor her editors nodded through this column. 

Ellen’s key assertion lives in this sentence -- “There’s usually an element of witch-burning whenever a woman is involved and with Epstein dead (found hanged in his cell last August), this looks set to be true for Maxwell... 

In order to play her intellectual games, Ellen has to shift a portion of the potential blame from Maxwell away from her and onto unnamed others -- ‘they’ and ‘us’ -- who are engaged in ‘witch-burning’.

All of Ellen’s fuckery would simply be annoying if it were not for the fact that there are real women and girls who have been destroyed by Epstein’s organisation -- one of the biggest and most vicious sex crime cartels in human history.  

Ellen’s writing and the headline it runs under — Ghislaine Maxwell is no victim. But did she fear Epstein's rejection? (yes, yes, I know columnists don’t write their own headlines, blah, blah, yawwwwn) — are an insult to not just survivors of Epstein and, allegedly, Maxwell, but to all survivors of sexual abuse.

Ellen wants to play a devil’s advocate game, but, in the process, she is making truly dangerous assertions about real crimes and real victims. There are no excuses. She really is bad bad bad bad Barbara Ellen. 

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