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Marsha Scarbrough - Tales to Tell

Spring Equinox Update

On the Spring Equinox, March 19 this year, day and night are equal. It's a moment of balance before the season of long nights and hibernation tips over into warmer days and new life. In indigenous cultures, this moment is the New Year. Sap stirs in the trunks of trees. Seeds push through soil. Buds begin to unfurl. Birds lay eggs. Bunnies do their thing.


Let's feel life in balance and take a deep breath before our new growth flourishes into extravagant bloom. Adventures are already on the way.


Much to my surprise, I've been having fun on TikTok. I was resistant to TikTok hype. I thought it was silly, and I didn't want more social media devouring my precious time. However, research insisted that it had to be part of my "platform" if I wanted agents and publishers to be interested in my new book 20 Years in Hollywood: Tales to Tell. I recruited my hip young friend Claire Grenier to teach me the basics. I learned about hashtags, duets, and stitching. I floundered for a while in "TikTok hell" where your posts only get around 200 views.


Then I discovered a TikTokker named Christopher Claflin @christopherclaflin. He's a content creator who helped transform an older gentleman with a rare bookstore into a TikTok sensation @moonsrarebooks According to Claflin, the algorithm-defying trick is to look into the camera and tell a story, no direct pitch, some text on the screen but no contact information. I tried his method, and my TikTok account took off. I got thousands of views, then tens of thousands of views. I went from zero to over 20K followers.


One of my TikToks has over a million views. The text on the screen says, "Some actors deserve to be forgotten. For example…" Here's what I say:


"In case you've forgotten, the actor who played Officer Jon on the 80s TV series 'CHiPs' was Larry Wilcox. When I was a DGA Trainee and assigned to "CHiPs", Larry took an immediate dislike to me. This happens sometimes. You don't click with everyone, and sometimes there are actors who really don't like you. He really didn't like me at all. One time, I had given him his call the night before, which is what time he is supposed to show up the next day, which is very critical for getting the day's work, and the next day he didn't show up. The Second AD called him at home and said, 'You had a 7 am call, and you didn't show up.' He said, 'I don't take my calls from a-holes,' meaning me. Clearly, he wanted to get me fired. This was meant to make me look really bad like I had delayed the day's shooting. The Second AD, who was wonderful (Leslie Jackson Houston) took it in stride and said, 'Don't worry about it. I'll handle him.' But I was very uncomfortable, and I didn't want to continue to work with him. I went to the production manager and said, 'Please fire me. He wants me fired. You can fire me, and they'll just put me on another show. It'll be fine, and he'll be happy.' The production manager said, 'No. I'm not going to fire you because I don't want the actors to think they can get their way by bullying. Go back to work.' It was a very uncomfortable time for me, a very difficult time working with him. If you have forgotten who he was, I'm thrilled."


The post got 1.1 million views, 68.3K likes, and 6473 comments. The comments are important because they show engagement. They ranged from support for me to wanting to hear his side of the story to questions about Erik Estrada to defending him because he was a Vietnam veteran. My mind is boggled that so many people are so passionate about a TV show from 40 years ago. However, that bodes well for book sales.


As I write this, the US Senate is considering a bill to "ban TikTok". It doesn't ban TikTok. It would force its main investor to divest his shares. The supposed fear is that China will get access to the data of the American people and/or try to influence politics through this social media creating a national security risk. On the data question, we should be concerned but why not pass a law that protects us from Meta, X, and Google collecting our data along with TikTok?


As for TikTok influencing how we vote, it makes no sense. TikTok is not propaganda. It's a collection of short videos from a diverse collection of people who are expressing opinions, showing off cute cats or selling products. We cannot "get our news" from it because it's not news. It's a potpourri of opinions. I have not seen anything that would influence my vote. That may be because the algorithm only sends me videos that match my opinions, but that's not trying to influence my vote. What I have seen is some intelligent, articulate people of color making astute observations. I have seen some intelligent, articulate young people sharing heartfelt accounts of their struggles with mental illness. I have seen some intelligent, articulate American Jews decrying the bombing of Gaza. I have seen anti-Zionism but not antisemitism. None of this is sinister.


Laws have been on the books for years preventing foreign investment in US broadcast media. Maybe those laws should be extended to social media. Of course, then the Saudis would be required to divest their share of X. One of TikTok's big investors is American billionaire Jeff Yass who donated $34 million to Republican groups and campaigns in the first two months of 2024. That may save it.


On the other hand, a smart high school boy on TikTok posted video of Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League saying, "The issue of the United States' support for Israel is not left or right, it is young and old. And so we really have a TikTok problem." He posts another clip of Greenblatt saying, "TikTok is the 24/7 news channel of so many of our young people, and it is like Al Jazeera on steroids." He goes to footage of Ted Cruz calling for a TikTok ban because, "in the United States, you are promoting to kids…anti-Israel propaganda." He then shows the sources of Ted Cruz's funding. Cruz is heavily funded by pro-Israel lobbies, AIPAC and NorPAC. Pretty good investigative reporting for a kid. @yourfavoriteguy


Now legal experts are weighing in. They say that the US banning TikTok might embolden authoritarian regimes to ban whatever social media platforms they feel are unfriendly to them, which the US has criticized in the past. Banning TikTok might also be ruled unconstitutional since it would abridge First Amendment rights.


What's your opinion? Why do you think politicians are so focused on shutting down TikTok when they have bigger fish to fry?


Another upshot of my TikTok adventure is that a podcaster named Billy Dees discovered me there and interviewed me on his podcast. He asked to interview me again when 20 Years in Hollywood: Tales to Tell is published.


On TikTok, I'm Roaming Crone, @mscarxilt2b. You can see the million-view video here: Roaming Crone (@mscarxilt2b) | TikTok


Here's the Billy Dees podcast interview: Billy Dees Podcast: Hollywood, Writing, and Spirituality with Marsha Scarbrough on Apple Podcasts


If you missed my online Winter Solstice presentation on "Honoring the Trickster", you can see it here:

Marsha Scarbrough Honoring the Trickster, IAM Winter Solstice (youtube.com)


If you feel like curling up with a good book during Spring break, try these:


Medicine Dance: One Woman's Healing Journey into the World of Native American Sweatlodges, Drumming Meditations and Dance Fasts: Scarbrough, Marsha: 9781846940484: Amazon.com: Books


Honey in the River: Shadow, Sex and... by Scarbrough, Marsha (amazon.com)


Please share this newsletter with any friends you think may be interested. Invite them to go to my website and subscribe.

Marsha Scarbrough - Author - Hollywood Insider - Spiritual Seeker - Roaming Crone


May you be resurrected in joy!