Thursday, April 17, 2008


From today's edition of The Globe and Mail:


YouTube Divorce Court: an act of online vengeance


April 17, 2008

Six days ago, marginal playwright and actress Tricia Walsh-Smith became so upset with the state of her ongoing divorce that she decided to argue her case in a new and untested legal setting: the supreme court of YouTube.

The 600,000 or so judges who have so far considered her plea haven't been kind.

"We dont feel sorry for a gold digger," wrote one commenter.

"Ms. Walsh, you are a 'schmuck,' " posted another.

In just under a week, Ms. Walsh-Smith's furious and rambling video - in which she claims that her marriage to a Manhattan theatre executive was celibate even though he kept a secret stash of "Viagra, porn movies and condoms" - has become a YouTube sensation.

The professionally produced clip may have been intended as a strategic attack on the reputation of Ms. Walsh-Smith's husband.

But divorce experts echo YouTube users in condemning her public attempt at vengeance.

"If I were her lawyer, I'd tell her to take it down and get to therapy," said Lianne Eklove, an Ontario family lawyer who specializes in high-conflict divorces.

"If she refused I'd say, 'I'm not the lawyer for you.' I don't have time for crazy."

News stories in the United States have labelled the video, titled One More Crazy Day in the Life of a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes, the first YouTube divorce. During the online rant, Ms. Walsh-Smith trashes her husband, Philip Smith, president of the Shubert Organization, the largest theatre owner on Broadway, along with his family.

She labels one of his daughters her "Nasty, Evil Stepdaughter" who wants to "control" the $500,000-a-year pension that a pre-nuptial agreement grants Ms. Walsh-Smith in the event of her husband's death.

Ms. Walsh-Smith scolds herself as well, mainly for signing a pre-nup that permits her 74-year-old husband to evict her from the Park Avenue apartment where she made the film. "I'm an idiot," she rails, her wide eyes tearing up. "I'm the biggest effing idiot in the world."

Some experts might concur.

"If you are going to sign something like this [pre-nuptial agreement], go to a lawyer," said divorce consultant Deborah Moskovitch, author of The Smart Divorce. "That's the real lesson here."

Because Ms. Walsh-Smith and her husband don't have child custody issues to settle, the online rant shouldn't hurt her legal prospects, Canadian experts say.

"As much as you think this will reflect badly on her or her spouse, no judge cares about those things here," Ms. Eklove said.

"If she were spreading lies, that would open up a different kettle of fish. He might be able to sue for libel and slander in that case."

But Ms. Walsh-Smith's social prospects are another matter.

Ms. Moskovitch said she's dealt with many cases in which battling spouses take their quarrel public, including one couple that fought openly during their children's hockey and soccer games.

"The people around them start feeling really uncomfortable," said Ms. Moskovitch. "They don't want to take sides, so instead they just completely disassociate themselves from both spouses."

It's not uncommon for divorcing spouses to seek revenge. Ms. Moskovitch has defused all kinds of plots, such as making false allegations about a spouse's finances to Revenue Canada.

What makes Ms. Walsh-Smith's screed unique is her medium. Some of Ms. Eklove's clients have blogged or posted Facebook comments about divorce proceedings, but never uploaded them to YouTube. And if the divorce video marks the start of a trend, Ms. Eklove certainly won't be endorsing it.

"I always tell my clients to shut up," she said. "Some blog about it, and they shouldn't. People feel the need to purge, to get it out. Be sensible. Go get it out over a drink with your girlfriends, talk with a therapist, talk with me. Just don't be putting it out there."



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MrsMenopausal said...

DH and I watched this on the news last night. Pretty.. uhhhh, different. Yeah, that's it... different. =:O
It did have some benefits, though. Maybe not for her, but for me. I'm lookin' even better to him now. ;D

Medusa said...


Old Tricia's got those Runaway Bride eyes.

Check 'em out:

MrsMenopausal said...

LOL! "Dear" in the headlights. ;)

Prudentia said...

I almost blogged about this myself a couple of days ago, but couldn't find the words to express my disbelief. Still not sure I can do my thoughts justice here.

You know, people just don't get it. Does she not realize that the few minutes of smug satisfaction she is getting from attempting to publicly humiliate this man, who likely doesn't give a rip at his age, is something she is now going to have to live with the rest of her life? I keep thinking of the old adage, better to be silent and thought stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

And who gets a "pension" when their spouse dies? Employees get pensions.

Be sure and find the YouTube replies to her post. Love the one where the guy congratulates her on giving the guy grounds for an annulment - marriage not consummated. Will she one day ask, ala Heidi, "Is it too late to take that back?"

Medusa said...

Great comments, Prudentia!

Will she one day ask, ala Heidi, "Is it too late to take that back?"

LOL! I'm sure she will :^)