From: Brian Douglas Ahern
Date: Mon, Apr 1, 2019 at 1:04 AM
To: David Farrier
Subject: Journalist question in regards to content on your channel
Thank-you for your kind and professionally-worded letter. I am reading this during time in my studio slated for artwork, so I will answer as best I can in the time allotted. I’ll type fast. Forgive the typos.
Question 1. One of my channels, BrizyComics, was indeed taken down by YouTube, and it had absolutely nothing to do with its content. If it did, I would be less perturbed by it. My channel got the ax when it was discovered by YouTube, Google, or Whomever checks on these things, that I had been getting monetary support from my channel subscribers/viewers through Patreon. At the time, I was bringing in roughly $190 each month. I believe YouTube wanted me to use their advertising platform to make money instead (which would have earned me less than a penny a month, if I understand it correctly). Since I used Patreon, I was cutting them out of the deal and thus any chance they could get a percentage of my earnings. The irony of this is that a few years prior, I had signed up for their ad platform and was kicked out in less than a day because the sponsor that intended to run ads on my videos thought that hypnotism was a branch of occult witchcraft, and he didn’t want to be associated with that. So in the end, my channel was terminated — their word — for not using a platform they had already barred me from. It’s all about the money $$$. They backpedaled later saying they had warned me multiple times (they had not) about going against community guidelines (I had not). When pressed, they couldn’t seem to recall which community guidelines exactly but gee whiz, it must have been pretty bad because I mean your channel got terminated and everything and oh there’s the phone, gotta go. After I refused to let up for an explanation, I was told I had broken the guideline about “Child Endangerment”. When I pointed out that everyone featured in my BrizyComics channel videos was 18 years old or older (all classroom demos were on a separate channel), and requested they point out which specific video struck them as inappropriate, they went silent. I persisted, now asking why any particular offending videos were not just “blanked” (with the ol’ This Video Has Been Removed For Reasons A, B, or C note put in its place) but again, nada. A slew of auto-response form letter e-mails was all I got for any subsequent inquiries. At the time, fellow YouTubers were referring to this treatment as the “Adpocalypse”. Many channels were eliminated in its wake, I’m told, for flimsy reasons or none at all. That was eight years of work and over 500 videos gone in the blink of an eye. Thanos has nothin’ on them.
Question 2. The classroom demos I have done are only with high school or college students, and always with adult supervision and the permission of the parents of every student in attendance. Seriously, I had to print up permission slips for kids and parents to sign and everything. We made sure that each appearance I made was well above board. Some parents didn’t want their kids to see a hypnosis demo, so one or two students went to study hall in the library for that hour. If mom or dad say no, that’s it, which is fine. Better an understanding at the outset than a backlash later on.
I’d like to respectfully ask here that you do take great care in the use of the word “children” in association with any of my hypnosis work. While the students in the classrooms can be considered kids, saying I worked with children conjures up some terrible connotations for anyone, but especially for me as a gay man. It still stings a bit that over a decade ago when I finally had the courage to come out of the closet to friends and family, I was very quickly and quite unceremoniously shown the door at my Catholic church to which I was a faithful member for 38 years. That expulsion was just for daring to be honest about my own identity. Many folks are still freaked out by hypnosis and cling to long-disproven myths about it involving mind control and mysticism. Throw the words “children” and “homosexual” into that mix and it is far too easy for the ignorant and presumptuous to leap to horrifying conclusions imagining things like predators and even pedophiles. That may never have occurred to you, and it’s a dreadful observation on our suspicious society today to have to point it out, but I’d be remiss not to.
So for clarification, all my videos on my former BrizyComics channel featured volunteer subjects (most of them friends of mine) of at least 18 years or older, to avoid that very connotation. It’s my still-active and much less viewed channel ‘Brian Douglas Ahern’ that serves as a portfolio platform of my professional work at events, street fairs, classroom demos, and the like. Oh, and right here I’d like to request that if you need images of video clips to accompany your project, please do not use any of the videos of those high school performances. All of those students did appear in each class with permission of their parents knowing they could be recorded for my professional YouTube channel for promotional footage. None of them agreed to be connected with any outside project. So it would be presumptuous of me to just toss them out and say you could use them any which way. I think it would be inconsiderate and more than a little unprofessional on my part. All of the students featured in those classroom videos are now adults — I know some of whom are already married with families of their own — but all the same, they have no means of giving their consent to your project. So even with the faces whited out (thanks for that consideration, by the way), we’d be better served to leave those out, please and thank-you.
Blah, blah, blah — getting off topic here! Back on track, you had asked about fetish content.
The similarities in my content can be summed up by the simple fact that “fetish” is where you find it and what the beholder (or more often, some finger-pointer), chooses to call it. There are themes I love in my cartoons and my videos that I come back to repeatedly. The country boy/farm lad, toy soldiers, superheroes, and marionettes/puppets. I love working with props, and I love costumes. My birthday party last month was a superhero-themed costume party, in fact. If you look at each of the things I do on their own, be it a video or cartoon or comic book story, the vast majority of the time there is nothing whatever that screams “fetish” in the typical application of the word. As I understand it, fetish most often refers to a thing, object, or activity, which excites someone sexually. What we see in my hypnosis work is young men becoming country boys, puppets, cartoon characters, or what-have-you. In the vast majority of instances, that leads to laughter, sparks imagination (as when the subject accepts that he is Pinocchio or Jethro Bumpkin, etc.), and quite often, a bit of dancing. If you look at the examples you’ve shown from the “fetish side”, we see from top to bottom, Andrew believing he’s a dancing puppet, Ross snoozing after being unable to change out of his goofy bumpkin costume while repeatedly thinking his name is “Jethro” or “Jedidiah”, and again Andrew in a similar situation where he finds that he suddenly wants to dude himself up like a country boy and is stuck in gigantic clownish farm boots over half a dozen sizes too big for him.
What in those situations do you suppose brings fetish to your mind? It could be you’re seeing something I’m not, or I’m unbearably naive, or perhaps a combination of both. Below those examples, we see professional model Chad acting as Pigboy Josiah in the one example that can indeed be categorized as fetish due to his rubber wader costume. [Quick aside- Chad was helping me do a humorous promo video and was acting out a character role. He was not hypnotized there. That’s a distinction you may want to make note of.] I happen to love rubber. I always have, ever since I was a kid jumping in puddles and romping through the snow in my rubber boots. My series of Pigboys books and promo videos are widely considered fetish because of all the rubber gear and boots. Yet I never show any nudity, sexual situations, lewd behavior, or the like in print or on video. In fact, one of my models nearly got himself fired from a photo shoot years back for going against contract and behaving in an offensive and obstructive way on set. He didn’t take my warnings to shape up seriously until I reduced (read: slashed) his pay. I love rubber, the farmboy theme, and the combination of the two, but I have no desire to show anything overtly sexual with that theme as it does not appeal to me. Still in all, the use of the rubber material itself screams fetish to many. I can’t do much about that beyond making sure each model stays on task and in character during shoots. I have had friends geared up as such in some BrizyComics videos, but the consent comes first, before any hypnosis. It is an absolute no-no to stick someone in a costume they may object to without asking first, as you can well imagine. That’s something that bears repeating. The final word must always go to the person with whom you’re working. They may know full well what you’re going to do with the video in terms of hypnosis, costumes, and so forth and enjoy the experience. But if they decide later they don’t care to have the video posted, you must never post it. Consent in all things. I mean…duh.
Here’s a thought, if I’m not going on too long already. My brother-in-law is an avid supporter of a particular college football team. Entire rooms in his house are decorated with the college colors, the logo, and even the mascot. He has a bathroom that is entirely devoted to this team, down to the towels, the bath mat, the hand soap, the clock on the wall, and even — I am not making this up — the toilet paper. Yet no one would dream of walking into his home and saying, “Oh my God, you have a state college football fetish!” In that regard, I once knew a very sweet man, the father of an old friend, who was a devoted fan of western movie legend John Wayne. He had videos, posters, drinking glasses, books, an assortment of memorabilia and knickknacks everywhere cluttering every nook and cranny of his home. But no one ever accused that dear fellow of having a John Wayne fetish. Yet if someone sees the Norman Rockwell prints in my studio, the old Country Gentleman magazines, the overalls, checkered shirts, artwork, and wide range of rubber knee boots, the first response invariably seems to be, “You’ve got some kind of farmboy fetish!” Why do you suppose that is? Because one is widely accepted as a permissible obsession — athletic teams, celebrities — but the other is not? It boggles the mind.
I have stopped doing the classroom hypnosis demos by request, by the way. I was never given a definitive reason the Psychology class demo series was discontinued, only that “someone complained”. The most explanation I’ve ever gotten beyond that was “Sorry”. Twenty or thirty years ago, someone making such a complaint could well have been dismissed as overreacting, but in our society’s current state of heightened paranoia, that was all it took to shut down a successful series of demos enjoyed by students and teachers alike that had been running every semester for six years. Go figure. I’ve also stopped doing much beyond the occasional silly videos for my Patreon followers, many of which are now parodies featuring myself. As it happens, the departure from creating hypnosis videos regularly has been a positive thing in that it has given me so much more time for drawing comics and writing.
Again, I don’t see the majority of my work as adult nor do I intend to create that, although I acknowledge that some folks interpret my work as such. In one screencap example in your e-mail, at left we have a brilliant high school student given costume props and hypnotized to believe he is a puppet. To the right of that, we have a brilliant college student given costume props and hypnotized to believe he is a puppet. One is marked as fetish, the other not. I admit I was taken aback to see the second set of examples labeled as “Fetish Content”. I think of those videos as extended comedy routines without the concern of time constraints. Plus, you can make use of more elaborate costumes and props. Also because, if you’ll forgive the language, I don’t get off on puppets and country boys, I just think they’re nifty. (I’m also a massive fan of werewolves, but it’s not like I wank to scenes from ‘The Howling’ or anything.) The rubber stuff, with the handsome guys all slickered up and tromping in the mud, that’s fetish no doubt. Like the shot of Chad in the ginormous waders. But the others don’t strike me as, and were never intended as, fetish. I wonder if knowing of the fetish work colors the perception of the other videos, making them appear equally suggestive by comparison. If none of the rubber fetish work was present, would the puppet and country boy videos be seen as fetish content or just harmless fun? What do you think?
Gak! I am really out of time! I see by the clock that I am behind schedule, and if I don’t wrap this up I’ll never get that drawing commission finished. I do tend to go on and on about a subject like hypnosis, that I have so much interest in. I hope this helps your study and that I didn’t ramble too much. If anything of mine from online or in this missive is of use to you, do let me know, if you could please. It would be a help to both of us if I can sign off on whatever you’d like to use, so you can include a note of “such-and-such is copyright by Brian Douglas Ahern, used with permission” to avoid any appearance of infringement or other legalese.
All good wishes & blessings,
Ooh! Before I forget- I have archived some of my old videos on a lovely little site called Minds dot com. You may find some stuff there you haven’t seen before. https://www.minds.com/brizycomics
From: Brian Douglas Ahern
To: David Farrier
Date: Apr 2, 2019, 11:45 AMs
Subject: Something that might interest you
Not to be a pest, as I did just write you the other day, but an idea occurred to me I thought I’d share. If it’s of use to you, great. If not, it’s not.
In our last exchange when we were discussing the classroom hypnosis videos, I brought up the possible difficulty in using classroom clips in your project due to permission required from those featured, the parental permission slips used at the time being very specific on the video use, and so forth.
Just yesterday, I remembered a fun video I did featuring high school students — but it was not within a classroom environment. We have an annual street fair in my neighborhood at the end of summer and I often wander around hypnotizing people for free at their request. The video I’m thinking of features two high school football players who were there for the fair with the team’s booster club. I turn them into clucking chickens — their idea, if you can believe that — and they had a good laugh about it. It is a public setting, so we’ve got other kids their age present as well as parents and other adults watching. THAT could serve as one part of your side-by-side comparison if you’d still like to include that.
In connection with that (stay with me on this), I’ve provided a link to one of my earlier videos in which I turn my friend Tyler into a chicken during a series of routines in which he thought his names was Dipsy-Doodle. That video could serve as the other side of your comparison, as it is a specific YouTube video made in my home AND Tyler is all done up in full country boy costume to boot. Since there were no written agreements made for the street fair hypnosis and it was well established the video would go up on YouTube and be readily accessible to the public, I don’t think we’d have any legal problems at all by using them. I’m sure you must have legal advisors who can verify this stuff for you, and I commend you to do that, but I think we’re in the clear.
Also (last bit, I promise), since the video with Andrew all done up as the puppet is so eye-catching and unusual, I’ve got a way to keep that in there too, if you want. In no less than three shows I did for the local community college, I used the gigantic green rubber boots in my routines. Those are the same boots Andrew gets stuck in right before he becomes the marionette. Since I have all the rights to the college show videos, you could use those to introduce the skits about the boots, which then take us over to Andrew’s experience with them, and thus to the puppet bit which comes directly after. Just an idea. If that’s something you want to work with, say the word and I’ll provide all the links you’ll need.
I just re-uploaded the street fair video today on my Brian Douglas Ahern channel for easy access. Link below, along with the one for Dipsy-Doodle believing he’s a chicken.
Street Fair football players — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI6Ypvpc1kc&feature=youtu.be
Dipsy-Doodle “I’M A CHICKEN!” — https://www.minds.com/media/813632437687517184
Best wishes for a successful project!