Stalking 101, courtesy of the New York Press

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A NY Press reporter decides to go on a mission to stalk Claire Danes, in an effort to prove just how easy it is to stalk someone:

So why my sudden fanatical interest in the Soho native? Whether playing Juliet to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo or breaking up Billy Crudup’s relationship with Mary-Louise Parker, his seven months-pregnant girlfriend, it’s not as if she hasn’t been around for awhile. My attitude readjustment is the product of an experiment to test the hypothesis that anyone with Internet access in New York City has the means to become an effective stalker. We chose Danes as our test subject because she’s a famous woman (nearly three quarters of stalking victims are female) who lives downtown, where there are no doormen to interfere; because she’s got enough star power to attract a stalker but not enough to have security around 24/7; and because we discovered that Parker Posey, our first choice, had moved out of town.

The inspiration for stalking Danes came from two recent high-profile stalking cases, one of Conan O’Brien and the other of Uma Thurman. Both involved seriously deluded individuals. Thurman’s stalker threatened to kill himself if he saw her with another man and lived in his car outside of her home, and O’Brien’s followed him to Italy and showed up at his studio. Here’s what the reporter writes:

But George Vomvolakis, Jordan’s lawyer, has a theory. “If the complainant weren’t Ms. Thurman, this would have been a misdemeanor stalking case,” he argued in court. “Mr. Jordan should not be prosecuted to a higher degree because the victim is a public figure.”

Maybe we are worried about our pin-up girls. Should we be?

How about we be worried about all of our “girls”?

Stalking isn’t a joke, and what the reporter does next is definitely not funny: She gives the reader step-by-step instructions on how to stalk someone. She gives the street that Claire Danes lives on (and it’s not a street like “Fifth Avenue” that’s pretty long; it’s a short, recognizable street). Then she camps out in the neighborhood:

I now knew where she lived, where she worked five nights a week and two days, and where she ate most mornings. It had been easier than I’d imagined. Information moves much more freely than ever before, as do people, and that, it turns out, can be a problem.

The article ends like this:

Twenty minutes later, we get our shot in profile. She’s aiming for incognito, with the hood of her sweater jacket up and the white winter hat pulled low on her forehead, but there’s no longer much point in trying to hide. We found her. Good thing it’s just us.

Yeah, I’m sure Danes is incredibly relieved.

Celebrities do give up a good deal of privacy when they enter the public sphere. But no one gives up their full rights, and fame does not give you carte blanche to stalk someone and then publish an instruction manual in a newspaper. Becca Tucker and the NY Press should be ashamed of themselves. I hope Danes hits back on this one, because if I were her, I’d be simultaneously livid and terrified. You can email the editor at editorial@nypress.com if you want to level a complaint about this disgusting article.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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63 Responses to Stalking 101, courtesy of the New York Press

  1. Elisabeth says:

    That’s spectacularly crappy of the Post. I hope they have to pay Claire’s moving costs.

  2. S.H. says:

    breaking up Billy Crudup’s relationship with Mary-Louise Parker, his seven months-pregnant girlfriend

    There’s alot in this whole thing to be disgusted with (and I think Danes’ should take legal action), but I hate when people say shit like that. She broke up his relationship and I’m sure he was an innocent bystander to the whole damn thing. Added on to the Thurman “pin-up girl”comment, this guy is quite the misogynist pig.

  3. Meowser says:

    and because we discovered that Parker Posey, our first choice, had moved out of town.

    Because of a stalker, perhaps?

    I agree, this is disgusting. There were ways to make the points in this story while disguising the identity and exact location of the “stalkee.”

  4. Cola Johnson says:

    S.H. beat me to it. I hate the home-wrecker stereotype, especially since it’s something only women seem capable of doing. It’s just another way we rob women of their humanity in order to justify whatever we like.

    I have close, personal friends whose lives were nearly ruined by stalking. It’s not funny. It’s abhorrent and inhuman, and I can’t believe anyone would engage in this sort of behaviour, for any reason.

  5. Will says:

    Honestly, I’m not that bothered by it (the disclosure, not the assholish overtones to the writing). I don’t think anyone who is going to stalk Clare Danes is going to do it just because they saw a newspaper article on it. Nor are the instructions going to enable someone intent on stalking Danes to stalk her. The whole point of the article was that stalking is easy as pie to do. Assuming that the newspaper could be responsible for someone stalking Danes assumes:

    a) The person wouldn’t have tried to stalk Danes anyway, but was persuaded by a newspaper article that it was a good idea.
    b) The person wouldn’t have had the means or ingenuity that a newspaper reporter had to figure out how to stalk, but given instructions, was able to fulfill their latent desire to stalk Danes.

    Both of those assumptions seem pretty implausible to me. They just don’t fit my understanding of why and how people stalk. It’s like saying that we can’t criticize the war in Iraq because that emboldens the insurgents. OK, maybe at best dissent in the US makes an insurgent mildly happier. But suggesting that it causes any real difference in the way he or she behaves is spurious. Maybe at best this article makes it a little easier for someone already intent on stalking Danes to stalk her, but suggesting that it causes any real difference in whether he or she can stalk Danes is just as spurious.

  6. Sinfonian says:

    That’s spectacularly crappy of the Post. I hope they have to pay Claire’s moving costs.

    Not the Post … New York Press. Different, right?

    Added on to the Thurman “pin-up girl”comment, this guy is quite the misogynist pig.

    I don’t imagine the columnist, Becca Tucker, is a guy. Which makes the misogyny even more curious. Perhaps she studied self-loathing under the tutelage of Kathleen Parker.

  7. C. Roaches says:

    A stalker has used information found on the web to stalk my housemate and I for the past year. It’s been violent and disturbing and unfortunately the local police only have so much power to prevent future events.

    We were fortunate to have access to legal support and the stalker was sent to jail, once for an _entire_ month. Now that she’s out on bail, every time you leave the house you wonder if she’ll try to run you over (again).

    The editor of the New York Press is clearly a desperate SOB. What a disgusting approach to sell ads.

  8. you will moderate this out says:

    Actually S.H. what disturbs be more is how your own sexism overrode your reading comprehension.

    “This guy is quite the misogynist pig”

    This guy is named “Becca Tucker.” I don’t know if you hate men, are just casually sexist, or a poor reader, but I think when you spot misogyny everywhere you lessen it to the point of meaninglessness.

    All that said, Becca Tucker is quite the idiot, isn’t she? I expect her to do well in journalism and predict we will be seeing more of her.

  9. paul says:

    Where to begin? I hate the idea of wishing something on anyone but on the off-chance the writer of that piece becomes famous enough to attract the attentions of the unbalanced (where were you December 8, 1980?), will she remember this stunt with pride in a job well done, shame at having perpetrated it, or fear at what she has contributed to?

    At the end of the piece, when the stalkers run their quarry to ground but can’t finish the job, Danes is gracious, more than they deserve. And for her trouble, she gets this article.

    Of all the stories in New York, this is the best they could come up with?

  10. paul says:

    aside to S.H. above: a woman wrote the piece, as far as the name Becca would indicate.

  11. Mike B. says:

    NY Press has always been an embarrassment to the city, but this is beyond the pale. I’d wager that Danes has already contacted her lawyer, and good for her.

  12. The NY Press has long been a vehicle for Manhattan-based right-wing journalistic hooliganism. Not even worthy of fishwrap status since David Corn left.

  13. Homer J Simpson says:

    I believe that famous people have a debt to everyone. If celebrities didn’t want people pawing through their garbage and saying they’re gay, they shouldn’t have tried to express themselves creatively.

  14. Hank Essay says:

    To the person who left the first comment, this is not from the NYPost….this is from NYPress, a strange free independent newspaper made available on the streets of NYC….

  15. Shay says:

    Paul–woman or not, she can still be sexist. I’d say the phrasing points to sexism.

  16. that is dusgusting behavior.

    where does rebecca tucker live? anyone have any pictures of her? what’s her phone number? where do her parents live? does she have any siblings?

    after all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  17. to speak withms tucker, simply call the NY Press at 212-268-8600, select “2” to dial by last name, then enter the last 3 digits of Ms. tucker’s name. You’ll immediately be transferred to her desk.
    ordinarily, I wouldn’t do this, since Tucker seems to think it’s OK to stalk people, I can’t see why she’d mind a few phone calls.

    just sayin’.

  18. Kynn says:

    You realize that if this were Michelle Malkin’s site, we’d already have dug up Becca Tucker’s address and been staking out her house, right?

    Thank goodness this isn’t. :/

  19. Torri says:

    well so much for the optimistic hope that the article’s main theme would be about how easy it is to become a victim of stalking, what a serious matter it is and the issues in dealing with stalkers legally…
    *sigh* score one up for my growing cynicism.

  20. John ICEKNIFE says:

    Bet I can find out where Becca Tucker lives in under a half hour.

  21. Jill says:

    Bet I can find out where Becca Tucker lives in under a half hour.

    Bet you can, but I’ll delete it if you post it here. As another commenter said, this isn’t Michelle Malkin’s site.

    to speak withms tucker, simply call the NY Press at 212-268-8600, select “2″ to dial by last name, then enter the last 3 digits of Ms. tucker’s name. You’ll immediately be transferred to her desk.
    ordinarily, I wouldn’t do this, since Tucker seems to think it’s OK to stalk people, I can’t see why she’d mind a few phone calls.

    Calling her office to lodge a complaint about this article is, I think, fair game, since she wrote it in the context of her job. Calling repeatedly to harass her or finding out personal information about her? Not fair game.

  22. Jill says:

    Honestly, I’m not that bothered by it (the disclosure, not the assholish overtones to the writing). I don’t think anyone who is going to stalk Clare Danes is going to do it just because they saw a newspaper article on it. Nor are the instructions going to enable someone intent on stalking Danes to stalk her. The whole point of the article was that stalking is easy as pie to do.

    Will, the issue isn’t whether someone will stalk Claire Danes — the issue is that the article is an instruction manual for how to stalk anyone. And it makes stalking seem kind of entertaining, and like not a huge deal. That’s why it’s problematic.

  23. Kevin Lyda says:

    Disgusting. I’m not visiting the page – do people know some of the advertisers for the NY Press?

  24. Mick says:

    not a problem here. No one reads the NY Press

  25. mr.ed says:

    This faux “journalism” is lower than whaleshit.

  26. Em says:

    I wish I were a journalist. Then I could pretend to be a man, who is pretending to be Muslim woman, who gets to pretend to stalk Clair Danes!

    Reporters have all the fun.

  27. DrLaniac says:

    Will Says: Honestly, I’m not that bothered by it (the disclosure, not the assholish overtones to the writing). I don’t think anyone who is going to stalk Clare Danes is going to do it just because they saw a newspaper article on it. Nor are the instructions going to enable someone intent on stalking Danes to stalk her.

    Well, thank goodness for all of us that it was the reporter’s job to determine the relative risk to Ms. Danes security, rather than say, Ms. Danes. Otherwise, we’d have never gotten to the bottom of how easy it is to stalk someone. Especially with such helpful hints on how to do so.

    That Becca Tucker is soooo hot and she’s definitely into me….

  28. This is, of course, the same newspaper that in 1999 allowed Lucianne Goldberg to claim (without any sort of evidence) that Bill Clinton “finger-fucked” his own daughter Chelsea. http://www.salon.com/media/lehm/1999/01/28lehm.html

  29. Scooter says:

    Claire Danes and I are exactly the same age, to the day.

  30. S.H. says:

    This guy is named “Becca Tucker.” I don’t know if you hate men, are just casually sexist, or a poor reader, but I think when you spot misogyny everywhere you lessen it to the point of meaninglessness.

    You’re right I accidentally made the assumption the author was male, but jumping to I hate men is quite absurd (the insults are a bit over the top and not really needed to make your point but whatever), it’s rather I hate misogynists so this gal is a misogynistic pig. There, fixed. She calls one established actress a “pin up girl”, deems Danes a homewrecker and I don’t even get the Parker Posey reference. Plus at the end she writes that lucky it was only us crap, which to me is translated easily to “the bitch is askin for trouble”. (Ya know because she’s breathing and all). I’ll freely admit to the gender mistake but if this is not misogynistic bullshit I don’t know what is. It’s not gender specific, although that can be hard to swallow sometimes. I like to think women are above this kind of crap, but alas, no.

  31. PixelFish says:

    Yeah, the line about Danes being the homewrecker (hello, it takes TWO) definitely annoyed.

    I’d say there are several components to the stalker mentality which the reporter just DOESN’T get or she wouldn’t be blithely revealing all the efforts Danes goes through to keep her privacy. For her this article is a chance to say, “Look how smart I am. Smarter than Clare Danes.” (And I bet she has resources that the average person doesn’t have, what with reporter credentials and contacts.) For her it seems to be a game and she wants to win. Which is stupid because we are talking about a human life here, and dangerous behaviour. (It would have been sweetly ironic if she got picked up for stalking Danes.)

    But while the reporter may not share the compulsion that a stalker might, she certainly seems to share the entitled attitude that a stalker carries. How dare Danes get in the way of her story? How dare Danes try to maintain a semi-normal life?

    Finally, who is to say that Danes hasn’t had stalker problems before. Why isn’t that the first thing to pop into the reporter’s head? Seriously.

  32. Roddy McCorley says:

    My wife, an attorney, was approached by someone who works at her gym. Woman has been married for years, yet some asshole boyfriend she had before that (don’t know how long before) is stalking her. She’s taken out restraining orders. He’s fighting one of them in court, which is why she needs an attorney. Her husband, it turns out, is a boxer. I said to my wife, “Maybe instead of paying you, her husband should just go beat the crap out of this guy.” Turns out the cops have told her something in a similar vein — the bailiff in the court where she got the restraining order advised her to get a gun.

    So, yeah, stalking not funny or whimsical. And that’s definitely as close to a situation like that as I ever want to come.

  33. dizzyjayne says:

    # Homer J Simpson Says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 1:44 am

    I believe that famous people have a debt to everyone. If celebrities didn’t want people pawing through their garbage and saying they’re gay, they shouldn’t have tried to express themselves creatively.

    *******
    Famous people do not have a debt to anyone. They have a job just like everyone else except their jobs put them in the limelight. There is a very big difference between Claire Danes and say, I don’t know, Britney Spears! Yes to an extent they have to expect to be photographed and what not, but there are plenty of celebrities that mind their own damn business and don’t put on a show for the cameras. It is those celebrities I have sympathy for. This is kind of an ignorant comment to make saying someone shouldn’t have tried to express themselves creatively… I say for the celebrities who do their jobs and maintain a low profile about it, leave ’em the hell alone! If they are putting their business out there for the world to see (and I’m not talking putting their trash on the curb like everyone else) then I don’t really feel badly about the crap that gets published about them.

  34. S.H. says:

    But while the reporter may not share the compulsion that a stalker might, she certainly seems to share the entitled attitude that a stalker carries. How dare Danes get in the way of her story? How dare Danes try to maintain a semi-normal life?

    I got that too, especially when she says “We we’re tired too. Tired of waiting”. Like Danes wasn’t playing her role as victim quite well enough and screwing up her stalker’s schedule. And then there’s this part, which explains alot…:

    “That was the closest I’d ever been to Claire Danes in the flesh. I never once laid eyes on her when we overlapped at Yale. Everyone else saw her all the time. Whenever I turned to look she had already disappeared into a crowd of pea coats. I didn’t much care.”

  35. SKM says:

    So, Danes went to Yale and is living her dream as a professional actress. Tucker went to Yale and now works as a reporter for the NY Press. But she’s not bitter!

    Talk about unintentional self-revelation…

  36. Jessie says:

    Now, Becca Tucker is a reporter, no? Then she’s got to have a superior, a boss, someone who gives her the go-ahead on stories, or even comes up with what she’s going to write about. At the very least, she’s got to have an editor, or someone she’s got to run the story by before the story hits the press. Right?

    So blame Becca Tucker. But also blame her boss for letting such an embarrassment of a story go to press. I’m experiencing a bit of shadenfreude as I imagine the hell she has the carte blanche to wreak on the NY Press because of this story.

  37. Azundris says:

    Thurman’s stalker threatened to kill himself

    Well, there you go, problem solved. I mean, is it me, or is that the most moronic threat ever? The terror of being stalked, versus getting closure and, if they do it in a nicely graphic way, a good party piece? Puh-lease.

  38. Cecily says:

    I just wanted to differ with Cola in an early comment:

    I hate the home-wrecker stereotype, especially since it’s something only women seem capable of doing.

    I’m not sure I’ve seen the word attached to men, but the rage, yes. I wonder if women who date recently-broken-up men get accused of ‘stealing’ the way men do? It would at least make me feel a bit better if men, as well as women, were getting talked about as if they were diamond necklaces.

  39. Interrobang says:

    I have an ex who doesn’t quite seem to grok the fact that I don’t want to talk to him anymore. Every so often, he calls me, he e-mails me periodically, and once, he even called a couple of my friends (two different calls) to pump them for information about me. I dumped him three years ago (because he was a drug-abusing, misogynist ass who ended the relationship when he attempted to rape me), and the last “Hey, write me back and tell me how you are” e-mail I got from him was about two weeks ago. The last time I actually spoke to him on the phone, he spent the whole conversation trying to wheedle and bully me into giving him permission to come visit.

    If he lived closer to me than 12 hours’ drive away, I’d be seriously worried about him.

    Any article that presents stalking as yuk-yuk ironic hipsterism makes me skin my lips back from my teeth, frankly. Becca Tucker can stick it up her oh-so-cool demeanour and rotate.

  40. PhysioProf says:

    NY Press has always been an embarrassment to the city, but this is beyond the pale.

    The NY Press was a moderately good paper with some excellent columnists while Russ Smith was still the editor, despite gaffes like the Lucianne Goldberg thing. One of the columnists that I really liked was the guy who wrote about his process of gradually going blind. Since he left, it’s been all downhill.

  41. simon says:

    there is a name for lowlife’s that do this kind of thing. replace the ‘t’ in tucker… or think “rhymes with runts”
    unbelievable

  42. Ogre says:

    So what I’m hearing is the sales person who sold you underware, brought your food to your table, coaches your kids sports, pumps your gas, gives you a paycheck, have a debt to you pay for working? Great thinking.

  43. Alex Swingle says:

    Press was great a few years ago when Jeff Koyen was Editor — they had Matt Taibbi, Mike Singorelie, Jim Knipfl on the staff in addition to a few others.

    They really ceased to have any sort of legitimacy when the hired Ed Koch to do a column.

  44. Becca. says:

    It grosses me out that that “journalist” and I share a first name.

    It took a year before I could leave my house without fear after being stalked. The “tee-hee!” of that column makes me want to throw things.

  45. postxian says:

    This reporter stalked this woman. He should be prosecuted. It doesn’t matter why he did it. He did it.

  46. Linda says:

    Dizzyjayne,

    Homer’s comment was, I think, satire (and not-bad satire, either.)

  47. Cog says:

    Aren’t you just compounding this invasion of privacy? Now a bunch more idiots are saying to themselves “Gee,maybe I should try stalking Claire Danes.”
    Shame all around.

  48. Daisy says:

    So, Danes went to Yale and is living her dream as a professional actress. Tucker went to Yale and now works as a reporter for the NY Press. But she’s not bitter!

    Talk about unintentional self-revelation…

    WOW, I thought the same thing! Is she pretending to stalk Danes, or pretending to be pretending?

    Shades of BASIC INSTINCT!

    (PS: This whole story is disgusting)

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  50. miguel says:

    The rich and famous have such horrible problems, poor them! I feel so sorry for them.

    or not

  51. roses says:

    Homer’s comment was, I think, satire (and not-bad satire, either.)

    Satirical Simpsons quote, actually.

  52. Jennifer says:

    Simon: “rhymes with runts”

  53. Jennifer says:

    Simon: “there is a name for lowlife’s that do this kind of thing…rhymes with runts”

    Did you just allude to calling this low life of a woman a “cunt” on a feminist website? Seriously?

  54. Mnemosyne says:

    The rich and famous have such horrible problems, poor them! I feel so sorry for them.

    or not

    Yeah, those bitches Rebecca Schaeffer and Theresa Saldana got what they deserved for daring to be on TV, right? If you’re famous and you end up dead or injured because a stalker fixates on you, well, you shouldn’t have become an actress, dummy!
    /sarcasm, in case it wasn’t clear from the links.

  55. zuzu says:

    What’s with the troll invasion on this thread?

  56. Jenna's Bush says:

    I accidentally made the assumption

    Either you made an assumption or you didn’t. “Accidentally” or “On purpose” doesn’t make sense.

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  58. So, Danes went to Yale and is living her dream as a professional actress. Tucker went to Yale and now works as a reporter for the NY Press. But she’s not bitter!

    She’s establishing that she’s not so lacking in class as to normally need to stalk celebrities, because she went to Yale, you know, and is above all that. Except when it’s part of her job to turn stalkerazzi.

    I can’t say it’s exactly surprising that a reporter who lives in NYC can figure out, in a couple of days, where to find a celebrity who also lives in NYC. And I doubt it’s news to Danes that her privacy precautions can be punctured. It’s probably still worth it to her to follow them, if only to reduce the numbers of stalkerazzi who get through to her.

    To a large degree, all of us can be stalked nearly that easily, but the real time celebrity tracking web sites do provide extra distributed stalking assistance to those who want to stalk their subjects.

  59. Jill says:

    What’s with the troll invasion on this thread?

    Links from Atrios and DKos. That’ll do it.

  60. Will says:

    Will, the issue isn’t whether someone will stalk Claire Danes — the issue is that the article is an instruction manual for how to stalk anyone. And it makes stalking seem kind of entertaining, and like not a huge deal.

    Like I said, I’m as bothered as everyone else by the tone of the writing. I still don’t see the problems with “an instruction manual,” because I think anyone looking to stalk is perfectly capable of doing so with or without a “how to:” guide. The thesis of the article is that this stuff is easy to figure out. Add in that stalkers are dedicated, dedicated people, and I think it’s implausible that this article will cause even one extra person to be stalked.

    I absolutely agree that a tone that glorifies stalking is problematic. I think an article that included the same content but framed it differently would probably be ok, though.

  61. Morton Thiokol says:

    For the record, the NYPress article didn’t expose any handy stalking methods, that any determined stalker wasn’t already aware of. That said, I can’t believe the editors actually considered this junk to be worthy of print. Might as well be snuff porn. Inexcusable.

  62. dhex says:

    too bad nyc shits all over the 2nd amendment.

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