How having a stalker unexpectedly ruins TV, movies, and music


The number of songs, movies and TV shows that I’ve retired is nearly as long as the number of times my stalker has called me.

It’s always the ones you least suspect

Stalking is the lifeblood of entertainment. More than just a criminal offense, it’s also a very versatile plot device in entertainment — easily confused as a grand gesture of love and accurately identified as a huge violation of safety and privacy by people like me who have been stalked and harassed for a nearly a year, with no end in sight. But like a person “passionately” monitoring you, these criminally creepy undertones can blindside you where you’d least expect.

Twilight, Love Actually, 50 Shades of Grey, and even Mrs. Doubtfire are all frustratingly mainstream examples of terrifying, obsessive behavior passing for romance or comedy. Not being a masochist, I didn’t plan on ever watching them. On the days where I don’t want to go outside because every shadow is a deluded monster that doesn’t know how to respect a restraining order, I stay home and try to watch or listen to something to keep my mind off it. 

But the devils were in the walls and on TV. As if taking my sense of safety and privacy wasn’t enough, my Spidey-sense for the smallest reminder of my reality has unexpectedly ruined some of my favorite escapes. The number of songs, movies, and TV shows that I’ve retired is nearly as long as the number of times my stalker has called me. But here are the ones that surprised me the most.

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 12: Singer Adele performs onstage at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Adele – “Someone Like You”

With the debut of “Hello,” Adele was back, and she was a remorseful ex with a poor sense of boundaries — the warmest euphemism for stalking as a “loving surveillance.” But in a sea of think-pieces, clutching my sanity close like a pool noodle keeping me afloat, I whispered: …but what about ‘Someone Like You’?”

Last winter, I received a call from a person claiming to be from a flower delivery service, asking if I’d be home to accept a delivery. Confused, I said yes but was rushed off the phone before I could ask who it was from. I called back and an extremely annoyed woman told me they were from the stalker, but the flowers were already on their way. Naively, I hoped it was a dozen roses for my troubles, an apology, and promise to finally leave me alone. 

The buzzer of my building went off, but the person ringing wouldn’t let go of the button. I couldn’t press the intercom to ask who it was. I chalked it up to a delivery boy who didn’t know how to work the bell and buzzed them in any way. The hooded figure approaching the peephole was holding a limp half bouquet of overripe roses, his fast-pass into the building, pounding up the stairs with the determination of a drunk stalker who flew nearly 3,000 miles because he couldn’t go away and take “I’m blocking you” for an answer. Why on God’s green earth would he risk being arrested?

As usually, Adele said it best.

"I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited but ICouldn’t stay away I couldn’t fight itI hoped you’d see my faceAnd that you’d be reminded that for me it isn’t over"

This verse is meant to convey the heartache of seeing someone you love move on and be a metaphor of the desire to not be forgotten and invalidate a relationship as meaningless. It was not a romantic permission slip for stalking. It is quickly followed by an incredibly important word: nevermind. “Nevermind, I’ll find someone like you,” she says.

Translation: nevermind, I am a reasonable adult who does not ambush someone who has clearly moved on. Although I am a similarly reasonable adult who knows this song is not about stalking, I can’t hear anything else. If I ever face another breakup, my emotional recovery kit will be missing a brilliant ballad that I use to love.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 19: A general view of the atmosphere at the season 2 premiere of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” at the TCL Chinese Theatre on April 19, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The Handmaid’s Tale

Would you believe that despite our current political climate and my penchant for the color red, I don’t really identify as a Handmaid? I do, however, have a tale: about a young woman on an innocent Hulu binge suddenly startled into sad contemplation by an off-hand comment made by a driver in a dystopian driveway. “I wish…” said Nick, the driver in The Handmaid’s Tale, as he opens the car door for protagonist Offred/June after she has a breakdown in the backseat.

“I wish what?” she asks. But he doesn’t finish the sentence. It’s just a generally vague, sympathetic, noncommittal lamentation by a character with the resources to help our heroine, but not exactly the motivation or will.

If I had a nickel for every time someone with the capacity to help me sent me best wishes instead, I’d buy a subscription to Hulu instead of exploiting the free trial. When the stalker flew thousands of miles to ambush me at a concert in another state (where I had not pressed charges, therefore no warrant for arrest), there were hundreds of police offers around the venue. He was drunk, rambling and roaming around looking for me. I calmly explained the situation to about half a dozen officers, holding a copy of the original police report in my hand. I didn’t have a restraining order yet because the charges were elevated from aggravated harassment to criminal stalking only two days before. And who would be stupid enough to persist after being explicitly told I was pressing charges?

One of the many pitfalls of a jet-setting stalker who lives abroad but regularly travels to the U.S. is that the jurisdiction is hazy and it’s uncommon enough for their not to be an established protocol on how to handle the situation. I knew he wasn’t technically doing anything illegal and didn’t expect an arrest, feeling that a warning would be enough to scare him off.

Instead, they said, “Don’t worry, honey. It’s a big venue, he won’t find you. They won’t let him inside if he’s drunk. Just enjoy the show, sweetie. We wish we could help.”

Well, he was let in. And if it weren’t for an extremely kind venue manager who moved me into the safety of a box suite, I would have spent hundreds on a trip spent hiding in a hotel room.

CANNES, FRANCE – MAY 12: Actors Julia Roberts and George Clooney attend the “Money Monster” premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Ocean’s 11

George Clooney is a certifiable handsome humanitarian, philanthropist, activist, and protagonist in a film built on an insanely shameless example of stalking. The fact that it had to take place in my nearest and desert island movies only add insult to injury. In Ocean’s 11, freshly paroled veteran thief Danny Ocean recruits an all-star team of con-men to rob the Bellagio of $160 million dollars. But it’s the romantic subplot that comes off as even more criminally gross than grand larceny.

Ocean jealously targets the Bellagio because his ex-wife, Tess, is dating its owner. When his last scheme was exposed and landed him in jail, Tess’s life was so shattered and abruptly uprooted, moving across the country to get away from the damage. Seeing as their relationship was built on a lie, Tess justifiable serves him divorce papers. To Ocean, it’s just a bump in the road of the relationship. He ignores them and when he’s released from jail, instantly breaks his parole by leaving the state and following her to her new life in Las Vegas.

While there, he has her shadowed by one of his lackeys and ambushes her at a dinner with her new partner to publicly reaffirm his love. Ocean admits to lying about his “profession,” but implies that he doesn’t plan to stop stealing or scheming. She rightfully rejects him, and he continues to execute his multi-million dollar theft in an attempt to sabotage her stable relationship while getting rich quick. In case Tess ever forgets that he loves her, he also makes sure to follow her to public events. 

And it works. She takes him back, and one fell swoop, Ocean’s 11 validates the bread and butter tactics of every stalker. If only I had known that moving, changing my phone number, and serving a restraining order was me playing hard to get.

After all, you’re only one parole break and federal crime away from getting the girl.