April 12, 2018

Did Todd Savvas predict Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum would split?

So, have you seen the news that a card reader allegedly predicted the break-up between Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum? Here are a couple spoilers for you: No, he didn't, and the video you see above is paid advertising. Do you get it? Jenna Dewan -- or more likely her manager -- made some money by getting a professional camera crew to watch reader Todd Savvas perform for a gushing Jenna Dewan. As usual, I find these kinds of performances entertaining but not for the reason that either Jenna or Todd probably intended.

You can watch the entirety of the performance in the video embedded above, and I encourage you to do so not only because it's quite short, but also because it shows how effortlessly multiple compliance tests and provers can be added to the performance. Let's take it from the top, shall we?

First, a unique tool. While there's nothing unique about shuffling cards to generate a fortune -- people have been using decks of cards as chaos-computers that shuffle a limited pool of variables to randomly generate interesting narratives for as long as cards have existed -- Mr. Savvas's deck looks to be about 400 cards deep and is of his own creation. And you know, speaking as somebody who's created not only his own deck but his own method of cartomancy, I think that's pretty cool and I credit him for his effort.

But so long as we're look at this video in terms of lesser magic, I think that his unique deck -- and the time that both Mr. Savvas and Ms. Dewan spend emphasizing its uniqueness -- is quite telling. The reason this matters to the performance is because by emphasizing the unique quality of the cards, both Mrs. Savvas and Ms. Dewan are enhancing the perceived power of the tool, and let's be honest with ourselves: the magic quality of the cards is a big part of any cartomantic performance. Doesn't it make the whole thing more fun? Doesn't it help the sitter to suspend disbelief and indulge in the power of fantasy by choosing to accept that the cards themselves have a particular power about them? It does for me, and if you'll be honest with yourself I think it does for you, too.

Second, a unique performer. Mr. Savvas seems pretty chill about claiming special abilities, but Ms. Dewan is either a true believer or she's competing for 2018's Golden Raspberry award in the category of worst actress. Ms. Dewan just can't stop falling over herself to praise Mr. Savvas and compliment his abilities, going so far as to call him Merlin and to say that he's sprinkled with magic. Whether Ms. Dewan is aware of the charade or not, she's directly contributing to the perceived power of the performer's innate abilities and sacred status that sets him apart.

Clearly, it's not enough for a normal person to shuffle paste-boards, and that's why -- despite Mr. Savvas's lack of elaborate attire -- Ms. Dewan has to go out of her way to command her audience to LOOK. After all, the trouble with psychic abilities is that they're not visible to the naked eye, and if Ms. Dewan doesn't tell her audience that Mr. Savvas is possessed of such skills, why -- they'll just never know. I have complete confidence that Ms. Dewan has never read a single word of Anton LaVey, yet even so she's doing a fine job of commanding her audience and turning their heads toward what she wants them to SEE.

Third, appeal to a higher power. They've already emphasized the unique qualities of the tool and the performer, but the gravity of the performance be enhanced further, and Ms. Dewan's allegedly genuine interest in the performance deepened, by including an element of mysticism. You see, Ms. Dewan isn't just working with the cards or with Mr. Savvas, but she's also working with the knowledge of the universe and uncovering what the universe wants her to know. Because, you know -- an omnipresent, disembodied, cosmically aware intelligence that cares about the personal well-being of a single talking monkey on a back-water planet at the ass-end of the Milky Way is so totally different from Christians who say that God is omnipresent and works through the disembodied, cosmically aware presence of the Holy Ghost and cares about the personal well-being of the members of His flock.

I mean, if you see it differently you're welcome to explain why in the comment section below, but to me this whole thing about the intelligence of the universe and what the universe wants for me personally is just a Mad Libs substitution for the mythological character called God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Ghost. To my ears, this way of petitioning the universe for knowledge is no different than praying to God, and I gave that up a long time ago.

But there are a lot of people who haven't, and even if it's unfashionable to invoke the name of God in a chic, stylish piece of advertising for the benefit of Mr. Savvas, Ms. Dewan can still find a way to sneak it into the performance with a wink-and-a-nod that's agreeable to the Christian-minded and invisible to the less discerning. I mean, Mr. Savvas even suggests to her that she call on angels while meditating on the cards. If it were any more overt than this, they'd be on their knees and reading out of a Bible. I think theism generally and Christianity specifically are unworthy of the human race, but what can I say? There are a lot of Christians, or at least Christian-minded people, who are willing to spend a lot of money on products and services that go along with their world view.  

Fourth, lend a helping hand. Now, it's entirely possible that Ms. Dewan really is head-over-heals for Mr. Savvas's performances, but speaking as a fortune-teller I'm skeptical not only that she didn't have a specific question, but also that she wasn't in on the performance. I mean to say, if she's not in on the performance, then why is she working so hard to fill in the gaps for Mr. Savvas?

In Ms. Dewan's defense, part of this is the doing of Mr. Savvas who offers several compliance tests as well as opportunities to participate right at the opening of the performance... which, if you have to know, I think is great. After all, why should Mr. Savvas have all the fun? It would be rude for him to not invite Ms. Dewan to literally lend a hand and take part in the performance. Ms. Dewan is instructed to close her eyes and to visualize or meditate, and these things are perfectly fine on their own, but in terms of lesser magic they're also compliance tests used to help the sitter get into a suggestive state and take full advantage of the temporary suspension of disbelief. 

After completing this meditation, Ms. Dewan is also invited to choose five cards from the deck entirely on her own. Mr. Savvas might as well be a stage magician asking Ms. Dewan to, "pick a card, any card." And why not? This deepens the performance and adds another layer to the fantasy's onion that the complexity, gravity, and randomness of the performance makes it all the more meaningful. 

Fifth, fill in the gaps. If you thought that the predictions offered by Mr. Savvas were going to be really amazing, spoiler alert: they're not really amazing, they're just really vague. And you know, I don't fault Mr. Savvas for being vague for a couple reasons. First, a performance isn't merely the recitation of the narrative formed by the cards, but the unison of that narrative with the intellectual awareness of the person for whom the narrative was performed. In this case, Mr. Savvas has the skill to interpret the narrative in the cards, but only Ms. Dewan has the knowledge and personal context to interpret and apply that performance. Second, being vague is a key component to any performance because it allows the sitter to become mentally invested through the consideration of the narrative.

But having said that, Mr. Savvas gives Ms. Dewan opportunity to fill in his blank spots and she absolutely delivers. He does his best to provide a generalization of the cards, but him not being personally familiar with the routines and professional realities of people in show-business he can only nod suggestively at Ms. Dewan and imply that it's time for her to join the conversation -- which she does happily to cover up his shortfalls. I said in the Satanic Tarot that being a fortune-teller is a lot easier than you think because it's the sitter who does all the heavy lifting, and I wasn't joking: Ms. Dewan is proof positive that the sitter is the real performer, and the fortune-teller is only the ring-master inviting her to stand on center-stage.

Sixth, this performance isn't about Mr. Savvas. People occasionally choose to not believe me when I tell the truth, and I wasn't fibbing when I said that Mr. Savvas is a performer marketing himself primarily to Christian and Christian-sympathizing audiences. As his performance continues, he lays heavily into what spirit wants for Ms. Dewan, and what spirit is communicating to Ms. Dewan. The reason for this is two-fold: First, this adds an additional layer of separation between Mr. Savvas and the performance, so if there are any weak points he can always say that it's not about what he wants or what he has to say, but instead is only a blameless medium who lives to convey messages from beyond the veil. Second, for the Christian-minded sitter who believes in this sort of thing -- which, going by all observations, is a lot of people -- insisting on the power of spirit is a way to appeal to the power of God who can never be wrong and should never be questioned. Isn't that a neat trick? Put those two things together, and Mr. Savvas can never be personally wrong and always personally respected. Isn't that a handy? It's like going to church, but without the guilt of knowing that your tithes are supporting pedophile priests.

Seventh, it's all good news. Mr. Savvas rather ironically warns Ms. Dewan against being "taken astray by people who would try to sell [her] on snake-oil," and I confess that I had a good laugh watching her listen seriously and not even enjoy the tiniest giggle of self-awareness. Other than that, Mr. Savvas kept things light and fluffy with lots of self-affirming advice for Ms. Dewan to re-contextualize herself, trust her intuition, do things differently, and enjoy all the money and fame that's coming for her in 2018.

Eighth, except for that bit about about Channing Tatum. Spoiler alert: Mr. Savvas did not predict Ms. Dewan's separation from Channing Tatum. Not one word about marriage or even relationships passed his lips, and Mr. Tatum may as well have not existed for the purposes of this performance. The supposed prediction in question came from a card called, "The Player," but even Mr. Savvas emphasizes that this isn't a damn thing to do with broken relationships, but instead a variety of people drawn to Ms. Dewan's rising star because they're jealous or envious and having nothing of their own...

... and considering Mr. Tatum's conspicuous absence from the narrative of this performance, the studio-quality production value of this promotional video, the click-bait title that has no bearing on the content of Mr. Savvas's performance, and my firm suspicion that Mr. Savvas paid a fee to put on this show with Ms. Dewan and that this article published by E Online is advertising hidden in plain sight for the personal gain of everybody involved, I think it becomes clear that this whole thing is an exercise in marketing. Which is all just a really long way of saying:

Mr. Savvas didn't predict the split between Ms. Dewan and Mr. Tatum...

... but so long as you're aware that you're doing so, it can still be fun to indulge in the fantasy that he did.


  1. "If you thought that the predictions offered by Mr. Savvas were going to be really amazing, spoiler alert: they're not really amazing, they're just really vague." Of course, skeptics have demonstrated that's how horoscopes and written fortunes work in general: by being so vague and open-ended, you can get a room full of people who, unbeknownst to them, all have the same text all to believe individually that the words they have in front of them uniquely and exclusively pertain to them and their own situations. What concerns me here is that his deck is so gargantuan. The standard tarot already functions more than adequately on this vagueness front by virtue of the fact that, with reversed meanings, the darn thing already encompasses just about any possible meaning you could want or need: when every card means either X or the opposite or frustration of X, you've got every available boulevard of possible interpretation wide open and available for the gullible mark to fill in with the particulars of their own lives, as known only to and valued uniquely by them and them alone. BUT with like 400 cards, I can only imagine how much easier still it is to find that "unique" way into any and everybody's own situation. Plus, the artwork (or should I say lack thereof?)! They look like something my seven-year-old would draw. So not impressed.

    1. Yeah, I agree with you on all counts. Regarding his custom deck, at least for my preferences, I think it's just way too many cards. A standard Tarot deck may only be 78 cards, but compared to his ~400-card monstrosity that narrow definition is also part of its strength. I mean, there are people like myself who spend their entire lives working with the Tarot, and even with 78 cards still haven't found the bottom of it. Less is definitely more...

      ... and while I'm not keen on the artistry of his deck, it's not a big issue to me. I prefer to read with an absolutely minimalist deck that looks like regular playing cards, so it'd be hypocritical for me to criticize him for that. I think it's cool that he's doing what's obviously his own thing, and I'm glad it works for him, but I can't say that it inspires much interest in me.


Freedom of Expression =/= Freedom from Consequences