The Soapbox: In Defense Of Brian Presley (Or Why Melissa Stetten Comes Off Like The Jerk For Live-Tweeting Their Conversation)

On a recent red eye from New York to Los Angeles, model Melissa Stetten sat next to actor Brian Presley and live-tweeted their conversation to approximately 30,000 followers. What ensued was little less than the public humiliation of a husband and father for, among other heinous crimes, allegedly flirting with her and having too much to drink.   

While we’ve all sat next to that annoying seatmate on a flight who keeps talking when we just want to be left alone, I do not believe that Brian Presley’s behavior warranted such a public flogging. He sounds like a perfectly harmless guy who chatted up a pretty girl.

Stetten, on the other hand, sounds like an arrogant, insensitive twit. She publicly shamed a man for talking to her and mocked a recovering alcoholic during a possible relapse.

Let’s start with the flirting, shall we? You can read most of Stetten’s tweets here. But in summary, Presley talked to her about his faith, his craft and his past relationships. 

“Brian is now talking about how he is an artist and believes everything happens for a reason, like how we’re brought together on this flight,” Stetten wrote.

While another gem reads, “Brian hates closed minded people but loves artists in the industry, and just called this one-sided conversation a ‘collabo’ between us.”

Is Presley a nerd? Yup. Does he use cheesy Hollywood lingo? Definitely. Is he trying to cheat on his wife with Stetten? Nope, not that I can tell. Worst case scenario he’s flirting with her, but since when did flirting equal cheating?

At no point did Presley ask Stetten for her number. He didn’t ask her out, nor did he even suggest they meet up after the flight. In fact, he never attempted anything with her beyond small talk.

If my significant other chatted up a beautiful women while I wasn’t around, I certainly wouldn’t want to know about it, but I wouldn’t consider it adultery, either. Has the bar really been set where a married person can’t indulge in a little harmless flirtation once in awhile? I sure hope not.

Admittedly, according to Stetten he did take off his wedding ring and either lie about or evade the issue of his marriage. But even if that’s true, it does not change the bottom line, and the bottom line is that at no point did he try to get into her pants.

Hitting on someone requires intent to act. It means actively trying to engage in sexual or romantic activity. So he was not hitting on her; he was flirting with her. But of course, when it comes to shock value, “married actor flirts with model” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, now does it?

I just think that with cads like Jesse James and Tiger Woods out there, we should cut married guys (and gals) some slack if their worst betrayal is a little flirtation here and there.

But that’s not my real axe to grind. So let’s discuss the drinking.

According to Stetten, Presley was drinking Heineken. By her account, he had a total of three beers. Admittedly, she originally knocked him for bringing one into the bathroom, which seems unsanitary, but then it was brought to her attention by a follower that Presely is a recovering alcoholic, so she mocked him even more.

“Holy Shit. He’s had 3 heinekens and is wasted. Sober? Hardly. RT @PlaidMcPlatypus: did you say he was drinking beer? 

In the Christianity Today Q&A that Stetten retweeted, Presley talks about his alcohol and steroid abuse and subsequent sobriety.

“I’ve been in recovery for a year and a half. My wife has been awesome through this, and now we’ll be able to teach our kids about what addiction is. And I hope to help other people who are struggling with the same thing,” Presely says in the April 2012 article.

He’s not preachy and he doesn’t evangelize. All he says is that he barely survived addiction, that it is a daily battle to stay sober and that he hopes to help others get sober, too. 

Stetten, on the other hand, proved that she completely lacks empathy, and that she has no grasp of both the seriousness of addiction and the powerful tool that is Twitter. And all because what? Because this man had the audacity to (maybe) flirt with her a little bit while killing time on a long flight.

Bottom line is I don’t think Presely deserved to be humiliated like that in public. He did not deserve to be called an adulterer and he certainly did not deserve to be mocked for having a few beers—whether or not he is an alcoholic.

I think in Stetten’s heart she knew what she did was wrong, considering her last tweet was, “Did I just ruin Brian Presley’s life via twitter?” And I think she owes him a public apology. But after her display of middle school-level maturity, I highly doubt she’s woman enough to admit it.