Twitter, Rope and Racists
Social media has churned out countless forgettable cookie-cutter ‘celebrities’, but it has also been a career-killer. Gilbert Gottfried, Julianne Hough, Amanda Bynes, Charlie Sheen, Kathy Griffin, RuPaul, Tila Tequila, Lena Dunham, Mischa Barton, Scott Baio, Logan Paul, Tyrese Gibson, Danny Baker. You could write a whole bargain-bin ‘We didn’t Start the Fire’ about it. Of course, not all of those examples are racist – some of them are just weird – but as for the ones that are, it’s good to know. Twitter is the rope racists keep hanging themselves on. For that, we thank you, Twitter.
As silly as many of these people seem, celebrities and even radio personalities have a certain level of influence. Their ideas and their rhetoric find a wide audience and especially on mainstream media platforms their views never seem that radical. At least, we don’t think they are, because they can’t be. Can they? You can’t say crazy stuff on TV. Can you? Racist narratives bleeding into the mainstream media can be very dangerous and validate far-right groups. You don’t need to look much further than what that guy from Celebrity Apprentice did.
The thing is, celebrities also have power at the workplace and if someone is brazen enough to tweet this crap, you can imagine what goes on behind closed doors. A black person shouldn’t have to work for someone like this – they probably don’t even get the chance to. Whereas a racist remark at a party or toward an intern might be brushed under the rug out of fear of losing a valuable celeb, social media allows us to witness the combination of arrogance, self-importance, and desperate need for attention, all of paramount importance for a successful career in show business. This is where Twitter shines. Taking Racists out of positions of influence as quickly as possible.
Of course, being a vile human has little to do with your ability to sing a song, or play dress-up in a movie, but it does fill you with a sense of karmic schadenfreude when someone gets absolutely torn to shreds for saying something truly vile. That is not to say, internet lynch-mobs don’t overshoot the mark at times or get stories wrong altogether. In a realm of lawlessness, anonymity, and instant hysteria, fact checking, and journalistic integrity often take the back seat. It’s a thin line to walk, between cosmic justice and witch-hunt, but social media users are nothing if not measured, so it’s hard to see a downside.