Well, it’s been a Chinese curse of an interesting week, hasn’t it? We debated writing a blog post but we couldn’t think how to approach it or even what we hoped to achieve by it, so in the end we decided that staying out of it was the best plan.
This morning I saw that overnight, this had happened:
It needs to be said here that the person who wrote the tweet in the twitpic has now apologised for her words (both in this tweet and the one directed to the anti-Michelle account). Respect to her for that. It’s easy to push things that little bit too far, but it’s never easy to look at your behaviour in an unbiased way and admit to yourself that you were wrong. We’ve all been there: the dismissal of others’ criticism, the stubborn refusal to believe that we could have been mistaken, the attempt to justify what we’ve said and, eventually, the realisation that that odd squirmy feeling is guilt and the acceptance that it won’t go away until we do something to make amends. This is where we stop defending and start apologising.
For others to defend bad behaviour, particularly when they are in a position of influence, is where it starts to get tricky. Peter Lenkov currently has 8,365 followers. He has effectively told 8,365 people that it’s OK to tell someone else to commit suicide so long as you pretend you’re, you know, being sarcastic. Actually, there was no sarcasm in the tweet at all. Sarcasm is the use of irony to convey an opposite meaning to the one stated, in order to criticise with humour or to cause pain. I’m not even sure how you would tell someone to kill themselves sarcastically. I do know that ‘being sarcastic’ and ‘saying something nasty but not really meaning it’ are not the same thing.
So the tweet was not meant in a sarcastic way, nor was it meant as a serious suggestion – but because inflection and intent are impossible to gauge in a faceless communication between two people who have never spoken to each other before in the space of 140 characters, tops, the recipient has no way of knowing whether it is meant in a ‘go boil your head’ kind of way (which is something that no-one does, ever) or in a ‘no, I actually think you are a waste of oxygen and should save the rest of us from having to share a planet with you’ kind of way (something that people do do, every day). The reaction of the tweeter suggests that s/he did not take it lightly at all. Regardless of what you think about the account – and for the record, we don’t support hate accounts, nor do we see the point of them – this is what matters. Perhaps s/he is only pretending to have taken it that way in order to use it as a criticism of Michelle and her fans; but since we have no way of knowing that for sure, we should err on the side of caution and assume that s/he is genuinely upset (and let’s not try to take the moral high ground here by saying that haters don’t deserve to be treated with respect because hardly anyone has come out of the last few days with much dignity). Perhaps Peter Lenkov thought he was helping by suggesting an alternative interpretation. What he’s actually done is made it appear that if you’re a fan of one of his actors, or of him, or of the show, then you can tell those who disagree with you to commit suicide without censure – because he will find a way to make it not your fault by blaming the victim for being overly sensitive and taking it the wrong way. Because obviously, whoever you’re talking to should be psychic (this is sarcasm).
I don’t know what the right response would have been in this instance – which is why I’m not a PR guru to the stars instead of someone who can’t even sell the idea of eating broccoli to her own children – but this wasn’t it. Dignified silence? Probably. At the very least he should have taken it seriously instead of saying ‘God, she was only joking, don’t be such a baby‘ like we used to do, in the playground, when we were ten.
I hesitate to include this link to an article on the power that both celebrities and followers can wield on Twitter because it’s not directly comparable to the current situation, but there are some uncomfortable parallels. Be warned, it’s very long and it gets upsetting towards the end.
So here ends our first serious blog post, which will probably be the first of many because as our motto says ‘it’s not all rainbows and unicorns’ and because we’ve remembered that the point of a blog is to share what you think and not what you think other people want to hear. This is what we think. You might not agree, but that’s all right.
Let’s end with this cuter-than-a-button pic of Cath that was supposed to form part of yesterday’s Caption Crossover post but didn’t because in the time it would have taken me to do it… look, when a girl’s gotta spend the afternoon looking for WarGames clips on YouTube, a girl’s gotta spend the afternoon looking for WarGames clips on YouTube, OK?
Now. How about a nice game of chess?