It’s funny how situations bring a new perspective in your life. This week has been particularly hellish in my part of the world. Gramps took a huge turn for the worse on Tuesday and by Tuesday night we were calling in family from out of town just in case he didn’t make it. By mid day on Wednesday though he’d bounced back and was doing much better. He’s still declining, of course, but not as rapidly as we expected (at least as of this particular moment).
For me, family always comes first. Family for me also includes my closest friends. If my family needs me for something, they’re first priority and everything else comes after. So when I stayed up almost all night long in a recliner next to my grandpa’s hospital bed in the living room on Tuesday night I wasn’t concerned with being at work the next morning. I knew I had 8 hours of vacation I could use and that was all that mattered. Frankly, if I hadn’t had those hours to use I would have taken unpaid leave because what was important was my family.
When I found out that rather insensitive comments were made by someone at work because I wasn’t there yesterday, it was sort of the last straw for me. For someone (who works in a religious social work agency that is focused on family) to put work before my family frankly pissed me off. It basically just reinforced how I feel about putting my family first and how insensitive people can be when they don’t stop to think about what they’re saying before they say it.
This morning I’m back at work since Grandpa is doing better and his death doesn’t seem so imminent. I had a whole five pages of work to file so after doing that I scrolled through Facebook. I came across a photo that a local DJ posted on his FB wall of Lady Gaga. I’d been listening to him on the way to work and he was basically saying how he had this picture of Gaga that was super unflattering and he was going to post it to FB. My initial thought when hearing that was, “Why?” If the picture is so bad, why post it other than for people to make fun of it? But I sort of blew it off and went on my way. When I came across the photo on FB I had to make a comment though. The picture is of Gaga in concert and it’s basically a picture of her ass sort of hanging out of her nylons and thong. No, it’s not pretty, but every single comment under the picture was a bash at Gaga. So I said,
“I heard you talking about this on the way to work. You kept saying how unflattering it was. So why post it? Just so people can pick on her?”
The first response I got was from the wife of the DJ who said,
“She chose to live a life that is in the public eye. You can’t get mad at someone else for that.”
Then she followed that up with another comment right away that said,
“Seriously. We all know she dresses like this and goes out in public like this for 1 reason: attention. She wants the publicity. If she didn’t she wouldn’t do it.”
To that I responded with,
“I didn’t say I was mad at anyone, [Name of Wife of DJ]. I was just asking a question. Also, publicity and public bullying are two different things.”
Her response was,
“oy vey lol.”
So then her husband the DJ finally jumped in and said this,
“Exactly. Oy vey. I posted it because my job is to talk about celebrities — things they do, say, how they look and act. That’s my job. My job is also to engage people online, to get “hits” on the website. People listen to the radio station because they like music and they want to know what’s going on with celebrities. I posted it because it’s something that people will want to see. Even if they make jokes like “I’m eating.”
I understand that Gaga is a public figure and choses to be so. I also understand that if she wears clothes like she does that often fall down when she’s dancing that there are going to be unflattering pictures of her around. However, I don’t think that gives everyone else in the world the right to bully her and that’s exactly what people were doing in their comments. From things like “Ew, I’m eating!” to someone saying that it looked more like Xtina (assumingly because Gaga’s ass wasn’t as fit as usual) and then the DJ himself saying that no it wasn’t Xtina because it wasn’t bright orange (alluding to Xtina’s spray tan).
Some might say it’s “all in good fun” and part of a DJ’s job to do this, but I have to disagree. Yeah it may be a DJ’s job to provide the picture so people can see, but I don’t think it’s their job to participate in and encourage bullying and back that up by saying its okay because it’s a public figure. Would it be okay if I took a picture of the DJ’s ass and posted it online solely for the purpose that people could pick on it? No, it wouldn’t.
I’m not saying that I’m a complete angel. I’ve said and done things online over the last decade that I’m ashamed of. I’ve jumped in on flaming people online and didn’t even realize how mean I was being at the time. I joke about people online just like everyone else. I even send some rather questionable tweets out about Xtina during The Voice sometimes because of her behavior. But I think there’s a difference between complaining on Twitter about a coworker who talks with her mouth full and posting a bad picture of someone and encouraging people to flame it along with you. I also think that there’s a difference in commenting on someone’s public job performance, as in Xtina on The Voice, and just picking on a bad photo of her ass. When I complain on Twitter that Xtina’s tits are about to fall out of her shirt and she once again has forgotten to wear pants, I’m not making digs on her weight or how she looks or even who she is as a human being, I’m just saying that she’s being a crappy role model to young girls by walking around on television half clothed since she backs that up by picking on other people for not being good role models. Some people might think that’s the same thing, but to me, there’s a difference. It’s possible to point out your aversion to the behavior without being mean.
In a time where cyber bullying is so prevalent and we live in a world where people (including children) are choosing suicide because they’re being bullied, we’ve got to be a little more careful. It’s rather hypocritical to justify bullying with “She’s chosen to live a life that’s in the public eye.” I lost a long time friend about a year ago because she posted a joke on FB about the president that was so inappropriate that I couldn’t help but respond to. This is the joke,
Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey were flying on Obama’s private plane. Obama looked at Oprah, chuckled and said, “You know, I could throw a $1,000 bill out of the window right now and make somebody very happy.” Oprah shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I could throw ten $100 bills out of the window and make ten people very happy.” Michelle added, ”That being the case, I could throw one hundred $10 bills out of the window and make a hundred people very happy.” Hearing their exchange, the pilot rolled his eyes and said to his co-pilot, “Such big-shots back there. Shit, I could throw all of their asses out of the window and make 56 million people very happy.”
I thought the “joke” was inappropriate because joking about anyone’s death in my book is not okay. I was also offended by the racial undertone of the whole thing. I pointed out that there’s no humor in wishing someone would die simply because you don’t agree with how they’re doing their job and also pointed out that they’re talking about real people with feelings and family who would be devastated if they were to die.
The response I got from my comment was a lot like what I got today. People said that because Mr. Obama was the President and Mrs. Obama was the First Lady and they were in the public eye if he wasn’t doing a good job people had the right to complain about it. I then pointed out that complaining about job performance and wishing someone dead were very different. I posed a question of “What if I worked for you and decided you were a shitty boss so I made jokes about how I wished you’d die? Then I posted them on FB where your children or friends could come across the post to see… Would that be okay?” Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to find out what the person said because the person I was friends with decided to just unfriend me so that I couldn’t respond to the joke anymore. So after over ten years of being in my life, this person cut me off and never spoke to me again. She wasn’t even involved in the dialogue back and forth; she’d just been the one to originally post the joke.
There were a handful of people today who clicked the Like button on the DJ and his wife’s responses to my comment this morning and one Like of my comment (thank you, Amber). What does that say about our society? I’m not by any means trying to claim that this DJ is a bad person. I know he’s just trying to do his job, but why does being a DJ have to include encouraging picking on people? Why does a job in the media in general mean that you have a license to be mean? And what exactly about my question was so offensive?
I argue with people all the time about how rude they are to celebrities. Someone can post something online about Justin Bieber giving tons of money to charity and I can guarantee most of the comments will be things like, “He’s gay…” “He has no talent…” “He needs to just go away…” You can like him as an artist or not, there’s absolutely NO reason to bash him like that. You can barely read any article online without someone pulling out of their ass that it’s Obama’s fault. It could be an article about why clouds are fluffy and someone is going to find something negative to say about it just because there’s a comment box available.
You know what? I don’t like Tom Cruise, but just because I don’t like him and he’s in the public eye doesn’t mean I think I can trash him to anyone else. I choose to not see his films because I don’t want to support him. When he was in the public saying awful things about clinical depression and anti-depression medications I made my disagreement known and I definitely did not support him, but not once did I attack him as a person. I don’t like Mitt Romney’s views and have been fairly vocal about disagreeing with the things he says… but again, I’m not attacking HIM. (Okay, I did share a graphic the other day that called him a “mean dick,” so maybe that wasn’t appropriate. But he was being mean with the things he said.) I don’t know if he’s a good person or not, I just know that I disagree with his way of thinking about a lot of things.
I think that people, myself included, really need to stop and think about what they’re saying before they say it (or type it, text it, publish it, record it, etc.). Disagreeing and bullying are just simply not the same thing and I think a lot of people have forgotten that. People who chose to live in the public eye are still human beings who have feelings. Sure, there are things that they have to deal with more than the average Joe does, but they still deserve to be treated with respect and a little bit of compassion. Just stop for a second and think about what it would do to you if every time you did something someone pointed out something bad about you whether it had to do with the situation or not. You post a picture of yourself on vacation and complete strangers pop up saying, “You’re ugly!” “You need to just come out of the closet!” “You have no talent!” “What a waste of space!” “Oh I just hate her!” It probably wouldn’t feel so great would it?
So why in the world would you do that to a celebrity?