No one likes being made fun of, not in any serious capacity at least. Thing is, being made fun of typically only gets to you as much as you let it. The phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is an old saying meant to remind a person that words can often be dismissed, especially the unkind words of a stranger.
It’s a phrase that’s become heeded less and less over time. Nowadays, saying something can cause an entire mob to go out of their way to ruin your life, but I digress.
Today, no one seems to be more offended by words than the modern celebrity. Every other day a post goes up or an article goes out that details the savagery celebrities endure by online denizens of social media websites. According to The Hollywood Reporter, an actress from “The Flash,” Candice Patton, complained that the hate she would get almost made her want to quit the show:
“Now people understand it a little better, and they understand how fans can be racist — especially in genre — misogynistic, all of that. But at the time it was kind of just like, ‘That’s how fans are, but whatever,’” Patton said. “Even with the companies I was working with, The CW and WB, I think that was their way of handling it. I think we know better now. It’s not OK to treat your talent that way — to let them go through abuse and harassment.”
Patton alleged “there were no support systems” at the time, and “it was just free rein to get abused every single day.”
Thanks to the nonsense given to us by Disney Star Wars surrounding the Moises Ingram claims of misogynistic and racist harassment, I’m kind of disinclined to believe that what Patton received was what she thought it was, but even so, let’s pretend the majority of negative comments that came at her was, in fact, racist sexism.
I’ve got bad news for Patton…she’s gonna have to deal with it.
Just like every other celebrity who claims to have been “harassed,” Patton lives in an era where communication has never been easier. Social media has made it possible to deliver messages to public figures with not but a button press, and what’s more, you don’t even have to reveal your identity when you do it. You can say whatever you want, whenever you want, and to whoever you want, all from the comfort of your home.
When you introduce that kind of free-range anonymity, some people are going to use it to just be mean to other people. There are myriad reasons why someone might do that, but to the target, it really shouldn’t matter. Strangers who have never met you before, who probably will never meet you in person, and who contribute little to no value to your personal life…don’t matter.
If you’re a public figure, you stick out in the crowd. You become a lightning rod for attention. The spotlight is on you, both figuratively and very literally. Your career lives or dies based on attention. Naturally, some of that attention is going to be negative, and in an age where it’s safe to anonymously insult someone, some of that negativity is going to come in the form of very horrible comments.
The solution? Shrug it off. Let these people talk.
While I’m not a celebrity in the same sense, I am a public-facing figure for a website that many people would rather not exist. I say things that many people disagree with for a living. Some of the comments I get range from simple disagreement to all-out requests that I kill myself and/or threats against me and my family.
It comes with the territory. Even if my job was to say fun things that everyone can agree on, there is going to be a group of people who want to send me nasty, threatening messages. When you’re on the stage, you’re going to get tomatoes hurled your way. Some celebrities need to understand this and go in knowing they’re going to catch flak…
…but that said, I think some celebrities do know that’s going to happen. In fact, they count on it, but that’s another article.