THE BLOG

Controversy Rewards People Like Nicole Arbour, So Stop Clicking

09/18/2015 12:04 EDT | Updated 09/18/2016 05:12 EDT
YouTube/Nicole Arbour

For the past couple of weeks, people have been all abuzz about a fat-shaming video that has made the rounds online. A Canadian comedian -- She Who Shall Not Be Named -- posted an insulting tirade about fat people, only to find herself in the middle of controversy. After an onslaught of outrage, the YouTube comic responded with a smirk and the faithful standby that it had all been "satire." How crazy that anyone took it seriously in the first place, eh?

This so-called fiasco was outrageous for no other reason than it became what it was intended to be all along. It was manufactured to elicit the response it did, as well as the comic's phony "What's the big deal?" tour that followed. The surprise is that so many people fell for the entire thing in the first place. What was actually a cartoon was somehow treated like a soap opera.

It's one thing for some random passerby to stumble upon that video in their Facebook newsfeed and immediately take offence. What's embarrassing is how many people in the actual media (including reputable print and television sources) took this obvious clickbait and ran with it.

When She Who Shall Not Be Named sat down to be interviewed on news channels and The View, the questions that kept being hurled her way remained "Why would you say such things?" and "Why do you hate fat people?" Instead, the question all along should have simply been, "Is this what you're willing to do to get attention?"

The video in question couldn't be more obvious clickbait if it promised a sneak peak at the cure for cancer at the end of it. Yet people fell for it anyway. They lapped it up and allowed to be fished-in by the biggest hook in the pond. What was met with anger should have simply gotten an eye roll.

Instead of talking about fat-shaming, we should have been speaking about the depths to which we are willing to sink these days in order to get attention, money and fame. That's what the video was really all about. It was yet another attempt by someone who has spent years trying to get attention and fame through various other methods, including other types of manufactured controversy. That this is actually a way to "make it" these days is more telling than what people have to say about fat people.

We set a dangerous precedent when we give tens of millions of views to videos so obviously phony as that one. We make it worse when we then invite the people who make them to go on TV and pretend they're somehow authentic.

It's not that we wind up defending fat-shaming so much as we wind up telling people that simply being a jerk is a viable talent to be paraded around. That standing in the corner yelling, "Look at me, look at me, look at me!" is somehow credible and deserves our time and energy.

And it makes being rude for clicks a career path. So, stop clicking.

People have asked if we would have She Who Shall Not Be Named on our SiriusXM talk radio program. Our answer has always been a resounding "no" because we aren't going to take the bait and discuss something that was never genuine in the first place. Not unless we could blatantly talk about what this conversation is really about, which is how some people will use The Internet in the most obvious ways in order to get attention.

Because it's certainly not about fat-shaming. And it never was.

Ward Anderson is a comedian, author, and co-host of the talk radio program "Ward & Al", heard weekdays on SiriusXM's Canada Talks channel.

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