Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Yesterday while I was on my way into work, I read about the online harassment actress Leslie Jones was receiving because of her role in the movie Ghostbusters. THe movie, which I have no interest in seeing because I saw the original and barely liked it, has been the target of both justified and unjustified criticism. Some folks don't like the all-female cast, some folks don't think an additional Ghostbusters movie should have been made, and other people just flat out don't care for the movie.

But for some reason Leslie, who is tall, dark-skinned, black, and has strong features, has been the primary target for those "haters"--specifically those wonderful Twitter haters who sit at their desk and type mean things knowing they can walk away unscathed. As you can imagine, Leslie's feelings were deeply hurt and she temporarily separated herself from Twitter. I was a bit surprised because she's a comedian, and usually they have quips and comebacks for days, but she is still a human being who is relatively new to the limelight, and even if she wasn't, no one deserves to be on the receiving end of that type of racist, sexist language.

Later that same day, I noticed that Melania Trump--wife of Donald--was also being harassed online for her speech on the opening night of the Republican Convention in Cleveland. I didn't watch (I don't plan to watch either Convention because they are just self-indulgent shit shows for the most part), but apparently Mrs. Trump decided to "borrow" lines from Michelle Obama's 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. Considering her husband has done nothing but antagonize Barack and his birth certificate from day one, it was a bit odd to see his wife spitting lines that had been not-so-ghostwritten for her, but she did it and it backfired.

All day yesterday, regular people and celebrities were making fun of Mrs. Trump, and it was ruthless. They made fun of her background, her lack of intellgience, the ill-fated speech, and after awhile it was just cringe-worthy. I'm not a fan of her husband's politics and rhetoric, but I have nothing against Mrs. Trump, and it was painful to watch her being dragged through the mud due to her performance on a stage that she clearly is not used to. Soledad O'Brien was a voice of reason in all this madness when she said that Mrs. Trump's content was garbage, but her deliver was excellent. Then Soledad was harassed on Twitter, but unlike Leslie Jones and Melania, she had no problem fighting back.

I think both examples of harassment are cowardly and wrong. I'm not exactly a nice person and lord knows that I've been mean in my day, but usually it is a) justified and b) face-to-face. Twitter,
Facebook, InstaGram and the comments section of online articles, have given idiots (and smart people too) a platform to say and type the first bit of mindless drivel that comes to their minds or fingers, sans any type of real consequences. Back in the day, if you truly had hate or opposition in your heart, you had to sit down and pen a letter to the editor. You had to actually make a commitment to write something sanguine and well thought out, and then you had to hope that the newspaper or magazine was impressed enough with your offering to print it for all to see and read. That doesn't mean that there wasn't opposition, it was just smarter and easier to swallow than a 140-character, abbreviated rant that ends with the person hitting "Enter" or "send". This isn't the only area of life that has been dumbed down in recent years, but this seems to be the one rearing its ugly head the most often--especially during this Presidential election.

Last Friday my electricity went out from 5pm on Friday afternoon to 4:45 early Saturday morning. It was just Nyles and me at home, and all we had was a laptop, a USB with kiddies movies on it, 3 candles, 80 degree heat with no AC, my phone that was 47% charged and each other. No internet, no television, no iPad, limited light, just each other's company. It forced us to talk, joke around and laugh, and then once he went to bed I read this book, and I took my ass to bed as well. I remember how much smarter (tired and hot) I felt in the morning after my unintentional electronics detox. Perhaps that's the cure for online idiots running rampant...

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