Middle-Class Social Media User Claims Satirical Skit “Deeply Offensive To Homeless People”

This has to be an example of ‘outrage culture’ at its very best.

Following a skit by comedian Tom Gleeson on the 26 August episode of the ABC’s “The Weekly with Charlie Pickering”, which ostensibly satirised attitudes towards the homeless both here and overseas, there was apparently yet more social media ‘outrage’.

It should be noted that Gleeson’s skit satirized attitudes towards the homeless, not homeless people themselves. Clearly,  satirical comedy on free-to-air television still has more than its quota of idiots with no concept of satire tuning in. More’s the pity.

““That skit was deeply offensive to homeless people,” said one angry person on Twitter”… according to a news.com.au article.

“…said one angry person on Twitter”? WTF? I’ve seen and heard anger before. Of all the things I can imagine being screamed hysterically or emanating from a shaking red face, all twitching and contorted with rage, hissing through gritted teeth and with little bits of spit coming out, the statement “that skit was deeply offensive to homeless people” isn’t one of them. But I digress.

So this one supposedly ‘angry’ person… what do we know about them? As usual where social media ‘outrage’ is concerned, not very much. But it’s fun trying to imagine!

WeeklyHomelessFor starters, who’d actually say something like this? Would they be more likely to be a girl or a guy? I think a guy. Probably late-20s or very early-30s. A big beard, maybe? Masses of heavily product-laden hair with a side-parting sharp enough to cut your hand on, perhaps? Caramel or dark blue skinny chinos, possibly rolled at the cuffs? Big hiking boots? Maybe a red tartan flanno? Funky spectacles that could well be more decorative than prescription? Like most hipsters, I imagine our complainant to basically be the love child of Ned Kelly and the Monty Python lumberjack.

So there he is, tucked up all warm and dry in his comfortable home, probably stretched out on a nice squishy sofa, warm drink on the table opposite, belly still full from the meal he consumed an hour ago, watching “The Weekly with Charlie Pickering”, via Foxtel, on his 65″ Sony Bravia Ultra HD 3D TV. As he watches, the division of his fortnightly pay for monthly bills, social activities, his next O/S jaunt and his growing mortgage deposit is floating about vaguely in the back of his mind; he also reminds himself that he needs to fill the SUV with 98-RON Premium fuel on his way to the office in the morning.

In among all that, our totally not-homeless person somehow managed to focus for long enough to get angry about this one three-minute satirical sketch. So angry, in fact, that he took to a social media app on his smartphone to claim that it was “deeply offensive to homeless people”… oh fuck off, you massive wanker!

OK, so even if our angry outrager isn’t anything like the way my cynical imagination constructed him, the fact remains that he’s either had a sense of humour by-pass or has no concept whatsoever of irony or satire – either of which only makes me wonder why he was watching “The Weekly with Charlie Pickering” in the first place.

Homeless, are you? Know any homeless people, do you? Sat at least one homeless person down, in the comfort of your home, and had them watch the sketch, before asking their opinion of it, did you? If the answer to all three questions is “no” – which I suspect it might be – then just fuck off!

When will people stop getting outraged on behalf of other people they obviously don’t know and clearly know nothing about? It’s just not necessary for the well-heeled and comfortably middle-class to make assumptions about how the lower echelons of society might possibly feel about stuff! It’s even less necessary when their outrage is entirely due to their own flawed understanding of what they witnessed, rather than anything that was genuinely and intentionally offensive. They only make themselves look like faux-outrage wankers which, I’m pretty certain, does nothing to help the homeless in the end.

Here’s a novel idea: instead of all the stupid, pointless outrage on social media, perhaps our man could get off his arse, leave his comfortable home and do something tangible for all the homeless folk he believes were so deeply offended by something the majority of them would never have even seen, rather than merely jumping to their defence on fucking Twitter.

On the list of things that are utterly unlikely to ever happen, I wonder how highly our outrager would rate that idea?

The pre-viral selfie stick

This might well be the first, and possibly only, time in my life when I’ll be able to claim that I was once ahead of the times… or, at least, ahead of what’s trending online.

SelfieStick1995JapanA series of pictures popped up on Twitter a few days ago and, apparently, ‘went viral’. The pictures appear to be of a brochure for a product, developed in Japan in 1995, called the Self-Portrait Camera Stick. Apparently it was largely dismissed at the time as being a bit pointless and nobody ever heard of it again, if indeed they’d ever heard of it in the first place. I’m certain I’d never heard of the 1995 Self-Portrait Camera Stick until today, though I find its dismissal difficult to fathom. I can clearly recall many a time in the pre-smartphone digital camera age (to say nothing of the Kodak Disposable Camera age) when I really could’ve done without the awkwardness and potential loss involved in handing an expensive camera to a complete stranger, before striking the requisite pose and hoping with every fibre of your being that you wouldn’t have to ask them to take the photo again. Most often over the years I forewent both the awkwardness and the potential for myself and my absurdly expensive camera to involuntarily part company. That meant that I ended up with thousands of photos so utterly bereft of human life – or any that was personally known to me at least – that they might just as well have been emblazoned with “Greetings from <name of holiday destination>!”.

Last year I embarked on an utterly self-indulgent six-week extravaganza across the United States as a memorial to the 40th anniversary of my birth. The driving and history fanatic in me was to spend four of those weeks travelling alone, crossing the country from Las Vegas to Chicago following as much of the original Route 66 as I could find and one thing was for sure: I wasn’t about to end up with thousands of photos that provided zero evidence of me ever having been physically present at the time. So about six weeks before jetting off to sunny California I went online, in the hope that old reliable (aka Google) would reveal to me what it was that I thought I was looking for. And I mean that in the most literal sense – I had no idea if such a device even existed. I didn’t know what to call it or even what words to use for the best search results, so I typed “smartphone”, “photo”, “selfie” and, believe it or not, “extendable arm”. Who woulda thunk it? Right there at the top of my search results was a link to an Ebay item that did exactly what I was looking for. It was ludicrously cheap and arrived from China four days after I bought it. I couldn’t have been more impressed by such a simple thing: a spring-loaded grab handle, a 1.5m extendable arm and a leather wrist strap, all of which would allow for many perfectly framed selfies of me and the great Mother Road – what more could I have wanted?

SelfieStick2013Those who know me well enough or who were actually with me at the time will recall that I’d dubbed the amazing gadget my “selfie stick”. There was no such reference on the eBay listing, nor on the item’s packaging, nor the invoice, nor anywhere else that I saw. I just called it that coz I thought it sounded vaguely amusing, as well as it being something of a “does what it says on the box” descriptor. I don’t recall anybody who saw it saying they’d ever seen anything like it before (it’s possible someone did say they’d seen one before, but why ruin a good story with facts?).

For most of my six weeks in the U.S. and Canada, my selfie stick and I were inseparable. Much of the time it was the cause of a slightly odd but not entirely unpleasant bulge in my pocket and it was extended with great frequency. Wherever I went people would point, smile and comment. I had so many friendly Americans, young and old, asking me what it was, where I’d gotten it and how they could get their own. Initial enquiries invariably lead to interrogation of my accent, where I was from and what I was doing in America, but the parting salvo would always be “So – eBay, China, Selfie Stick, right? I’ll remember that”. Never mind the friendly, adventurous Aussie who introduced it to you.

But even if they forget me, maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe I actually came up with “selfie stick”? Maybe I should’ve patented that name? Maybe I’d be getting rich now if I had.

Fast forward nine months and, apparently, selfie sticks have gone viral. Apparently they now come with Bluetooth connectivity and remote controls and were one of the ‘must have’ gifts of the recent festive season. Apparently they’ve even begun spawning spin-off devices, although the first such device will surely only reduce any purpose the original might’ve genuinely served to a joke. It’ll become a short-term fad that’s only remembered as the extendable stick used to take photos of titillating body parts – mark my words.

But it’s gone viral now. It’s trending online. That means the life will be sucked out of it and everyone will move on to something else before the first Selfie Stick Online Celebrity Dick Pic Scandal even happens. If that’s how it turns out, it’ll be a very sad thing; putting the stomach-churning narcissism of Gen-Selfie to one side, the modern take on the Self-Portrait Camera Stick has more to offer than merely snapping vacuous poses for social media or getting a glimpse of your arse.

Still, for a while back there I felt a bit unique. I created a bit of a buzz. And I was ahead of what was trending online. F*** you, social media!



Charlotte Dawson’s “Twitter hell” lead to “a brush with suicide”, apparently…

I have to say it – I’m almost shocked. I almost can’t believe it. All the media space this garbage with Charlotte Dawson and the online trolls has gotten over the past week or so is just too much.

Let’s not beat around the bush here: what a load of old shit!

Charlotte Dawson. A New Zealand woman whose biggest claim to fame is being the plain-speaking (read: bitch) judge on Foxtel’s Australia’s Next Top Model, a program which even at its peak is watched by just 112,000 people.

One hundred and twelve thousand.

The poor thing had such a time of it with cyber-bullies and so-called online “trolls” a few days back that she actually did what they told her to do in all of their highly educated, eloquently expressed Twitter tweets – she caved in, gave up and apparently popped some pills. Just to prove she was serious, she apparently also tweeted that she had indeed caved in and given up and even posted a photo of a hand holding a bottle of pills. Top marks for the melodrama. Well played Charlotte Dawson.

Because it was well-played. One minute poor, downtrodden, abused and vilified Charlotte Dawson is being whisked off to Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, presumably in response to some kind of so-called overdose; the next, she and her pumped stomach are up and off their death bed for an exclusive interview with 60 Minutes! How wonderfully unplanned. And all this media coverage too – how marvellously fortuitous. She’s so very lucky that she felt so much better – and so quickly too! – that she was able to record an interview with a program which, even on a bad night, attracts an audience ten times bigger than the program she’s most ‘well known’ for. Again, well played Charlotte Dawson.

Notwithstanding the fact that Charlotte Dawson sees fit to call it how she sees it as a judge on Australia’s Next Top Model – and in saying this I mean to suggest only that she would seem to have been instrumental in the development of whatever reputation she has – this ridiculous situation has done one thing and one thing only: it’s proven that both Charlotte Dawson and the majority of the Australian media are as brain-dead as the “online trolls” accused of Dawson’s “cyber-bullying” in the first place.

The fact that the situation received so much airtime and press space says more about the local media’s reliance on social media as a catalyst for news creation than it does of the situation itself, which was little more than a bunch of faceless online entities engaged in a bit of dummy spitting, bitch slapping and name calling. To be fair, it also says quite a lot about Charlotte Dawson, her own head space and her relationship with what used to be referred to as “the virtual world”. Frankly, it’s a relationship that she needs to reassess.

Because Charlotte Dawson, it seems, is as obsessed with the so-called Twitterverse as the rest of the mindless pond life who inhabit it and who subsequently use it to air their mostly pointless one line thoughts any number of times per day. By all accounts, she’s not shy of tweeting and re-tweeting controversial comments at all hours of the day and night. She’s apparently quite happy to tell others when to get a grip, but in a classic case of not practicing what one preaches, it seems Charlotte Dawson doesn’t know how to disassociate real life from Twitterlife.

Charlotte Dawson didn’t know who these people were. She probably didn’t know them at all. It’s likely she’d never met a single one of them in her life, nor had the remotest chance of ever doing so. And so they start posting comments like “please kill yourself”, “please put your head in an oven”, “please hang yourself”, all extremely well thought-out, eloquent comments I’m sure you’ll agree. All the product of some finely attuned, rational, educated adult minds, there’s no denying it.

Is it just me, or does anyone else just want to grab Charlotte Dawson by the shoulders and shake the crap out of her while screaming “IT’S ONLY TWITTER CHARLOTTE DAWSON, FOR FUCK’S SAKE, IT’S NOT REAL LIFE, GET THE FUCK OVER IT!”. Seriously – anyone? Or just me?

Coz it’s not real, is it? It can’t be. There’s no genuine, interpersonal relationship. There’s no direct line of sight between one user and another. Sometimes there isn’t even a real picture or a username based on life from which to associate an actual face with an actual name. It’s all just a bunch of words. Stupid, pointless, meaningless words constructed – usually it’s atrociously poorly constructed – by brainless morons who believe that telling complete strangers – celebrity or no, online or no – to kill themselves if OK.

Seriously – WTF? It’s not that I’m struggling to comprehend how this whole situation could’ve even happened. The world is full of stupid people and stupid people often have very big, stupid opinions about things that they get all loud and shouty about. A lot of the time this happens online. Would any of these people have been even slightly likely to see Charlotte Dawson in the flesh and say these nasty, hateful things to her? Absolutely not. We’re talking about a generation of people who hide behind the antisocial barrier created by the interweb and social media as a means of growing the backbone they could never develop in real life to make pointless, hurtful comments to people they’ll never meet, about things and issues which, by and large, don’t matter in the overall scheme of things. Then they log off and don’t think about it again. Several hundred similarly stupid people then do the same thing and before you know it, thousands of stupid people have all done the same thing. One tiny, probably insignificant moment in time for each of them to compose – again, mostly poorly – their hateful diatribe, post it and go away. It’s not as if they all got together and planned it, like some covert attack under cover of darkness. It was nothing more than ‘monkey see, monkey do’, like most of the claptrap on social media and interweb chat rooms, forums and message boards going right back to the beginnings of the interweb itself. Stupid is as stupid does, it’s always been the same. And this was stupid.

What I’m actually struggling to comprehend is how any of this has been taken seriously! An almost 50-year-old woman – a ‘celebrity’, if you will – who openly and frequently utilises social media to broadcast her own (sometimes ‘controversial’) thoughts is brought to her knees by a bunch of fellow users who essentially tell her, in a variety of colourful ways, to go to hell, then pops up a few days later to be interviewed about the whole sordid affair by a program that will provide her, when the interview airs, with by far the biggest single viewing audience she’s ever had. Anywhere. Ever.

Gimme a break! Yeah maybe I’m a tad cynical as a general rule, but I tried not to be with this. I tried to assess it from every angle, objectively. But it’s a case of recursive occlusion I’m afraid – whatever path I took just kept bringing me back to the same place: it’s all an over-dramatised, melodramatic sham!

Here’s a thought, Charlotte Dawson. Next time it’s all getting a bit too much, why not consider stopping your tweets, logging out of your account (or even deactivating it), repeating to yourself “this isn’t real, this isn’t real, this isn’t real” (or “there’s no place like home”, or “what is it you can’t face Maria?” or frankly anything that makes you feel better), go have a real conversation with a real person who you actually know and forget all about social media forever. Won’t make for nearly as interesting an interview and 60 Minutes likely won’t be interested, but surely you’ll feel better as a human being which I’m sure is all you genuinely want.

But well played Charlotte Dawson. Deftly executed. Bravo madam, bravo. Topping performance, what!? And what a jolly effective set-piece those pills turned out to be too.

Of course, nobody needs to know they were only Vitamin C tabs – don’t worry, you’re secret’s safe with me.