Julien Blanc and Katie Hopkins: Should we Feed the Trolls?
When Katie Hopkins offered support to ‘controversial pick up artist’ Julien Blanc, according to the Huffington Post, the story surprised no one.
Seeming to cultivate her status as a professional troll, she responded to the polls calling for Blanc to be denied a visa with a roll of her metaphorical eyes and once again managed to command the attention of every media outlet poised for her next inflammatory comment.
Next up – plans to ban a bloke from the UK as we are frightened of what he will say to people paying to see him. pic.twitter.com/Zz6OivTHIo
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) November 16, 2014
Blanc, a Swiss-American who claims to be able to ‘game’ women so ‘hard’ that they ‘beg’ for his attention, has been called the ‘Most Hated Man In The World’ after a video of him choking a woman in Tokyo went viral and Australia gave him the boot. And despite an apology interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, shaking the reputation of a racist and sexually violent misogynist is likely to take sometime.
— Richard Briggs (@dickiebird123) November 20, 2014
We gave her this platform though; we let her continue to post her many rancorous messages without censorship. Unlike Julien Blanc, for whom censorship has left him with the sole option of beaming in via Skype to talk to his British fans, Hopkins has been made to apologise a handful of times for offending people but almost always escapes further ridicule when she shrugs and tells the offendees it’s their fault for being offended.
She thrives because she trolls. And we let her.
She accepts and laughs at the outrage that she causes. And there’s always a small group somewhere accepting and laughing along with her.
Of course, there’s the slight question of whether Katie Hopkins is a traditional troll. She isn’t playing the ultimate devil’s advocate but equally she isn’t spouting opinions just to make Internet users so angry that their bloodied fingers expire trying to type an equally vitriolic defense. She seems to actually mean what she says, rather than saying it for the sake of irking 90% of the population.
Some love her for it and it maybe there’s an argument for saying her voice actually makes some issues come into the public eye that would otherwise be hidden from view. But the media definitely feeds her and if anyone tried to take her offline, I’m sure there would be outcry at those attempting to silence her voice.
My thought is that the media, particularly online and social media, complains about trolling and the spread of cyberbullying, but then it endorses or employs the same tactics when it suits the in vogue agenda.
Katie Hopkins has not empowered Katie Hopkins. Julien Blanc has not empowered Julien Blanc. The voice of shared media has.
Regardless of whether you think that Blanc should never hold a visa to the UK, or if you find Hopkins funny, multi-channel media has the power to make sure that Ice Buckets succeed, Comet-Landings disappear behind Kim Kardashian’s ginormous derrière, chauvinists become (un)popular icons, and trolls can stay beneath the crooked bridge, ready to gobble up any stray Billy-goats.
So I think this begs the question, and really the whole of this blog: should we feed the trolls?
Je serai poète et toi poésie, SCRIBBLER
ps. For more comments and information – why not go to the PHA Media website where I first published this post!