I’m currently on a Twitter discussion with some friends who agree with me that this certain fan fiction that’s going crazy and out of hand on Twitter. Apparently, some people thought it would be funny to make fan fiction “slasher” tweets about the male children of the presidential candidates. It has picked up steam, it has its own hashtag, and people have been going crazy over it.
And it bothers me to all hell.
How is this not cyberbullying? Over 24 posts and there’s a lot more on Twitter, if I’m not mistaken. Some very graphic and some very demeaning to these young men, all children of the presidential candidates, and if I have to be objective about it, a lot of it is witty, clever, and funny.
But I also think it is gross and wrong and it is offensive and insulting to these people. And maybe I’m being naive or a killjoy or a prude but this is my first time to see slasher fan fiction on real people. I have just discovered that people have done this with members of One Direction and now that I’m aware of it and what it might look like, it bothers me too.
I don’t know why, but I understand how it can happen to fictional characters. Apparently it happens a lot to very famous television characters and movie franchises but I didn’t realise that this practice extends to real people and now that I’ve finally seen one and how graphic it can be, I’m shocked at how offensive it comes across to me.
These are actual people, with actual lives, and actual feelings. Fine, if you want to parody them or make a satire about them, then go for their actual personalities. But if you make something up, it’s no longer a satire or a parody, right? This has nothing to do with the fact that they are portrayed as gay. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. But I don’t think these young men identify themselves as gay. And now there are all these tweets with their names on it putting them in very awkward and demeaning situations suggesting they are someone they aren’t.
How is that not offensive? How do they not feel violated when they know that hundreds, maybe thousands of people are reading these tweets and thinking of them in this manner? All for a laugh? Who are you laughing at and why are you laughing at them?
It really bothers me. Like I tweeted, I would hate for this to be done to me. I thought the golden rule was all we needed to know what is right and what is wrong.
Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.
It’s so simple. And it’s one of the first things we learned as kids. And in trying to understand why they do it, a friend said that people think that anyone who is in the public eye is fair game and that also bothers me. Why? Why is anyone who is in the public eye — be it a politician, their children, an actor, a TV host, an author, an activist — fair game for ridicule? The only reason I can think of is because it someone everyone would recognise so you can have a collective experience garnered out of this person’s popularity. Because we all know this person, we all can connect with however you decide to talk about that person.
But it doesn’t take away the fact that you’re still ridiculing them and you’re violating their identity and their personhood. And if just because you’re a nobody means you’re protected from this sort of public ridicule.
What bothers me is that it’s in a public space like Twitter. If this was a group of friends hanging out and trading these lewd, ridiculing stories, then maybe it’s fine because it’s within the private space of just you and your friends? I don’t know. If it happened in a comedy club or bar, it would be okay because that is a space where these things happen? I don’t know.
I think what bothers me is that these kids are just the children of their parents and it’s election time and we’re all waiting for the results and tensions are high so they are very much in the public consciousness. I think one of them has been very passionate about his father who is in a tight race and half the country hates his father while the other half loves him. They want to mock him and ridicule him for what he has put out online. Mock him for that. Ridicule him for that. Don’t make stuff up and then bring in the other children of the other candidates.
These are real people. You wouldn’t want this done to you. I know I wouldn’t.
It just leaves me feeling really icky and gross. I thought we were all striving to be better than that.