The Star Wars Body Shaming: When the bullies on the internet are the media

You've probably heard about the "Body shaming" Instagram post that tagged Daisy Ridley by now. The one that Daisy Ridley "bravely" shot back at, before coming to her senses and then posting this sort of apology instead.

When Ms Ridley responded to the original meme, she had no idea who she responded to, and Ridley's 1.4 million followers include the media who stalk celebrities social media, so countless articles were written about the "body shaming" post. The articles often included a screendump of the original (now removed) Instagram post, thereby putting that username on blast. With headlines like "Daisy Ridley Shuts Down Body-Shaming Troll some journalists should be ashamed of themselves. Context is everything, and having looked at the young girls Instagram I have found out several things:

A) She's a die hard Star Wars fan and a super huge fan of Daisy Ridley, who just chewed her out.
B) Her mother tongue is Danish, and at her age it's unlikely that she's fluent in English yet.
C) Her image was a repost that she did not create and
D) She was prematurely born and suffers from ADHD, so she goes to a special class for children with learning disabilities.

This took me literally 4 minutes to find. I also have her families home phone number and could call them for a quote, but at this point that's all to late now isn't it? Shouldn't the journalists who originally ran with the story done a little checking before they labelled a young Danish girl with a learning disability on Instagram a "body shaming troll"? At least Daisy Ridley came to her senses and removed the post that directed attention at the young girl, but if I were Daisy Ridley's PR adviser, I'd tell her to send some Star Wars fan stuff and an actual letter of apology to the young girl in Denmark who got caught up in this maelstrom of stupid media. Leave all social media out of it. Both Daisy Ridley and the young girl in Denmark are the victims of a media tear here, but Daisy is the adult and the bankable movie star so, she should do this. She can't undo the flood of negative attention that girl had to deal with, but she can apologise properly.

The media is still making huge headlines over this, and so many! Here's a quick Google search. Disturbing, isn't it?

So, with a quick reverse image search - one you can literally do by simply clicking on the image if you use Google Chrome, I've found the source for the "body shaming" image. And here again we learn that context is everything. "I hypocrite" wrote this over the top satirical review of Star Wars as if seen with Tumblr eyes, and in the review you'll find that speech bubbled image of Rey stating "I can't believe the unrealistic expectations I'm setting for young girls". The entire review is a takedown of tumblr activism, and hilarious in context. So close to real thing it fooled the media into thinking it was the real thing.

"I, Hypocrite" has seen what's happened and wrote this post as a response: Dear Diary: Today I fucked up and made a meme so dank Daisy Ridley had her 1.4 million followers chase a retarded girl off the internet. The author places the blame on what happened firmly in the lap of the media, and concludes that us as a society have an unhealthy obsession with celebrities. There's choice quotes from the articles written about this spat, that make it look like Daisy Ridley confronted an army of harassers. A quote from The Mary Sue actually defends the satire written by "I, Hypocrite", oblivious to the fact that it's actually satire.

Of course, we do need more body diversity in Star Wars, and in media overall. Hopefully as great female representation in Star Wars evolves to become the norm, rather than the exception, that increased inclusivity will also be a priority…it’s the directors, producers, and other people (usually straight white men) who dictate the default in Hollywood.

The moment journalists began stalking social media for stories, it was hailed as a revolution. "Citizen journalism" could now really come to fruition, as anyone with a smartphone could report from riots, accidents, war zones etc. Instead the world's media now has us stalking some teenagers Instagram in Roskilde. It's not just sick, it's shameful. In "The trouble with twitter", I point out that journalists are too easily duped by anyone pretending to be in an active shooter situation in San Bernardino, as proven by the fact that troll got on CNN news.

But, it's not just poor journalism that has put us here. It's our microwave mentality. We shrink large things into pithy hashtags #LikeAHashtagger and think this is as important as joining a revolution. The constant tweeting, reblogging and hashtagging every newsbit on social media with things like #diversify, #MoreWomen, #WeNeedMoreLeftHandedCreatives etc has some people turning into parodies of themselves. One-topic fits all, and it's their pet hashtag. I would take a tweet stating "We need more left handed creative directors" at face value at this point, as our industry in particular seem far more interested in checking diversity boxes and making parody films of ourselves, then actually getting up and doing something. (I find Brian Bronaugh , President at Mullen is the exception here and I would love to hear more from others who are actively doing something other than setting up niche conferences to make money)

Complex matters are not for 140 char discussions, and social media is not for serious news reporting. We used to think it was a fun way to "connect" with our favourite stars, but as proven here, even stars get caught up in the keyboard warrior righteous anger. We've banished humour from it all and can no longer recognize satire. Too many people peed in the pool, as Stephen Fry put it. Meanwhile the entire world's entertainment "journalists" are still stalking every word Kanye tweets. This should just stop.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (9)

  • Robert's picture
    Robert (not verified)

    Until "journalists" are punished for this kind of shit they'll keep on happily causing shitstorms, destroying people's lives and reputations to get a few clicks.

    Mar 11, 2016
  • Elfa 's picture
    Elfa (not verified)

    The Mary Sue is always happy to toss any and everyone into a stereotypical heap for4 their own purposes but would be livid if one suggested both their writers and readers were lonely, bitter, overweight cat ladies.

    Mar 11, 2016
  • lporiginalg's picture
    lporiginalg (not verified)

    Hi, lp here, author at I,Hypocrite. Thanks for your wonderful write up. It's nice I have something I can share with people that I know don't want to see my offensive language, and equally nice that you aren't calling me offensive :) I love the left handed thing, that seems so natural I'm surprised it hasn't caught on yet as an actual movement.

    Mar 11, 2016
  • David Felton's picture
    David Felton

    Bravo. I think you're the only journalist who bothered to do any research whatsoever, and as such this is by far the best explanation of the story out there. Also, the blog "Dear Diary: Today I fucked up..." is an incredible read too, and totally sends up the laziness and general scumminess of the media.

    Or as the author puts it:

    Did the media try to figure out who the “body shaming internet troll” was and contact her for her side of the story? No. Did the media do a simple reverse image search to find my blog and understand that the ‘viral meme’, as they labeled it, was satire? No.

    Or, we must confront the other possibility, that they maybe do have a modicum of competence, but chose not to report aspects of the story that would surely dampen the resulting outrage. God I hate the media, can you tell? Burn that shit to the fucking ground, somebody, please.

    Mar 12, 2016
  • fairuse's picture

    Note: I started this comment in a frame of mind that Social Media was mostly responsible for making an uncomfortable situation worse. With some studying on Body Shaming issue (Watching videos and Podcast) I didn't really didn't know the extent

    Begin with Background
    Before Twitter, Tumbler & "Social Journalist", some checks and balances kept order. In some cases there where benefits for celebrities and fans knowing the news report or message was treated as private.

    This s Human vs Tiger of a headline with no fact finding...
    The rule about not turning your back on a Tiger unless you have put the cat in an unbalanced position. There is no reason to assume the cat's signals that he is no threat is genuine as cats have a sense of humor that is alien to human.

    The Tiger and a human can rewrite their social contract; Cat won't eat Human & Human won't make a winter coat or blanket out of Cat.

    This ability to rewrite social interactions between Tiger and human is respect, 'Just the facts' and leave and personal axe to grind outside. Think of Moderator in Forum -- Any kind of trickery is not allowed..

    Now that I insulted big cats by making them Social Media I'll try to find a way out. First, Fashion Supermodels are a body type and look. Sure big money drives that bus. Why? There is no such thing as a free lunch; when Mother Nature says retire all models hope the investment worked. Pascal Payant - White Blossoms Short Film makes the point beauty is you. The fashion Industry has been selecting the long slim body to hang apparel on because, wait for it, yes, class? Sigh, the model is a prop to display the design. Really truly.

    The last job {friend} had was a photo session for { Special Catalogue for luxury clothing store, WashingtonDC }. She is the platform designers love -- blonde, ~2 meters (6' 4"), thin frame, and very pretty. Someone (i'll never know the idiot ) told her if she wasn't such a lanky horse ... as far as I recall she was 100% mad and 0% loss of self esteem. She quit that job on the spot. Her day job as it seemed to me was full of similar male idiots. Being a model and having a Masters Library Science was no protection from folks with an entitlement attitude. Once when I was pondering some problem a marketing guy stopped me in the hall asking, "Are you and Tall a thing, she your girlfriend, think I have a chance?" Gave him a stare saying nothing. He walks away. If that marketing guy had Social Media back then these situations would still exist.

    Second and last is journalist versus blogger versus Twitter: There is no way I can say it better than Dabitch. I have been caught saying, "This Social Media environment is looking like HighSchool. The problem in saying that is I never went to High School - I saw plenty of High School theme on TV. By the luck of link surfing I found Cristen's Q & A on life; From Aug 2013 good advice Stop trying to please everybody

    Cristen, on Feb 22, 2014 made a request to her viewers to stop re-tweeting the meme "real women have curves and spoke on Skinny Shaming . After listening to the optional podcast on Skinny Shaming I realized the "Real Women have curves meme is a symptom of an ongoing psychological warfare. Yes, Paps pretending to be Journalist can't wait for the next target

    Mar 12, 2016
  • Tim's picture
    Tim (not verified)

    You didn't even get past the first paragraph before I stopped reading. Daisy Ridley was right to respond as she did, because someone attacked her on her instagram. She was also then right to stop her followers having a go at that person, because she was being kind. There's no need for "bravely" in mocking speech marks, she didn't "come to her senses" (because she didn't do anything wrong) and no need for "sort-of apology" as she had anything to apologise for. She didn't. She did nothing wrong.

    There's a lot of shit on the internet, and part of that is articles commenting on the shit without realising they're not very bright themselves. No wonder the cretin at "I, Hypocrite", liked this.

    Mar 14, 2016
  • Tim's picture
    Tim (not verified)

    To spell it out, is Ridley responsible for looking up the personal details of people who troll her, to check their psychological states, and whether she might owe them an apology for being so cruel as to defend herself against their trolling?

    Think about it. To help you, the answer is "no". Bye comments.

    Mar 14, 2016
  • Dabitch's picture

    I'm afraid you missed the point entirely. That tends to happen when one stops reading, Tim.

    Mar 15, 2016
  • AnneLogue's picture
    AnneLogue (not verified)

    > To spell it out, is Ridley responsible for looking up the personal details of people who troll her

    What kind of moron leaves comments on articles they so obviously have not read? To quote the article: "Both Daisy Ridley and the young girl in Denmark are the victims of a media tear here" That puts the responsibility squarely where it belongs, with the media.

    Apr 27, 2016

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