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.