An effigy of a former reality television contestant is to be burned on a bonfire this week. I suppose it’s a step up from the balls-out religious hatred of whichever provincial nowhere chucks the Pope on the fire – personally I prefer my parish-pump autumnal weirdness in the form of those blokes in Devon who stumble around with giant flaming barrels of tar – but it’s a terrible, terrible error.
You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the person in question. This is for many reasons, one of which is that I find it hard to type her name without crying tears of blood at the pointlessness of it all. Another reason I haven’t mentioned her is that this is exactly what she wants. She craves this publicity. Her whole career – a successful career carved as a professional troll, coming out with surprisingly controversial opinions for money – relies on not being ignored. They might have been lying to you when they told you to ignore the school bully, but if you do ignore this person, she will go away.
(I understand, by the way, that by even writing this blogpost bind, not identifying the person in question, I am still drawing attention to her. I recognise that inherent stupidity of my endeavour, but to be quite blunt I’ve got this far in and I’m in no mood to delete all the words I’ve written so far. I might as well try and make something out of this futile nonsense.)
It’s true, she is an awful, awful person. It’s not the opinions she comes out with that I can’t stand, since they are either (a) completely made up in order to get herself on Daybreak making fun of fat former lorry drivers who haven’t got jobs now or (b) she really thinks what she’s saying. The implication of (b) is that this person is a horrendous, vile, sociopathic piece of shit who has zero empathy, and should therefore be pitied. But I don’t buy (b). It’s (a) all the way for me. She’d chuck herself on a fucking bonfire if it got her on the Jeremy Vine Show.
This person’s continued existence in public is evidence that we don’t like subtlety. It’s proof that we’d rather have two shouty polarised numpties chucking verbal poo at each other than some kind of nuanced, reasonable debate. Why find areas of common ground or recognise the uncertainty of things when instead we can book a couple of pantomime characters to get angry at each other for three minutes? It’ll make better radio / telly. It’ll make it ‘better’ in the sense that it’ll be more argumentative. I mean, it might not be realistic, or helpful, or intelligent – it might dumb down a sensible debate into something more useless – but fuck it, it’ll make good telly. And that’s what counts, right?
People like [this professional troll] feed a vast empire of hatred. People get to write columns (and yes, blogposts) about them in order to have something to say – sometimes something rather surprisingly controversial, for money. Who of us can’t say we’re a little bit like the bonfire effigy person? Someone somewhere is probably pitching a “[pro-troll] being chucked on a bonfire is symptomatic of how we treat strong, opinionated women, making them scapegoats for our wider ills like witches being burnt*” column. And so it continues. One of us says something, one of us says something else. It all feeds on each other. Lots of heat and light, signifying nothing. It doesn’t really do any of us any good.
Besides, there are far worse candidates to be chucked on a bonfire – people doing real damage rather than just angling for a bit of publicity. They’re the real villains; let’s go for them instead.
(Well why don’t YOU go for them?)
OK, I will.
* Yes yes, I know. No need to correct me.