Why Do We Reward Bullying with Fame?

Modern Manners Guy takes on British bully Katie Hopkins for her rude comments about overweight celebrities.

Richie Frieman
3-minute read

Last week, an insanely obnoxious woman named Katie Hopkins became a household name for picking on celebrities, mainly singer Kelly Clarkson, because of their weight. I had never heard of her prior, so imagine my surprise when I found out that becoming the rudest person in England rewarded her with a show on national television and a rabid online following.

(Notice, I am not linking to her web site or Twitter account and I never will).  

This kind of mean-spirited cyberbullying is most commonly used by teens whose raging hormones control their decision-making abilities. Unfortunately, cyberbullying is now being used by many adults to get a cheap laugh and 5 minutes of fame.  As a humorist, I love a good joke, but there’s a mighty big difference between observational humor and calling someone fat for a couple of retweets.  

Here is an example of just one of the many horrible things Hopkins has said: "I feel it's my responsibility to point out to chubsters that they need to get up off their ass, stop costing me money as a taxpayer, and get out there and run a little bit more."

First of all, besides being insulting, her comment is wildly inaccurate. So she's saying that multi-millionaire Kelly Clarkson (an American citizen) is costing British people taxpayer money? That's ridiculous. 

Like most bullies, when called out on their words, Lady Rudeness went on the defensive. "That's not bullying," she said. "Ultimately Twitter is about finding the fun." Picking on a popular singer because her waistline isn't what it was before she had a baby is fun? Not really.

Humor is based on creativity and reflection, so calling someone “chubster” is like asking someone who is tall, “How’s the weather is up there?” and expecting a Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Humor. It's juvenile. 

There's simply no place for bullying – whether cyber or in person – and “I'm just being funny” is not a valid justification for it. I firmly believe that children's actions stem from watching adults behave. So when adults like Hopkins make bullying popular (and get rewarded for it), it shows kids that if people laugh with you, then it’s OK to mock another person. 

I can’t speak personally for anyone who has suffered from Hopkins' “sense of humor” but I can speak as an adult and parent who dreads the day my child comes home feeling hurt by someone else's words.  Kids see the laughter from their peers or parents as encouragement, and Hopkins' fame is clearly validation.  

Deep down (like super deep), I want to think Hopkins feels an ounce of remorse for her words - the way a praying mantis feels after it bites the head off its lover. But maybe not. Maybe she has no deep down and she's just a mean-spirited cow through and through. I mean she has said, "It doesn't hurt me if I hurt someone's feelings...Ultimately if you put yourself out there...then you have to accept what comes your way." 

Well, I’m no Grammy-winning singer, but I’ll happily put myself out there to challenge Lady Rudeness. She can bring her cheap one-liners that look like a collection of elementary schooler’s Mad Libs and I’ll bring the mannerly nation. Join me!

I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

Photo courtesy of Us Weekly.


About the Author

Richie Frieman

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