Saturday, February 11, 2012

Jwoww, Snooki & Sydney -- bullied or BS?

I can't stop reading about addiction!
There was a time when it seemed everyone was addicted to something.  Not just drugs or alcohol.  Americans were diagnosing themselves as addicts of all kinds.  Addicted to gambling.  Addicted to World of Warcraft.  Addicted to Dr Pepper.  Addicted to Miracle Whip.  Addicted to popping bubble wrap.

There were sexaholics and shopaholics.  Twelve-step programs proliferated as quickly as Starbucks outlets.

Calling so many things an addiction was part of a trend toward victimhood or pathologizing human behavior -- that is, treating troubling human behavior like an illness.  On the one hand, this was positive, because it suggested that there was a solution to the troubling behavior; it could be cured.  On the other hand, it was negative, since it seemed to make people less accountable for their own actions.  I know I keep stealing the television remote, but it's not my fault!  I have a control addiction!

I fear that America has started to abuse another word: bullying.

The notion of bullying, and its digital cousin cyber-bullying, broke more clearly into the public consciousness in recent years with incidents that resulted in the suicides of young people -- Megan Meier in 2006 and Tyler Clementi in 2010.  Megan was the 13-year-old in Missouri who was harassed via MySpace by a woman who lived on her street.  Tyler was the Rutgers University student whose dorm mates harassed him because of his homosexuality.
Jwoww and Snooki -- VICTIMS!
This week three unlikely people claimed to be victims of bullying -- Snooki, Jwoww, and the teenager whose high school yearbook rejected the racy photographs she submitted.  A couple of years ago, these folks would not have draped themselves with the bullying mantle -- after all, Snooki's rising star was launched in part by being PUNCHED IN THE FACE by a male cast member of Jersey Shore, and no one heard her complain about bullying then.

In a recent interview, Snooki said, "And I'm probably the top celebrity that gets bullied today."

The top bullied celebrity?  There is a ranking for this?  I know celebrities have a Q Score, a measure of his/her appeal to audience members.  I had not heard of a B Score.  Perhaps it is just known as a B.S.

There must be some border between those who can legitimately claim bullying and those who cannot.  Can one really bully a celebrity who makes millions of dollars per year and can afford bodyguards, lawyers, private limousines, etc.?   That is to say, can Jwoww and Snooki claim to be the victims of bullying when they can easily escape that harassment?  Can someone who seeks the spotlight so shamelessly then claim immunity from ridicule or criticism?

You're cool.  Stay that way.
Sydney Spies is the teenager from Durango, Colo., who gained fame recently when her high school yearbook rejected the photo she submitted, saying it violated the school's dress code.  Then she submitted another, and it was rejected.  Then she submitted a third, and it was rejected because she reportedly had missed the deadline by that time.

Her mother told a reporter: “Sydney feels very bullied, by the entire school, basically.  The school has been awful and the kids have been awful. She’s received very little support in any way from anybody. There’s been a ton of cyber-bullying, where people can say whatever they want without looking the person in the eyes. It’s been extremely hurtful for our entire family.”

BF 4ever!
A high school yearbook is not the place to pursue one's modeling career.  And once you have submitted a second photo that you should know will be rejected, and when you have gone on The Today Show to discuss the "problem," you can legitimately be accused of seeking the publicity for personal gain and not to bring awareness to an injustice.  In other words, no one is dashing your dreams; you are Kardashianing yourself.

Do not mistake bullying with sacrificing your dignity for fame.  It cheapens the actual suffering of others and makes you look that much more foolish.