For the past few weeks, Twitter has been hosting the dreaded blast from the past via viral clips of old interviews featuring troubled superstars of their eras, who were forced to eat shit on the glitzy platforms of influential media personalities, mercilessly interrogating vulnerable guests for the world to witness.
From Lindsay Lohan to Britney Spears and a handful more, there’s been a growing case study on how shitty things were, back when nobody cared enough about “hurt feelings” and grossly crossing over the line of reasonability and humanness.
We should be able to look back and heave a sigh of relief at the wonders of evolving away from normalized social dysfunction that the media-at-large helped to enhance with brutalization of primed targets, who were fair game because of the celebrity that dictated why their controversial moments needed to be relentlessly documented.
However, it seems that in an effort to heroically stand up for those who were voiceless decades ago, we run the risk of activating trigger centers that could do more harm than good for the recipients of an online movement, that aims to grant viral justice — long overdue.
It’s reminiscent of those sporadic moments when Chris Brown starts to trend, and haters swiftly remind his adoring crowd why he will never be able to move away from his bloody sins.
Defending Rihanna is one thing, but circulating graphic images of the crime and punishment exacted on her face as a way to prove why her abuser can’t ever be forgiven, isn’t quite how to secure the wellbeing of victims, who certainly don’t want to relive the nightmare of their lives.
When it comes to the necessity of professionally handling sensitive issues of mental illness and abuse, the media and its representative still haven’t mastered the art of considerately refraining from Q & A sessions that provoke damaging emotions for victims who shouldn’t be bullied, based on their A-list status.
We’ve thankfully graduated from the disgraceful scenes that mark horrific episodes, showcasing how Britney Spears was terrorized by unforgiving lenses capturing the beginnings of her emotional breakdown, that culminated in her shaved head and being carted away to a medical facility.
Mariah Carey’s bizarre appearance on MTV’s TRL back in 2001 was the clear sign that something was amiss, and the Glitter actress confirmed in 2018 that she was diagnosed as bipolar not long after the televised fiasco that prompted editorial mockery, shamelessly classifying Carey as crazy with bad jokes at her expense.
Things aren’t quite that bad, but there are still questionable interactions between the media and celebrities who carry the baggage of scandals that won’t die, because of the ravenous appetites of reporters with predatory motives.
Take for instance, actress and singer Mandy Moore, who is currently expecting her first child, and who recently expressed anger and frustration at an unnamed publication that abruptly canceled a scheduled interview in retaliation for her unwavering refusal to answer questions about her ex-husband Ryan Adams.
Moore has been open and honest about the abusive nature of that relationship, which she described as psychological trauma, and since her revelation, more women have come forward to accuse Adams of sexual misconduct.
The fact that an outlet would withdraw an interview based solely on the interviewee’s wise decision to protect her state-of-mind by avoiding the acute dangers of reliving a mentally assaulting period in her life is a form of re-traumatization that needs to be checked and rapidly phased out.
Moore took to Instagram and vented about how she was mistreated by the unnamed outlet, despite being a survivor who has graciously shared her experience enough times to not have to give any more exposure to the abuser, who was the source of her unraveling.
“When they (the publication) were told that I had spoken plenty about a certain subject in my life and would have no further comment (truly there are countless interviews they could pull from, that story is over and there’s nothing more to say.)
“Any comment I make about said experience becomes clickbait and gives them the energy and time they seek and have already stolen from too many for too long.”
Another example of the media putting the interests of notorious abusers above the safety of their famous victims can be obtained from the recent interview English singer FKA Twigs gave to CBS This Morning, where she sat down with staple anchor Gayle King to expand on her ongoing reveal of the horrific abuse she endured at the hands of actor Shia LaBeouf.
King has a lot of experience under her belt when it comes to anchoring intense segments that can lead to unexpected detours that illustrate her cool, calm and collected demeanor, even when R. Kelly rises from his chair and directs his rage at a poised veteran, who garnered national praise for her superhuman restraint.
That being said, there have been iffy moments when King’s line of questioning have come under fire, most notably her interview with WNBA legend Lisa Leslie, days after the basketball coach lost her family friend and fellow baller Kobe Bryant in a tragic helicopter crash that also claimed the life of his teenage daughter, Gianna.
Leslie was forced into a corner when she was asked to publicly verify her belief that Bryant wasn’t capable of committing the acts of sexual assault that he had been accused of back in 2003, in a case that gained national attention and was eventually dismissed when his accuser backed out of testifying.
While some thought King had every right to pose the question, regardless of bad timing, others were appalled at the insensitivity on display, especially given how hard Leslie was pressed to defend the honor of someone she cared about, who had just died under unfathomable circumstances, the week before.
King’s sit down with FKA Twigs wasn’t quite as bad, but there was a roadblock when the singer was asked the question that forced her to push back in favor of her own survival.
Perhaps it’s time to formally acknowledge why it’s no longer acceptable to present fiery questions that are deemed wildly inappropriate and disrespectful towards interviewees who courageously provide details of harrowing ordeals, in an effort to show solidarity with others, who are suffering in silence.
Gayle King did admit that her question may be out of bounds, as if saying it out loud absolves the irresponsibility of putting it out there, for the gamble that’s never worth the high price paid by highly visible victims who don’t deserve the indignity of re-traumatization.
Good for FKA Twigs that she had the strength to reject the detrimental space that her interviewer was trying to create, as she fought back with words of wisdom to explain why answering that question was beneath her station, because of how it diminishes her worth, while humanizing the monster who terrorized her and many others.
This climate of rabid salaciousness has made it impossible to separate tabloid fare from so-called legit publications, thanks to the destructive mechanisms of social media that turns silly trends into published stories for mass consumption.
But if notable outlets want to retrieve good standing — there has to be a concerted effort to gain knowledge about weighty issues that can’t afford to be vandalized by “well-meaning” reporters, who hide behind the badges of “journalistic integrity” to justify the outdated practice of doing more harm than good.
Victims should be treated a lot better by society and those who are entrusted with the privilege of enhancing delicate discussions that shouldn’t further exacerbate the infection of unhealed wounds, but rather foster an environment of enlightenment and empathy.