Celebrity Bullying: Not As Much Fun As You’d Think

So, Kathy Griffin says she’s going to stop telling all those jokes in her act at Whitney Houston’s expense. Gee, Kathy — that’s awfully nice of you to do… now. Unfortunately that sentiment doesn’t do much good for Ms. Houston at this point, does it? 

This is indicative of a bigger issue. Truth is, I enjoy good-natured teasing and joking with someone — but I only do that when the other person is generally standing tall, and just has a one-time (not life-threatening) thing happen to them. Kicking somebody when they’re down is just — well, bullying. Good-natured teasing (as long as it’s not continual or relentless) can be a way of connecting with somebody, while bullying alienates that person, but it’s a fine line… and a lot of humor today (done not only in comedy clubs, but by regular folks just spouting off) crosses that line. 

That’s been my problem with the latest televised celebrity “roasts”, as well. Back in the days of Johnny Carson, a roast was done because you actually liked the person you were roasting, and that person was never having a “train-wreck” in their personal life or career — a few minor setbacks, sure, but the person being skewered knew it was all in good fun, and so did everybody watching. Even on Carson’s Tonight Show, he made fun of people in a way that allowed him to still be able to look that person in the eye and know there was no ill will between them — he could remain friends with somebody, yet still occasionally tease them. Now, in the roasts and on talk shows and in stand-up venues, it’s all about, “Hey, let’s take somebody who is spiraling out of control, and stab them over and over! It’ll be fun!” But it’s not fun, not to me. 

It’s easy to get caught up in that as a viewer or as an “innocent bystander” in the crowd, especially if you’re not in a good place yourself. Bullying happens as a way to wrest back some kind of control over something in your life, since you feel a lack of control in the rest of your life. But bullying does something else — it ends up slowly destroying the life force of the victim of the attack. And if that person is unable to get that back (by either becoming invisible to their attacker, or finding other things to focus on), they may end up in very dire straits.

Sometimes we do have thoughts about people in trouble that aren’t the most constructive — I admit I’ve had many of them myself — but thinking something and saying it publicly are two different things. Eventually, we can control how we think, and we should endeavor to do that, I believe, because that’s where it all starts. But when our thoughts become words or actions which strike another person, they gain so much more negative energy, and they also hurt our own psyche, too.

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