Backlash To ‘Vanity Fair’ Video Demonstrates All That’s Awful About Social Media

Image via 'Vanity Fair'

Especially if you’re a woman

Scrolling through Twitter, it's unusual to go a day without seeing somebody outraged about something—an article they didn't agree with, a headline taken out of context, a joke they found offensive. Sometimes it's a particular piece of content being dragged, but often it gets personal. Being a woman online can be especially dangerous, because, as Vice's Eve Peyser puts it, "people find any excuse to be cruel to women." This was demonstrated once again when Vanity Fair posted a tongue in cheek video suggesting potential New Year's resolutions for Hillary Clinton. The clip was labeled as sexist because it suggested she take up knitting, however, it also suggested she take up improv comedy classes or volunteering. But the internet pile on began, and it got to the point where one VF editor made her account private and is now taking a break from Twitter.

Maya Kosoff, a tech writer for VF Hive, has signed off until after the New Year, after facing internet harassment in response to the video. "i don't appreciate being taken out of context to make me seem super sexist," she tweeted before signing off. "this wasn't a hillary hit piece either, fwiw! we made silly new years resolutions for a bunch of politicians." VF Hive also made videos suggesting resolutions for Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump, and Gary Cohn.

[Sorry, we could not retrieve the embedded image, video, or audio. It may have been deleted.]

Author Jennifer Wright initially tweeted outrage in response to the clip, as did other feminist writers and media figures, along with Clinton supporters, but after seeing the backlash that Kosoff faced, she deleted her tweet. "Guys," she later wrote, "if you respond to sexist comments by making fun of a woman’s weight you’re part of the problem and do not deserve nice jokes." 

Nothing illustrates the hypocritical nature of Twitter rage culture more than people getting upset over sexism against Clinton, but being totally cool with body shaming the person they're calling sexist. The manufactured outrage got so bad that journalist and author Tom Watson called it a "major scandal." He offered "some serious advice" to the new Vanity Fair editor-in-chief, Radhika Jones. "She's very clearly in the 'it will all blow over soon' stage of denial about media in our current age," he wrote. "This is a very [sic] stage to be in. The longer you stay there, the worse it is. I've been there, folks." 

It's ironic that Watson wrote a condescending thread to a female editor-in-chief when referencing a "stupid sexist video." (One might call his rant stupid and sexist.) "With something as deeply offensive as suggesting the former Secretary of State - a feminist icon and the most admired woman in the U.S. - take up knitting as she's bullied from the public stage, only a swift and abject apology will do," he continued. Here again, we see how focusing on the knitting is really just people on the internet not letting go of a specific narrative that serves their outrage. 

A hashtag, #CancelVanityFair, started after the video went viral, with former Clinton advisers joining in. As Peyser pointed out, the fact that this video has turned into a "major scandal," just "proves how toxic social media is." Journalist at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, referenced a conversation between former President Obama and Prince Harry about social media, where they said it was "so toxic because it allows people to create fake but pleasing realities by only paying attention to those with whom one agrees." The response to this Vanity Fair video is a great example of that. 

So next time you read a headline or watch a video that's being quote-tweeted like crazy, before you're quick to react, stop to consider what you're getting outraged about. Look into the context before you join the pile on, because there are real people on the other end of our internet outrage. And, especially if they're a woman, it's important to remember that they're already going through enough online, so maybe don't make it worse. 

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Which one, though?

Kim Kardashian is suing fast fashion retailer Missguided, claiming that the brand uses her image to spark interest in and sell its clothing. This lawsuit comes a few days after a theory, that she may be selling her own vintage clothing designs to fast fashion brands so that they can rip them off, made its rounds on the internet.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kardashian's attorney Michael Kump writes that "Missguided systematically uses the names and images of Kardashian and other celebrities to advertise and spark interest in its website and clothing." Other celebrities that the brand has tagged on its Instagram include Cardi B and Dua Lipa, along with the other members of the Kardashian-Jenner family.

Kump uses the example of the Yeezy dress that Kim posted to Instagram, which was ripped off by the brand within a couple of hours. "Recently, for example, after Kardashian posted a photo on Instagram of a dress that was made for her... Missguided quickly responded with its own Instagram post... boasting that it would be ripping off the design within 'a few days,'" Kump continues. "Missguided purposefully inserted Kardashian's Instagram username (@KimKardashian) into its post to capitalize on her celebrity status and social media following in promoting the sale of its upcoming product."

Kump also draws attention to the fact that the brand uses Kardashian's name so much that it may lead others to believe that she works with the brand, which, he wants to make clear, she does not: "Missguided's U.S. website has included entire pages that are devoted solely to the sale of clothing inspired by Kardashian, and on which Kardashian's name and likeness are prominently used without her permission to promote the products."

Some are noting that it's suspicious that Kardashian is not suing Fashion Nova, as well, since the brand most recently ripped off a vintage Mugler gown that Kardashian wore. Though it may be harder for Kardashian to make any claims since timestamps have revealed that the dress was made before Kardashian premiered the dress.



Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

He previously claimed to be a victim of a hate crime

According to reports, actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested by the Chicago Police Department. As CNN outlines, he's facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report. If found guilty, he could face up to three years in prison.

The Empire star previously claimed that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime on January 29. He alleged that two masked men attacked him, tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and yelled, "This is MAGA country!" Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were eventually arrested and brought in for questioning, during which news broke that one appeared on Empire and the other worked as Smollett's personal trainer. Now, according to both men and reports, it's being said that Smollett paid them to "orchestrate" the attack.

Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, have issued a statement regarding their client's defense. "Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," they told Deadline. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

If this is all true, this unfortunate turn of events should in no way take away from the fact that there is an abundant number of racially and sexually motivated attacks happening all of the time. They also still remain vastly underreported, so it's essential to listen to alleged victims, always.