So, here’s a tweet.
This tweet, in a roundabout way, is about the brouhaha that has erupted around the internet—or around Twitter, anyway—over clips of TV’s Ellen DeGeneres palling around with former president George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game this past weekend. On her TV show yesterday, DeGeneres offered a gross, smarmy defense of herself, in which she posed being friends with a fellow extremely rich member of the elite as a form of courageous, principled kindness and tolerance toward someone who merely has different “beliefs” from hers. This did not go over well with many of the same people who were mad at her in the first place.
(This isn’t really what this blog is about, but: What went conspicuously absent from DeGeneres’s self-defense/-congratulation is any mention that, far beyond and above whatever his “beliefs” might be, George W. Bush has never made the least public effort to atone or take responsibility for his actual actions. Those include invading and destroying a foreign country on false pretenses; creating a network of unlawful torture prisons around the globe; shamelessly leveraging the horror of 9/11 and the fear of terrorism to justify all manner of offenses against privacy, civil liberties, and the freedom of Muslims to live in safety in America and abroad; inflaming culture-war resentments and bigotries as the backbone of his two presidential campaigns; and so on. It’s possible to believe wholeheartedly in values like forgiveness, mercy, and tolerance, while also judging that a war criminal with the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands bears some responsibility for at the very least acknowledging that he is in need of those things before you will give him a big ol’ bear hug.)
Jameela Jamil, as I have learned literally just now when I googled her, is a famous British actress on the TV show The Good Place. Prior to the above tweet, she’d tweeted (and then deleted) support for DeGeneres’s defense of being football pals with George W. Bush.
I think this was an incredibly strong way to handle this. Really interesting.
And then, in a reply to herself:
I’m simply stating that I’ve never seen someone in the public eye handle something like this, in this way. And use it to make what is actually an incredibly necessary point in our society. It was just very strong and interesting. We explore this in season 4 of The Good Place.
For these tweets, Jamil has come in for a lot of criticism and scorn, again on Twitter though possibly also elsewhere. For having applauded DeGeneres in the first place, yes, but then much, much more for the tweet about having (or claiming to have) just now, in October of the 34th year of her life, learned what this George W. Bush guy’s deal is. And then also, I hope, for it being by definition untrue that a famous person’s statement is “interesting” to you, if that statement has not sparked in you the least curiosity to learn about the context for that statement before sounding off on Twitter about how “interesting” it is.
You probably have your own thoughts about whether Jameela Jamil deserves to absorb a million Twitter dunks over these tweets. I don’t actually give a damn about those thoughts and I will ban you from this website if you share them in the comments below. Up to this point this is broadly normal daily Twitter shit—a public figure said some stuff that people thought was dumb and is getting roasted over it—and the specifics don’t matter. The thing I want to draw your attention to is that she just... keeps... going.
You can have your own thoughts about the strength or persuasiveness of any of these defenses, particularly the one about being too busy learning feminism to encounter history! I would rather leap into a crocodile’s mouth than know what those thoughts are! What matters here is that it is not actually necessary to make these defenses at all, and there is absolutely no chance that they will improve anything one iota.
More to the point, Jameela Jamil in particular does not have to offer them. She is rich and famous; more people will watch the next episode of her TV show than will read all of those tweets put together. It is fine for her to let some strangers just be kind of mad at her for one day. It is fine for her to just log off and go do rich celebrity shit with her rich celebrity friends while the strangers exorcise their very minor amount of anger over a kind of silly thing she tweeted on a Wednesday.
That is what I hope I would do if I were a rich celebrity and some strangers got kind of mad at me on Twitter one day. I hope that instead of trying to persuade literally everyone on earth that it’s actually cool and enlightened for me to have tweeted whatever the dumb thing was, I would go to an exclusive restaurant and pay a lot of money for some extremely good food and eat it with my good-looking, rich, famous pals and go Ha! Ha! Isn’t it lovely to be rich and famous! One of my favorite things about it is that at any time I can do something infinitely cooler, more exclusive, and more fun than trying to win over every last person on a failing social-media network run by morons. Now let us go test-drive Lamborghinis and crash them and face no consequences, my friend who is Brad Pitt.
But one need not be rich and famous to log off. Literally anyone can log off! I recommend it. It is actually totally okay for some number of online people to be kind of mad at you for a day over something dumb you tweeted. You can log off and let them. Then a day later you can log back on and be like “Whew, sorry for my dumb tweet, that sucked” and nobody will even remember what you’re talking about. Or maybe they will and they’ll still be mad! Who cares!
You don’t even have to agree that the tweet was dumb! It’s fine. You can log off for a little while and then log back on a day later and just tweet about whatever that day’s thing is. What are they gonna do? Anything? Nothing. (Probably.) It’s Twitter. Who cares. Nobody.
You definitely do not ever have to tweet through it. It’s fine to log off. Please log off. Jameela, please log off.