I have been consumed lately by the drama happening on YouTube with regards to Nicole Arbour’s video “Dear Fat People” and the resulting backlash from such a hateful and hurtful video. This is not going to be about why fatshaming is bad; I think there’s enough content out there explaining that and quite honestly it should be obvious. What I wanted to talk about was the reactions within the YouTube community and Arbour’s behaviour.
I must express my disappointment with some people in the YouTube and online community with how they’re treating Arbour. Threats, harassment, and misogyny are not acceptable ways to communicate, and are not conducive to an open conversation about fatphobia, bullying, and comedy. Yes, this is true even if the person in question is horrible. I don’t know why people think that bullying a bully is going to help a situation? Just don’t do it, you’re better than that.
Now that that’s out of the way, I wanted to talk about “offensive” humour and her claim that political correctness is killing comedy because I know a lot of people share this view, even if they don’t agree with her fatshaming video. A lot of people (professional comedians included) complain that they can’t make certain jokes anymore because it’s “offensive” or not “politically correct.” And to those people I say: grow up.
We are constantly having to adjust our vocabularies and views based on new information we get. The standpoint of “nobody can take a joke anymore” is weak and is used by people who just want to be offensive and ignore the complexity of humans. They blame their audience when their outdated jokes fall flat. But guess what – if you call yourself a comedian, it’s your job to make people laugh. If you’re not making people laugh, you’re bad at your job. You’re a bad comedian. Understand that the punchlines you think are funny are no longer considered funny and that making fun of marginalized people isn’t edgy, it’s lazy.
“But you shouldn’t let what other people think affect you!”
No. People are allowed to be triggered by offensive material, they’re allowed to feel how they feel. If you, personally, can let hurtful comments roll off your shoulder then congratulations that’s really impressive. But not everyone is there in their personal journey to self acceptance and self love, and it’s not realistic to expect everyone to be chill about such a sensitive issue.
Another topic that came up is censorship on YouTube. Shortly after Arbour’s video went up, she got flagged so often that YouTube took down her channel. At least, that’s the story that’s been going around. While I don’t think censorship should be a thing on the YouTube platform, I think some steps should be taken to responsibly have the material available. Should there be ratings? A warning label? Currently there is just an age restriction in the “advanced settings.” I’m not sure what will work best. Arbour’s channel is back up, of course, so YouTube did not “officially” or permanently censor her, even though that’s what she was trying to tell people.
— Nicole Arbour (@NicoleArbour) September 6, 2015
I’m really sorry that Youtubers with pre-teen and kid audiences have shared my adult aimed comedy videos. Was never meant for kids.
— Nicole Arbour (@NicoleArbour) September 9, 2015
…this is something that she tweeted, seemingly sincere about not wanting kids to see her video. But she put that up on YouTube which has no way of deterring kids from going on her channel and watching it anyway. As previously mentioned there’s an age restriction option so if she cared that much, she could have made it 18+ (though 18+ people are still getting triggered and harmed by it). Don’t blame other people for sharing your video, these kids could have easily found it on their own except maybe then they wouldn’t have someone else telling them that “Dear Fat People” is a load of shit.
And these are some conversations we could be having with Arbour if she wasn’t so aggressively trying to play the victim/underdog.
These have been some thoughts. I’ve been enjoying the mature discussions around the Internet about this topic and I think there’s a lot to talk about. I hope we can continue to navigate tough and sensitive topics with a sense of empathy and responsibility.