Wednesday, December 1, 2021

If You Agree With Piers Morgan, On Anything, Then You’re In The Wrong

Emma Clifton wonders what happens to us as consumers when our media commentators appeal to our worst selves

Opinion

The internet is a loud, chaotic and confusing place and when a new controversy comes up approximately every three minutes, sometimes even I, an opinionated, cranky loud-mouth, can get all a-muddle about what’s going on. That’s when I check in with my moral compass: Roxane Gay.

A feminist author who is correct 99% of the time – I can’t think of anything that I have ever disagreed with her about, but I also think it’s important to realise everyone is human, so I’ll assume we have a 1% point of difference occasionally – Roxane is smart and funny and also embodies the high/low balance of pop culture that I love, in that she will write an impassioned piece about feminism or racial justice but she will also write an impassioned piece about Channing Tatum and Magic Mike II (a cinematic masterpiece).

Sliding down the opposite end of the moral scale is Piers Morgan. I have never sought out Piers’ opinion but I have no need to, because the news organisations run what seems like every vile tweet of his as a headline or, if we’re very lucky, a bit of breaking news. And I guess in a way, it is breaking news, in that my soul breaks just that little bit more every time I read another pointless bit of “what Piers hates this week”, which somehow is now classed as ‘news’.

A little background if you’re not familiar with Piers, the former CNN host, former Good Morning Britain anchor… no, hang on. If you don’t know who Piers Morgan, I want you to a) high five yourself for making it this far in life without doing so and b) immediately stop reading this story, because honestly? I wish I wasn’t burdened with this knowledge. But if you are familiar with Britain’s Got Venom, then it’s not hard to do a roll call of some of his most recent and most heinous comments.

Well, there’s the time he called Naomi Osaka “a brat” for pulling out of a tennis game due to mental health issues, and suggested her ego had grown “to gigantic proportions.” There are his constant, vicious comments about Meghan Markle, a woman he is point-blank obsessed with. He recently weighed in on NZ Olympian Laurel Hubbard, calling her historic placement at the upcoming Olympics “a disaster for women’s sports”, which is greatly ironic, considering he is a repeat critic of female athletes.

In fact, it was his recent comments (run as a news headline, of course) about tennis player Emma Raducanu that prompted this very piece, after she had to pull out of a game due to anxiety-related breathing difficulties and Piers responded by saying that she needed to toughen up, that she “couldn’t handle the pressure & quit when she was losing badly.”

But at least this odious man serves as a good litmus test, I guess, in that if I ever find myself agreeing with Piers Morgan, I know that I need to take a look in the mirror, and then do some goddamn research because, without a doubt, I am wrong.

Sometimes I play a fun little game with myself where I see the ‘Opinion: Woman Does Something Bad’ headline and I think, who will be the author of this piece? Which one of the horrid usual suspects will it be? And then I take a stab in the dark and guess who, and then I take a stab in the heart because it doesn’t actually matter, they usually think the same thing anyway and it doesn’t matter how appalling it is, people still read it. These are commentators who love to throw around terms like ‘virtue signalling’ or ‘the woke brigade’; terms that read as a type of Bingo for People You Want To Avoid At Parties.

But at least this odious man serves as a good litmus test, I guess, in that if I ever find myself agreeing with Piers Morgan, I know that I need to take a look in the mirror, and then do some goddamn research because, without a doubt, I am wrong.

Every single opinion of Piers, every bit of information I have learned about him, has always been against my will. His grouchy presence looms large over our news, our Twitter feeds and all I can hope is that one day, he goes the way of Donald Trump and gets banned off these platforms, and then has to write a failed blog instead.

When people love drama, and live for it, the best thing you can do is take away anything that fuels it and give them the silence they deserve.

Of course, in the way that this world so often rewards horrible and mediocre men, Piers will probably go the way of Donald Trump and become Prime Minister of the UK before he reaches his comeuppance, because, generally, white men only fail up. However, we can learn from the Donald Trump story in that the best revenge on these men is to simply… ignore them.

Like emotional parasites, they feed off the chaos and rage they cause and it builds them up and up and up. When people love drama, and live for it, the best thing you can do is take away anything that fuels it and give them the silence they deserve. Desperate people love a platform and if they know they can get that platform by saying the worst thing possible, by stirring up the most trouble possible, then that becomes their modus operandi.

Click-bait doesn’t register your ‘ironic’ clicks, when you read a story you hate just because you want to know for sure how much you hate it. It just registers your click and that’s how these hate-filled stories become the most read on any given news site. Piers et al know that the more outrageous they are, the more obnoxious and hurtful their stance, the more people will read it. The people who run these stories know that hate sells and so their angles become more and more extreme in what they print. The media becomes a snake eating its own tail, but it takes our souls along with it.

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