What Purpose Does It Serve?
I saw the image last night (the person has since taken it down). A quick check at snopes.com told me what I suspected – the image is fake.
Yet, it remains, as do all things on the internet. No doubt it will be resurrected at some point in the future when Ms. Grande, known for courting controversy, says or does something that upsets someone somewhere. That it’s an obvious Photoshop will always be beside the point. Like all the nonsense spewed on the internet, this fake picture – which libels Ms. Grande in a most crude fashion – will follow Cokie’s Law:
Cokie’s Law, in which she proved that truth and facts are rarely the issue when it comes to arcane Clinton scandals:
“At this point,it doesn’t much matter whether she said it or not because it’s become part of the culture. I was at the beauty parlor yesterday and this was all anyone was talking about.”
Far deeper than this obvious problem, however, is the matter of why someone, anyone, would do such a despicable thing. What, precisely, would be the point of this? Because Ms. Grande (falsely) wiped her ass on an American flag, the dead and injured do not deserve our sympathy? That she somehow was in cahoots with a murderous suicide bomber, and she shares responsibility for the pain and suffering and loss? That fact that, according to the Snopes.com article, this image was shared over 40,000 times seems to mean there are tens of thousands of people willing to believe that a pop star is somehow complicit in a horrible act of murderous terrorism.
There is something wrong, something deep and ugly and hateful, with some people. Not only the person who created this image, but those who shared it and refuse to take it down (I’m sure Joe Abrahamson isn’t the only one). The image itself and its implicit message are ugly and hateful, do nothing but spread suspicion, division, and fear. As far as I know, the most offensive thing Ms. Grande has ever done is include obscenities and sexual references in some of her songs, neither of which is really that offensive. Why debase her in this way? Because she’s a woman? Because you don’t like her music?
I should note that I was chastised by several people last week because I was, ahem, disrespectful of Roger Ailes upon news of his death. One person even called the veracity of my faith into question. I made clear at the time that I had good reasons to speak ill of the recently dead, and while he might disagree with me, I wasn’t lying or doing so out of personal spite. So these same folks might think I’m being more than a little hypocritical when I sit and wonder why people do horrible things.
As with all things, the specific circumstances matter. In the case of me saying that Roger Ailes had started rotting years before he actually died, I wanted to remind people that Ailes’ life was not one people should celebrate because his professional life was dedicated to undermining American democracy. I feel no need to pretend otherwise.
Which leads me back to this image and its propagation. What the hell was Joe Abrahamson, and all those who shared his post, trying to achieve? The attack certainly wasn’t aimed directly at Arianna Grande. She certainly had no part in it. Even were she disrespectful of the American flag would hardly mean she would celebrate mass death and destruction. The dead and wounded, their friends and families, the larger British public, none of these are honored, helped, or comforted by spreading this image and its message. It’s gratuitous hate and violence, the very thing that created the conditions for someone to strap a bomb to himself and kill and wound dozens at a concert.
Sadly, there seems little to do to stop it. Which hurts my heart.