Daily Briefs
2 min

Outrageously outraged

Thoughts on outrage and its place in global society

I find a lot of the time headlines generated by gay media outlets could fit into the formula of "questionably relevant celebrity causes outrage with unsurprising homophobic speech/action." Then these headlines go through the rounds of dubious news coverage, filtered through the blogosphere to land in social-media feeds, care of dozens of well-meaning, left-leaning, outraged web denizens. Rinse. Repeat.

I hadn't even heard of Duck Dynasty before December; I believe that award shows/the celebrity industrial machine are total shams and that anyone who hosts a car show probably has the intelligence and sophistication of a carburetor. However, propagation of these outrages in the media would have us believe that not only are the actions and words of these celebrities (all white heterosexual men, incidentally) relevant, but that left-leaners given a couple of lines in paragraph five to express outrage equals real social change.

Luckily, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Instead of getting caught up in the outrage zeitgeist of our blog-centred times, some writers are starting to question the effectiveness of this cycle:

—Richard Kim's critical piece on The Nation concerning the facepalm-inducing controversy around Duck Dynasty's homophobic patriarch cautions gay activists "tempted to conflate momentary outrage with enduring social change"

—Diana Tourjee, contributing editor of trans quarterly Original Plumbing, wrote an epic, wide-ranging exploration of the trans community's representation within wider mainstream culture

—visual artist and writer Karl Arbuthnot wrote a reaction on PinkNews to the media's coverage of Top Gear host's Jeremy Clarkson's "gay cunt" photo, questioning the motivations of giving a platform to "a thoughtless millionaire buffoon and the rough outline for a cartoon of an outdated breed of male"

What I love about each of these pieces is they look at the larger picture, positioning outrage as being only as effective as the systematic change it creates and calling into question the reason we give these news pieces the airtime (or, I should say, webtime) they get.

The amazing thing about our constantly plugged-in global society is that we know about individual transgressions almost as they happen, and we can all experience one another's anger. The question is, are we just going to write another outraged Facebook post, or are we going to log off and let our anger fuel real action?