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Elaine “Lainey” Lui tries to big-up gossip

Lainey’s talk at TEDx screams bullshit at its finest. Trying to describe gossip as a so to speak “high-brow” occupation, Lainey tries to make gossip look intellectual by inserting questions about social acceptance of gays, approaching the topic of women’s rights, and pointing out that even the ancient Egyptians were doing it

On the particular point of the Egyptians, she didn’t even give a context for the text she was paraphrasing – it could have been a parable (so a warning tale – maybe even homosexuality was being used as an “evident crime” plot point), a biography (probably gossip then, or defamation), propaganda… who knows? And did the people aside from the scribes really give a damn? Because she then goes on to claim, from this, that gossip reflects the social more of society as a whole. I’d rather not be lumped in with her vision of what society is in its entirety…

The additional questions and discussion Lainey adds otherwsie are of course most welcome – but they are not found in the gossip rags and around the gossip tables. If anything, gossip rags reinforce our prejudices, sensationalize the mundane, and demonize people who we should be trying to understand. Gossip leads to (sometimes false) accusations and witch-hunts. Gossip amongst friends about other friends facilitates the spreading of misconceptions, if not lies. The examples Lainey gives are prime examples of that behaviour.

Below are some of the topics approached

  • Kirsten Stewart cheating on [Edward’s actor] – Lainey claims that in this maelstrom, gossipers are discussing and sharing their morals -but it’s more like gossip is reinforcing the woman-in-her-place ideal. “How dare she? She got the perfect guy.” Good for him, he got a promotion. Shame the slut.
  • Celebrities with babies become massive talking points – taking jubilant celebrities’ talk about being mom as reference points is… sad. This isn’t information, it’s gushing. From the celebrity side it’s plain vanity. From the media side, it’s a marketing opportunity.
  • Forgiving abusive men – again, the talking amongst the fans is reinforcing the prejudices rather than leading the discussion – witnessed again in the promotion of the violent men, shaming of women.
  • Travolta and the male masseuse – are gossipers really saying “let’s reconsider our viewpoints on the meaning of being male?” Lainey clearly states that the discussion is focused on 1) potential loss of fan confidence in the image, 2) damage to profit and marketability. Acceptance of homosexuality? Who said that?

Lainey remains a subject, not an observer. I’m waiting for her sociological study. In the mean time, I call bullshit.

I can’t believe this was a TEDx.

[found via Upworthy]