A few months ago, I wrote a post that became one of the most popular on our site. It’s a step by step guideline on how to handle being called out.
If given the chance, I’d print out about 2 dozen copies and give them all to Liam Payne from One Direction (and then maybe I’d record myself reading each step aloud and send that to him too).
Becoming overly invested in a boy-band compromised mostly of young, rich, white, cishet boys was always a gamble for me. I knew that at some point or another, they were going to disappoint me.
Last night, after being called out about a tweet in which he praised Phil Roberston’s (of Duck Dynasty fame)”family values” (family values based on the ~virtues of being staunchly racist and queerphobic), instead of gracefully apologizing, Liam had an 11 tweet long meltdown. The general theme of his tweets was “I should have the right to say whatever I want. Even if hurts and alienates a part of my fanbase. And even when it is brought to my attention and I am asked to apologized.”
Liam was a prime example of how NOT to act when called out for problematic behavior. He was rude, defensive, and centered himself as the victim. (Yeah Payno, you’re 1/5 of the richest boyband on the planet and you’re a straight white dude. I’m really feelin’ for ya. You’re just so oppressed).
To add fuel to this already (homophobic, racist, and bigoted) flame, I noticed a few people on twitter and on tumblr attempting to defend him and/or justify his actions.
“But he didn’t mean-” STOP. “He’s only 20 he’s can’t-” LISTEN.
The thing is this: malicious intention or not, Liam Payne made an extremely careless remark and instead of owning up to it, he publicly whined about it for an hour.
It’s not about freedom of spech.
It’s about being a decent person.
It’s about not being a dick.
Your faves are not infallible. Hold on, lemme repeat that (this time while standing on a 7ft tall pillar and with a megaphone in front of my face) YOUR FAVES ARE NOT INFALLIBLE.
They are flawed human beings with the bonus of constant media scrutiny. This means that they fuck up too. Liam, I’m looking at you. And while we’re on the subject, Madonna, I’m definitely looking at you too. In many cases these fuck ups are shared across social media and printed on magazine covers.
As an active and socially conscious participant in pop and celebrity culture, it is imperative to call out your faves. You can’t be a true champion for social justice while excusing your fave for upholding the same oppressive systems you’re fighting against.
Your fave can still be your fave even if you don’t always agree with everything they say or do.
Don’t excuse their actions or problematic comments in a misguided attempt at loyalty.
So go ahead, play that album on repeat or go marathon all 66 episodes of your favorite show.
But for the love of god and all things fun and fandomy, please stan responsibly.