Last week, social media feeds and minds were polluted by the viral video “Dear Fat People.”
When it initially surfaced, I was in the minority of an Internet divided (which is ironic, minorities appear to be her comedic prey) as I was not particularly offended by the video. Not because I haven’t had eating issues (I have), and not because I agreed with everything Nicole Arbour was saying (I didn’t), but I gave Arbour the benefit of the doubt. I presumed she was experimenting with delivery styles, sonic accessories, and appreciated her damn decent attempt at tackling an issue through the guise of comedic candor. Hell, I laughed at a handful of jokes and nodded to a couple of points.
Once the cyber witch hunt began, I anticipated an apology tweet, a follow-up video, or her explaining that her truest intentions were to open the eyes of those leading dangerously unhealthy lifestyles, perhaps she even had a first or second-hand narrative to share. And while I commend her for standing by her words – despite disabling the comment section and thumbs up/down bar – she had newly-minted platform to bring awareness to double standards in comedy. Ricky Gervais has a similar stand-up bit entitled “Fat People” (YouTube it, it’s great), and from a scholastic study, one could highlight how delivery (self-deprecating vs. yelling) and a comedian’s relatability to the subject (i.e., Ricky was once overweight, and by all accounts, Nicole is a fit, attractive woman) has a correlation to the success of their stand-up. Arbour even had the opportunity to speak to censorship and monitored media consumption.
Unfortunately, since her overnight infamy, she has only defended herself against “keyboard warriors” with more words of hate, shame, and continues to use “fuck” as a filler word. Her Twitter account is a flood of retweeted compliments and humblebrags about gaining subscribers. She can be quoted as saying, “Warning: If you’re a bitch ass … go fuck yourself. You should have been aborted.” Plagued by the desire to “go viral,” she sacrifices talent and ethics. Nicole Arbour isn’t offensive; she is a victim of the Viral Infection.
If Nicole is comfortable being a fat-shamer, allow me to be a fame-shamer.
Being an asshole shouldn’t be your only “thing”. It’s not edgy, it’s cheap and overdone. And you’re just perpetuating the whole “women aren’t funny” bullshit that needs to be buried six feet under along with your aspirations. It’s clear when I reviewed your repertoire of stand-up, the formula is as follows: insert controversial topic + swearing + berate subject of interest + add sexy thumbnail. It’s apparent you leveraged this algorithm to figure out “x” equals going viral. And like a true viral infection, your fifteen minutes is a painful inflammation that I hope goes away soon.
You’re bragging on social media about gaining thousands of subscribers in one week. It’s almost adorable when you attempt to be grateful and give us your best 2009-Taylor-Swift-At-Any-Award-Show-Surprise-Face tweet, but haven’t you realized; you’re not gaining fans, you’re gaining spectators. Most of which hope you’re a flash in the pan. Wouldn’t it be more rewarding to gain subscribers on talent rather than your championed tenacity towards being the “cool chick with a potty mouth”?
The difference between you and successful female comedians with a sharp tongue, well-timed wit, and crass delivery is the content. Kathy Griffin, Chelsea Handler and Jenna Marbles may tackle seemingly shallow topics like pop-culture, but that’s typically just the sparkly distraction as they make cultural commentary and outline fallacies within our government, regulations, and media consumption. There’s a point to their punchline. But there’s no method to your madness.
Levering fame at the cost of cruelty, defamation and infamy may seem like a fair trade, Nicole. And while you have this incredible platform for the moment, you are doing anything but using it wisely. Dodging criticism on TV shows with low punches makes you seem like a sucker. So now you’re a sucker and an alleged fat-shamer. It’s unfortunate because you could always be, you know, a real comedian. But that’s what happens with the Viral Infection; people use jump-cuts as shortcuts to fame.
“The prettiest people do the ugliest things on the road to riches and diamond rings.”