Manufacturing Wounded Status to Beat the System
As I sit in a local coffee shop, sending out emails to drum up events production business and create new and interesting ways to promote Literate Ape as well as our several local lit events, it often occurs to me that there must be an easier way to do this shilling for a buck thing.
I recall the numerous times I’ve been taken by someone presenting themselves as down on their luck—the hopeless “I haven’t eaten in three days” pitch, the emergency need for a couple of bucks to get on the train to get to work, the hapless request for some cash to “help clothe my child.” When DMJ and I were in Paris, we were confronted by a woman with a clipboard and a pitch to help fund the “Fight for Women” except that she was obviously lying and her clipboard was no more than a prop meant to fool the well-meaning tourists on the strip.
I read yesterday about the mother of Kenneka Jenkins, the girl found dead in a hotel freezer without explanation as to how she ended up in there, addressing the Rage Profiteers who had mounted protests at yet another black woman found dead in Chicago.
Turns out some of those advocates were collecting money to fund the protest but kept the cash for themselves instead, and her mother, either because she found this to be kind of criminal or just that she wasn’t getting any of the moolah, called an end to it.
It reminded me of the folks who used 9/11 to cash in on pieces of ground zero (with tens of thousands of dollars spent buying chunks of concrete that had no connection to those attacks) or the companies that scrambled to sell little American flags around the same time. Using the idea of victimhood and heroism as a way to line their pockets was like a smaller version of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine theory. Find a wrong done somewhere, become the victim or hero of that situation, make the money grab and milk it for all you can.
Do white males in America really feel marginalized by the strident Left? I don’t think so. I think these MRAs and Alt Right dipshits see those who are banking on victimhood, elevating their marginalized survival as somehow heroic and cashing in on it as just another opportunity to seize some much needed financing. Will the Chicago Theater Accountability Coalition eventually pull out the GoFundMe campaign because being a neo-McCarthyite is draining of time and energy and must be compensated?
Given the lack of ethics education or ethical behavior exhibited by our chosen and elected leaders, it’s no surprise that a single POC mother who has had fewer choices than most and who has bullied her way into a position of Triumphant Victim uses that sob story to create financial opportunities. Given the lack of serious oversight on the conflicts of interest presented by our current president, it is of no consequence to see the slow burn of often baseless accusations become an extortion of sorts by those claiming to have been harmed in some way to gain traction fiscally.
Gaming the system isn’t hard when the polemic is lead by shallow marketing efforts trying to sell the idea that being sick is a war against disease, that being marginalized is a trial that automatically elevates you, and that being mistreated or offended in almost any way guarantees you some sort of hero status. At this point, we've become an entire nation of panhandlers and the snake oil we sell is that of our own suffering and woe.
Case in point: the Australian woman who, on the idea that she had brain cancer and “cured” it with healthy eating (“cutting out gluten, dairy, and coffee”) amassed a small fortune with a smart phone app.
“No. None of it’s true,” Gibson finally confessed in April 2015 after questions were raised about her story. “I don’t want forgiveness. I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do.”
Before she shut down her Facebook and Instagram accounts, Gibson had amassed quite a following, and kept everyone up to date on how she was “curing” her cancer. How did she cure it? By cutting out gluten, dairy, and coffee, among other things.
Gibson made over $420,000 during the course of her elaborate hoax. She was found guilty back in April but the fine of $410,000 was just issued today. The court found that Gibson made just over $10,000 in donations to charities during her venture, far short of what she claimed.
She made almost half a million bucks based on
1. Our fear of brain cancer
2. The drilled down pseudo-science of eating kale and the evils of dairy
3. Our kneejerk hipster desire to demonize gluten
4. Our desire for all solutions to be presented on our fucking phones
Why do we fall for this crap? Is it that we so desperately need to believe that overcoming adversity is a special superpower we can all access, like The Force (sans midichlorians, of course) and by believing this sort of nonsense we lend credence to the possibility for ourselves? I mean, if I had brain cancer, I might grasp at any straw that offered any possibility of a cure, even a freaking smart phone app that promoted healthy eating. That, however, is just this much to the left of having some random Holy Man lay hands on my skull and mutter some prayers, or a Paula Dean-esque women convince me that positive thinking will cure the simmering tumor in my medulla oblongata.
We purport that the victim of abuse is somehow more of an expert on abuse than an objective and dispassionate party. We suggest that, despite all of the research that exposes the serious flaws in eye witness testimony, that unless you were there, you can’t weigh in. That suffering grants the sufferer some sort of innate wisdom and angelic status. And then we pay for it almost every time.
At this point, if they're asking for money and their sales pitch is their own status as a suffering Christ-like figure complete with stigmata and a tortured existence beyond their control, I'll give them my sympathy but not my dough.
There sure is an easier way to scramble for a buck but I prefer the honest hustle to the shell game of victimhood.