What a time to be alive.
These days, in that strange nexus of pop culture whimsy and the 24-hour news cycle, a Twitter spat between over-indulged celebrities (that is, a spat between celebrities on the social media site known as “Twitter”) can very quickly blow up into a “Story Of Interest”. Recently, Over-Indulged Celebrity & Genius Kanye West apparently took a tweet by fellow Rap Artiste Whiz Khalifa as a derogatory comment towards West’s lady love, Kim Kardashian. (Khalifa was actually tweeting about a type of, er, “weed” referred to as “kk”. So… I guess it was all just a misunderstanding over gardening when you get right down to it.)
It’s fair to say that this tantrum in 140-characters (or less) was more thoroughly and exhaustively covered by the media than was the statement by the GOP front runner that he could shoot innocent people and not hurt his campaign’s chances with voters.
But then, just as this spat was dying down, another was building up steam across the Atlantic….
J. K. Rowling is, obviously, the author of the “Harry Potter” books and therefore one of the world’s most famous people. She used to be on Forbes‘ list of world’s richest humans, but was later removed from said list after her charitable contributions brought her below Forbes “billionaire club” standards. She continues to maintain a steady presence in the public eye, and if she likes or dislikes something, chances are you’ll know about it; via Tweet.
So why it ever seemed like a good idea for Scottish MP Natalie McGarry to take a shot at Rowling via Twitter’s public forum is one of those questions that will forever be unanswered. Even more baffling, is why McGarry thought it would be clever to attack Rowling as the sort of woman who goes around “cozying up” to misogynistic internet trolls.
This “spat” began on January 28th with McGarry tweeting: “wow, JK Rowling vanity searches her name and then defends abusive misogynist trolls. Almost makes me regret queuing for her books.”
To which Rowling replied, not unreasonably: “would love an explanation of this accusation”
McGarry used the example of Rowling referring to a certain twitter user as a “good man” as an example of said “defense of trolls”. When Rowling responded that her comment was prompted by this user donating to Rowling’s charity Lumos, and not to any trollish commentary, McGarry bizarrely battled on.
Now there’s a fine example of Scots invective you just don’t see every day.
(For the record, I believe this is referencing the saying “Flee wi’ the Crawes an’ yi’ll get shot wi them”. I assume “flee” means “fly” and “crawes” means “crows”. And that “shot” means, um, something nice and Scottishy that I’ve never heard of before.)
It went on.
Something about the way Rowling phrases that makes me feel almost sorry for McGarry. If you ever wondered whether it was possible to “tweet ominously”, well… J. K. Rowling would seem to have that knack. Rowling continued pressing McGarry for actual proof of her alleged coddling of abusive internet trolls (a subject she’s been pretty vocal in condemning in the past); then reminded McGarry:
Around this point, McGarry seems to get the hint and stated “… On reflection, I do apologise for any misguided inference that you support misogyny or abuse…”
To which Rowling replied “Thank you… and I’d like to ask anyone following me who is being rude to you to stop”
And just like that… it was over!
Oh. Except, no. It wasn’t.
I’m unclear if the Alan chap sent this to McGarry or if she found it on his twitter page, but shortly after the “apology” McGarry tweeted this to Rowling.
Rowling’s response to McGarry AND the Alan chap is, well… I’m just glad I have screenshots.
More on the Alan chap later.
Then Rowling again proved that she is the undisputed Master of Ominous Tweets…
… and of Keeping Shit Really Real:
As of today, Natalie McGarry has switched her twitter account to “private”, and the Alan chap? Well.. There was this interesting exchange the day after the initial incident:
The interesting thing is, there’s a lot more going on here than a simple collapse of good sense on the MP’s part. What isn’t stated in any of their interactions is that there is an actual, real-world political “spat” between McGarry & Rowling. McGarry is a “pro-independence” Scot, (a “separatist” if you will) whereas Rowling campaigned very determinedly to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom (making her a “unionist” if we must). The “abusive troll” McGarry accused Rowling of “coddling” is on the “unionist” side of the Sottish Independence issue, and he does have a history of nasty twitter posts, aimed at McGarry and other “separatists”. (See the post that Rowling’s replies were photoshopped below. That’s a real post of his. Charming stuff.)
Further, McGarry has been under a cloud of suspicion since November – when funds for a pro-independence organization she co-founded (and was allegedly the only person with access to said funds) went “missing”. The incident is under investigation, and McGarry has stepped down from her role as party whip.
Like I say… There’s a LOT going on here besides ill-advised tweeting.
So, there you have it comrades. While we Americans get “twitter spats” between Over-Indulged Celebs with Rage Issues, the UK version would seem to be a combination of Barely Sublimated Political Rivalries and Poorly Handled Personal Meltdowns. Which is more illuminating to the Human Condition? I’m sure I couldn’t possibly comment. But… I will say this:
I certainly wouldn’t attempt to blindside J. K. Rowling on Twitter anytime soon.
Or, indeed, EVER.