“Why your wife chose you – my bad, she blind?”
“You look like a KFC bucket with a lot of extra breast.”
“I always regreted growing up without a Dad. Until I met your Dad.”
“You look like the emoji you send when you wanna tell someone you have food poisoning.”
“Justin’s fans are called ‘Beliebers’ because these days it’s considered politically incorrect to use the term ‘retards’.”
“Your roles are all the same: the heavy best friend, the humorous side-kick with a belly so big you can’t find you own d**k.”
If any of the above statements were said by a school student to another student in the classroom, the teacher would either give that student detention, send them to the principal’s office or call their parents. But these statements were not said by school students. They were said by celebrities, to other celebrities. And these celebrities received no punishment. Instead, they were cheered on, applauded, filmed, put on YouTube or television and labelled “entertainment”.
Celebrities insulting (or roasting) each other has become a common and popular form of public entertainment. James Corden has a segment called ‘Drop the Mic’ where he partakes in a rap battle against a celebrity. But they don’t just bust any ol’ rhymes, they rap insults. Scott Mills from BBC Radio hosts a segment where two celebrities throw insults at each other until one of them gives up. Comedy Central’s ‘The Roast of Justin Bieber’ consists of celebrities making fun of Justin Bieber until eventually he gets the chance to hit back.
But I am not a fan.
Sure, the celebrities who partake in these segments can be quite witty and clever with their words, and most of what they say is actually funny and true. It’s also cool to see these celebs take things light-heartedly, laugh at themselves and stay friends with each other post-insults. But I worry about what type of message it is sending to the rest of the world, particularly to the young people watching these segments who look up to these famous humans as role-models and examples of success.
I worry that this type of entertainment makes viewers think that it is okay to bring others down and point out their flaws. The celebrities give their insults in a playful, humorous way. But this tone just masks the fact that what they are saying could actually be personally hurtful or offensive to a human being. As people look up to these celebrities, I worry that they might take what they see on their television or computer screen out into their own worlds and create tension and heartbreak in their sensitive relationships. Especially because our society already struggles so much with the idea of self-love.
So I have a request for the talk show hosts and celebrities who participate in roasting segments: please stop. If you’re trying to teach people how to handle criticism, acknowledge their flaws or take a taste of their own medicine, then figure out a more suitable way to do so. Stick to the segments that are enjoyable, amusing and funny – without having to bring anyone down. You know, the Carpool Karaoke’s and the Lip Synch Battles that show us how fun and talented our celebrities can be. Take a note from Ellen Degeneres and just “be kind to one another”.
UPDATE: One YouTuber, NigaHiga, has come up with an awesome alternative to celeb insults…a “Roast YOURSELF” challenge where YouTubers are asked to roast themselves instead of roasting other people! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kD2Mhw6Xsis)