The Colosseum at our Fingertips

Blog By: Ben Boquist

The Internet was all-a-twitter after last weekend’s Saturday Night Live episode. Singer Lana Del Rey made her national television premiere, and the audience reception was less than warm.

Actress Juliette Lewis (of the hit TV show The Firm) tweeted, “Wow, watching this ‘singer’ perform on SNL is like watching a 12 year old in their bedroom when they’re pretending to sing and perform. #Signofourtimes.”

All through the weekend, tweet after tweet tore Del Rey apart, criticizing her voice, her posture and her facial expressions. Then, as it happens, the tweets became more personal – attacking the singer for her privileged upbringing, her wealthy parents, etc.

Daniel Radcliffe, who hosted the show that night, rushed to her defense.

“It’s unfortunate that people seemed to turn on her so quickly,” said Radcliffe. “People are making it about things other than the performance.”

But even Radcliffe’s earnest attempts to steer the discussion couldn’t stop the wave of negativity.

In Rome, people flocked to the colosseums to watch slaves kill each other. They cheered to see people tortured and in pain. In Ridley Scott’s epic masterpiece Gladiator, Russell Crowe addresses the audience of the colosseum after defeating his opponent. “Are you entertained?” he shouts, and the crowd is silent.

To modern sensibilities this seems hideous (and is), but we have colosseums of our own. Ours are concerned less with physical pain, but more with character defamation and personal attacks.

Are WE entertained when celebrities embarrass themselves? Are WE entertained by reading and contributing to discussions that attack their personal lives and hurt their feelings?

Yeah, we are. There’s something intrinsically sadistic about the human condition. We LOVE to criticize. We love to tear down. And we’re pleased when celebrities fall off their pedestals.

And yet, we’ve all been embarrassed and we’ve all had our feelings hurt.

“If you read what people are saying about her online, it’s all about her past and her family and stuff that’s nobody else’s business,” said Radcliffe.

And this blogger thinks he’s right.


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