When Natalia Kills sang "But you know what they say about me / That girl is a problem" on her 2013 track "Problem," she wasn't kidding. Being a femme fatale is part of the English pop singer's brand, and the whole "sex and drug-addled princess" thing has worked well for her—until now.
Kills was recently fired from her position as a judge on X Factor New Zealand after she scathingly criticized the dress sense of a contestant, who she accused of copying her husband's look. (Kills' husband, Willy Moon, is also a judge on the show.) Kills called the contestant "creepy" and "disgusting," at one point asking him, "Do you not have any value or respect for originality?" Moon chimed in, saying, "I feel like you're going to stitch someone's skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience." We should add here that Moon's rather unmemorable get-up falls somewhere between Robin Thicke and Frank Sinatra.
A Change.org petition that accused her of bullying and called for her to be fired--because that's apparently what people do when they're pissed off about stupid shit they watch on TV these days--gathered more than 77,500 signatures in less than 24 hours. The next day, the couple was given the boot, with MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon calling their behavior "completely unacceptable." This proves one thing: the era where a glum Simon Cowell lashed contestants with his acid tongue for our entertainment is long over. Reality TV judges these days are smiling, benevolent creatures—American Idol's Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. couldn't offend a fly if they wanted to.
What hasn't changed is the internet's tendency to swarm a disgraced stranger with its collective fury. When you fuck up in a public way these days, there's a good chance that you'll become the unwitting target of an onlineshame campaign—good luck if your fuck-up goes viral. As such, Kills' social media has become a cesspool of insults and trolling as people gleefully share how disgusted they are with her and her husband. Sadly but not surprisingly, many of those insults are mired in misogynistic language, ie. the old "you slutbag" approach.
Just a small sample of the hate on Kills' Twitter:
… and her Facebook:
Even Kills' former co-worker has joined in the fray, calling her a "twat" (my personal favorite English insult).
Social media lynch mobs against people who are perceived to have done something offensive are nothing new. Remember what happened to Justine Sacco after she tweeted about not catching AIDS in Africa because she was white? Remember the girl who took a selfie at Auschwitz? Remember Lindsay Lohan's "offensive" Instagram post from last week? What they all have in common with Natalia Kills: gleefully savage cyber bullying disguised as a form of social justice.
But Natalia Kills isn't going home with her tail tucked between her legs. In fact, she's wrapping the episode into her personal brand, posting her song "Problem" and remarking on all her new followers on social media. She also tagged herself and her husband in a picture from the 1994 film Natural Born Killers with her and her husband tagged. The message is clear: no one's killing the light on Kills anytime soon.