The ‘Hilarious’ ‘Satire’ of Nicole Arbour’s ‘Dear Feminists!’
Ms. Arbour. Satire. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Toronto cheerleader, YouTuber, and professional rage-baiter Nicole Arbour created a shitstorm a few months ago when she posted a rant online entitled "Dear Fat People!" where she claimed that "fat people smell like sausages" à la Andrew Dice Clay's routine circa 1982. She's very edgy, you guys. The fallout from such a nuanced and thoughtful video included her being dropped from an in-development film along with a very public chastising by the director. YouTube temporarily disabled her account after it was flagged as inappropriate by the community. Chrissy Teigen called her rants a form of bullying, and even the women of The View handed Arbour's ass to her on live international television. Since then, she has posted other such thigh-slapping classics as "Dear Black People!" and "Dear Refugees!" I'm sure there are more on her YouTube channel but I don't think my puny brain can handle all the funny.
Last week, her latest pièce de résistance was posted to the joy of 15-year-old angry white fapping dudebros everywhere entitled "Dear Feminists!" Prepare for a truth-storm, women who fight for equal rights around the world, you are about to get schooled by a white, blonde, thin, privileged Canadian cheerleader. Hope you brought some cushions for the butt-hurt.
In the delightfully seizure-inducing "Dear Feminists!" Arbour says that feminists are fat and their bodies smell.
Sick burn, bro.
She then suggests that instead of fighting against sexual harassment, especially street harassment and public objectification, women should instead give more blowjobs. She's right: standing up against objectification is a lot harder when you have a dick in your mouth.
In truth, I only got about two minutes into this video before I had to turn it off, realizing this wasn't comedy at all and she was just having a stroke.
Like the aftermath of Dear Fat People, Arbour has carefully prepared responses curated for any subsequent attacks. On The View, Arbour claimed all of her videos were "satire" and that she's just "being silly" and having fun.
Now, don't you feel stupid for taking her seriously? You're such an idiot! It doesn't matter what thoughtful critique you might have for her rants, because she knows ALL THE COMEDY and you're just frigid and fat, etc etc.
"This is offensive." No, you just don't have a sense of humour!
"You're fat-shaming." Yeah but fat people shame me for being skinny, won't someone think of the skinny people!
"You hate women." But other women call me a slut!
"This is bullying." No it's satiiiiire.
All these responses are crafted in such a way to silence her detractors and any flack she might receive. It reverses the blame, so that the onus isn't on her, it's now on the young impressionable kids who are affected by her widely publicized words. And I must give her kudos for this kind of brilliance. Her bullshit is so tightly compacted, she could bite off the end of a cigar with her asshole.
The choice of all comedians is to either entertain/educate, or entertain/manipulate. The problem a lot of comedians encounter is they feel they can't educate without coming across as preachy, which makes viewers feel uncomfortable. So they struggle too hard to stay relevant and edgy, to not fall off our radars and lose the significantly large audience they amass. So what's the easier choice? Manipulate.
And where there's manipulation, there's money. Because Arbour is a YouTube partner, she profits from banner and commercial advertisements placed on her content. Every hit she receives puts money in her account. So much so, that after Dear Fat People when viral around the world, Arbour posted a Snapchat of her counting her $50 bills. Stay classy, San Diego.
After her account was temporarily disabled, Arbour began marketing herself as anti-establishment—that she is the last bastion of free speech against the PC police. But really, she is the establishment. Her stance on women and fat people is so common, it's the reason Donald Trump is America's Yoda. What she says doesn't in any way make people think, make them question themselves, or even, at the very least, make them laugh—all three of which are the role of a comedian. Richard Pryor knew that. Amy Schumer knows that. Hell, even equally popular YouTubers like Jenna Marbles and Casey Neistat know that.
In fact, if you want satire, Marbles has garnered a following of millions (and presumably, a decent bank account) by posting satirical videos that lampoon dominant ideas of women, womanhood, and dating rituals. Marbles says in her "How to get ready for a date" video, which currently sits at over 19 million hits, "When the date's over, make sure you have sex with him because that's all you're good for. And when he doesn't call just assume it's because he's so busy at work." The utter ridiculousness of those two sentences is an obvious giveaway to anyone attuned to the art of satire that Marbles is actually scolding those dating practices. Compare and contrast that style with Arbour's flatlining statement "Women should give more blowjobs." Marbles comes across as Einstein whilst Arbour comes across as Cosmo Kramer shouting the N word in a comedy club.
Sasha Baron Cohen employed the same satirical style with his three most famous characters: Ali G, Borat, and Bruno. These characters said the most homophobic, misogynistic, racist and xenophobic things known to modern western civilization (at the time), but the nuance of Cohen's performance was in his ability to use these tactics to reveal the biases and prejudices of the people he's talking to, rather than himself. When Borat attends a rodeo and makes racist remarks regarding foreigners, we the audience know he's putting on an act. The people he's speaking to do not, so when they agree with him, it is a revelatory moment. We see how quickly one will admit to things no civilized person should. Bruno gets Paula Abdul to sit on the straining backs of Mexican migrant workers while talking about her charity work, and gets Ron Paul to flee at horrible possibility that a "queer" might want to have sex with him. It's outrageous whilst simultaneously enlightening.
Arbour, on the other hand, employs none of these tactics. Totally misunderstanding what constitutes satire, she uses its guise to post a misogynistic rant to YouTube in the hopes of rage-clicks, and then hides behind the banner of "it's just some jokes!"
Comedy is never "just" comedy. Comedy is extremely important commentary, vital to our lives, and paramount to all this, its practice is incredibly hard to master. It is one of the most difficult disciplines in the world, but when it's done right, it's ephemeral, moving, and most of all, it's fucking hilarious. Arbour's rage-ahol clickbait videos don't meet any of the criteria for comedy because they didn't require any discipline to produce. She just rants about black people, edits it with a million seizure-inducing jump cuts (see: derivative), slaps a funny face on the cover and calls it comedy. Arbour herself even tweeted recently that the things she says are "stupid." I definitely hear the word "stupid" when watching her videos but it's usually subtext.
Comedians usually stick together and have each other's backs. As do YouTubers. The YouTube community is very intricately woven and the top vloggers continually support each other. Neither comedians nor YouTubers have publicly vocalized their support for Arbour.
So she may be well off in YouTube money, but she doesn't seem that rich in character.
All this aside, it is easy to assume that Arbour doesn't care about you, her dear viewers. I mean, she does tweet a lot about some "positivity movement" called #GoTeam, and she has stated that she cares a lot about women's issues, childhood obesity, and bullying. But to what degree?
Whoopi Goldberg asked her on The View if she understands the controversy surrounding her videos, and if she understands the offence she has caused, especially on young impressionable kids. Arbour giggled and replied, "Frankly I'm most offended by my hair in that video."
And that's as concerned as she gets, folks.
Nicole Arbour. Photo via YouTube
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