Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
We’ve all heard of the saying that ‘bad publicity is good publicity‘ or ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity‘. And I’m sure the majority of people know of Kaitlin Bennett, the girl who became viral for her support for the right to bear arms and has since maintained an online presence due to her constant berating of students at Kent State University. Her whole schtick is to interview people by repeatedly asking them leading questions about trans rights, gun control, LGBTQ+ related topics and more. However, her virality is in large part due to the negative responses that she receives.
Recently, after a video of her interviewing students about whether tampons should be supplied in the men’s restrooms, people started to realise that if they stopped tweeting about her, or even talking about her, then she would eventually devolve into irrelevance. So, the question is, when does giving a platform to a hateful bigot, such as her, become detrimental? And at what point do we ignore someone’s ignorance when responding would only bolster their career?
For a girl such as Bennett, her videos and online presence is so disgustingly provoking and deliberately irritating. However, she seems unfazed by the responses and tweets about her and her embarrassing experience at a frat party, complicating the idea that online critique and hate will stop her. Some Twitter users even began to censor her name in a bid to make her online presence less viral and to avoid her trending.
Discourses such as the one she presents in her sycophantic videos, are hugely detrimental, it opens up a conversation that suggests the possibility that transgender people do not deserve the hugely important rights that they do. Her virality and infuriating nature only further the message, widening the possibility that susceptible people will begin to agree with her.
On top of this, it is clear that she does not mind the hate. She is aware that it helps her and furthers her career. At the beginning of the year as she tweeted:
My haters memed me into a lucrative career that lets me travel the country, do what I want, and have a platform to be heard. Thanks so much to everyone that gave me free advertising in 2019. Let's do it again this year. #GunGirl2020
— Kaitlin Bennett (@KaitMarieox) January 2, 2020
This shows that she capitalises on how she infuriates people, purposefully creating videos that she know will trigger people to respond and send hate. Not only is she aware of this, but she refers to them as ‘my haters’. She is creating a relationship between herself and those who critique her, wherein she is the victim. This will only further her power online as she portrays herself as such to a right-wing audience and receives empathy from them.
Even the format of memes and jokes support her. She is aware that she is a meme, and she utilises that to her benefit. Though this format is fun and satirical and making fun of her seems right because of her disturbing views, it does the exact same thing as retweeting her tweets.
Ultimately, without people responding, tweeting or sending any form of a reply, her internet presence would fade. Fewer people would be subjected to her bigotry and hatred and her views would not be broadcasted for thousands to see and hear. Her existence online relies so heavily on people who disagree with her, without them, she would have no platform to speak and no way to spread her transphobia, homophobia and ignorance.
So, in conclusion, I guess this is a PSA. If you see something of hers online, ignore it, report it, do whatever it takes to avoid seeing anything of hers again. But of all things, do not respond, do not send hate, do not reply, because, though it feels cathartic, it only allows her to keep doing the same things over and over. Don’t give hatred a platform. Bad publicity is good publicity.