Are Viral Acts of Kindness Just Shallow Acts of Kindness?
So if you haven’t heard already, Ellen DeGeneres recently gave a check worth $10,000 each to that gay-straight high school couple in Las Vegas who asked his gay friend to prom and it went viral. The straight friend asked his gay friend to prom (their names are Jacob Lescenski and Anthony Martinez by the way) “I just wanted to say I know that there are some schools out there that don’t support this and wouldn’t allow this to happen and it’s really a shame because prom is very important to a lot of people,” she said in the interview, which you can watch below if you like.
Part of me understands that this is cool in a way, but ultimately I just feel like this is such a silly thing to do. And in the aforementioned quote, she’s right about a lot of schools not letting you have a same-sex prom date (which’ll hopefully change very soon but that’s another story for another day), and the gesture itself was kinda cute, I just think it’s a little tacky or simply just for publicity. Maybe I’m just bitter because Ellen hasn’t given me $10,000 just for being gay (please do Ellen that’ll cover almost a third of my student loans and I’m tiptoeing around desperate), but I also think that same amount of money could’ve gone towards something more significant like homeless queer youth or helping young trans kids raise money for transitioning/surgery. Obviously Ellen and the networks intentions were well, but I think the money could’ve been in better more deserving hands. And because she’s an active part of the LGBTQ community you’d think she’d be on board with something like that, but I guess giving it those high school kids is more digestible or interesting for the show’s audience (which is mostly made up of stay at home moms and old people that probably wish they’d tone down the homosexuality on Modern Family).
Mostly I just think it’s weird to do nice gestures that you plan on posting online and obviously expecting some sort of praise for it. It’s so self-congratulatory and the fact that it goes viral is annoying because acts of kindness, while nice to read about, get published on social media so the person who posted it will be all “look at me guys I’m SUCH a good person because I did this.” And it definitely applies to this case as well. Much as I love to see the bridge between the LGBTQ community and straight allies being built on nice things such as this one, I just can’t help but feel like the straight friend did this as a way to prove to the world he’s not homophobic or something. Like he knew it would get him brownie points with the gay community so he did it. Now this might be a nice way to get more straight guys to be less homophobic and more accepting of their gay peers, but on the other side of the coin that has all the negative side effects of this event, I worry that that’s what being an ally is going to mean for a while: acting like you like gay people just so people will think you’re great or something like it’s such a complacent way to show people you’re a decent human being. Either way it’s dumb to give away that much money to kids who didn’t really do anything, and you shouldn’t be rewarded with that much money just for being a good friend. I don’t want acts of kindness to turn into something you hope will go viral because then they stop becoming genuine and just become something you hope will get you famous for five minutes, and shit like this on Ellen is making that more a thing.
Okay end of rant.