I was thinking about why it was making me roll my eyes so hard to see all the Tumblr slacktivists genuinely shocked to discover that the “article” about a 15-year-old Zimbabwean kid telling Madonna to go fuck herself was actually a plagiarized satire-news article, and whining about how sad that is because “omfg that kid was sooo awesome!!!!” and it’s because it reveals a whole lot about their mindset.
So many Tumblrites, without a second thought, believed an article putting what are blatantly the words of a 20-something American activist, academic, and/or Tumblrite into the mouth of a Zimbabwean teenager, without so much as a inkling of a thought that a teenager, even a very informed one, would probably not explain the situation with dialogue that is an overblown parody of an activist American academic.
Initially, I just chalked this up to sheer stupidity, and the fact that every part of Tumblr takes everything with gape-jawed credulity, but I think there’s more to it than that in this case—people believed the article out of utter narcissism.
So many on Tumblr preen themselves as saintly speakers for and saviors of the oppressed wretches of the world, so when they read an article featuring an (who cares if it’s fictional) African kid parrot their own words back at them, they didn’t think to question it at all—indeed, they were too busy feeling vindicated and giving themselves asspats. After all, of course a Zimbabwean teenager would speak just like us and use our jargon exactly as we do, because we are the saintly speakers for such wretches as him, and we speak perfectly for them to begin with.
Which leads me to wonder whether there would have been so many reblogs and cheering if there had been an actual article featuring an actual Zimbabwean teenager talking in his own words about things such as white saviors, Western celebrities making a show out of “rescuing” children from the developing world by adopting them while ignoring the children’s communities, or colonialism hidden under humanitarianism.
Somehow, I doubt it would receive as much attention or be received with such glee. Tumblr prefers its activism to be easy and come with an ego massage, and putting our words into someone else’s mouth is much better for that than actually bothering to listen to what someone else has to say in their own words.
[Note: I am not saying that these concepts are solely the creation of western theorists/academics.]