We live in a time when there’s no excuse for anything that happens, and where even when the community identified “victim” says the situation was part of a running joke, it becomes a cause célebre and fodder for plenty of angst-filled diatribes about how broken our culture is. You know, business as usual.
This weekend, KTLA meteorologist Liberté Chan was reporting on the weather for the morning news, covering the 8-9am shift, and part way through her broadcast weekend anchor Chris Burrous handed her a sweater and asked her to cover up as he was “getting lots of mail about your outfit”. Here’s the dress in question:
That caused an explosion of hostility on social media, with calls for Burrous to do the weather forecast one day, for the channel to issue an on-air apology, and far more explicit and hostile responses I won’t republish. Search for @LiberteChan on Twitter if you’re curious.
But here’s what gets me about the situation: Chan admitted it was not her first choice for on-air attire on a Saturday morning, and that, to quote her blog post about the incident, “I was not ordered by KTLA to put on the sweater, I was simply playing along with my co-anchor’s joke, and if you’ve ever watched the morning show, you know we poke fun at each other all the time.”
So the ostensible ‘victim’ of this incident says it’s a joke and she is not at all bothered or upset about it, but does that mean other people see it in the same light? Of course not. But we now live in such a fragile, victim-driven culture that even when there’s no victim, the networks light up with everyone’s individual angst and their views and beliefs that they then project onto the situation.
How else can we explain silly comments on the Entertainment Weekly report of the incident like “was her weather report accurate, though? That should have been the ONLY thing viewers should have been concerned with.” In an industry that’s absolutely about appearance, a fact that Liberté herself is well aware of. Heck, in her blog post, she says “it’s a visual medium and sometimes your outfit works and sometimes it doesn’t…”
But hey, complaining is so much more satisfying, isn’t it?
Why is this of sufficient interest that I’m writing about it? Because I talk to my girls about modesty with some frequency, particularly my 19yo who is blessed with the dual challenge of being stunning and somewhat naïve about the inevitable churlish male reactions to her outfit and beauty. Am I making her the victim by suggesting that when I see her wearing an overly revealing outfit that it might not be a good choice for an afternoon adventure with the family? Or am I just being a good father?
I know what I think. What’s your say? And, for that matter, what would you say to that question, Liberté?