Rich girl gets dragged online for mocking working class construction men
The barriers between university-trained artists and working class people are extremely serious. Cultural-class conflict is at the root of England's recent Brexit decision, as well as the election of Donald Trump in the US, and his perception as a 'blue-collar billionaire'.
For better or worse, there is a perception of monied, educated elites who tend to live in cities and coastal regions looking down on blue collar and non-university-educated workers. This growing divide serves no one, because at the end of the day, the starving artist and the man pushed out of a job at the assembly belt share the same lot.
Why, then, is it so culturally fashionable for the 'educated and enlightened' media and artistic classes to mock and look down upon the very people who build the civilization beneath their feet, brick by brick with concrete and gloves?
Meet Hetty Douglass, the center of a controversy that is more than meets the eye.
Of course, she looks like your standard avant-garde university student. But generally, an education in the arts and humanities strives to teach an understanding of solidarity with one's fellow workers. But Hetty had different ideas. For someone trying to create art for the masses, it doesn't exactly help to disdain those every same masses. The same applies for journalism and fiction. You can't hate your working class audience, unless you want to be cosigned permanently to a bubble.
Hetty was at a McDonald's in London when she spotted several construction workers in line for a meal. That was when she felt compelled to break out her smartphone and take a Snapchat:
For those outside of England, a GCSE is the equivalent of a high school diploma. Hetty was trying to point out the stupidity of those who lack the money or interest in a modern university education. Of course, this wasn't taken lying down. The internet, once it caught wind of this elitism, retaliated in kind.
This Tweet by photographer Rhi Harper went massively viral for roasting Hetty:
Of course, the irony of artists looking down on construction workers was also not lost:
A close friend of Hetty's, however, put a different spin on the story:
"They were being rude and swearing at those youngsters working behind the counter and Hetty thought they were out of order. I'm sure the builders would just dismiss it as banter but they were very unkind and intimidating. They thought they were funny but no-one else was laughing."
Truth is a double-edged sword - yes, it is wrong to associate stupidity and rudeness with a lower level of education. Yet, it is also wrong to assume that dragging someone across social media will change their opinions, when in fact it only seems to cement and reinforce them.
We don't know what Hetty Douglass believes, but this confrontation between abstract university artists and construction workers is a kind of cultural microcosm. It's like every story between black and white people that goes sour - the cultural crystal is what is valued, not the exact facts and details of the situation.
Social media has a way of exacerbating tensions between peoples, and temporary bubbles become lifelong. Society must respect those who do manual and blue collar work. But at the same time, it isn't right to penalize artists with a flurry of unpaid internships and a major lack of work, almost forcing anyone who wants to be an artist to depend on their parents for support.
There's always more to learn. Let's do better each and every time.