The following is part of a series on Honorary Trolls, individuals singularly talented in the art of controversy. Some Honorary Trolls are actual trolls, others have a score to settle, and others simply make poor life choices! Whatever their motivations, there are many lulz to be had. Join me, will you?
When most people talk about Courtney Stodden, it’s usually through sixteen lenses of WTF. And with very good reason: after she and her walking X-File of a husband made their love public (apparently their first night as a married couple was as passionate and erotic as everyone in America was trying desperately trying not to imagine, for fear of immediate imprisonment), the two started ratcheting up the lolwut at an exponential rate. Shortly following their first television appearances, Courtney began tweeting her erotic and sensual sexual awakening; she and Doug were kicked out of a Pumpkin Patch for being “too provocative” in front of the children; Courtney was repeatedly banned from Facebook for uploading semi-nude pictures of herself, which she blamed on “jealous women” who reported her page out of spite and insecurity; the list goes on.
Initially, this was also my reaction. Because…seriously?? But after The Great Pumpkin Defilement of 2011, I began to change my tune. Not only does Stodden hit the internet’s most exploitable trollbaits—the troops, Jesus, underage b& (seriously why don’t you have a seat), “jealous bitches,” the list goes on—she’s found a way to establish and market her own highly recognizable brand, primarily via social networking but also mainstream media outlets, who almost always refer back to her online presence, thus providing further scaffolding for prolonged visibility. In other words, she’s an absolute genius at cross-platform transmedia storytelling, the focus of which remains trained on an “authentic”—read: comically solipsistic—online identity even Zuck would be forced to applaud (if he wasn’t too busy kicking her off Facebook). Say what you will about her alliterative skill or misplaced exhibitionism, but the woman knows how to internet.
Which of course begs the question—is this just a happy accident, or does Mrs. Courtney Hutchison know more than she’s letting on? As of press time there’s no way to know for sure, but I’m inclined to bestow upon her glamorous visage the title of honorary troll. “Honorary” because I’m not certain that’s what’s happening here—trolling is predicated on lulz, and while lulz are (at least for me) a byproduct of Stodden’s sex parade, it’s unclear if lulz are the motivating factor. I’d like to think they are, because that would make her an evil genius.
HOWEVER IT DOESN’T MATTER. Whether or not she’s trolling, whether or not she actually means the things she says and does, by harnessing social media to her own personal ends, Stodden manages to hold a funhouse mirror up to American celebrity, particularly celebrity of the “famous for being famous” variety. This is in fact how our celebrities act; these are in fact the behaviors we reward. I’m looking at you, The Kardashians. In the end, then, and like all successful trolls before her, Stodden manages to indict as she replicates—which makes criticism of her [insert all of the things] an implicit criticism of the very system that spawned her. She is, in other words, the hero we all deserve, and for that I salute her.