X Close

Why are politicians debating if Margot Robbie is ‘mid’?

Margot Robbie at the London premiere of "Barbie" last week. Credit: Getty

July 18, 2023 - 7:00am

Last week, the Twitter personality and pseudonymous author of Welcome to Hell “Bad” Billy Pratt made a statement that then prompted days of discussion on the website. “Margot Robbie was cast in Barbie explicitly because she isn’t pretty enough to alienate a female audience,” he said of the Australian’s starring role in this summer’s must-see film

Naturally, thousands of users descended upon the tweet, either to add their contrarian agreement or, as was the intended purpose of the original post, to say that men were crazy, pornsick losers. Robbie is, obviously, one of the most beautiful women in the world. 

One would be well within one’s rights to wonder why this is news, but now politicians are getting in on the act. At a Turning Point USA conference for young conservatives on Saturday, Florida congressman Matt Gaetz added his two cents: “Margot Robbie is not ‘mid’, a 10 is a 10, even with Common Core math.” It was a passable joke, but are men really “debating” Robbie’s attractiveness? More, do we really have an epidemic of men so fiercely set on enforcing beauty standards that they don’t think she would make some imaginary cut? Such is the potency of these issues, Gaetz didn’t even need to have seen the original tweet: it ended up in the pages of Newsweek.

For Republicans, and Americans on the Right more broadly, seizing on these viral moments has become standard practice. On Twitter, it used to be a running joke that Tucker Carlson’s writers scoured the social network for content after featuring several high-profile Internet personalities on his show, including Raw Egg Nationalist and Curtis Yarvin (formerly best known by his nom de plume, “Mencius Moldbug”). And recently, to mark the end of Pride Month, the Ron DeSantis campaign released a cringe-inducing and now-deleted ad that evoked popular Twitter memes. 

Between the success of figures like Bronze Age Pervert and the media frenzy around Trump’s online following in 2016, it’s not a completely misguided strategy. The real tastemakers, so the wisdom goes, are on Twitter, and that applies for both the Left and the Right. Digital culture is frequently a good barometer for what people really think, and online trends capture the zeitgeist before more mainstream figures even know it’s arrived. Yet the media amplification of petty online debates isn’t trend forecasting: this, after all, was just a semi-serious Twitter spat about a hot woman.

What does the Margot Robbie incident tell us about the world? It tells us that most journalism is less precise than Internet culture blogging. The “debate”, if we can call it that, is only news insofar as it tells us the state of the media landscape — not the state of men. Matt Gaetz, sensing an easy point-score, leapt on this. 

Arguably more interesting is that online commentators are coming out of the woodwork and trying to recapture the success of the original controversy, in search of free PR. Say something outlandish, and dozens of editorial writers will descend upon you like vultures to give you your obligatory 15 minutes of fame. This weekend, a woman claimed that beefcake actor Henry Cavill is “mid” and, as night follows day, the cartoon-avatared commentariat took the bait. 

Online fame used to require personal humiliation; now all you need to do is start an argument. Arriving on the heels of Twitter’s new revenue-sharing programme, where impressions equal money, this raises salient questions about the economy of opinion-sharing. When the hottest takes lead to a higher profile and a boost in income, it shouldn’t be surprising that both sides of the political aisle will eventually want to cash in.


Katherine Dee is a writer. To read more of her work, visit defaultfriend.substack.com.

default_friend

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

11 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Ya. Social media is awful. Have no idea why people partake

Ralph Wade
Ralph Wade
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I’m guessing your response might be tongue in cheek? Social Media is defined as: blogs, other types of self-published online journals, and collaborative Web-based discussion forums – among other on-line sites (Twitter, Instagram, etc).

Last edited 1 year ago by Ralph Wade
Ralph Wade
Ralph Wade
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I’m guessing your response might be tongue in cheek? Social Media is defined as: blogs, other types of self-published online journals, and collaborative Web-based discussion forums – among other on-line sites (Twitter, Instagram, etc).

Last edited 1 year ago by Ralph Wade
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Ya. Social media is awful. Have no idea why people partake

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Why the h*ll are YOU talking about it? Who cares if some politician has an opinion about an actress’s looks? Oh yeah, it’s another silly Republicans seize! article. Because Democrats are such level-headed, serious-minded, only-the-issues paragons and never comment on others’ looks (ahem, Sarah Palin, Melania Trump, Casey DeSantis . . .).

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Why the h*ll are YOU talking about it? Who cares if some politician has an opinion about an actress’s looks? Oh yeah, it’s another silly Republicans seize! article. Because Democrats are such level-headed, serious-minded, only-the-issues paragons and never comment on others’ looks (ahem, Sarah Palin, Melania Trump, Casey DeSantis . . .).

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

I am not convinced that American standards of beauty are universal.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Given the billions of dollars worth of skin whitening products sold across the world they are probably not too far off.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Point taken, but I was thinking more of this Englishman’s response to Hollywood standards

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Point taken, but I was thinking more of this Englishman’s response to Hollywood standards

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Given the billions of dollars worth of skin whitening products sold across the world they are probably not too far off.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

I am not convinced that American standards of beauty are universal.

Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
11 months ago

I’m confused here. Since when was Barbie supposed to the most beautiful woman in the world –or even a 10? Like when was that decided?
She’s supposed to be fashionable, sort of, so little girls can play dress up. She’s supposed to have an exciting grown up life. As for looks all I recall is she was supposed to be blandly attractive (which would be the definition of mid no?) No claims to iconic beauty were involved.

Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
11 months ago

I’m confused here. Since when was Barbie supposed to the most beautiful woman in the world –or even a 10? Like when was that decided?
She’s supposed to be fashionable, sort of, so little girls can play dress up. She’s supposed to have an exciting grown up life. As for looks all I recall is she was supposed to be blandly attractive (which would be the definition of mid no?) No claims to iconic beauty were involved.

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago

Ms. Robbie looks very tired.

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago

Ms. Robbie looks very tired.

elle mernik
elle mernik
11 months ago

“For Republicans, and Americans on the Right more broadly, seizing on these viral moments has become standard practice”.

Not left/right standard practice but social media toxic negativity.

elle mernik
elle mernik
11 months ago

“For Republicans, and Americans on the Right more broadly, seizing on these viral moments has become standard practice”.

Not left/right standard practice but social media toxic negativity.

Paul M
Paul M
11 months ago

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t think this actress is attractive *at all*. Then again, most men likely don’t think my wife is attractive *at all*.

Al Bruton
Al Bruton
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul M

Bottom line–the world is falling to pieces around us and everyone is endlessly discussing a child’s plastic toy? Get a life!!!!