A viral video posted on Twitter has stirred up a lot of controversy and a lot of opinions. Miley Cyrus posted a photo from her newest collaboration with Planned Parenthood, Marc Jacobs and her foundation, The Happy Hippie Foundation, which focuses on fighting homelessness and injustices in the LGBTQ community. The picture shows Cyrus licking a sprinkled birthday cake with her eyes closed. Written on the cake was “ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE” in pink icing.
This sparked the eye of Graham Allen. Allen is the host of the “Dear American” podcast and has “For those who can’t... I’ll say it for you” written in his bio on Twitter. From reading most of his tweets, it’s obvious the type of political views Allen has. However, most of his opinions come from a place of negativity— he simply retweets others to bash them.
In his reaction video to Cyrus’s tweet, Allen argues that Cyrus and Planned Parenthood were “celebrating abortions” and, therefore, celebrating the death of a baby. This opinion makes sense because of the cake and nature of the photo, depending on how one views it. However, Allen argued this completely wrong. Instead of gently pointing out the negative meaning, he forcibly announced his distaste. He then captioned the video “RETWEET IF BABY’S LIVES MATTER.”
The message Allen was trying to spread isn’t necessarily harmful; it’s just his opinion on the photo. However, he used the power in his large following to target a certain audience. He wanted his audience to grow by having others retweet this. Whether or not Twitter users truly believe retweeting this tweet will prove baby’s lives matter, they’re still spreading a message in a hateful way. Although Allen is just acting on his right to free speech, others may take his message to the extreme.
Twitter is a great platform for many people to share their political views or get information. However, with an open platform such as this comes responsibility. Anyone in the world can read a message and push it to the extreme. In his video, Allen is wearing a hat with an American flag and a large gun on it. Based on his pro-life agenda, a viewer can assume he’s conservative. Yet, his political views are not the issue. Allen’s forceful attitude reveals not that he’s passionate about the subject, but that he’s angry.
There are extremists in every political group, but those with platforms must show that there’s a better, healthier way to convey opinions. Ones with extreme thoughts and ideas are given more power by those who spread the idea they believe so strongly. Whether or not one agrees with Allen, it’s obvious that someone can take this message the wrong way. People who spread their messages by using “retweet for…” types of captions aren’t looking to spread a message. They’re looking to gain a following, yet tend to spread hate more than anything else. An influencer of any kind shouldn’t manipulate their audience into retweeting their opinion.
Megan Klepper is a senior writing, rhetoric and technical communication major. Contact Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org.