In Quebec, many are driven by a hatred of influencers. Thus, in the media, we still struggle to put our prejudices aside when we approach them or dissect the phenomena in which they participate. And if they have the misfortune of being women or queer people, it’s worse. Let us examine this aversion which draws its source in particular from misogyny.
I didn’t want to watch Double Busy this year. While talking about my lack of enthusiasm with Mounir Kaddouri, alias Mayor of Laval, I changed my mind. The YouTuber, who has been dissecting Quebec news for several years, reminded me that the 17th season of OD (Andalusia) risked making waves. Following the departure of Jay Du Temple, it is a couple of influencers, Alicia Moffet and Frédérick Robichaud, who now host the famous Quebec reality show. Because we like to say of these web personalities that they do not deserve their visibility and that we persist in ignoring their economic, media and socio-cultural impact, this edition will perhaps give rise to curious debates.
In view of this contempt, it is a safe bet that several viewers will watch Double Occupation this year with the unspeakable hope of seeing the new hosts screw up. On the Reddit discussion site, Moffet is already being criticized, accused of being a bad mother and even “the walking red flag of Quebec”, or the walking peril of Quebec. But what could be more banal than hating influencers and sowing hatred of women on the internet?
It was bloggers, even female bloggers, who foreshadowed the role played by influencers. In the early 2000s, personal web pages disrupted the media ecosystem by allowing new voices to exist outside of traditional institutions. In her book Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet (to be published October 3), American journalist Taylor Lorenz traces the history of the web and identifies the defining figure of this era: the mom blogger . Compensating for a lack, the latter was the first to address mothers directly and only, in an intimate style that stood out from that of journalists.
The mom blogger is also one of the first web figures to take advantage of her audience through sponsored content and commercial partnerships. However, “while blogs on tech and politics were already running ads, when moms started doing it, people went crazy,” writes Taylor Lorenz. It seems that it is not acceptable for a woman to be paid for work related to parenting. In fact, if we dig deeper into the hatred of influencers, we realize that it hides the issue of free work carried out mainly by women.
Just like actresses and models in this world, influencers often use their bodies to sell. This erotic labor makes them particularly vulnerable to putophobic attacks, another manifestation of ambient misogyny. In the media, we never miss an opportunity to punish these women who dare to take advantage of their physique. We will remember, for example, the host Geneviève Pettersen who, supposed to comment on the situation of domestic violence that the very popular Elisabeth Rioux was going through in 2020, had instead focused the discussion on the body of the victim, specifying that the influencer had “become popular with his butt”, live on LCN. If Geneviève Pettersen has since apologized, we must remember that this type of situation is not an isolated event.
“Influencer hate has been around since the word existed,” Mounir tells me. We hate this term so much that we even replaced it: we now talk about content creator. According to Taylor Lorenz, the tech world encouraged the adoption of the term because the term “influencer” was associated with women and therefore loaded with negative connotations. By decontaminating the feminine profession, we give it importance, a form of respectability.
But whatever expression we use to talk about the influence industry, today we must consider it seriously by casting a critical eye on it. For example, as their profession becomes more professional, influencers tend to produce consistent and predictable content. To please, they do not deviate from the norm, but reproduce it. In fact, this is the world that follows one another year after year at Double Occupancy. However, even reality TV will one day have to adapt to our growing demand for representation. After all, that’s what the blogs of the 2000s promised us: the emergence of a different, singular word.