The Great British Bake Off is one of Britain’s most valued treasures. It’s like David Attenborough or Kew Gardens. It’s something that refuses to be tarnished, that fills hearts with joy and buttery goodness week upon week.
During this series of GBBO I’m pained to admit that I have become aware of something unsettling, something a little sinister lingering beneath the surface of the big white tent. As I watch Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood judge a batch of cakes in a fair but firm way, I notice a common occurrence on my Twitter feed, something that gives me a sour taste in my mouth – which is quite a feat considering I’m watching a show about baking
Wow Candice on GBBO is all kinds of annoying
Why is Candice baking in heels?! Gurl I hope you trip and your roulade smushes everywhere
Love it when Candice gets negative feedback!! Can’t stand her smug face
Candice’s jaw must ache with all that pouting she does.
And then it becomes more sinister:
How do Mary and Paul stand so close to Candice without slapping the shit out of her for that fucking pout
Cannot bear Candice on GBBO. And Paul needs to stop treating her with kid gloves cause he wants her buns
Swear Candice must be playing with Paul’s willy, can’t stand her.
Candice Brown is a 31-year old PE teacher from London. She’s a good baker. She’s witty, intelligent, and fun. The tweets above weren’t hard to find and are only a cross section of the Candice-hatred. But why Candice? I can’t figure it out. There’s nothing about her rude or racist or conceited. I can’t see any evidence that she’s smug. So what’s the problem?
The sour taste in my mouth gets sourer still.
Surelyit’s not just because she’s young and female and attractive.
She’s beautiful therefore she must be sleeping with Paul Hollywood.
She wears lipstick = ‘that fucking pout’
She’s doing well in the competition = smug.
The tweets about Candice are never about her skills, but her appearance. She doesn’t look like Mary Berry or Delia Smith so she probably can’t bake, instead using her looks to excel in the competition. By not conforming to the Wholesome British Baker model that we are used to and expect, people feel compelled to take her down.
It’s so weird.
Several years ago the same treatment was given to Bake Off contestant Ruby Tandoh. She, too, was accused of sleeping with Paul Hollywood. Because of course, how else could she possibly progress through the competition otherwise? She was young and attractive so she must have use her body to get to the final. Right?
Funnily enough, no. And funnily enough, when Ruby came out as gay, she followed the announcement with these words; ‘p.s. for those who thought I fancied Paul Hollywood or that I’d ever bang him to get ahead – Joke’s on you, you massive shitting misogynists.’
It isn’t just the blatant sexism that bothers me here, but the creepy keyboard warriors who take part in the abuse. It’s become a normal part of life now, so much so that we just scroll through the insults and forget about them in a matter of seconds. But when did it become ok for someone to receive death threats from strangers for wearing lipstick?
When Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint the other day, some Twitter users openly expressed their discontent that she wasn’t actually killed. I wonder what percentage of these people actually know Kim? I’d bet none.
I see West End star Carrie Hope Fletcher as the victim of almost daily harassment against people who are pissed off that she didn’t leave the theatre through the stage door or because she chose to cover a song which other people don’t think she should have covered. These people put all their energy into making her feel as small and remorseful as possible. And they succeed.
Twitter has become a dark place full of cyberbullies and trolls who use their computer screens to protect themselves. It’s scary and I wonder how far it will go. Does the world really need any more hate?
Tom Clarke, the lead singer of The Enemy, sums it up perfectly. He quit Twitter two years ago and when asked why he said:
Our tour is selling exceptionally well in a difficult climate for our genre, and yet all I want to do is leave music, for the sake of my mental well-being, because of a few bullies, but also because of an entire industry’s complete unwillingness to challenge the behaviour of those people and hold them to account.
The sad thing is, whether you like my music or not, I can’t be the only one. How many musicians will we drive away by failing to recognise and deal with this abhorrent behaviour?”
What will Twitter do about these bullies? Because I see this getting a lot worse before it gets better. And if Tom Clarke’s reaction is anything to go by, our favourite social media influencers might be long gone before the problem is fixed.
Lots of love