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Bullies comeuppance

11 December 2017 | Lloyd Hughes

The ‘I’m A Celebrity’ final was on last night and won, rightly so in my book (my wife makes me watch it, honest), by Georgia ‘Toff’ Toffolo. She was brilliant throughout and perpetually cheerful in the face of all the hardships thrown at her and the other campmates. So, well done to her!

The big story around this year’s ‘I’m A Celeb’ though centred on the treatment of comedian Iain Lee. He openly admitted he’s no Alpha male, describing himself as more of a Beta and ‘possibly a Gama’ who just wants to be liked. However other campmates, Dennis Wise, Amir Khan and Jamie Lomas are definitely more within the Alpha bracket.

The close confines of the camp meant that they often seemed to turn on Iain as a group, becoming frustrated at his lack of success in Bushtucker trials, which meant the rest of the camp went hungry. Many viewers deemed their actions as bullying.

Dennis Wise was one of the most vilified for this as he seemed like the ringleader. But while it’s not an excuse, I don’t think his behaviour was down to outright nastiness on his part, just a lack of awareness and ignorance thanks to being in the football bubble all his life, surrounded by Alpha males at every turn. With little exposure to those of a different disposition, he probably found it hard to relate to Iain when in such proximity for a prolonged period.

Amir Khan, however, demonstrated a breath-taking lack of self-awareness throughout the show, while also not being afraid to tell a blatant lie (I’m not entirely sure he understood the concept of being filmed 24/7). Although liked for being a ‘cheeky chappy’, he was undoubtedly short of a few brain cells, which is probably what happens when you’re punched in the head for a living.

He demonstrated this further on last night’s ‘Extra Camp’, by interrupting Iain’s interview to shout that he ‘wasn’t a bully’ and that they’d ‘talk about this later’ – a phrase archetypal of bullies. He too, also comes from a testosterone fuelled background in boxing, so again may have struggled to relate to Iain – although I’m less forgiving of him for leaving Iain to take the fall for Strawberry-gate, when Amir was the instigator.

Jamie Lomas, while involved, probably did the least to ‘bully’ Iain, but still, he didn’t seem to grasp that Iain came from a different mould and often belittled him, without necessarily realising he was doing so.

It can be said that Iain set himself up for it to an extent by agreeing to eat the strawberries (I was furious with that decision whilst watching it). But I think much of it was down to him being misunderstood by those around him and particularly the males.

Each episode created a storm on social media with Iain’s supporters picking up on incidents and lambasting the trio, while their defenders hit back refusing to label it as bullying. Whatever your opinion, the furore has cast a welcome light on bullying and the different forms it can take, hopefully causing people to perhaps think about how their actions impact others.

There was another story of bullying in the news today though, centring on Keaton Jones, a young boy from Knoxville, Tennessee. He featured in a genuinely heart breaking video recorded by his mother where he tearfully questioned why bullies chose to be mean and what they got out of it before listing some of the horrible things they’d said and done to him. He also expressed compassion for other victims of bullying, offering them advice on how to deal with it, demonstrating his own innate kindness.

The emotion within it really was upsetting and it’s subsequently seen a torrent of celebrities pour out their support for him.

Dana White proffered a trip to the UFC headquarters, with Donald Trump junior offering to put him up for the night while he does so. Keaton’s already spent a day with Jarrett Guarantano, the Tennessee Volunteers quarterback, while Hailee Steinfeld invited him to be her date at the Pitch Perfect 3 premiere on Wednesday. Chris Evans (of Captain America fame) has asked him to come to the Avengers premiere next year, while Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry and more also offered support. This barely touches on the offers and encouragement sent his way.

It’s great to see so many people come forward to console him and serves to demonstrate the power of social media once again.

And while I hope Keaton has had a brilliant Monday, I bet those particular bullies are having a horrible time of it today as the spotlight switches to them.