This past week, popular daytime talk show host Ellen Degeneres invited 16-year-old Carter Wilkerson to appear on her show. Wilkerson was an ordinary teenage boy until early this month when he struck a deal on Twitter with Wendy’s for free chicken nuggets for a year. All he had to do was get 18 million retweets (something that has never been done before).
While Wilkerson was on the show, Ellen pleaded (jokingly) for him to not surpass her record-holding amount of retweets, which she currently holds for a selfie from the 2014 Academy Awards show.
In a “truce”, Ellen offered Wilkerson a flat screen TV along with items from her signature underwear line. Wilkerson has also been verified on Twitter, he’s garnered nearly one hundred thousand followers, and his story has been covered by basically every major online publication. You can watch his appearance on the show here:
But the real question is: why is he receiving so much attention and praise for doing nothing but taking a screenshot and typing a few words?
Ellen has a history of inviting the embodiments of white mediocrity onto her show. Remember that “Damn Daniel” vine? You know, the one with the white Vans? Ellen invited Daniel onto her show, and he also received a lifetime supply of Vans for his mildly humorous vine.
And have we forgot about Alex From Target? A bagger at Target in late 2014, a picture of him went viral because people found him attractive. Yes, that’s literally it. Because of this average, non-unique quality, Ellen invited him onto her show so he could share his “amazing story”.
The truth is that white mediocrity is continually put on a pedestal by celebrities and the mainstream media. White people do the simplest, most trivial of things and receive an outpouring of benefits and pats on the back. Carter Wilkerson literally received a free flat screen television and endless media attention for literally wanting chicken nuggets. As a white person, I can attest to the continuous recognition for doing the least. For example, white “activists” who do the minimum always seem to be at the forefront of movements created by and for people of color.
Additionally, people of color have been ignored and disregarded for having the same (if not, more of a) socio-cultural impact as people like Carter Wilkerson, Damn Daniel, and Alex From Target. Kayla Newman, better known as Peaches Monroe, created the term “on fleek” in her Jun. 21, 2014 vine.
In a 2015 interview with The Fader, Newman stated, “I can’t explain the feeling. At the moment, I haven’t gotten any endorsements or received any payment. I feel that I should be compensated.” Her vine and phrase went viral and definitely had a massive cultural impact, but she didn’t receive any personal attention by celebrities or the mainstream media. Where’s her flatscreen TV, Ellen?
We have to stop hyping up white people who are doing literally nothing. People of color continue to make monumental contributions to social media culture but are overlooked for white people doing the most trivial of things. Going forward, it’s important that we start to recognize and reward those who truly make contributions to our society, not just people that tweet about liking chicken nuggets.