The Texas Tech Cheerleader Who Likes Trophy Hunting Also Likes Cuddling Baby Animals
Kendall Jones has spent much of July an Internet celebrity. She inspired fierce, sexist tirades as a result of the photos on her Facebook page, which featured Jones posing with the dead bodies of a variety of magnificent exotic creatures that she’d personally shot and killed; she found defenders from both the likely suspects and unexpected corners; and she’s sought a development deal on a reality show, because obviously.
Facebook removed many of the more egregiously depressing photos in Jones’s albums—shots of her with dead elephants, lions, and rhinos (the site continues to host an image of Jones with a sedated rhinocerous)—but she’s gone on to include new photos in an act of perhaps expert trolling: Recent uploads include shots of Jones cuddling her pet chihuahua, and a baby whitetail deer. Facebook removes the pictures of her with dead animals, and Jones responds by adding new photos of her cuddling live ones.
Jones rose to prominence, in other words, because of social media savvy, and her response to Facebook’s removal of her photos demonstrates that she knows exactly how to use the platform to occupy the exact part of the culture war landscape that she seems destined to inhabit: someone who knows how to irritate the people who disagree with her, and delight the people who see her as an avatar for their values.
Meanwhile, the culture war aspect of Jones’s campaign to be the most famous teenage hunter/cheerleader in America continues apace, with all sides weighing in. Most recently, a man named Mike Dickinson tweeted an offer of “100K for nude photos or sex tape” of Jones. Dickinson’s Twitter handle is @VoteMike2014, and he describes himself as a “left wing liberal” who is running for Congress in Virginia. He’s appeared on Fox News with “(D-VA)” underneath his name.
But as Slate‘s Dave Weigel points out, Dickinson’s not actually a candidate for anything. He’s never filed paperwork, and he’s never been nominated for anything. He does seem to thrive on attention, though, and riding the coattails of Jones’s fame seems to have allowed him to enjoy some moments of feeling relevant: He’s got a number of sexist tweets up about her now, and seems to spend much of his time coming up with new ones.
Jones’s critics are keen to point out that she’s taken to social media in order to get attention, and she clearly is receiving it. It’d be hard for someone in her position to make her 15 minutes of fame stretch out to two weeks without the sexism and general shadiness of people like Dickinson. Sexism may be good for her shelf life, but that doesn’t mean that it’s OK, or that she deserves it.