LIFESTYLE OPINION

‘Caroline Calloway might be controversial, but for Jameela Jamil to publicly vilify her exposes complete hypocrisy’

Jamil has forged a public image of an anti-bullying crusader, but her cruel attack on Calloway on a podcast this week did nothing but propagate internet gossip, writes Olivia Petter

Friday 03 April 2020 13:34
Comments

If anyone knows how it feels to be vilified by strangers, it’s Jameela Jamil. The British actor has been the subject of countless cruel attacks online, with people relentlessly criticising almost everything she says and does, from coming out as queer to openly discussing the multiple health issues she suffers from, with some even going so far as to accuse her of having Munchausen’s syndrome.

All this has led to Jamil becoming something of a crusader against online bullying, so it came as quite a surprise to see her jump on the trolling bandwagon this week, calling the controversial Instagrammer Caroline Calloway a “f***ing idiot”, a “bellend” and say she’s going to “beat her a**”.

The actor and presenter, who stars on US comedy The Good Place, made the comments on the Laci Mosley-hosted podcast Scam Goddess. The podcast's premise is to discuss famous fraudsters in a light-hearted manner, but in this instance, it sounded more like a crass roasting segment on a bad comedy show. The episode focused on Instagram influencer Calloway who, last year, found herself at the centre of online conspiracy theories when a viral essay written by her ex-best friend claimed Calloway was nothing but an elaborate scammer.

I am no Calloway defender. She stands accused of misleading her 700,000 followers on a number of occasions, having made false promises on everything from “creativity workshops” (for which she charged $165 a ticket) to a memoir that never surfaced. When I interviewed her earlier this year, she didn’t’ hesitate to tell me that she found one of my questions “dumb”. But the longer I spoke to Calloway (who maintains she has never scammed anyone), the more I felt that the only person she is really scamming is herself.

Calloway’s story is far more complex than Mosley lets on in the podcast, perhaps intentionally, and of course, there is more than one side to every story – and a human behind every rumour mill. Calloway claims that she has been unfairly portrayed as a villain and that her mental health issues and prescription drug addiction have been conveniently glossed over by her dissenters. Meanwhile, just days after the Natalie Beach essay about her was published and the internet was busy denouncing Calloway as a malignant narcissist, Calloway was grieving the death of her father, who had just taken his own life.

So, not exactly a fair target for the level of cruel vitriol Jamil directed at her on this podcast. And yet, the actor practically fizzes with the excitement of a high-school mean girl as she and Mosley tear Calloway limb from limb in their excruciating discussion. In addition to labelling Calloway a “basic b****”, Jamil asks which actor will play her in the film of her “stupid f***ing life” and labels her “f***ing uncreative and useless”. Jamil also says that she “hates” Calloway and that she “must be really beautiful or charismatic” to have escaped legal action for her behaviour, thus adding a healthy dose of sexism to the whole discussion.

Perhaps Jamil thought she was being funny. Maybe she was just trying to humour Mosely. Whichever it was, she failed spectacularly. The 45-minute podcast is an extremely uncomfortable listen. Even if Calloway was a convicted fraudster (which she is not), for Jamil to make such vile remarks about another woman in the public eye, one who has been just as vilified as her, is irresponsible, unhelpful and deeply hypocritical.

Jamil has since apologised to Calloway for her comments. “I really like @jameelajamil!” Calloway tweeted. “No hard feelings, but 1) I didn’t scam anyone, and 2) Quarantine is a pretty rough time to be roasted and defamed. Especially by @jameelajamil who has pushed back so vocally and beautifully against cancelling other women because of internet drama and gossip.”

Jamil replied and admitted she knew nothing about Calloway prior to recording the show. “Caroline, nobody is cancelling you,” she wrote. “I know nothing about you other than what I was told on this comedy podcast. The Munchausen’s thing spread about me was a lie. Was what she told me about you scamming girls on this podcast also a lie? In which case I unreservedly apologize.”

Hardly a heartfelt apology. Jamil’s responses to others who criticised her comments on the podcast were equally lukewarm. “I agreed to a comedy podcast where I am read stories about people who steal from people... it’s not that deep…”, she replied to one.

Maybe it really isn’t that deep for Jamil, who seems unnervingly comfortable throughout the episode, taking everything Mosley says as gospel. But for the person being told to rot in hell by a global celebrity, it probably cuts quite deep.

And for those who say Calloway deserves it, don’t be so myopic. No one deserves to be spoken about that way on a public platform, especially not by someone who hasn’t bothered to fact-check their claims or given that person the right to respond. Of all people, Jamil should know that.

The Independent has contacted Jamil’s representative for comment.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in