send help

I don’t like to admit it, but my first week as a housewife was largely spent on Youtube, sailing the seven seas. It’s tempting to narrate several videos here, but I’ll just mention the two I talked Rory into watching when he came home from work.

I’ll start with this video. Something that I found troubling about the #savemarinajoyce fiasco was the media’s response to Marina Joyce’s mother’s assurances that her daughter was fine, and that—not to worry—the voice saying ‘help me’ in the background was in fact her saying ‘stand like me’ (she was directing the video). There is something nightmarish about this situation: the mother reveals her presence behind the camera, and the media, rather than questioning the mother’s possible role in her daughter’s distress, dismisses the possibility of danger all together. To take the mother at her word, the media must ignore the fact that teenage vloggers living under their parents’ roofs can earn thousands of pounds a year through endorsements. We can’t know how much money Marina Joyce’s Youtube channel generates, or how she and her parents handle it, but shouldn’t we at least acknowledge the potential for abuse by her mother? Much of the speculation I’ve read about Marina Joyce’s fates ends with the mother saying everything’s fine, and we’re all free to get on with our meme fun and games. This for me is like that moment in your nightmare when you’re in danger, and instead of helping you, the people you expect protection from laugh at you.

Black Mamba White Witch is a wildlife documentary about a snake handler, enthusiast and conservationist living in Swaziland. The “white witch” and her brave assistant (husband) respond to calls, sometimes four a day, from frightened Swazis who discover black mambas in their homes and are understandably too terrified to remove the snakes themselves. What’s amazing about this story is the woman’s dedication to her community, but since this was a wildlife documentary, whoever wrote the narration chose to focus on the woman’s dedication to black mambas. While it’s clear to the viewer that the white witch risks her life in order to save her neighbours’ from fatal mamba bites, the narrator seems convinced that she catches the snakes primarily to save them from the people who want them dead. After a while, the effect of the narrator telling us that the white witch was off to ‘save another black mamba’ became quite silly, and actually added to my enjoyment of the documentary. I also learned a lot. At one point in the film, the narrator explained that black mambas are not black, but olive grey. The snakes get their name from the black inside their mouths. Hearing this, Rory said, “Oh, that’s interesting. Just like the cottonmouth.” And I said, “Is the cottonmouth’s mouth also black?”