Lauren Duca Is a Victim of the Broken #Resistance Ecosystem
Grifting has become the main mechanism through which the #Resistance thrives.
When a public-facing figure reaches a certain profile, a backlash is bound to happen. That was what occurred when ex-Teen Vogue writer and since then prominent #Resistance figure Lauren Duca faced major backlash after a troubling Buzzfeed profile rehashed an old conversation about public responsibility in the age of Trump. The profile did not mince details about Duca’s condescending tone towards her profiler Scaachi Koul, but what it did perhaps miss in light of her mistreatment of a foreign exchange student — among other missteps — is the impact fame has on individuals, wherein they could be set adrift to the whims of misfortune despite their best intentions.
Lauren Duca was an unknown quality before the 2016 election cycle. As most #Resistance figures are, their sudden shuttling into fame could be best described as catching lightning in a bottle, a perfect moment in culture where just the right thing was said or done at the right moment. For Duca, this was her blockbuster piece “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America”. The problem however arises when expectations don’t meet reality, and there was bound to be a moment where the facade of what Lauren Duca is — her performance on social media — would clash heavily with who she really is. That’s not to make a judgment that’s in any way specific to what Duca does–it’s just an acknowledgment that no matter how firm is anyone against fame, it does corrupt, and it did so in the most awful ways imaginable to her.
What went on behind the scenes in Lauren Duca’s life is largely irrelevant to this inquiry. The issue here is a systemic propping up of people well above and beyond what they can deliver, solidifying their status as activists with no prior credentials for as little as a viral clip or a statement made in a brief moment of clarity. Doing this centers the public identity of a figure on a single idea — in Duca’s case, it was her correct feministic assessment of Tucker Carlson’s sexist comment towards her on FOX News — and in doing that, an entire narrative of intellectual potency was concocted, regardless if she could actually live up to it.
In promoting her new book “How to Start a Revolution: Young People and the Future of American Politics”, Duca made a bold claim about it being the blueprint for American youth to lead their strife against the stifling stubborness of America’s upper political class. The book isn’t out yet, so there’s not much that can be gleaned from what little critique of it floats out there, but where Lauren Duca missed out, is on the opportunity to act as a conduit for the next generation to lead on with their own literature on how to conduct a successful revolution. Despite their attempts to best articulate it, activists of Duca’s ilk act as if the revolution would only happen on their own terms. The stated mission of the book is a courageous one, but seeing how its writer was lashing out in anger at a reporter mere days prior to its release, it’s safe to say that whatever impact it could have had, it has already been colored by a negative public perception in which Lauren Duca is the villain of a story she wished to be the hero of.
For disclosure’s sake, I’ll say that Lauren Duca has been a kind person to me in what little moments we interacted online. It’s unfair to rule out an activist’s cachet just because they don’t fit our perfect archetype of what an activist must be, do, and look like–but to see them behave in a way that is self-centered, and so ignoring of the collective power it takes to change the status quo, it just either shows a great ambivalence on their part on what actually instigates revolutionary sentiment, or an unwillingness to explore the conversation with those who deem it least beneficial to revolve it around a few individuals, rather than the collective to whom is entrusted the duty of upending the current system.
There’s this ecosystem where it’s taken for granted that if you said something poignant once, that you were going to become one of the defining faces of an entire movement. And because humans are the weakest chain of any movement, it’s unwise to make them the center of revolutionary change. Now that Lauren Duca is seeming to the eyes of the public as nothing more than a Resistance grifter, it makes it harder for other women — even more so of color — to make a name for themselves through the same mechanism. However great their contributions will be, they’ll always be viewed through the lens of skepticism and an ever-simmering suspicion of hypocrisy. The revolution will not be televised, but even if it was, it would not be carried on the backs of the very few who televise it. This can be said for DeRay Mckesson who not that long ago, was doing sponsored advocacy work for Wells Fargo–hardly a proponent of social change ; Shaun King whose credibility has been put into question after black women exposed the shady trappings of his charity work; the Krassenstein brothers who were just recently booted off Twitter for operating fake accounts and artificially boosting engagement metrics; and the list just goes on and on. I’ve been willing to give Lauren Duca the benefit of the doubt so many times in the past, but the latest round of controversy proved she doesn’t stray too far away from the pack.
Grifting the left — and more specifically the Democratic base — by focusing all their contributions towards a meaningless quest for clout seems like it would be the perfect recipe for a collapse of any would-be revolution. What incredible work journalists and activists are able to do — even without the dangling carrot of a sizeable financial compensation — is ample proof that a public figure in a perfect position to grift, can make a conscious decision not to. Lauren Duca’s NYU course could’ve gone so much better if she was willing to wield the tools of firing up a revolution, but as it would unfortunately pan out, she thinks a transfer of wealth from a group of devoted followers — some of them poor — to her deep-run pockets is the way to do it, and that’s as bad a conclusion to derive from America’s increasing frustration with a class-dismissive president as any.