Bioethics Blogs

Being Angry at Zoella – What Moral Outrage Tells About Us

If you are like me you did not know who Zoe Sugg – known as Zoella – was before she published the fastest selling debut novel ever, “Girl Online”. Since then, I learned that Sugg is a video blogger on YouTube, publishing tips about beauty and life. More than 9 million people have subscribed to her channels (Ref). My immediate suspicion was that pretty soon snobbish intellectuals would start writing articles about how the success of a book written by a vlogger would indicate the end of the world. Yet, the backlash came in a different form. Shortly after the book was published, people started to question how much writing Sugg did and how much help she got: Did she write the novel herself? The publisher subsequently admitted that she had help (“To be factually accurate, you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own,” Ref) and a lot of people on the internet got morally outraged.

But why are people surprised that a celebrity had a ghostwriter by her side writing a book. Christmas is each year the heyday of wonderful celebrity autobiographies, and probably nobody believes that these famous people wrote them. However, the critics claim, this case is different; Sugg did something morally wrong:

“Girl Online is different to your standard ghost-written book, and that’s because of the implicit promise that Zoella makes to her followers. Their relationship is based on a fundamental understanding that she will be honest with them.”

In short, the accusation is that she betrayed her fans; she lied to them.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.