by Reid Fitzsimons
There is an undeniable temptation, when considering Melissa Click, to compose a juvenile limerick in regards to her surname. Having admitted this and successfully resisted it we can move on.
Melissa Click, in her mid-40s, first entered our consciousness in November 2015 during commotions for social justice at the University of Missouri, Columbia. These were largely the progeny of Michael Brown and all that he entailed, and spearheaded by student government President and U of M 2015 Homecoming King Peyton Head, who is worthy of a brief detour. President Head is a child of actual privilege in that (his bio suggests) his father has been present throughout his life, and the pseudo-privilege that so distresses the social justice activists in that his father obtained the level of school principal in the Chicago school system, indicating a certain financial comfort. His privilege is fully mitigated, however, by his being a young black man and apparent homosexual.
In Sept. 2015 he reported via social media, “Last night as I walking through campus, some guys riding on the back of a pickup truck decided that it would be okay to continuously scream NIGGER at me.” Understandably upsetting and reprehensible if this incident occurred as he recounted, he was able to extrapolate this ugly sentiment to include U of M as a whole, much like the philosophy of “you’ve seen one lazy-thieving-raping-etc (Italian, Black person, American Indian, Mexican, or whatever group of one’s choosing) you’ve seen them all.” He ultimately had stunning success in that his mud-slinging hit the university President squarely in the face, forcing his resignation under the accusation he wasn’t outraged enough by all the various ism’s and phobe’s so prevalent on campus.
In a curious footnote, on Nov. 10, 2015 student President Head posted on the Twitter entity, “Students please take precaution. Stay away from the windows in residence halls. The KKK has been confirmed to be sighted on campus. I’m working with the MUPD, the state trooper, and the National Guard,” this being reminiscent of the famed warning of Redcoats coming back in ‘75. Alas, he had chosen to believe and proliferate unfounded rumors and had to withdraw his definitive statements with apologies. It’s not quite clear how he became the designated liaison with the National Guard, especially considering they were not present. Ah- to be so young, automatically indemnified for all one’s actions in life, and both a king and president.
Anyway, with all the excitement swirling about campus, how could an assistant professor of communications with a graduate certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies not partake in the revolution in support and defense of the oppressed? Caught up in the emotion, and forever captured in a photo/video involving unflattering arm thrusting, Prof. Melissa Click, PhD demanded the expulsion, with prejudice, of a student reporter covering the events du jour unfolding in a public campus area. Ironically Dr. Click also held what is called a courtesy appointment with the School of Journalism. Much of the video involved a student photographer being pushed about and shouted down by Prof. Click’s largely ivory colored mob. The photographer appeared to be of Asian origin, I guess qualifying him as a person of color, as contrasted with the redheaded and fair-skinned Melissa Click. The video worth watching- https://youtu.be/xRlRAyulN4o
I can’t find much in the way of her personal biography (i.e. no Wikipedia entry) but we can assume she was born in 1971 and graduated high school in 1989, in that her CV has her obtaining her undergraduate degree (Retail Marketing and Women’s Studies), from James Madison University, Virginia, in 1993. Statistically speaking it is unlikely she experienced economic dislocation as a child.
Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin/legal term simply meaning the thing speaks for itself. Dr. Click, based upon her behavior in the above-mentioned video (and another from a U of M street protest in Oct. 2015) seems to be a disagreeable person and, despite her advanced degree in communications, appears to rely on yelling as a primary means of personal communication. While an ad hominem listing of unfavorable or hypocritical attributes of Dr. Click would be fun if not a bit low brow, reviewing her professional credentials, interests, and publications, obtained mostly from her own (11 page) CV, provides a fascinating insight into her mindset as well as that of the academic elite in general- res ipsa loquitur:
She obtained her Doctorate in communication from UMass Amherst in 2009 with a dissertation entitled “It’s ‘a good thing’: The commodification of femininity, affluence and whiteness in the Martha Stewart phenomenon.” Her Master’s thesis in 2000, also from UMass Amherst, was “Who dunnit?: The utility of theorizing (in)visible identities in feminist action.”
According to what was posted at least at some point at her university’s website, “Her research interests center on popular culture texts and audiences, particularly texts and audiences disdained in mainstream culture. Her work in this area is guided by audience studies, theories of gender and sexuality, and media literacy. Current research projects involve 50 Shades of Grey readers, the impact of social media in fans’ relationship with Lady Gaga, masculinity and male fans, messages about class and food in reality television programming, and messages about work in children’s television programs.”
Professional publications she has authored/co-authored include the following:
Lady Gaga, fan identification, and social media
The romanticization of abstinence: Fan response to sexual restraint in the Twilight series
Fifty Shades of postfeminism: Contextualizing readers’ reflections on the erotic romance series.
Relating to Twilight: Fans’ Responses to Love and Romance in the Vampire Franchise.
Let's Hug It Out, Bitch”: Audience response to hegemonic masculinity in Entourage.
Dr. Click lists a number of grants received on her CV, which include:
Center for Arts and Humanities Grant, University of Missouri. Awarded to facilitate the creation of an index for Bitten by Twilight: Youth culture, media, and the vampire franchise
Women’s and Gender Studies Faculty Research and Creative Activities Grant, University of Missouri. Awarded to support research on readers’ reactions to the messages in the Fifty Shades of Grey book series
Center for Arts and Humanities Grant, University of Missouri. Awarded to support travel to attend TwiCon (a convention of vampire movie enthusiasts) in Dallas, TX for study of Twilight fans
The scary thing about Prof. Click, and the entire system that bestowed upon her the ambiance of learnedness and scholarship, is not the idea of vampires and the whole undead thing, but that at some level she takes herself, and is taken by elite academia, as an adult, and an accomplished one at that. We often characterize arts and letters as to whether or not they have redeeming quality, which her life’s work clearly does not- ascertaining the nature of a fan’s relationship with Lady Gaga is not going to be putting food on the table of a hungry 3rd World family, to say the least. But to me that is not really an issue. If some progressive Silicon Valley billionaire wants to be her private patron and support her pursuit of meaningless motion picture drivel, so be it. Dr. Click, however, found a patron for her silliness in the form of a publicly funded university, whose policy and decision makers, no doubt, are rarely held to academic fiscal accountability. It is unlikely in the university environment, along with much of government and, sadly, the so-called non-profit world, that anyone consistently asks, “Is this really what we are supposed to be doing?” Note that one internet reference places her annual salary at about $58,000, and I imagine her various grants did not diminish her taxable income, or perhaps they were tax-exempt.
When I attended (practical) nursing school in the late 1970s one of our instructors, a diploma RN (hospital based training) recounted that she went to a convention but was barred from a particular seminar because she not university educated and therefore was unable to “conceptualize.” I fear the elite are doing quite well in our society, but there can be no elite unless there are non-elite, and the former are comforted by the existence of the latter- mentors need protégées, kings need subjects, and elitist progressives need the malleable masses they can manipulate and, failing that, mock and disdain. One’s ego identity is enhanced by viewing others as inferior.
Prof. Dr. Melissa Click, PhD was recently discharged from her position. Somehow a professor of communications and journalism demanding the forcible removal (with associated assault charge) of a student reporter covering a significant event in a public space was eventually deemed inconsistent with her role and status. In an interview earlier this month (Feb. 2016) she made a plaintive appeal- “"My mistake is just one part of who I am," she said. "I want to stay at MU. I deserve to be heard and I deserve to be treated fairly, and I’m going to fight to be treated fairly. I think it’s everybody’s right to be treated fairly." Personally I think this juvenile, self-serving, and woefully unoriginal statement is itself grounds for dismissal.
Purely academic endeavors, knowledge for the sake of knowledge, though perhaps difficult to appreciate in the short-term ultimately are ennobling for all. The works of Melissa Click, and her isolated and self-insulating comrades skulking about in academic elitism, are as elevating as an immature 13 year old in the throes of a tantrum after being denied a ride to see the latest R-rated slasher film.
A review of the internet as I’m finishing this article revealed several photos of a welcoming, almost demure Melissa Click, with the following explanation- (paraphrased) These B&W photos were provided by a media director at Status Labs Image Management, with whom Click is working to repair her image, to contrast with the photos pulled from the Nov. 9th video. Just for fun I have a suggestion for a research topic to aid in her rehabilitation. How about “TITillation: an inquiry into self-reported levels of erotic arousal among male to self-identified female transgendered beings when viewing the exposed breasts of attractive female identified movie celebrities.” The subject potential is endless.
A footnote: in addition to the main referenced video segment, with which its yelling, pushing, and chanting pretty well encapsulates social justice activism among the ego-centric, childish, wealthy, and privileged (i.e. everyone involved), the link for the video of Melissa Click shouting at another demonstration of outrage in Oct. 2015 is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4AkSAj3Txs