I love BuzzFeed. When I need a few moments of distraction, I head over to the aggregation site to look at a list of funny animals, helpful ‘life hacks,’ or even the occasional original piece of reporting. It’s a tech success-story: New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced a citywide initiative to lure tech start-ups to the Big Apple at a press conference in BuzzFeed’s offices. But I cringe whenever they “report” on anything to do with the Catholic Church. (I write report in quotes, as most of their content is lists of pictures with funny captions).
Look, I get it. The target audience for BuzzFeed is young and it’s accepting of gay marriage. For those who support marriage equality, including the readers of BuzzFeed, the Catholic Church is an easy target. Its leaders sometimes say things that sound stupid and insensitive, especially on these issues.
But publishing ‘The 25 Gayest Pictures of the Pope’ earlier this month, just after Benedict announced his resignation? Come on. A couple of years ago, they posted a list of 12 unflattering photos of Benedict XVI with the headline ‘12 Evilest Pope Pictures’. (I’m probably not the only one who found the ‘Evilest’ list offensive; they published a list of the ‘12 Sweetest Pope Pictures’ later that day.)
I’m not one who believes there are anti-Catholic messages lurking around every corner (I’m looking at you, Catholic League), but inane junk like this on one of the web’s most popular sites only gives more ammo to those who do. Would BuzzFeed ridicule the leaders of other religions like this? What value do posts like this serve? Are they modern satire or lazy bigotry? Maybe the writers over there just had something against Benedict and the tone will change in a few weeks with the election of a new pope?