Kesha catches the cold shoulder

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A recent oddity in pop culture news that has quickly garnered the attention of the internet has been a video of Jerry Seinfeld declining a hug from Kesha.

Almost like a moment plucked straight out of Seinfeld itself, this incredibly awkward clip is nothing short of uncomfortable to watch.

As a person who absorbs secondhand embarrassment like a sponge, I physically cringed watching the interaction unfold, but I didn’t consider the comedian’s actions out of place.

Looking at online comments is usually a bad idea, but I noticed countless people, including article writers themselves, bashing Jerry for being “rude”. This frequently used and – frankly –  baseless admonishment is baffling to say the least.

It’s as though he verbally eviscerated her. The issues surrounding such a simple occurrence rest on the fact that many people believe he simply should have just given her the hug she so desperately wanted in the first place.

I have several problems with this apparent necessity of human interaction, especially with celebrities.

For one, Jerry was in the middle of an interview when Kesha excitedly sidled up to him expressing her wishes for a quick embrace.

Obviously confused and disconcerted, he rejected her request politely, even putting his hands up when she went in to touch him, despite his refusal.

He had to say, “no thanks,” a grand total of three times before she left him alone. Harmless overall, but it’s troubling to think that someone who self-admittedly finds discomfort in physical contact with strangers is being attacked for expressing his honesty about it.

As a 63-year-old man, I doubt he actually knew who she was either; the likelihood of them crossing paths a possibility only on a sitcom, or a happenstance at the event they were both coincidentally attending.

If this situation was reversed and Jerry was the one to approach Kesha insisting on a hug against her wishes, it would be fair to say that he would be labelled as a creep. It wouldn’t be questioned or debated in the same way.

The key issue I find in these criticisms is the skewed notion many people have regarding consent, specifically over arbitrary interactions involving physical contact.

No one is under any obligation to hug or touch you, regardless of the polite intentions one may have. Rudeness has become an easy write-off for actions that don’t match our own, or that make us feel challenged when they aren’t directly reciprocated.

I’ve had friends who never liked being hugged, but were perfectly fine with a high five. As a naturally touchy-feely person, I understand the fact that not everyone is the same.

Respecting people’s boundaries is far more important than forcing an unneeded level of displeasure onto someone who has their own preferences with being touched.

Similar to adults that coerce small children into hugging their relatives if they adamantly don’t want to – acknowledging personal choice is something that shouldn’t be optional.

No – under any circumstances – should always mean no.

It should be an unquestioned notion that once a person declines an action or offer, it is taken without a second thought. It shouldn’t matter if they’re famous, a kid, a stranger or a relative.

Jerry Seinfeld’s likability should not be the determinant over whether or not he was required to give a woman he had never met a hug, even if she was a fan of his work.

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