Wonderful documentary on Herbert Marcuse during his years at UC San Diego. Filled with potent engagement, thoughtful analysis and a political read on the culture wars against universities.
Excellent visual argument about Palestine. Compelling visuals, crisp juxtaposition and significant argument about the importance of graffiti.
Welcome to W. Honky territory. I just discovered his videos and appreciated his accusatory tone and salty authenticity. Turns out he has a youtube channel with his rural truck-cam post-work pov videos.
It took three videos from W. Honky before I ran into this nice gem where he calls upon white Americans to acknowledge the benefits they get from white supremacy. Specifically he calls upon white people to film themselves articulating their understandings of white privilege. “To get white people to take some responsibility.”
Honky is light on intersectional analysis. Consideration of ability, sex and nationality in relationship to race sort of enter in the late part of the video. Thinking about all layers of oppression at the get-go, what Mari Matsuda calls: “ask the other question,” foregrounding multiple frames of identity at the same time might help support Honky’s key suggestions of accountability and public dialogue.
And of course, given that the key problem is white supremacy might one try to privilege non-white speakers? Many other persuasive people of color have made almost the same arguments and yet not had the same traction as W. Honky. We might note that those who are most deeply to benefit from white supremacy may not be listening to thoughtful women of color, but they might listen to W. Honky.
People like Honky (and myself) benefit from white skin privilege, which means access. A good example of W. Honky’s articulation of what to do about white privilege is his piece on the Bass Pro Shop (boycott).
It is an interesting arc and you come to wonder about the creator (Jorge Moran). I have a suspicion that this is a character, a performance. Even if it is, I’m impressed with the quality of the arguments, the passion and the realness. More is the accessibility – I would like to drink a beer with this guy and talk about race. He seems honest about power and at the same time ready to think slightly out-of-the-box about class, race and identity in general. He seems like the kind of guy I’d like on my team.
I like Lindy West’s pop culture analysis. She writes for a few online spots like Jezebel. Feministing noted that she had been harassed by a troll who opened a twitter account in the name of her deceased father. This is the feministing quote:
Lindy, who you might know from her writing at Jezebel and GQ, was trolled by someone who set up a Twitter account in the name of her dead father. She wrote about how awful that made her feel, and to her surprise, he wrote to her again – but this time, to apologize.
Then, she called him and interviewed him about what had gone through his mind when he decided to do what he did. And recorded it all. “It felt like if I could just get the specifics,” she says, “gather them up and hold them in my hands — then maybe I could start to understand all the people who were still trolling me.”
They talked for two hours, and by the end, she’d forgiven him for the terrible things he’d done – the meanest thing anyone has ever done to her. She understood what his life looked like at the time that he was trolling (he’s since stopped, he says) and she felt sorry for him. Still, she says, it’s disturbing to know that there was nothing wrong with him per se. “It’s frightening that he’s so normal,” she says. He’s not your idea of a monster, and unlike a fairy tale troll, he certainly doesn’t live alone under a bridge. He has women coworkers, and a girlfriend, and women friends. “They have no idea that he used to go online and traumatize women for fun.”
In a Jezebel essay, West notes her reasoning to humanize and engage with trolls:
I feed trolls. Not always, not every troll, but when I feel like it—when I think it will make me feel better—I talk back. I talk back because the expectation is that when you tell a woman to shut up, she should shut up. I reject that. I talk back because it’s fun, sometimes, to rip an abusive dummy to shreds with my friends. I talk back because my mental health is my priority—not some troll’s personal satisfaction. I talk back because it emboldens other women to talk back online and in real life, and I talk back because women have told me that my responses give them a script for dealing with monsters in their own lives. And, most importantly, I talk back because internet trolls are not, in fact, monsters. They are human beings—and I don’t believe that their attempts to dehumanize me can be counteracted by dehumanizing them. The only thing that fights dehumanization is increased humanization—of me, of them, of marginalized groups in general, of the internet as a whole.
Anita Sarkeesian does really good critical analysis of video games. For that work she has received death threats and brutal online harassment. What do you do with this kind of vitriol? Sarkeesian explains her approach in an IGN interview:
I have a few strategies for dealing with harassment. First having a good support network is important. Whenever possible I try to look through the worst of the comments and messages with friends who can offer moral support and witty observations. Second, I never respond to any of the hateful messages, emails or comments directly. Its just not worth it on a tactical level or frankly, on an emotional level. You really can’t have a well reasoned argument with folks spewing blatant sexism all over the place.
Instead, after long discussions and careful consideration, I decided to document the abuse I was receiving and strategically post portions of it online. I knew that by refusing to be silent, and making the abuse public, I ran the risk of further enraging my attackers and becoming even more of a target but ultimately I felt it was worth it to try and bring more attention to the epidemic of sexist harassment that women face everyday just for wanting to be full participants online.
Sarkeesian also notes some potentially fruitful tactics to think structurally about accountability.
When it comes to the question of accountability, we obviously need our service providers to take online harassment seriously with built in structures and functionalities that actively deter bad behaviour and actually encourage good behavior. We also need to be creating a larger cultural shift away from impunity and towards a measure of social accountability. This is a long process of course but it starts with community members especially men publicly calling out harassment and challenging misogyny when they see it. It’s critically important to make it clear that abusive behavior will not be tolerated in our digital spaces. These small personal actions might not immediately change the mind or world view of the person doing the harassing, but if enough people speak up it can definitely help to create an environment where perpetrators will feel less comfortable and less supported in their abusive behaviour. Harassers might think twice before making a sexist, racist or homophobic comment next time around because they can’t be sure that their fellow gamers will just ignore or go along with it.
I also like her response to the idea that she should “grow a thicker skin.”
AS: Honestly, this is kind of a difficult question to answer. The events in question have of course had a pretty substantial impact on my life both professionally and personally. I would be lying if I said that it isn’t sometimes a struggle to deal with this kind of persistent vitriol on a daily basis. I think one possible response to this much vicious hostility would be to simply become jaded and cynical or to “grow a thicker skin” so to speak. But I don’t think that the price of admission to the world of gaming should be to have to disconnect from your emotional capacity or distance yourself from your own humanity. I don’t think that’s a fair trade. Its simply not ok to ask people to jettison their ability to feel in order to deal with a constant barrage of threats, slurs and abuse. So instead I try to balance it all by focusing more on the tremendous outpouring of support for my project. That incredible encouragement has really inspired me and deepened my convictions about the work I do and I think is an indication that the industry, and gaming culture more broadly, is already in the process of changing for the better. Although, this metamorphoses may be slow and painful at times, there can be no doubt that change is happening and will result in a better more inclusive gaming culture for everyone.