The Little People’s Internet Legacies

RIP antisocialfatman, you were loved.

antisocialfatman is the YouTube moniker of a (Welsh?) man who made great-quality game reviews. I found him through his review of Half-Life, the game I’m currently struggling through. (Go easy on me, I’m playing it with a trackpad, no mouse.) Basically, I wanted to justify my decision to give up playing, so his review helped me understand what I’ll be missing out on. But more than that, it was a pleasure to watch, and he’s inspired me to write this post.

I don’t know his name, and the people who post “RIP antisocialfatman” on his channel don’t seem to know, either. The most recent epitaph was written just yesterday, even though he seems to have died about three years ago. Their commemoration is as sweet as it is intriguing, but it’s even more interesting that he’s remembered by his funny YouTube identity, not by his real name. What do his loved ones think of that?  Even if he coined the name with playful intentions, “antisocialfatman” generally bears a negative connotation, and now it’s written on his digital tombstone.

The Internet is full of real people, not just trolls, who have dozens of accounts under some pretty awful nicknames: cuntdestr0yer, deathtoallbieberfans, and all that jazz. Just imagine being remembered for your online presence under some awful username. People are fragile and finite, but how long will their old usernames linger? In all the years it will take for accounts to be erased and pages shut down, how will your little Internet legacy be preserved?

(As an aside, here is another Half-Life video that I watched. It’s a summary of the game’s story. The narrator is silly, maybe he’ll make you laugh! <3)

Shia LaBeouf.

Just a quick word:

Shia LaBeouf says he was raped by a woman during his #IAMSORRY performance. He is receiving heavy criticism for being raped, since the point of his performance was to remain passive while his audience did whatever they wanted to him. It’s also unclear as to whether or not he is lying for attention.

I want to address the people who are saying he gave this woman consent to rape him. Do you all understand that the accused woman could have given Shia a back rub or told him stories about her childhood or painted his toenails? But instead of these things, she (allegedly) chose to rape him.

So if we believe what Shia says, we’ve got two things going on here:

1. Shia LaBeouf is probably horrified and disgusted by having been raped, and

2. Shia LaBeouf is probably horrified and disgusted that he gave his audience the chance to do anything to him, including something nice (in the style of Amanda Palmer, for example), and instead he was raped.

Raped. If you don’t understand the horror of that word, you really shouldn’t bother anyone with your opinion about it.

You can criticize his performance art all you like, but I’m gonna have to say you can’t blame him for being raped. Maybe he was prepared for cruel words or a playful slap, but rape is on another level, and regardless of whether or not he’s a crazy asshole (no one seems to know for sure), I feel very sorry for what he (allegedly) experienced.

Whether or not he’s telling the whole truth, I absolutely believe that he is shaken by offering strangers the opportunity to hurt him, and accepting their abuse as they accepted the offer with zeal.

Pop Culture Homework

Alright. I watched Taylor Swift’s video for Shake It Off. I hadn’t heard the song before, up til then. I knew it existed, somehow (read: subliminal messages from Internet) but I just hadn’t bothered until today.

The catalyst to this is my best Russian friend. He’s 31 and, like many Russian men his age, enjoys Nickelback and patriotism and cannons and, I dunno, manliness. So when he brightly, openly told me he’s been listening to “Shake It Off” on repeat, I decided it was something interesting, something I needed to hear.

As a result, I’ve cracked. I watched the video, and you know what? Taylor Swift is a CUTIE. I love all the dancers in her music video, especially the guy with the noodly arms?!, and I am perfectly fine with having little girls dress and dance and sing and talk like everything it represents. Does that include crawling through a kaleidoscopic pyramid of twerking? Yes. Because pretty much everything in this video is fun, and the parts that I didn’t like are easy for me to brush off. (Things like cultural appropriation and the petty “break down” about “something something ex-girlfriend”.)

Why is it easy for me to shake off? Because the whole video seems to be a collection of pop music video tropes. Emotive dancing, break dancing with a crew, twerking, cheerleaders bitching about ex-girlfriends, culminating with a gregarious group of frolicking humans… all stuff we’ve seen many times before in pop videos. :)

For once, my pop culture homework hasn’t made me uncomfortable. (Not like my last adventure with “Too Many Cooks.” I shudder to type it… Ya know, I’m not even going to link to that one. Oy.) So I’m kind of sorry it’s taken me so long to give this song a chance.

And I’m SO looking forward to seeing if I can make my aforementioned friend dance to it this weekend.

Sex Policies

In this confessional post about a “sexual misconduct” claim filed against him, Patrick Witt describes how the faulty claim messed up his personal, academic, and professional life. He claims that he is innocent of whatever claim his ex-girlfriend filed against him, but explains that he is unable to make a clear case of his innocence because he was never allowed to learn the nature of the claims. In his post, he uses these and other examples to criticize Harvard and Yale’s sexual harassment policies.

Reading his story, I didn’t really care whether or not Witt was guilty.  It’s natural to form a judgment based on what we read, especially if the writing is persuasive, BUT, I reminded myself that guilt and truth are not matters that anyone can claim to decide simply by reading one side of a story.

So, decisions of guilt and innocence aside, what’s important to me is that he appears to have been treated as if he was guilty, based on no evidence at all and without any opportunity to defend himself.

If he’s innocent, then I really feel for him, for everything he lost because of this claim. How could this happen to him? Was his ex-girlfriend vindictive, nasty, and crazy enough to destroy his dreams based on a break-up? (I’ve seen lots of sane people go crazy because of love, so I wouldn’t be too surprised!)

Personally, I doubt that ‘crazed ex-lover’ explanation, as melodramatically satisfying as it sounds. What seems more likely to me is that there was a miscommunication between the alleged victim and the accused while they were dating, something that led the girlfriend to believe she had been sexually abused when her boyfriend didn’t see anything wrong with his actions. Maybe he persuaded her to do something she didn’t want to do in bed, but didn’t realize he had pushed her too far. Or maybe he did something he thought would excite her but actually frightened her. These possibilities seem quite likely to me.

I don’t want to assume that he’s a villain, and I also don’t want to assume he did ‘nothing’ wrong– because if I had to guess, I would put my money behind the ‘miscommunication’ scenario.

But again, this post of mine is not about guilt. The bottom line is, I tentatively agree with him that the policy is (read: appears to be) unbalanced and very flawed. I’d love to read the arguments for and against these kinds of policies to get a better understanding of them.

Censorship and President Putin’s Approval Rating

You’ve probably heard of Russia’s relatively-new ‘law on bloggers’. It demands that bloggers with at least 3000 subscribers conform to state media regulations and provide personal author information, among other requirements. (I guess my tiny blog is exempt. ^^)

I’ve been reading about Russian censorship, looking for possible links to President Putin’s high approval rating. Here is what I’ve read today with some quotes and commentary. You should read the articles for yourself, too!

Russian Internet Censorship, Social Media Crackdown
Make It Easy For Putin To Stay Popular

The ‘law on bloggers’ bans writers from lying, but ‘lying’ is tricky to define.

“If a blogger insinuates that a public official is corrupt and they can’t provide [proof] they could face very steep fines … It’s certainly not like the American law when you can call President Obama a Nazi Martian and he can’t do anything about it just because he’s a public official.”

Also:

“Starting in September 2016, if U.S.-based companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook want to operate on Russian soil, they must also be prepared to turn over data to Russian security services upon request, without a court ruling or any kind of justification.”

Although I guess Facebook, at least, would be keen to comply, since that creepy company thinks everyone should be completely transparent, anyway. (And would you look at that, I’ve just provided a splendid example of criticism without proof. See how easy it is to violate that rule?)


Russia Moves Toward China-Style Internet Censorship

So in in the near future, data will have to be stored in Russia and will be readily-available to the Kremlin. What are some implications? This Businessweek article says (quoting Matthew Schaaf from Freedom House):

“It could have a serious chilling effect on online expression in Russia, making users stop to think how their Google searches and Facebook posts could be used against them.”

Also note that since February of this year, Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, can take down Web sites they deem “extremist or a threat to public order” (quoting the article.) Indeed, Roskomnadzor blocked sites of parties who were rallying against Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, thus putting this new law into action.


My main question here is: does President Putin’s high approval rating have anything to do with censorship?

Actually, I feel silly for writing that. I think that’s just politics: whoever is in power will do what they can to keep their image in a good light. The right question is: How much does Russia’s censorship affect the approval rating?

Unfortunately, today’s reading hasn’t given me any answers. What I did find was this cool article from Forbes:

Vladimir Putin’s Approval Rate Is Still Near An All-Time High

The author expresses surprise that approval of Putin has actually risen since the “nationalist euphoria over the ‘return’ of Crimea was at its peak.” This article, which is about a month old, cites an out-of-this-world 86% approval rating! But, the author also believes that this approval will fall shortly, assuming Russians will hold Putin accountable for whatever hardships are expected as a result of the sanctions against Russia.

I’ll have to do some more reading to see if anyone has commented on the link between censorship and this incredible 86% approval. Meanwhile, I really hope the Russian people don’t suffer because of all this..

I’m Sorry about Foxy Shazam

I f’ing love Foxy Shazam.

That being said, I have to ask a question: Does that change how people think about me? I mean, sure, every detail you learn about someone is bound to alter your perception of them slightly. But don’t be a smart aleck. I’m not talking about “slightly”– I’m wondering if it makes a big difference in whether someone thinks I am fundamentally good, or bad!

Why does it matter to me? Really, why should I care about someone who marks me as “no-good” just because Foxy Shazam, that ridiculous beautiful glittering loud mess of rock and roll, is one of my favorite bands? Anyone who really knows me either also likes the band, or they don’t hold my tastes against me. Because we’re all adults. Right? Yeah!

… But Foxy Shazam has a problem, and I want to apologize for it. The problem sounds like this:

That’s the biggest black ass I’ve ever seen, and I like it!

… That’s a quote from their single “I Like It“. A real slice of poetry, for sure. (/sarcasm, of course)

Now, I’ve met two other Foxy Shazam fans (plus a couple hundred more at their New Years Eve show last year :D), and they know this song, but it’s not their favorite. On the other hand, I’ve met people who only know Foxy Shazam by one song, and it’s not the melodramatic rock’n’roll rush of a love song “Holy Touch” or the freaky jam “Dangerous Man“, and it’s not the trumpet-pumped fight song “Unstoppable” or even the cheesy American ballad “Freedom.”

Nope. The song they know is the one about black booty, “I Like It.”

I cringe when I hear this song, which isn’t often since I took it off of my iPod. I get it that Foxy Shazam is an all-man band, and I get it that objectifying women and minorities is a piece of rock and roll. But, fuck, I don’t have to be okay with it. I try to forget about this song because, even though I love most of their others and I don’t think their themes are as cringe-worthy, I know that if I think about it too much, I won’t be able to listen to them anymore. It happened with Jack White, when his first solo album pushed me out of denial that he might be kind of a woman-hater...

Look, at the end of the day, I think rock and roll music is about feeling, not thinking. Not every band that falls under the “rock” umbrella is like that, but I think when you add the “roll,” you’re in the territory of wild stage shows, silly lyrics, and beautiful genderbending bastards like Eric Nally who blow you away with their powerful pipes. Queen is like that too, right? “Fat-bottomed girls, you make the rockin’ world go round!” Good old Freddie Mercury– what’s not to love? Even the homophobic manly-man dads from my hometown love Queen. (That’s a testament to the “feel, not think” nature of rock and roll, too!)

Still, I can’t let go of the fear that when I gush about Foxy Shazam, someone who only knows “I Like It” will think I’m all about black asses, or at least that I encourage white men to belt about them over some sexy guitar riffs. The truth is, I am not the best-versed in gender and race issues, so I don’t know how well I can articulate why I think this song warrants an apology. (You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t actually addressed the issue much, I just acknowledged it.) But I believe it all the same. And I’m apologizing. And I’m hoping that no one thinks I’m a racist, feminist-hypocrite when I say I just really like dancing and singing along to their other awesome songs.

A catcall here and there

For me, the interesting thing about catcalling is that it feels the same as being bullied– just like the verbal abuse I heard in middle school.

Of course, the comments are different. They used to be:

Do you own a different belt? Are you even a girl? Hey, nice tights.
You’re too big here and too small there, etc. etc. etc.

Now that I’ve graduated from taunts to catcalls, the comments sound like:

Heeeeey girl. I know what you want. Okay, just ac’ like you don’t see me! etc. etc. etc.

So, acknowledging these differences, I ask: why do the two situations feel identical? Here are 3 similarities between being bullied and catcalled, as I’ve experienced them:

1. In both situations, I feel vulnerable.

Whether I am twelve years old wearing my favorite, worn-out old belt, or twenty years old wearing my favorite dress, being called out in public makes me uncomfortable, especially among strangers. These comments draw attention to my body, and that attention doesn’t feel like respect or admiration. It feels like the desire of an outsider or a group to dominate me with invasive words and prying eyes.

2. In both situations, I feel afraid and I don’t know how to react.

I am unsafe. Should I respond at all? If so, should it be with a snarky comment, a scornful scolding, a glare, or a politely-worded objection? There are so many options and only a few seconds in which to respond… And what if my aggressor follows me? What then? How long can I continue to ignore the comments? How long will it take for the person to get bored, or for me to find a safe place?

3. In both situations, I feel embarrassed.

The thing is, I don’t hold any illusions about my beauty: I am average at best, but I am okay with it. What is not okay, is when someone catcalls me and I feel ashamed of my body because I perceive sarcasm in their words. What a funny joke: call the frumpy little nerd “sexy” and see how she reacts. Will she believe it, or will she catch the irony?

You could say that this is a self-esteem issue on my part, but I wouldn’t be convinced. Anyway, some women just don’t want to be called whatever names you’re shouting at them. A quick example: Have you ever met a petite person who hated being called ‘cute’?

For my middle-school bullies, dim-witted sarcasm was the tool of the trade, and I definitely see parallel behaviors in catcallers. They hurt my pride just as much as taunts did when I was a kid. As always, it only hurts more when I feel afraid to stand up for myself, lest I attract more unwanted attention or anger the person who’s aggravating me.

My purpose in writing all this is to explain to people (boys and men, generally) why I am afraid of catcalling, even though I’ve never been assaulted, followed, or faced any dangerous consequences.

And as a side note, all of this is also related to my sour reaction to my male friends and boyfriends who have (at some point) called me hot or sexy. I don’t believe that any of them said what they said with the intention of hurting, upsetting, or dominating me, but the impact was the same: The sentiment expressed in these comments doesn’t feel like respect or admiration. Unless we are very intimate, it sounds to me like a catcall, and a catcall feels just like an attack from a bully.

Thanks for reading. I’d really like to hear some feedback about this; I know fear and vulnerability are common reactions to this kind of attention, but I’m curious about what others think of my feelings of embarrassment.

love, caprice cake