How Sexism Plays Out on YouTube

“I want to both have sex with her AND strangle her to death. But in which order…?”

That’s the disturbing question user menace8012 posed recently in the comment section of “I Gotta Feeling,” a Black Eyed Peas parody by YouTube star iJustine, posted originally in July 2009.

The response? A few joking replies and little else. Not a single person objects or scolds the users. No one even clicks the “dislike” button on menace8012’s comment.

The incident is evident of a larger trend on YouTube, where sexist attitudes towards women run unchecked. It’s not just the trolls or haters in the comments section of videos; YouTubers have cyberbullied women based off their appearance since the site’s inception.

Menace8012’s comment, and the community’s response (or lack thereof), may seem extreme to the casual YouTube community safarian, but it also perfectly portrays why so few women have found success on YouTube. Many women on YouTube try to avoid this negative sexist environment by cloistering themselves in the beauty section of YouTube, but that does little to combat the anti-women sentiments running rampant throughout the rest of the site.

Like rape apologist ideology, YouTubers who silently upvote, or in this case “like,” menace8012’s comment are implying iJustine deserves the threats and derogatory comments she gets, daily, because of the way she looks and dresses. Sometimes in her videos, the blonde, blue-eyed and pretty iJustine wears a tank top and lip gloss, and that little bit of sexuality occasionally sends both genders into a sexist frenzy. Read the rest of this entry »


Why don’t more people care about Subbable’s arrival?

TL;DR ->  it makes AdSense obsolete. 

I tried to sell a story on Subbable earlier this week. Oh gods how I tried. ReadWrite, the Guardian’s tech section, even Variety… but I failed to generate interest, and/or communicate just how drastic of an impact Subbable can have on the YouTube space, business-wise.

To most of the press, Subbable appears as a gentle, crowd-sourced monthly pay-what-you-want subscription platform funding web shows that already exist.  Doesn’s seem that disruptive,  until you consider the allure of YouTube.  The heart of the indie YouTube dream is being free, or at least above, corporate influences. If successful, Subbable  could potentially do away with the advertising/hit-mining rat race on YouTube.  Hank Green doesn’t exactly say this in the video introducing the platform, but he might as well.

In a private chat, I got Green to elaborate:

“Advertising values all kinds of content the same, but different kinds of content delivers different amounts of value to users. We want there to be a system that rewards the creation of stuff people love, not stuff that people will spend three minutes watching when they’re bored.”

Subbable — which is unaffiliated with YouTube — changes the YouTube money-making game because it emphasizes community and a supportive fan base over viral hits with fleeting popularity & large monetary payoffs. It’s a slow, steady win as opposed to that big payday.  (It’ll be interesting to see how the addition of Minute Physics, Wheezy Waiter, and Andrew Huang  next week on Subbable will play out. )

Green never came  right out and said this during our chat but it got me thinking: if a content creator worked it out with his fans, he or she could essentially never bother monetizing their channel…EVER. There’s literally no reason now to go through Google corporate to make money. Their high ad cut and ad sales team are already  alienating users and businesses, so why bother with that hot mess? You don’t.

I, for one, still believe in that YouTube dream.


Thanks Rolling Stone and Tsarnaev, I guess, for legitimizing the cellphone selfie

My favorite time to take selfies is when I am drunk and alone in the bathroom. I tend to take the majority of them while inebriated, actually, and online evidence proves even middle-aged women do the inebriated selfie in the bathroom too.

Yes, even the Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, when he wasn’t sober, whipped out his cellphone and took selfies. And one of these non-sober self-portraits (speculatively) is on the cover of Rolling Stone right now and making a name for itself as the most controversial selfie on our planet.

Media critics are calling Rolling Stone everything short of evil for using his selfie photo as cover art, never mind that Instagrammed self-portraiture is becoming a legitimate form of art and feminist self-expression. This universality is exactly why the self-portrait of the young and handsome (and murderous, don’t you forget) Tsarnaev as cover art choice is outrageous. How dare we relate to a killer! How dare a magazine make us feel this way! If I were the art director over at the Rolling Stone right now, I would be creaming my pants: this is the type of feedback creative types have wet dreams about.

Tsarnaev’s selfie effectively normalizes him, and as the three-day long controversy has shown, we just cannot deal with that. We would rather depart reality and delude ourselves into thinking national-headline-making killers are ugly and have nothing in common with us than see them engaging in everyday behavior. If we could somehow magically teleport to a place where we all believed Tsarnaev didn’t know how to operate a phone, we would.

In fact, to portray Tsarnaev as ordinary is dangerous, they imply, because in order to feel better about the bombings we need to see the differences, not the similarities, between ourselves and the cruel killer. It sounds absurd, but this is more or less what the critics are saying. The New York Times thinks this kind of madness is a result of the heatwave. Possibly. I think it might be a combination of Tsarnaev’s image making fresh the horror of the bombings, much like that just-healing summer scrape you accidentally pick at only to have it start oozing.

The selfies we share on the web are supposed to be the best reflection of ourselves. This skewed mirror is precisely why the Boston Globe in a Thursday post echoing the collective rage calls the use of the selfie “ill-advised” and “irresponsible.” While many of us cannot fathom Tsarnaev’s terrorist intentions, we can all relate to photographing ourselves and dare-I-say-it, creating a typically blemish-free personal brand online. The self-portrait via cellphone is a “language we all understand,” but …we don’t want to understand a bomber. Please don’t make us understand one.

This now infamous selfie, originally displayed on Tsarnaev’s twitter profile, was the “mask” he chose to portray to the world and glorifying it by featuring it on a rock-and-roll magazine is akin to “collaborat[ing] with Tsarnaev in the creation of his own celebrity,” continued the Boston Globe.

Need I remind everyone, Tsarnaev was already a “celebrity” before his Rolling Stone cover, having graced the front pages of newspapers the world over with some even featuring that same image. Rolling Stone is not responsible for this mass media interest, the spread of the photo, or for Tsarnaev’s fanbase of young girls cooing over the soft locks in his approachable selfies. To suggest Rolling Stone is appealing to Tsarnaev’s misguided female fans by choosing this already-widely circulated photo when this same criticism was not levied against the New York Times, is logic I’d only be able to process if my head was in the sand.

CVS banning the sale of the magazine in its shops (and now Walgreens too), and folks celebrating this decision, is akin to saying “monsters must be clearly portrayed as monsters, or else.” Who wants to live in that black-and-white society, presumably filled with bad art? Not me. (Not to imply Tsarnaev’s selfie as cover photo of a magazine is good art — it is in fact the opposite for a variety of reasons and not just because of the bad captions.)

The disconnect between the villain within and the exterior shell of Tsarnaev as a potential sweetheart through his selfies is precisely why the self-portrait should be used for feature-length pieces about his descent into terrorism. But don’t just take my word for it.

Cover Think points out Rolling Stone’s cover is “doing nothing more than reflecting back to us the vanity of a young man’s narcissism, complete with his Armani Exchange T-shirt.” The Washington Post writes “the photo in question jibes with the impression of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that has emerged from countless interviews with friends and schoolmates” before calling the cover art choice “an accurate and journalistically responsible portrayal of this young man.”

To not use the photo as cover art because it humanizes, then, reveals a willful ignorance on the modern human condition. It is not only “irresponsible,” but bad journalism too. Art that elicits strong emotions is powerful, but banning it only increases its strength.

We can’t will away Tsarnaev’s cellphone, his looks or his seemingly normalness, just like how we can’t will back the lives and limbs his actions stole. And maybe that’s okay, because sometimes we need to see the similarities between ourselves and the villain in order to help us understand the differences. Cellphone selfie and all.

As for the cellphone selfie as legit art form, well, this controversy took care of that.


Guide to this year’s Techweek in Chicago, as a non-dev/programmer/entrepreneur

This is a guide for people who are more interested in the cultural and societal implications of technology from a non-technical background. (I’d recommend attending all the “future of TV/media”  talks as a  beginners guide to video distribution and social media use.)

Thursday, June 27th:

The US  First Robotics Challenge, from 12pm – 4pm.

“US First’s mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

KIM DOTCOM WILL BE SPEAKING at “The Downloaded Era: Battle for Internet Rights“, 4pm – 4:30pm,

“The debate around how we should view the concept of intellectual property and copyright in the digital age has continued since the launch of Napster in the ’90′s until today. Why is file-sharing still so limited and how has it affected the world at large?”

Friday, June 28th: 

Funny or Die‘s “When Humor is Serious Business,” from 11:00am – 11:30am, featuring Funny or Die CEO Dick Glover. (I have an inkling what Glover will discuss, but being as I have never heard him speak, he might surprise me.)

“Funny or Die is now synonymous with Internet humor…What makes their business model so successful? How do they acquire high quality content with a low budget? What does the future of Funny or Die—and Internet entertainment in general—look like?”

Digital Art; From Easels to Pixels, 12:00pm – 12:30pm

“Art infilitrates everyday life, and every surface, object, or open space is fair game for medium. See how artists are incorporating technology into their work, whether as a means to an end or as the finished product itself. These people are innovating on what it means to be a traditional artist and the burgeoning interest in creating art meant to be consumed in digital form.”

The very ambitiously titled “How the Second City Can Become the First in Fashion,” 5:00pm – 6:00pm

“Take the tech from the West and the high-end fashion from the East and meet somewhere in the middle. Where do you end up? Chicago, of course. Combining the best of both coasts, a slew of Chicago startups are leading the pack in terms of the merging of high-tech and high-fashion.”

Saturday, June 29

In the wake of Hasting’s mysterious death and the conspiracy theories suggesting his car was hacked I feel compelled to attend “Driverless Cars: Speeding to the Future,” 12:30pm – 1:00pm

“While flying cars are still just a figment of our collective imagination, self-driving vehicles—such as the Google Car—are on the imminent horizon. Not only does this technology have the potential to prevent millions of injuries and save countless lives, it also has the power to disrupt the flow of trillions of dollars in industry revenue. Nearly everyone will be affected: suppliers, automakers, service-and-repair shops, insurers, energy companies, hospitals, and car rental companies, to name a few. Undoubtedly, there will be huge implications for all transportation and logistics—the backbone of every company’s supply and distribution chains.”

Entrepreneurship in Eastern Europe, 1:30pm – 2:00pm

“Eastern Europe’s tech scene is small but growing. Find out what Google is doing to facilitate the growth of the tech sector in Poland and beyond, what ideas are brewing in that corner of the world, and how they plan to impact the future.”

 “Is the Internet Destroying the Middle Class?,”  2:00pm – 2:30pm


Happy Birthday, Raquel Welch!

Yes, I know it is also Freddie Mercury’s birthday. Considering all the digital love he’s gotten (which he deserves, don’t get me wrong, even if he is dead), I thought I’d share with who ever is reading this blog my favorite videos of Welch. If you don’t know who she is, go skim her wikipedia page first please.

These are all found on YouTube, because my new job is to cover YouTube…

I first came upon Rachel Welch, like most of America,  when I watched One Million Years B.C.  (Starting the Earth’s Children book series in Junior High will do that) It is only fitting that I begin this video list with a compilation of her from One Million Years B.C.

I don’t expect you, dear reader, to watch all of the above video, but I do expect you to watch all of the one below. It’s only 3 minutes long, and while there is no dialog until the very end, I can promise it is engaging. It’s literally one of the best fan compilations on YouTube.

Read the rest of this entry »


That’s very hot, Korean comedians…


Here are some Indian men who are hot

Can you recall the last time American women were given Indian men as love interests or sex objects through cable television programming?  I can’t either.

Indian men are so hot right now!  And surprisingly, it’s not related to tantric sex or  Bollywood…

( I kid, The Guru is super entertaining – way better than Eat, Pray, Love)

The men:

Aasif Mandvi, from The Daily Show

Besides his regular gig on The Daily Show, Mandvi is appearing in three films this year. Mandvi’s  coolest roles so far would have to be his TV work in “Jericho” and “ER” , and the only notable movies of his worth watching are  “The Siege” and “Die Hard With a Vengence”. Because of his coloration, poor Mandvi has played his fair share of terrorists.

Read the rest of this entry »


Game of Thrones is one of the most feminist shows on TV

I watched the second episode of Game of Thrones last night, and I was even more pleased with the adaptation of the book than I was last week. After the episode ended though, the first thing I thought about was Ginia Bellafante.

Like most female fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, I was very disappointed in Bellafante’s review of the first episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, but I passed off her disregard for the show (and fantasy in general) as part of the same sentiment older women have for video games – the view that fantasy (and video games) are just for children or young males. When Bellafante says she doesn’t know any woman that likes fantasy, I believe her. She is from a time before video games, before the rise of the internet.   Bellafante’s culturally learned distaste for the fantasy genre (and most geek culture) is also indicative of her outdated view of gender constructs.  Ilana Teitelbaum writes it well in her Dear New York Times: A Game of Thrones is not just for Boys: Read the rest of this entry »


Gamers have an Image Problem

Abstract: This image problem is rooted in a failure by the mainstream media (and film) to treat video games as an acceptable pastime, making gaming “a dirty word“, and perpetuating the notion that women shouldn’t have authorship over technology around them. The male gaming community is only partially responsible, and this will be discussed in a subsequent post. This post was formulated after analyzing video game coverage by major female-oriented publications and by my personal memory of video game scenes in movies.

“One of the things we were trying to combat with 3G was how girls are discouraged from learning anything about technology beyond how to use it, [not] to be responsible or have a form of authorship with it.” - Terence Hannum, Internship and External Relations Coordinator at Columbia College

Any female in her 20′s that plays video games knows gaming has an image problem. Not only does the community you play in make you feel unwelcome a la the blog “Fat, Ugly or Slutty“,  your parents find your enjoyment of video games off-putting, as do 30-somethings co-workers. I’ve had more than one conversation at slightly older dinner parties become painfully awkward when I mention I like/want to write about video games. The women scan the room and decide it is time to mingle. Then I am left with some guy, and as the silence continues between us, I begin to question his intentions. Sometimes I can see this male have an OMG-GIRL-GAMER-freak-out moment, all in the eyes, and when it abides he hesitantly remarks I must be the male gamer fantasy or some other weird crap.  Then I decide it is time to mingle.

My mom keeps thinking I will grow out of my love of video games. She is not impressed when I tell her I am laying down plumbing because my city’s population explosion is  forcing me to expand my city limits.

There is a common thread behind these awkward interactions: people born before the 80′s view video games as either a waste of time or a childish hobby. How can that be, when video games have been around for 30 years  - and adults now play video games and teachers use video games as part of their curriculum? Read the rest of this entry »


Old Spice Rocks New Media, Masculinity

Every where I go on the internet, I see the ads for Old Spice. Even more impressive, people off the internet can’t stop talking about the “Old Spice Guy”. He is every where I look, and I don’t mind.

I see ads on College Humor, Hulu, and Huffington Post, and people talking about Isaiah Mustafa (the actor who plays the Old Spice Guy) on Digg, Reddit and  Twitter.  In case you’ve been living without a TV or internet since February, here is the link to the first Old Spice ad featuring Mr. Mustafa (that aired during the Super Bowl), and I’ve embedded the brand new commercial below. Please watch both commercials before continuing.

[youtubevid id="uLTIowBF0kE"]

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers