Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Defending Felicia? No need, she's got it covered.

A lovely picture of Felicia Day 

UPDATE:*** I just saw this today on Facebook (thanks Anna!), about Anita Sarkeesian's Kickstarter Project "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games"which has also attracted a huge avalanche of hatred. Why is this happening now, and is it a new trend or more of the same thing that has happened throughout the history of the Internet? This is a great project and one that is desperately needed - if you were in any doubt about that you only need to read about what Ms Sarkeesian has had to put up with.***

So then, while I've been busy doing stuff* I've missed out on what can only be described as a avalanche of hate directed at a video posted this week. No, it didn't contain kittens, puppies or any cute animals being injured, and it didn't feature politics, elections or any kind of -ism. It was a light-hearted music video.

It is by a well-known and respected artist, and (apart from a heroic choice of eyeshadow) it is catchy, well-produced, interesting to watch and has some surprises in there, too. Try it, you might like it:

Haters going to hate?
YouTube comments...they can be the absolute pits. Seriously, any video that has more than 100 views is likely to attract a few mean-spirited comments, usually left by bored people wanting to get a rise out of the channel. This video, though, has attracted a massive amount of negative comments, and it seems to come from a variety of types: male gamers who hate the idea of 'girl gamers', female gamers who don't want to be stereotyped, gamers who feel that gamers are just gamers no matter what gender, people who hate country music, Artistic People Against Yellow Eyeshadow - and so on.

Many are just plain nasty, some are truly awful and some are threatening, borderline incitement.

Why do I say Felicia doesn't need defending?
Fans and friends have been quick to defend the video, and the people behind it. That is heartening and not surprising - people on the whole genuinely enjoy what she produces and are open to new directions (even country music). Felicia has done a very good job of setting out her thoughts on the subject, including the ideas behind the song and video.

For me, this sums up a lot of what I've always admired about Felicia:

"In all my years of championing gaming, I have ALWAYS avoided the title “Gamer Girl”. I always just said I’m a gamer, and left the gender unsaid. I don’t mean to disparage anyone who uses that title, to me, you change minds by being who you are, representing, and not pointing out you’re different from anyone else."
After years on YouTube, even she has been surprised at the level of vitriol:

But I don't think Felicia needs to defend her work or herself because the majority of this attack is not really about either of those things. It seems to me that the comments section of this video quickly became a convenient arena to go over arguments that have been raging all over the Internet for years about geeks, fakes, gamers, women, girls, men, boys and what everyone's real place in all this is.

Recent blow-ups have included the 'fake geek' thing, hearing about how Dell conducts their conferences, 'Booth Babes' at CES and Ad:Tech - and then how 'Booth Babes' have had their day. People have very strong views and when there is a perceived target and a venue for venting, all hell breaks loose.

And I'm not even clear who the real haters are here. It's impossible to tell from looking at the commenters. I'm not sure it's even worth worrying about what the truth is because people who are willing to expend so much energy posting vicious comments have already lost the plot.

For my part, I thought the video was innocuous and the song catchy, and I was glad to see that so many people took the time to leave positive comments on YouTube and Twitter.

Take Aways for Creators

  • Sometimes people don't like what we do, and that's ok.
  • Sometimes nasty comments do not reflect the majority response to your work.
  • Even the most popular creators can face a barrage of negativity, the trick is to handle it in a mature and intelligent manner.
  • Read the well thought-out comments and ignore all the rest.
  • Don't use yellow eye shadow if you have a pale complexion. It drives people insane.
  • Xander called country music "...the music of pain..." for a reason.
  • Don't be afraid to support your fellow creators in their endeavours, and if you don't like what they do, find a way to express it that doesn't degenerate into name-calling hatred.
  • Everything happens
Hope you have a great weekend, Felicia, and get to take some time off soon!

*Stuff includes, but is not limited to: writing, editing, plotting, working PLUS preparing for eldest son's High School graduation tomorrow. How time flies...