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...


  1. "Felicia Day Is The Real Deal"

    "She's not pretending to be a sweetheart. She is a sweetheart. She's not pretending to be a geek. She is a geek. She's not pretending to be anything. Felicia Day is who she says she is and she's the most genuine person I've ever met."

  2. I've enjoyed everything Felicia has done, including "My Best Guess". One of the things I learned about YouTube videos, or ANYTHING that allows people to comment, is that there seems to be an abundance of nasty folks out there whose sole purpose in life is to make hateful comments about almost everything. I usually avoid reading the comments these days.

    1. I can totally understand that, Ed - even simple news items seem to degenerate into madness very quickly.

  3. My wife is a gamer and we play WOW together. Once an elitist jerk ragged on her gear while she was waiting for the Zeppelin in Orgrimmar. She told him politely that it was the best she had for that toon and that he really should concentrate on his own toon. He lost it. How dare she not take his advice. She was just a girl gaming noob. She had at the time 7 max level characters. So he and his whole Guild of 25 elitist jerks were harassing her wherever she went. Saying rude and profane things to and about her in Chat. She had to get the GM to stop it. They wouldn't stop. 10 of them got banned for a period of time. Then other Guilds started picking on her. We figure Alts from the idiots that had started the thing to begin with. Finally the GM had to move us to another server to get them to let us alone. All that just because one pathetic person. These people are egotistical maniacs that can hide behind anonymity. They feel that they are empowered to tell others how to live their lives, when they can't even begin to live theirs. I salute all the gamers who happen to be female, they have to put up with the worst of humanity, Boy-Gamers (meant to be derogatory), to do what they love.

    Felicia does just that. She goes out and does cool/fun things and videos the results for us to watch while hilarity ensues. Although she is not good at everything, it's funny just the same. This video was great fun and well done. I for one look forward to every Monday now. I can't believe I just wrote that!

    PS the yellow eyeshadow has grown on me. So long as my wife doesn't decide to try it I'm cool with it.

    1. Ugh, Chuck, sorry you and your wife had to put up with that. I've heard many similar stories.

      But, yes - Felicia puts it all out there for our amusement and keeps innovating, and that's because she is a real creative.

  4. In the early days of lonelygirl15 I recall a few community members who were totally crushed by comments. And i mean crushed to the point where they were in tears and about to give up. Youtube can be a brutal place. With a little support, encouragement, and comfort from their friends in the community they went on to produce great series. We all know now that you have to have a thick skin on Youtube.

    That said, the World has entered a period when almost everything has become polarized. So many are just yelling out of some blind loyalty to some position or platform. Who is really listening to the other side? Who is trying to understand? People jump into attack mode for the sole reason of being in attack mode? They want to impress the World, but for all the wrong reasons.

    Felicia, on the other hand, impresses the World for all the right reasons Hopefully that will become the model of the future.


    1. It is hard not to take the comments seriously, and I can imagine some people taking it really hard.

      It does seem that people have been going particularly crazy recently, hopefully things will settle down again.

    2. In general, we have gone from the "group think" that got us into the Iraq war to: that "other group" just does not know what they are talking about. There are few sensible debates today. It is mostly people grandstanding and they have little care for how much they hurt others in comments as long as they can slam their bias in your face. You see this in everything from entertainment to Occupy.

      I love how open Youtube is as a platform. One can only hope that one day the community will learn that freedom comes with responsibilities. In the mean time, it is just a question of not feeding the trolls.

      The good news is that now and again you can get a comment that changes your World. When someone "gets it", it is perhaps one of the most wonderful feelings in the World. One can only hope that these comments are the comments that make a real impact.


  5. The level of discourse does seem to have dropped, but then again I remember Felicia talking about having to remove horrible comments from The Guild season 1, so maybe it's always been that way. The notable thing this time has been the volume, I think.

    But the fact that YouTube is so open does mean that comments are more readily made by viewers, and connecting to people who do 'get' your work is pretty magical. There are few thing that beat it.


  6. Very interesting update. Thanks!