Saturday, November 17, 2012

Defense of Feminist Frequency

When I made my “Criticism of Feminist Frequency”, I was careful to be very respectful. After all, Feminist Frequency inspired me to come on YouTube myself. My problem was never with Anita Sarkeesian herself, just some of the things she put out there through her channel, and I did praise her a few times. This, however, has escaped the notice of some users who read the title, deemed I was like-minded, and sent me their stuff utterly trashing Feminist Frequency and the woman behind it. Let me now make it abundantly clear that I support Feminist Frequency and think Anita Sarkeesian needs to make a million more videos to make up for the roar of anti-feminism that saturates the media. I’ll now address a few of the antis’ issues with Feminist Frequency, including: her unworn video game controller, her gathering funding through Kickstarter, the idea that the raging torrent of misogyny against her was deserved, and that she knowingly used it as a fundraising technique.

Claim 1: She can’t be a real gamer! She is a phony trying to control us! Look at her freshly unboxed controller!

This actually shows the gaming ignorance of the antis. Anyone really familiar with controllers would know that they’re very durable to normal gameplay use and probably only show wear from being shoved in cramped packaging. Players who frequently take their game consoles into their cars and drive over to their friends’ houses would encounter physical damage to their gaming equipment, but those who just leave their stuff at home keep their equipment intact. My oldest controller has no wear and tear visible, and yet I’m a major fan of the Halo series and since 2005 have been an admin of Halopedia—the site Bungie recommended to their prospective employees to become familiar with Halo. In other words, “Pff! Noobs…”

Claim 2: She’s an e-beggar who tricked people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars!

This is astoundingly stupid, as it reflects an ignorance of basic economics. It effectively criticizes capitalism—without which there would be no video games more advanced than Pong—at a high level for ignoring the wisdom of supply and demand. Anita isn’t doing anything different from the millions of Americans who go into business for themselves. She is offering a desirable product—the videos—in exchange for money. That’s not cheating; that’s the same thing as buying your morning coffee.

I guess it could look different because they don’t agree with her feminist ideology, but it’s still stupid to say that’s her cheating them, because she believes it and her consumers believe it. As an atheist, I think the Christian religion is false and belief in it damaging, but I wouldn’t label a Bible salesperson as scamming her consumers out of their money like The Music Man. Even if the Bible salesperson were an atheist just in it for the money, she would be giving them a product they already desire and would be performing a valued service. The ideology does not start at one transaction.

Maybe the point is that people gave her money far exceeding the original goal? Well, if it were charity, that’s no different from giving the barista a hefty tip when you buy your morning coffee. You choose to spend your money how you like. And, anyway, it’s not charity, just different versions of the original transaction. When the original goal was speedily met, she added increasingly high goals for more videos that she initially left out because they would be harder for her to talk about due to the subject’s complexity, and people paid for the extra videos the same way you placed an order for Halo 4 months in advance. It’s simple capitalistic practice. If you want to criticize capitalism, there’s no need to focus on Feminist Frequency like it’s the first example of it anyone’s ever seen.

Claim 3: No, it must be a scam because the videos are simple and cheap to produce!

How do you know how cheap or easy it is? How do you know how busy she is with other things? I only manage to put out about three videos per month while managing college because I am very smart, and my videos are of considerably lesser quality. Looking at her videos, I see proper lighting, a great camera, applied makeup, better audio, a background that probably has to be set up. She certainly sometimes has at least one other person, possibly two, working with her with their own scheduling conflicts.

Just think about what goes into creating such a high-quality filming setup. I see different colored backgrounds, suggesting different sheets that have to be set up, if she doesn’t have unusually painted walls in her house. These sheets are straightened to make sure no wrinkles are apparent. If they are actual walls, then equipment can’t just be left out and must be positioned for each new shoot. She’ll be standing some distance between the equipment and the background, receiving instruction from the person adjusting the lights. By now, a certain formula will have been worked out, but there will still be some careful positioning to get the lighting right. She’ll have someone applying makeup to her face on-set to prevent light from reflecting off her face in such a way that creates glare.

How does she get audio? I don’t see a lavelier microphone attached to her shirt, suggesting the use of a boom. If there are only two people, then the camera operator will also be the one holding the boom, as well as adjusting the lighting and applying makeup. That’s a big job. If this person does it for free, they’re doing Anita a big favor.

While it’s possible that she’s doing it all by herself—except for that one shot where the camera’s moving over her—I doubt it. It’s a huge amount of work for one person. And with multiple people, there are issues about scheduling and everyone being willing to put in the same amount of work as Anita desires.

That’s just filming the videos. She has to edit them too. She uses the extremely pricey Final Cut, which also means time consuming video rendering for each playback, which she’d have to do to examine each individual edit. I’m sure she’d occasionally go to superimpose the window floating beside her head and find that her body was in the wrong place and have to film all over again.

How does she get the footage from the subjects she’s examining? The quality is far too good to have just downloaded stuff from YouTube, so it’s likely she tracks down high-quality files online with extensive web searching, or else contacts enthusiasts who might have collected high-quality footage, which in itself is a lengthy process. Some of the stuff she plays looks like it may have been ripped from DVDs, which is fairly hard to do. She needs a variety of software to deal with the variety of issues that crop up when trying to rip DVDs, and she needs a lot of space to keep the files, which means more expensive hardware.

When it comes to making videos about video games, that has its own problems. She doesn’t want a crappy Let’s Play with lag. She needs a powerful computer that can run the game and the screen capture program with high-quality imaging and fast refresh time to capture fluid motion. Then there’s the issue of porting console games onto her computer, requiring more expensive software and hardware. Suppose the hardware she initially gets can’t hold up. She’d need to take it back and get something else to try again.

All of this is expensive and time consuming, and this is just the production part. What about the research that goes into the meat of the videos? She needs to watch the movies or TV, read books, or play video games, and she has to do it leisurely to get the full impact a consumer would get. As video games are meant to last a long time, that means a long time sitting and playing video games. After consuming the entertainment products, she has to reflect on them and draw up diagrams as she analyzes them. To make sure she gets details right, she’ll have to play through them again. It’s not just one or two games, either; she’s analyzing trends within several dozen games.

I imagine sometimes after putting together a video, she’d review it and then it would hit her that she got something wrong. She’d make a connection she’d previously missed that undermined her whole argument. She’d then basically have to start all over again.

I think half the requested money would go into paying the bills while she spends time off from work to get this stuff done. And it’s not charity; it’s a commission, so this is essentially another whole job for her. These people probably imagine this as her getting paid to play games all day, but it really stops being fun when it’s a job she has to do to fulfill her commission.

Claim 4: She deserves the slew of misogyny leveled against her in response to her announcement of her video game video series because X!

The stupidity of this belief is horrendous! Argh!

First off, no one deserves that kind of torrent of hatred, least of someone just trying to help. Take an example from the fabulous Mr. George Takei, who called out a homophobic school board member who made comments about liking gay people killing themselves.

After calling him a douchebag, George Takei then states that if the homophobe were to be outed himself, he would reach out with kindness instead of hatred regardless of the douchebaggery.

Compare this to the Anita abuse incident. Someone says something offensive. In one case, it’s a person in a position of power who dehumanizes people under his responsibility and encourages the abuse of gay students to the point where they are compelled to commit suicide because this is what he considers to be a worthy end goal. In the other case, it’s a woman who announces plans to talk about sexist tropes she sees in order to make games more respectful to women. She does not use personal attacks or describe how other people’s deaths would be good in her eyes. In the first case, the respectable George Takei calls him a douchebag for his horrendous comment about it being good for gay kids to die, and then offers him the same kindness everyone should show to make a point about how hatred of the other side is never the answer. In the second case, the male gamers call her misogynistic slurs, threaten rape, death, try to intimidate her and other vocal women by putting up a game about beating her up, vandalize her Wikipedia page through sexual imagery indicating her holding a degrading lesser status to men, and all around make men look evil to show the stupid feminist not to talk about men being evil—their logic not resembling our Earth logic. Really, it’s clear who is more honorable in each conflict.

If you actually use this claim seriously: You are a douchebag. That’s right, a douchebag. A total douchebag.

Claim 5: No, but she knew it would happen and used it as a fundraising technique!

I see this as similar to the people claiming that American presidents knew about attacks and used them to get into wars, whether we’re talking about Pearl Harbor or 9/11, letting hatred for the officials override sense of reason. They’re essentially characterizing Anita as the person who kills their parents and has the hutzpah to ask for sympathy for being an orphan. These people need to dunk their heads in water for a moment and realize that this is utterly ridiculous.

They don’t want to view her as a person with legitimate interests, who just happens to be outspoken about beliefs with which they disagree. Like the soldiers who dehumanize their enemies into monsters with words like Jerry or Jap, these guys have to see Anita as some evil feminazi conspiring to corrupt people, because then it’s easier for them to avoid self-examination and critical thinking of things they care about. So, she can’t just be a woman like their sisters or mothers who thought she’d make some videos and was horrified by all the people threatening her, let this inspire her to try to make the world safer for women like her and their sisters and mothers, and then asks people to help her out while showing some of the misogynistic comments she gets. No, she has to be some evil manipulator making a group of men who harass women for speaking out against negative treatment look bad, like their misogynistic slurs, personal attacks, and threats of violence weren’t deserved.

I want to believe that these people are just psychopaths, but I think otherwise. I think these scumbags arise out of hateful culture the same way as all the racists and homophobes throughout history. If we took an honest look at the 1950s, we’d find behavior that would come across as shocking for its horrible hatred against people we consider deserving of the same basic respect we would ask for ourselves. It is average human stupidity and hate, the parts of what make this species sometimes loathsome, and it makes it abundantly clear to me that feminism is not only still necessary, it must pick up its speed in a Red Queen’s race where the misogynists are becoming more and more powerful with technological advancement. There is a war fought with violence and threats of such to intimidate women into submission, not daring to speak up for fear of the Male Mafia coming after them. For everyone’s liberty, the feminists need to prevail.

1 comment:

clockworkzero said...

stumbled across your "Defense" vid on Youtube after seeing a FF vid (and various responses). I'm a geek girl though not much of a gamer - and watched a few of your videos. Great stuff. I hope you'll continue to post vids, make blog entries and voice your opinions. I think you have a great voice, and I love reading well done arguments both for / against issues. I never watched Dollhouse - but just having a peek at your series makes me want to rush out and view it. :) I look forward to reading more of your work, and seeing more videos, as your time allows.