Anita Sarkeesian: Entrepreneur, Activist or Phony?

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For those not keeping up with the pulse of YouTube: a channel by the name of Feminist Frequency run by Anita Sarkeesian has recently gathered $160,000 via Kickstarter to produce what is currently a three part video series focused on sexism in videogames entitled “Damsel in Distress.” Originally she asked for $6,000 for this project and spoke of academic value as well as intense research involved in the final product.  But the videos about videogames are only the catalyst in a tale of Internet Infamy that begins with feminism and ends with pseudo-science.

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The dubiously high amount of money involved raised many eyebrows due to the fact that YouTube videos of this exact nature are produced on shoe string budgets every day. She refuses to allow comments or ratings which is a tactic looked down on by most Internet users for obvious reasons. Compounding this is some evidence to show she likely screen captured the videos of other YouTube users rather than recording original video from the games she supposedly bought for the research stage of the project. But I’ll return to that topic later. Whatever else may be true of Sarkeesian there’s no arguing that she has become extremely successful directly as a result of this Kickstarter project and is rumored to have entered the professional gaming industry as a consultant to EA Games on the title Mirror’s Edge 2.

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Which brings me to the first quandary: Is she a capitalist genius or just a case of luck combining with opportunity? I don’t think it’s as easy as some of her detractors would like to discount her as simply a “troll” (meaning intentional instigator) taking it to the next level. That’s one possibility but considering the nature of human greed I find it also likely she uses pop culture as a crutch to avoid the more scientific elements of social commentary all while appealing to her base, in this case hard-line feminists, to keep the donations coming with lots of red meat. All the benefits but none of the heavy lifting. As an example of this she doesn’t present any information to the viewer about learned and demonstrated behavior in the field of Child Development Psychology which would be the cornerstone of a hypothesis involved in linking external input like the themes and plot devices in videogames with outward attitudes toward the opposite gender.  Fancy way of saying she is obviously not doing an academic piece.

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One thing that occurred to me when I saw her first video was most of her arguments could be transplanted to rail against rap and hip hop music, or against the fringes of the artist community, or pretty much any extreme form of expression. But somehow I don’t imagine a young woman who wants to decry the evil rap music industry right next to figures like Bill O’Reilly and Pat Robertson would catch much traction on YouTube. Sarkeesian’s main point in summation, while it takes a different route to get there, is no different from the position of the religious right-wing: society is harmed by things I find offensive being popular.

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That brings me to my second quandary: Is she an earnest activist that is merely making amateur mistakes or is there intentional deception by stating her opinions as facts numerous times? Again I’m not entirely convinced the worst to be true. It’s not all that impossible most of what she has presented that has ruffled feathers is just us witnessing a slow learning curve on her part to avoid logical fallacy. I read some old political posts of mine and felt deep shame … because I wrote them prior to taking a college course on critical thinking and proper argumentation. So hey, total benefit of doubt thing going on here. But to ever buy this one in full I need to see her start basing factual statements in facts and come to see that if you decry a social injustice you perceive but provide no positive solutions then others who feel as you do are left feeling disempowered (common theme in her videos) instead of united in this common worldview.

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My final quandary: Are we being lead around by the nose here or not? The strongest point that leads me to think this a con artist at work is not so much the large pile of cash she got but rather what other users pointed out: she is almost certainly using footage of Let’s Play videos (someone voices what is essentially a podcast alongside a game they’re playing) to pad out her game footage shots and blatantly ignores or misrepresents the context within a story line she critiques. As a quick example of misleading viewers about the contextual story line within these games she references Fable 2 as a title that represented the “male revenge fantasy” overlooking the fact you can select to be female without affecting any element of the story and after the death of your sister you are mentored by a powerfully authoritative female character. As to the other point I’ve heard some users say she “stole” these clips of game footage but (1) not giving attribution is bad Web-etiquette but not stealing per se and (2) with the exception of the audio these Let’s Play videos are likely the sole property of the game makers or YouTube not the person who used a computer to mesh together game play and commentary. Find a copyright lawyer to really nail that down but in the case of potential plagiarism I’m near positive that unless they have a partnership with a gaming company thus a legal department behind them they can forget about this sort of thing being declared anything other than Free Use by YouTube. That said, it’s beyond suspicious to me that such a highly funded project would borrow footage in this way at all.

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The sad part is no matter what Sarkeesian holds as her true intentions the focus on tired clichés being overused in gaming and how these plot devices, or tropes, are used to enforce unfair gender stereotypes is an opinionated stand to take but it’s just a simple fact that the professional gaming industry is predominately male and could greatly benefit from say a youthful female voice on YouTube encouraging women to strike out toward careers in gaming design and development. I have no doubt the gaming industry as a whole would welcome a more gender balanced input when it comes to design and development. The number of female gamers in the market keeps rising and they often bring different tastes and expectations to a videogame than male gamers do.

But instead of that sort of encouragement, so far anyway, we have three videos that contain contradictions and have yet to succeed in proving or even attempting to prove the central premise that fictional fantasies lead to negative attitudes and beliefs about others. We already beat that horse to death with the whole violence in the media causes violence in real life bullshit that was debunked over and over again.

Correlation is not causation, Anita.

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More Video Links:

More than a Damsel in a Dress: A Response” by KiteTales

Three Simple Questions for Anita Sarkeesian” by IWALVG

Female Game Developer’s response to Tropes vs Women” by dolldivine

Damsel Trek…” by Triox45

GAME OVER: Anita Sarkeesian has won” by MundaneMatt

HuffPo: Texas Textbook Massacre

This recent development has me extremely enraged, in a time when I can afford no more of that emotion without bursting at the seams.

From the Huffington Post:

AUSTIN, Texas – A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.

The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum’s world history standards on Enlightenment thinking, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

Sane Society and Intellectual Honesty

Sometimes things I say confound people. They are talking to me via Facebook or chat room or email, and I say something like: “I think the term ‘intellectual honesty’ is a misnomer, just like the term ‘sane society.'”

I always manage to do these things where I make a complex statement, and it’s hard to jam the reasoning behind it into “140 characters,” so to speak.

This is why I love blogging.

I might lose just about all of you if I go on too long, but these URLs won’t go down so you can read my verbose verbage another time if you so desire. Like most who know a little about writing I know to kind of sum it all up in that last paragraph that everyone reads anyway.

Let’s start with “Intellectual Honesty” and why I call it a “misnomer”:

I am most certainly not saying that any person being intellectual is thereby being dishonest, by any means. The reason I believe the two words do not link is because the alternative is an impossibly. One cannot be dishonest in regards to your own personal reasoning and personal opinions, no matter if any facts collide with their intellectual position or not.

I can “intellectualize” any issue for you to the point that whatever provable facts and established evidence have far departed from whatever wide assertion I am making. You can find lots of examples of this on this very blog.

Whereas “honesty” relates to strict codes of precise reasoning that, as much as many desire them to, do not change at the whim of an individual. I believe the people screaming these false cries of “creeping socialism” are being “intellectually honest” with us, but they are still dishonest in their facts, in the labeling and on the raw record.

“Intellectual Honesty” is either one of two things: it is a given, where 100% of all people everywhere are “intellectually honest” so it is a redundant term; or it is a fallacy in that intellectualism may be in it’s nature honest but honesty is not by it’s nature intellectual. Either way I feel that this term doesn’t convey any kind of realistic view of the world, regardless of who is using the term.

Now on to “Sane Society”:

This term, to me, is a misnomer in complete and full. While one can glean and nit-pick through a society and raise up certain examples of sanity and good graces, there is a massive gap between that assessment and the picture of the whole.

I present to those believing that at a certain point we will attain a fully “Sane Society” here on planet Earth that to a certain degree establishments rely upon a certain amount of disorder. Utopian Society would be without need for “laws” or even “group morals” for all persons would never consider such acts that might disturb good public order and ethical treatment of others in first place. Other than for the sake of pomp and circumstance there would no need for “leaders” or anything but basic levels of “establishment” because all peoples everywhere would already understand and adhere to “Sane Society” principals. I believe a certain amount of chaos and disorder is inherent to the human condition itself, therefore while I enjoy musing over a “Sane Society” and the “Utopian Dream” I also view it as nothing but a muse in which to model a better world as opposed to the ultimate consequence of human progression.

What I am really talking about is the words we use and how we use them.

With the sharp increase in ad hominem attacks and red herring arguments in our lexicon, I can see how some might view these as less than important points. But I think these kind of issues are at the root of what is preventing good communication between opposing viewpoints in our society today. There is a strong need for a focus on critical thinking and making better arguments, and it starts with using language that makes real sense.

MediaMatters: Palin’s Tea Party Speech Full of Misleading Claims

(CSMonitor.com)

From MediaMatters.org Research section:

Palin’s tea party speech full of false and misleading national security claims

During her address before the National Tea Party Convention, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin made numerous false and misleading claims about national security and foreign policy, including suggesting that the Obama administration doesn’t use the word “war,” that interrogators didn’t ask alleged Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab about his training and future al Qaeda plots, and that Abdulmutallab has not provided information since he “lawyered up and invoked our U.S. constitutional right to remain silent.”

PALIN: What followed was equally disturbing after he was captured. He was questioned for only 50 minutes. We have a choice in how to do this. The choice was only question him for 50 minutes and then read his Miranda rights. The administration says then there are no downsides or upsides to treating terrorists like civilian criminal defendants. But a lot of us would beg to differ. For example, there are questions we would have liked this foreign terrorist to answer before he lawyered up and invoked our U.S. constitutional right to remain silent. [CNN Transcripts, 2/6/10]

REALITY: Administration source reportedly says Abdulmutallab currently “cooperating,” officials say he provided intelligence after being Mirandized.

Responding to Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Sen. Diane Feinstein in a February 2 hearing (accessed via the Nexis database), FBI Director Robert Mueller agreed that “Abdulmutallab has provided valuable information” and that “the interrogation continues despite the fact that he has been Mirandized.” Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair testified in the same hearing: “There are decisions that have to be made in which you balance the requirement for intelligence with the requirement for a prosecution and the sorts of pressure that you bring onto the people that you arrest in either form. It’s got to be a decision made at the time. And I think the balance struck in the Mutallab was a very — was an understandable balance. We got good intelligence, we’re getting more.”

Bipartisan Blogging Dies at Birth

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When I first set forth to imprint myself upon the wildly evolving beast of the blogosphere I held with me a tenuous goal: to create a fully bipartisan blog.

A place that would be both policy and ideology neutral, yet dealt in real news topics.

While the value of this concept in itself still appears quite sound in my mind, I discovered through personal experience that throwing that concept away was the best thing I ever did for my blog as a rank amateur in the mix. (Still working on that.)

Blogger tis I:

My posting entitled “Ann Coulter Still Sucks” was one of first impressions unto this wild animal of internet-posting that I can claim to my credit. Every word of that is partisanship, I am completely unashamed.

My posting entitled “The Libra-Scorpio Cusp” is enjoyed by many. I point out an internet inconsistency between websites and briefly address my feelings on Astrology.

Recently I was honored to have received an Editor’s Pick on Open Salon for what accounts to the end result of these bipartisan efforts of mine.

I thank the Editors of Open Salon for the honor in being selected.

In course of presenting the issue of Jimmy Carter’s words concerning race in America, I unconsciously fell into my routine of trying to revive the lost art of bipartisanship.

I presented the words of Alan Wilson rebuking the words of Carter directly as to any racial motives in his father Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst.

I withheld the words of what I view as righteous indignation and retained myself to news-commentary.

However, my truly Bipartisan Blogging is dead. I fully intend to address every issue that I view as significant regardless of the possible offense drawn from that perspective.

Once you mix an opinion with a platform, you get punditry. Once the opinion is interjected into the Left versus Right Debate, it is already too late.

What remains within me though are the principals of striving toward fair play and equal consideration of alternative perspectives, and still with my own case intact. The value of this bipartisanship effort is lost, but the spirit remains intact. The reason being for this loss, in my view, has to do this the source from which it comes.

Despite all reports to the contrary, I am not a big deal.

The person to revive journalistic standards in the United States, is not I.

I instead must cry out into the wilderness to capture this beast, while those within the press need only touch a laptop. So is the way of things. But while ‘truth’ can be subjective, the facts are not.

“You can have your own opinion, but you don’t get to chose your own facts.”

I make a great many declarative statements in the course of blogging, formed primarily from simple political and media analysis, which accounts to online punditry.

But I believe strongly in full disclosure of the fact that I am a liberal and freely admit it may alter my world view in some cases.

But the facts don’t lie, and I believe in the growing majority of cases the facts are on my side.

Pointing Fingers:

It could be said that I am extremely critical of the right wing in US Politics.

If one were to ever take the time to read backwards into my blog it can be found that I have tried to draw a line between “Thinking Conservatives” and “Limited Conservatives“.

Other times I have directly defended the specific quotes of both Carrie Prejean and Rick Warren.

Treading this line in not some political game on my part, but rather my honest opinion on those matters.

I believe that is what we have escaped from in the madness of mass computing and super-fast news-cycles. Partisanship sells books as much as it moves blog-hits, so perhaps some of these political shock jocks like Ann Coulter would rather be reasonable in her arguments, but it simply doesn’t pay the bills.

The truth being what is lost in this exchange, and I think that sort of thing is a shame.

I would much rather have a discussion in disagreement than just label others as “tools”, “fascists”, “un-American”, or “racists”.

But that creation of mine that might cross party lines, and maybe bring sanity to the mix to see what happens will have to wait for a another day. The raw truth of opinion should not replace factual evidence. Such is the road to tyranny.

So I have taken another road. I drew a line in the sand that allows me to say what I will of Republicans, or Democrats.

For instance, the Republican Party is currently self-destructing and the Democratic Party has dropped the ball on health care reform.

Such statements embody my current stage in blogging evolution.

Finale:

The spirit of political bipartisanship and the need for balance remains within me, but the middle ground is now mainly unattainable without the acceptance of false claims and baseless assertions. Any critical review of facts debunks most conservative mantras.

There is much to be said for ideological differences enhancing a debate but when the debate is centered around misrepresentations and sweeping accusations of assumed wrong-doing there simply to no room in which to move in.

I will most likely continue to be mistaken for a conservative by both machines that dictate ad banners and internet users alike, but this just a by-product of my attempt to split everything down the middle.

To me, most these differences are best settled in the voting booth at election time.

But if the accuracy of the information we receive is suspect and unverifiable then we have a responsibility as citizens to recognize this fact.

This tense political and social division has forever been an element of American Life, but I believe that the situation is amplified by media-giants who profit from the repetition of partisan smears of any person or group.

I can only pray for a day of more a more honest and non-biased form of journalism catching the eye of the American public, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

Eric Lightborn

http://ericlightborn.blogspot.com

http://twitter.com/EricLightborn

September 29th 2009

Chris Wallace and Fox News are Lying to You

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(Image: The Osterley Times)

Chris Wallace and The FOX Broadcasting Company have proven to me personally that not only do they work in a direct effort to both intentionally under-report and under-disclose vital information to the stories they cover, but also to outright lie in the name of presenting their case.

Wallace attempted to defend the ACORN slander artist, James O’Keefe III, by repeating false claims that have irrefutable evidence stating otherwise.

As is the par for the course, nobody cares to speak out against these truth-spinners and defenders of McCarthyism in the US.

MediaMatters.org has covered the story far better than I ever could hope to, but I think it needs to be understood that when Fox News reports via Megyn Kelly that O’Keefe and Giles were in fact asked to leave ACORN offices, while O’Keefe and Giles have previously denied these claims on the air of FOX News, it is the obvious responsibility of Chris Wallace to inform you of this lack of credibility native to these people along with any other claims or assertions he would like to make.

That failure to report this information, and the failure of FOX News to hold their employees responsible, is an affront to American democracy as much as it is to journalism in the modern age. If these people continue to lie to the public there may need to be some serious consideration made toward the goal of civilly disrupting and peacefully dismantling an agency dedicated to spreading misinformation, racist sentiments and un-American propaganda.

This video is pertaining to another matter entirely but I draw your attention to the FOX News-ticker at approximately 2:10 in this clip:

.. Carter, who said racism accounts for most criticism of Obama, but says “That’s not what’s driving” Obama’s detractors ..

Words are important. To lie about the words of a former United States President, even in a cable news-ticker, is an insult to this nation and there is no doubt to me that this is far from some minor accident.

Look carefully at that sentence.

The whole statement is designed to make Jimmy Carter look like he is talking in circles, when in fact the Fox News organization is using their own language “most criticism” to put words in Carter’s mouth. A shameful and un-American thing to do, in my view.

Now look carefully at Carter’s actual quote:

I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,

Carter was quite clear and not all ambiguous like the false and downright slanderous “Fox News-version” of events.

The words are “intense animosity“, not “criticism“. And “overwhelming portion“, not “most“.

Jimmy Carter can defend himself. I will not dissect every angle of this for the sake of this singular posting.

I am simply saying you look at the words someone spoke for what they are. Not twist them around until they say what you want them to say.

And it amounts to a simple, and for some hard to accept, fact:

Fox News appears to be in the business of promoting and advocating for racist ideals in the U.S.

Until I see clear examples of the end of their unwillingness to accurately report on fabricated-scandals like ACORN, the controversy over Jimmy Carter’s words or something to the issue of finally questioning the wisdom in keeping an avowed racist like Glenn Beck on the payroll, I see no reason to think or say otherwise.

There are some good people who work at Fox News. But there are good people who work at the IRS, too.

Doesn’t mean they’re not working in a cesspool.

Kudos to LiberalViewer of YouTube

Have you ever seen this YouTube Channel called "LiberalViewer"?

I personally would aspire toward having a blog more to the nature of the work of LiberalViewer in days to come.

See for yourself.