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

Conservative Propagandist Arrested for Illegal Wiretap

Once again, I have been proven to have been correct in my assessment of both the motives and character of one of the right-wing’s poster boys: James O’Keefe III.

The same man who lied before the American public with the assistance of Fox News and Sean Hannity has been caught trying to once again fabricate vicious lies against others for the sake of political gain.

This time around O’Keefe tried to shakedown Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Here is the story on NOLA.com:

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the office confirmed. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street about 11 a.m. Monday, dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans,  fluorescent green vests, tool belts, and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu’s 10th floor office, O’Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.

When Flanagan and Basel entered the office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affadavit, observed O’Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to record his co-horts.

After being asked, the staffer gave Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn’t working. Flanagan did the same.

They then told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located.

A witness from Landrieu’s staff said O’Keefe was present in the office and claimed to be “waiting for someone to arrive.”

Let’s also not forget that these pundits of Fox News such as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly have all used this vile propaganda against ACORN to advance their own careers in hate-broadcasting.

This time we caught the con in the act, but this is the “new media” that conservatives and the Tea Party alike support: frame jobs, illegal wiretaps & outright lies.

This is Nixon Era politics in 2010.

Read Some News & Instantly Talk About It!

1.uk-internet-blog-traffic-reaches-all-time-high-chart_1 7-Habits-InternetIn my opinion, all these news-blogging websites are the same thing wrapped up in a different package. This age of faster and faster news-cycles combining with worldwide communications expanding to new heights has spawned a new phenomena of people like myself feeling the need to respond to every single news story in all the world.

Then expound upon some line of thought in some blog and someone comments-back: “Keep it short and sweet.” Sometimes there is none of that. Sometimes I run out anything and we end up with the new and famous and amazing micro-blogging (Tweet)!

The FOX Nation

The ‘protectors’ of the freedom of speech and ’balanced’ media have opened up a talking-back-at-you website. They let my liberal stuff through just like anyone else.

Huffington Post

This site has morphed from comment moderation taken to new tyrannical heights and has landed right back where all the internet is, sanity. Though I’ll the first to admit that almost every post on the website is written by a liberal.

The Guardian

I don’t live in the UK but this news-site has always caught my eye. I just think they have better articles than a lot of American media to discuss or reference.

Your Blog

I might have promoted you and you never knew it. I try and point out anything I think is great in both credible source and just pure internet source. If you have a blog I am the one who just randomly spread it around on Facebook or maybe Stumble.

YouTube Threads

I have no idea why people do this but YouTube comment threads often become beyond the limits of sanity in terms of length, and the dialogue goes beyond any measure of civility in about 90% of the cases. I can barely ever help myself, I’ve allowed myself to childish and tawdry while speaking to vile and hostile people. If you like car-crashes and Jerry Springer … you might want to just read the comments under a video without even bothering with whatever the original post was.

It’s just my point of view.

That it all fits in the same pale. One big not-so happy family of internet traffic.

The only credibility on most internet posting is attached to the credibility of the domain combined with the author. I’ll listen to anybody, but I’m not about to try and attach any level of credibility to myself. This all just my opinion. But I think some certain few out there somehow manage to get opinion and real news confused in all the commotion of the New Media.