The PewDiePie situation part 2 – the weakness of “doing it for the LULZ” humor


The massive problem with PewDiePie’s humor is that there is no / no obviously noticeable layer of satire. Whilst I do have my problems with South Park (especially later seasons) it has consistently being able to maintain it’s layer of satire. The most important thing for a joke is context. When someone like Cartman on South Park screams “death to the Jews” or tells an a particularly distasteful joke it is definitely communicated to the viewer that this is a work of satire and this is not the guy they should be rooting for. He almost always gets what he deserves eventually.
When Neo-Nazi websites are cheering on in support maybe, just maybe the joke fucked up? 

Some will argue that the joke was nothing to do with hate towards Jewish people. The fact that the “joke” was meant to highlight the things people will do for money is even more problematic. It’s very reminiscent of Bumfights – a series where a wealthy white man goes onto the street to dehumanize homeless people (who are desperate for money and alcohol) for profit. PewDiePie paid two men in India five dollars to hold a sign with an Anti-Semitic message that they didn’t fully understand. He (a man who according to Forbes in 2016 made $15 million) fully exploited their need for money to get them to do something provocative for views on social media. If that doesn’t sound ethically wrong…?

PewDiePie is a huge example of the limits and disadvantages of inane “doing it for the LULZ” humor (which is completely separate from satire; satire such as the artwork of Charlie Hebdo). “Doing it for the LULZ” humor can be done well but it is hard to pull off. The normalization of this kind of humor is bad for comedy and bad for society. Racism and anti-semitism for the LULZ most of the time (especially during a time when “alternative facts” is a thing) contributes to the climate of hate and makes people such as Neo-Nazis, white supremacist groups, Islamic Extremist groups and others on the far-right feel vindicated. Whether the joke is said it in earnest or in jest, the negative effect is the same. People can be put in danger all because somebody wanted some LULZ and didn’t think about the effects of their material and how it could be interpreted.

I feel that there are a lot of YouTubers supporting him for their own selfish reasons. Of course there are those that definitely support him, but I don’t want to ignore that YouTube is not just a bunch of amateurs in bedrooms anymore. To some people YouTube is their livelihood and a business. There are huge opportunities for an increase in viewers and subscribers (and therefore income) by simply kissing PewDiePie’s ass.

I acknowledge that he may have apologised for his actions and recognised that the joke was in poor taste but actions speak louder than words and an apology doesn’t have to be accepted. Trust and respect has to be won back.

The PewdiePie situation – is it ok now for white people to say the “N – word”?

I’ve never really been a big fan of superhero movies, but one quote from the Spider-Man film (starring Tobey Maguire) has always stuck with me:

“With great power comes great responsibility”.  

This quote can be true for a lot of things and especially applies to celebrities and people who in society are seen as being particularly influential. Whether they like it or not they have power and have a lot of responsibility in their hands. Your Kim Kardashians, Justin Biebers, Jennifer Lawrences and Robert Downey Jrs of the world.  

Whether we like it or not also today social media personalities are now celebrities. The way we consume media and communicate with people has evolved. Traditional media audiences such as TV audiences are declining. We have gotten to a point where there is greater audience participation and creatives are held to greater account regarding the material they release for mass consumption.  

What I am not saying that accepting responsibility means sacrificing artistic integrity and rights to freedom of speech; having to agree with everything people say to ‘keep the peace’. Challenging ideas and introducing new ones is important. What I want to get across is that it’s a rather ignorant and a childish frame of mind to have to ignore that every action has a consequence and that freedom of speech doesn’t equal freedom from criticism and a ‘free pass’ to break social prohibitions without necessary criticism.  

When you are at the top of the ladder there is a bigger responsibility to those below you and those who don’t have the same privileges. It comes with the territory. Freeloading on society without contributing to society is not how progress is achieved; locking in those golden coins like Scrooge McDuck.  

What I am trying to say it is important for those who wield privilege to listen to those who are marginalised and oppressed within our society to create a better world for everyone. Yet, (some) white people don’t seem to get it:  

It is not acceptable for white people to use the “N” word and whites will never from now on be able to have a say with regards to whether it is acceptable to use it. I do not care how unfair whites think it is, how much they want to be able to say it because it’s ‘cool’ or how they use it as a term of endearment. The “N” word is a word which was used every time my ancestors were whipped, beaten, raped, spat on, shit on (yes it happened), murdered, insulted and humiliated in various ways. It is a word that when used by white people makes me reflect on a past which seen black people violently repressed for rebelling or even questioning a system which forced them to do and act as white society said.  

All too often I see white people on the internet coming to assumptions regarding a general consensus in the black community regarding the word (which all to often relies on one black person’s opinion regarding the issue and using this as gospel). This matter is not a simple matter. Just because your ‘black friend’ is cool with you using that word it doesn’t mean you are right to use it. It is a very complex issue that needs to be discussed within the black community. Yes, you can have your opinion on the ‘N’ word too, but at this point the white opinion on this issue does not mean a thing.  

Squat. Nada. Zero. The privilege was lost.  

If white people really are interested in this debate they need to listen to black people first and not just engage in selective listening and just listen to black people whose opinions reflect theirs so that they can simply approve their own actions as there are differing opinions and feelings regarding the use of the “N” word, especially amongst generations, classes and communities of black people.  

The mentality of “every door should be open to me whether you like it or not because we are all equal” and “I can say whatever I want because I have freedom of speech so back off man” are the epitome of white privilege. This is the belief that every debate should welcome the white opinion with open arms and that the white opinion should be the most prevalent (because “those ethnic minorities really don’t know what is good for them or that they’ve never had it so good?”). There is a great bitterness and anger amongst a lot of white people when I tell them that the discussion regarding whether it is ok to the use the “N-word” is simply a discussion they are unwelcome in. I am aware that there are groups of white people especially here in the UK that have and still experience discrimination (such as people from the Irish, Polish and Traveller communities and broke white people in declining ex-industrial communities screwed over by Thatcher), but some white people need to face it that some issues just aren’t about them.  

I don’t think PewDiePie is a racist at this moment. He is not even on the level of people higher on the ‘bigot scale’ such as Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. I have massive respect for him with regards to how he has been able to create success for himself. I however think he is uneducated, misguided and even ignorant regarding this issue. He screwed up hugely and needs to apologise.  

It’s know it’s hard (especially as a man) to admit that you are wrong, but sometimes it is needed. It doesn’t make you less masculine. A simple apology and education would go a long way. Of course people don’t have to accept your apology, but effort to become a better person is always respected.  

White people, you were born with great power but with your great power comes great responsibility.

Politics and geek culture – A Peter Pan generation

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If we are to define a lot of things within geek culture art (comics, games, TV shows and movies) then what must be accepted is that art has never ever in it’s lifetime detached from the world it was created in and the person who created it.

It is a well known fact that the world of the Moomin created by celebrated Finnish artist Tove Jansson is deeply inspired by her experiences of war, her childhood and the relationships she had with her family, friends and particularly her female lover.  Would we continue to discuss these stories and the characters we fell in love with as a child if all these never reflected the artist’s experiences and beliefs?  We continue to be intrigued and amazed still after all these years by Tove Jansson’s life, her inspirations for the imaginative and deeply personal stories she created and the political environment they were created in.

There are a certain group of people in geek culture that like to assume politics lives in some sort of separate realm; the belief that politics can be separated from everything and anything and that politics is just about political parties, political campaigns and mostly ‘boring’ and ‘extremely formal’ discussion among middle aged and old white men in old buildings (and in some cases middle aged and old white academics in old buildings). The belief still surprisingly exists that the only way to ever engage politically is to participate in elections and engage in organised activities related to party politics.

The reality is that politics is everywhere.  It affects us is every part of our lives.  Politics cannot be escaped.  Politics is around us from the day we were born and sucked milk from our mother’s breasts to the day we die.  Politics is that powerful.  To wish to not live in a world where nothing is inspired by the politics of the time or past you would literally have to kill yourself.  Everything we choose to create, participate in and consume either contributes to achieving the goal of a progressive society, exacerbates injustice and equality around the world or both.  Politics is so powerful we take on particular stances sometimes without even realizing it.

That is where the label of “Social Justice Warrior” puzzles me.  What does it exactly mean when you ignore the internet’s use of the term (which it is now used as a mere snarl word used by those on the right of the spectrum of beliefs)?  Art with political messages are older than modern geek culture itself. Who doesn’t want a just society?  Even in what I would define as my golden period for gaming, there have always been games where to goal is to fight for social justice by “fighting the power”.  Heroes in games have always represented particular ideologies and the villains representing everything the creators believe is wrong in our society.  This theme is present in the most memorable game characters in history.

A perfect example of politics in older video games is the Sonic the Hedgehog series.  Looking at the Sonic the Hedgehog games now as an adult you can see beyond what people assume is a simplistic “fighting against villain who wants to take over the world” story and see an environmental message and criticism of modern day capitalism.  Here we have a ‘hero’ in the form of a blue hedgehog fighting a ‘villain’ in the form of a fat egg shaped human scientist called Dr Robotnik whose ‘greedy’ capitalist ventures have little regard for the environment and wellbeing  of the animals in it.  Robotnik is a radical representation of  how little the human race can care about the environment and the wildlife in it, all because of our desire to make money, achieve instant gratification and gain power.  It’s no coincidence that the first levels of the game are relatively green and the later levels of the game looking more polluted and industrial with little in the form of plant life.  Even in the later games such as Sonic Colors darker themes such as slavery are explored with Robotnik enslaving the population of an entire planet so he can convert the planet into a gigantic theme park; using the power of the alien life there to realise his own selfish capitalist dreams.

This is why I see most people who scream “SJW” down the internet not as people who are actively out to beat down the oppressed but as a generation that denies responsibility and the fact adults do not look at the world through child eyes.  A generation that is stuck with the mentality they had when they were reading comic books, watching movies or playing games in their bedrooms during high school. A generation that when watching a show like Firefly will scream “shut the fuck up with your feminism, race and class discussions, I’m trying to watch a movie about spaceships, space cowboys, and shit!” In complete denial that maybe, just maybe the people behind the show were deeply inspired by their own experiences and political beliefs and ideologies.

It’s all well and fine to see a show like Firefly as “spaceships, space cowboys and shit” but those who wish to delve deeper should not be beaten down and silenced.  The problem with this is we are simply giving in to media pressure to revert to childlike mentalities where we are drawn away from real world issues. To ignore the power that art has to change or conserve the current political environment for the status quo is ignorant.

There is nothing wrong with relating art to the real world and it’s impact on it. Geek culture has become two sided; two sides which are all out extremes: one which believes that art exists to be consumed for the purpose of escapism (to stop us from thinking about issues such as inequality and corruption) and one which believes art should relate to the real world and discuss societal issues such as inequality and corruption.  There is nothing wrong with all out escapism, but we eventually need to be brought down to earth.  Just like we can take drugs and experience trips, one must eventually come out the trip and analyse the real life damage we have done as a result.

The reality is that we didn’t discover the world through our own creations.  We mostly discovered the world through the ideas that those who created the material we consumed most likely were consuming and were inspired by.  We were brought up by fictional characters.  Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Goku, Sonic and Batman aren’t ours.  They can’t become a large part of our lives.  They represent the ideas of somebody else.

Currently the impossible goal by some franchises and artists is to give the audience back the feeling they got from consuming something as a child.  The problem is children in school are not taught to be critical.

We are all adults now.  We can never ever again get the feeling we had from e.g. watching Pokemon for the first time as a kid.  Our innocence as gone and we are much more aware to the cruel world around us.  Nostalgia is a powerful phenomenon, but the truth is the best things grow up with us.  Even with regards to music the best artists have evolved with their audience.  For example, De La Soul have sustained their fanbase and gained more fans through constantly evolving their sound, material and image; opening themselves up to new ideas.  Even artists such as Immortal Technique and Brother Ali have addressed their changing political beliefs and the changing of their stance on particular topics.  Progression means change.