Trigger Warnings | Rant

I’ve been annoyed by YouTube lately, which annoys me in itself, because why should I really care about a platform predominately filled with creators making content for an audience younger than one I’d be genuinely interested in reaching? And I think the reason is twofold. 1) I am pissed off with myself that I make this shitty vanilla content because that’s the safe expected thing to do, and 2) because I see other people falling into the same trap.

The other day I became irrationally irritated by a Twitter conversation I wasn’t involved in. I saw TomSka tweeting with reference to a Tumblr post expressing disappointment with him for making a suicide joke in a video. I completely empathised with Tom’s point – to put a trigger warning on the video would ruin the comedic punches. He then sent a series of tweets trying to find a workaround for this problem in future videos, and some of the replies were infuriating.

And I’m wondering if it’s the platform. Or the audience.

Tom has built an audience of kids/teens because that’s the prime demo his content appeals to. If Tom had only ever made adult content, would he still be suffering backlash from that joke? Would he have grown a different audience? Would he have an audience who expect, enjoy, and respect comedians who don’t find anything off limits, other than the approach?

I am someone who believes comedy can and should be about anything, providing the joke is targeting the right element, e.g. don’t make a rape joke about the victim, and if you’re going to make a rape joke make sure the message is clever enough that it doesn’t come off as a cheap vehicle for laughs.

None of my favourite comedians work with trigger warnings, and what’s more I doubt their audience has ever even considered asking them to. Imagine Doug Stanhope opening a set with trigger warnings; it would take him fifteen minutes to reel off every taboo subject he covers in that hour alone.

So I’m wondering, should Tom just start making whatever content he wants and let the right audience find him? One that doesn’t stifle him or pressure him into making ‘safe’ comedy?

Whilst I don’t understand what it is like to be triggered, I’m not against trigger warnings. I completely understand that someone who has suffered trauma could be upset by an unexpected reminder or callous discussion. That said, I do think that people take trigger warnings too far, and the line is far too grey and subjective for me to even begin to make an argument for where it should be. It’s impossible for any one person to say, and no one person should get to decide.

However, if there are creators who don’t want to be held accountable to an audience who need to know the time stamps of the jump scares in a Five Nights at Freddy’s video, then they should simply start making content that those people won’t watch. They need to ask themselves what is more valuable: a large, broad audience, or an audience that enjoys the kind of content they find fulfilling to make? I am sure there are people who don’t watch (for example) Tom’s content because they find it too tame, but would probably love the stuff he would make if he didn’t feel any responsibility to the vocal minority of his current audience.

Don’t flirt with making it a safe space. If people know it is not safe they will stay away, giving you both freedom.

(That said maybe Tom would make exactly the same stuff in the same way, I am only using him as an example as of his prominent, recent Twitter discussion. I don’t know Tom. I am not speaking for Tom)

Recently, I was also frustrated by the #WeStandWithZoe shenanigans, for so many, many reasons. I saw many people using the hashtag as an excuse to tweet sexualised selfies. Obviously some people were casual and legit. But I saw a whole group of people, who usually tweet pictures of themselves every day, frothing at the excuse to tweet a panty pic. Zoe had a small portion of hip showing, but these narcissists were showing the whole thing, trying to look as sexy as possible, completely missing the point. Want to drive home that The Sun were being absurd with their remarks? Tweet ironically with too many clothes on, don’t turn it into something arguably sexual. Don’t turn it into something so sexual you then have to backtrack and ask that girls under the age of 18 don’t follow your example. I saw a bunch of SJW types eagerly tweeting pics, so wrapped up in this opportunity to finally reveal some body, that they ignored the fact they were encouraging their huge YOUNG teen followings into tweeting softcore underage porn. But where’s the uproar about this? About these poor-intentioned idiots actually causing a sleazy trend?

Not to mention all the fucking free advertising they gave The Sun… Jesus Christ. Congratulations on playing right into their hands, guys.

And this frustrates me because Tom is held accountable for making a joke personal enough to him that he feels ownership of it. That he feels he has the right to make.

I was talking to a friend as these two incidents were going on, both of us refraining from pointlessly throwing more public noise into the mix, about how we feel we can’t make jokes about our own depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, or self harm, even though it is part of our lives, just because it will upset someone online and we don’t want to have to deal with that shit. We joke about it ALL THE TIME in real life. It’s part of who we are. But we’re censored online. We’re censored from making jokes about the shit we’ve experienced and continue to experience. Censored from being ourselves. Meanwhile, the same people who signal boost TRIGGER WARNINGS at every opportunity are encouraging an online tag for paedo bait.

Intent matters.

I am not doing what I wish Tom (and everyone in the same position) would do. I am not just making the content I want to make and seeing where the pieces fall. And I am a hypocrite for that.

This YouTube Has Content On It | Rant

So, Adult Swim is a mixed bag of treats. Some are amazing and some rot the fuck out of your teeth, but it brought us Rick and Morty so, as far as most of the internet is concerned, it has a free pass to shit down our throats from here on out because JOB DONE, FOREVER.

Today I watched Alan Resnick’s This House Has People In It after the disgracefully addictive online irritant, Max Landis, tweeted his admiration for it. This House Has People In It hasn’t gone the way of Unedited Footage of a Bear just yet, and it probably doesn’t quite have that viral capacity, but it’s great.

It’s so good that I just sat through over 90 minutes of Night Mind arguably unravelling the ambiguity of its narrative, glitches and Easter eggs. That said, I’ll watch Night Mind unravel a lot of things because I like unravelling, and I also admire a thorough touch which presents the sense of a vigilant, behind the scenes admin process. Dude’s definitely got some thriving Evernote boards.

But what This House Has People In It really drove home for me wasn’t in its clever, innovative, quirky comedy-horror, instead it highlighted what YouTube could be if its creators looked outwards instead of inwards. Obviously, Adult Swim is a cable network with a YouTube channel, but that’s entirely beside the point. I think a lot of the short films and more “creatively” positioned videos on YouTube are simply narcissistic, public masturbation. WRITTEN BY, DIRECTED BY, AND STARRING ME AND MY FRIENDS AS CHARACTERS A LOT LIKE US, ALSO LOOK AT THE KOOKY COLOUR GRADING, LOOK, LOOK, THE COLOUR IS THERE AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR TALENT AND SUBSTANCE. But this, this is a movie that anyone could have made on a few webcams with some friends. Anyone talented. Anyone talented who took some time away from attempting to hide their shallow, philosophically bankrupt husks behind some faux-deep, Tumblr-edge, cheap, artistically troubled, YA persona. Or really just anyone who tried to have an idea that didn’t seep with self-centred grease.

Now I’m not talking about the gurus, or the run of the mill vloggers, or comedians, or the gamers, I’m talking about the people who need to reference film somehow in their Twitter bios. Filmmaker. Director. Screenwriter. Etc etc etc. I’m sick of seeing “creative” videos by “filmmakers” that are simply attempting to concoct an interesting character for themselves. I want to see real people – real, impressive, people – creating something other than a fake persona. Other than some weird fucking romanticised versions of themselves. Edits should be about crafting a film not crafting a personality. I don’t want to watch a six-minute selfie. Have a fucking idea. Have an idea and impress people that way. Do you know who I immediately found incredibly interesting today? Do you know who I immediately wanted to invest time in and watch the work of? Fucking Alan Resnick. Not someone who painstakingly edited pensive shots of themselves together with regurgitated, trite, laboured over sound-bites.

 

12 Great Single Location Movies

I have a predilection for single location movies for the same reason we believe we can hear better with our eyes closed. Whilst I enjoy the creativity necessary to combat the relative restrictions on narrative, I am more interested in how the parameters of single location movies often engender the necessity to rely on other areas, such as dialogue. I love all aspects of film, and I would say that my top fifty movies are perhaps more alike in tone than genre or execution but, for me, a well written picture is almost always going to supersede a triumph of cinematography or performance. And, just like closing your eyes to hear better, single location movies typically have to rely more heavily on dialogue, imaginative conceit, or characterisation.

Of course, there are also many terrible single location movies because they’re cheap and easy to make, which means budding filmmakers can dream up a simple variation on the ‘people locked in a room’ plot and knock it out in a few weeks: see Netflix’s Circle (2015) for the Nth example of this. But that’s just a blight on the device we’re all going to need to accept.

Sleuth (1972)

Sleuth 1

Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier star in Sleuth, based on the Anthony Shaffer play of the same name. And that should be enough to sell this movie to anyone but, for posterity, it’s about a theatre enthusiast who invites his wife’s lover over for the evening to enter into a potentially deadly battle of wits. Bonus: the film was remade in 2007 with Caine playing the role of Olivier (don’t watch the new one first).

Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Coherence (2013)

Coherence 1

Unlike Sleuth, the factual low-down on Coherence might actually put you off: Nicholas Brendon and some barely-knowns have a dinner party and something odd starts happening. However, Coherence has layers of intrigue. Without giving too much away, this isn’t a straight up get together: unusual events start to unfold and the cast have to decipher what’s happening, literally. The actors were only given details of specific points they had to include in each scene, leaving them to ad-lib the rest, uncovering the mystery with the audience. This could have resulted in something unusable but instead Coherence is an example of ‘people in a room working something out’ gone right.

Dir. James Ward Byrkit

Moon (2009)

Moon 1.jpg

Moon, the internet’s favourite movie, is an incredibly engaging story of Sam Rockwell’s life on the Moon. This film was never really underground, it even features the voice talents of Kevin Spacey, but it became championed online as this brilliant movie you may have missed to the point of parody. I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, Sam Rockwell is superb, let’s move on.

Dir. Duncan Jones

Clue (1985)

Clue 1

Clue, infamous murder mystery Clue, is a ‘people in a room working something out’ movie, sure. But it’s the camp, 1985, Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, epitome of ‘people in a room working something out’ movie. Plot: a group of strangers are invited to a mansion, given names relating to Cluedo characters, and a killer is among them. Who is it?!

The Sunset Limited (2011)

Sunset 1

This HBO movie, based on a Cormac McCarthy play, stars Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson as two strangers discussing suicide from the perspectives of a man with faith and a man without. On the surface we see the division between race, class, education, and beliefs, but ultimately it is simply a discussion of life between two men. This could have been cliché and redundant, but a simple glance at the names attached should assuage your doubts.

Dir: Tommy Lee Jones

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Dog Day

Dog Day Afternoon (mildly incompetent nice guy holds up a bank) is arguably one of the best movies ever made. Pacino is at his most likeable, there’s comedy, there’s tension, there’s camaraderie, there’s love, there’s Attica! it’s just a beautiful melting pot of something for everyone whilst avoiding the disgusting tepid nature of compromise.

Dir. Sidney Lumet

The Man From Earth (2007)

Man

The Man From Earth presents one of the more interesting in-depth conversations in film: a man tells his friends, a group of professors from various areas of study, that he is immortal and has been around since the dawn of man. At first this is interpreted as a hypothetical and his task is to convince them, but as the evening unfolds the question as to whether or not he is telling the truth causes tensions to grow. This movie doesn’t fall down any of the potential traps for pretension that it sets up, and whilst I find myself sometimes wondering what it could have been in the hands of Kaufman or Linklater, Bixby’s simple approach navigates the topic elegantly and accessibly.

Dir. Richard Schenkman

12 Angry Men (1957)

12

12 Angry Men is another movie from this list which could just as easily be in a top ten of all time, and both are thanks to the incredible talents of Sidney Lumet. ‘Courtroom drama’ might not be the most enticing descriptive coupling, but this timeless reflection on the nature of innocence and the burden of proof provides hefty insight into the hypocrisy of men. This film is as important as it is compelling.

Dir. Sidney Lumet

Cube (1997)

cube

I saw Cube for the first time about fifteen years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. As a young teen, I obviously hadn’t been exposed to the amount of movies I have been today, and the premise was something surprising I hadn’t seen before. But even today, Cube maintains its position as one of the more accomplished and gripping single location mystery thrillers I’ve seen, and it’s certainly superior to the more recent ilk, such as Fermat’s Room. Synopsis: a group of strangers wake up in a complex system of cube-shaped rooms, some of which are booby-trapped. Together, they possess a set of skills necessary to escape, but will they work it out or turn on each other?

Dir. Vincenzo Natali

Carnage (2011)

carnage

Two sets of parents meet with the intention of maturely discussing an altercation their kids had at school, but throughout the course of the evening their behaviour gradually deteriorates into antagonistic and petty childishness. An incredible script and strong performances from an all-star cast (Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly) make Carnage a funny, astute observation of human behaviour.

Dir. Roman Polanski

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Breakfast

The Breakfast Club is infamous, spawning parodies and homages in a plethora of TV shows, movies, and comedies. It is the pinnacle of eighties teen films: the perfect recipe of Simple Minds, the Brat Pack, and John Hughes, this movie lives at the nostalgic heart of a generation. Today, endless teen movies take us through the tired, clichéd cafeteria breakdown of social stereotypes, but in 1985 The Breakfast Club gave us The Jock, The Princess, The Brain, The Basket Case and The Criminal in Saturday detention, and it was god-damn perfect.

Dir. John Hughes

My Dinner With Andre (1981)

Andre

It’s inconceivable that you haven’t already seen this movie, so I’ll keep it short: two men have dinner. Andre Gregory talks of the twists and turns of his past, regaling Wallace Shawn with wild stories, whilst Wallace questions Andre’s fulfilment and the logistics of his lifestyle.

Dir. Louis Malle

Feel free to send any single location movie recommendations to me @opheliadagger

 

Am I If I Don’t?

Most of my thoughts that don’t immediately lend themselves to a jocund, asinine YouTube video just get a quiet shrug; however, they occasionally persist, soaking up vital synaptic RAM. So, as I also consider the internet to be like my brain’s external hard drive, this is a great place to store the files that don’t fit anywhere else but can’t be deleted because of nostalgia, or because without them Adobe will stop working.

This might make me seem like an asshole but the truth often does that to people.

I consider myself to be many things but also very few. For example, I’m a feminist. I’m a feminist because I believe in equal rights for everyone. I’m all over big picture feminism, sure: rape culture is repugnant, slut shaming is hypocritical, etc. It frustrates me. It disgusts me. But am I a feminist? I don’t go to protests. I don’t make a point of actively supporting female creators or politicians. In fact, I read mostly men; all my favourite books are written by men. Most of my favourite films are directed by men, and I sincerely doubt a majority of them pass the Bechdel test. As someone who has frequently reviewed and recommended films online, I have received many requests along the lines of, ‘What are your favourite films by female directors?’ and rolled my eyes. My favourite films are my favourite films irrespective of the creator. Why do you want to know my favourite films directed by women? To me, with a passion that lies exclusively with film, recommending movies made by women is as arbitrary as recommending movies that feature the colour red. It’s not a genre or era. It’s just a happens to be.

And I know this isn’t the ‘right’ response. I understand why someone would make a ‘Favourite films directed by women’ list. I understand why they wouldn’t then make a ‘Favourite films directed by men’ list. It frustrates me that a ‘strong female character’ is still something to marvel over. I hate the MPDG. But outside of the fabric of the movie, it doesn’t interest me. Film is what interests me. And as a woman, I feel that sometimes these requests made to me aren’t authentic. They’re the judging yeah but… comments.

I’m giving films directed by women the exact same consideration as films directed by men. The same critical criteria. There are less films directed by women, yes, and that’s fucking frustrating but historically relevant and ever (albeit slowly) changing, but for me it still doesn’t constitute a category. There shouldn’t be a Best Female Director Academy Award. It could be argued that the Best Actress Academy Award should eventually be made redundant. We’re all only eagerly awaiting the real actor award anyway…

So, I’m a feminist by the definition of the word, but am I a feminist?

In the current US political storm, I’m supporting Bernie Sanders. I’m British, but I have the t-shirt. I agree with a lot of his policies, I’ve done the research, I think he’s a respectable guy. A good guy. But, conversely, I haven’t done much research into the other candidates. I simply think Hillary isn’t capable of leading a country and Trump has a lot of questionable ethics. But I’m ultimately ignorant, so I’m not going to go publicly trashing either of them. And I can’t even vote for Bernie, so do I support him?

I’m pro-animal rights. If I had one wish I’d eliminate animal cruelty, and everyone would send me death threats because it isn’t world peace. I get it. It would be a fucking dumb choice, but it’s also a hypothetical one so who gives a shit. I’m one of those assholes who can watch some human atrocity online and feel very little. Not because I don’t care, or from an inherent lack of empathy, but the detachment of the screen. The modern sickness. If it were to happen in front of me I’d be overwhelmed but video nasties are more common than reaction videos. Shit, video nasties spawn reaction videos, so we’re all comfortably numb. However, if I see the thumbnail for an animal cruelty video, I’ll cry. I’ll get angry. I’ll wish a slow, painful death upon the perpetrator, and fuck if that link isn’t staying blue. If I won the lottery I’d live on a farm with as many rescue dogs as possible. I eat only free range eggs. But that’s it. I’m not a huge meat eater, but I don’t know where a lot of the meat I do eat comes from. So, I’m pro-animal rights, but am I?

And that’s the thing with defining yourself, what are you if you don’t? Because if I’m only what I actively and overtly do, I am very few adjectives.

And I’m not even sure I want to be adjectives.