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.