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I think it does us all a great amount of good to get out of our own experiences and see things from other people’s perspectives, people we have literally nothing in common with, to see why they feel the way they do based on all the millions of things that go into a life. I am all for experiences like that, but Twitter isn’t the place to make that happen. Going and interacting with people where they live is how you do that. Volunteering is how you do that. Eating in restaurants in neighborhoods you’ve never seen is how you do that. Making friends different from yourself is how you do that. Twitter isn’t about having eye-opening conversations, it’s about finding the people that disagree with you and shitting on them. Period. It’s about voicing your opinions, well thought-out or not, and then having those opinions picked apart by strangers.

Do You Think You’re Pretty?: Twitter. 

Emily V. Gordon is pretty great. This was a nice essay. Really makes you think. (IDK, I know that sounds lame but it does.)

'Social Justice Warriors' is a term used often by these sort of people, and it’s a term whose pejorative use perplexes me, because aside from the source of its invention, it sounds like a really badass thing to be. I’d much rather label myself a Social Justice Warrior than a warrior for…whatever it is that these people are warriors for. Social justice is such an inherently positive thing - literally everyone benefits from greater equality - that it’s impossible to see its enemies as anything but sociopathic. Hatred of Social Justice Warriors can be seen as a broader hatred of social justice itself.

Andrew Todd, Badass Digest

Speaking of the whole video games thing/brouhaha/reality/shitstorm of trouble. I would consider myself a video gamer without any of the larger association of being into video games culture. But I am definitely part of ‘the culture’, broadly characterized as driven C.R.E.A.M.-like by a homogenous impulse of white male masculinity to have the final say in and about everything. Even if you’re not white or if you’re not male you’re part of it. That needledrop fellow said that reality trumps fantasy after listing off what he thought were salutary features of his reality. He concluded by saying that SJW types are looking to be offended. It’s a typically myopic (so typical as to be willful I’m certain) stance of the White Male Journalist. I mean, needledrop qua person is basically the bald music crit equivalent of Carrot Top. He looks like what he embodies, which is the ongoing skullcrunching backwards facing march of history’s angel obliterating everything in its path.

This is really going off the rails.

What I meant to say is that video games themselves are like the most fun thing in the world to do in spite of (or precisely because?) inviting its participants to have precisely 0 conscious thought about what’s going on around them. I guess it’s easy, if you have 0 awareness of the world, to assume that people have nothing better to do than try to be pissed off. But if you’ve ever been pissed off, you probably recall: it’s not really fun.

There’s a decided mirror effect between (lack of) self-reflection and social reflection, but one need not resort to a Barbara Bush ish argument against the Simpsons to see this.

Guilelessly accept plot after plot after plot centering around a Tough White Guy out to avenge the grisly death of some semi-nameless Dead Hot White Girl; enjoy looking at bikini armor and imaginative gaffer tape outfits; blow people up into bloody, pulpy, vermiculated corpses and camp their respawn point to do it again. It’s not that these things are normatively ‘bad’ (even though they are normatively ‘bad’). It’s that these are the stories are boring and shitty and they’re the ones that still get made, cost and create millions of dollars. I mean, this isn’t exactly even what I mean to say, though.

Like George “Rail Road” Martin’s famous apologia of GoT — namely, that it’s supposed to be a realistic depiction of how war/middle ages actually were, so brutality is required — the people defending video games culture totally ignore the point: even if your particular white male savior story makes sense and is good, even, the fact that video games are an endless, self-replicating succession of white male savior stories. This state of affairs is oafish and boring. But there are many alternatives to Triple AAA gaming titles. Yes, it’s a wide/wonderful world and there are alternatives to everything. And no one is seriously suggesting that video games cause people to rape people or shoot them. What they’re saying is that 1) publishing and 2) profiting off these enterprises leads to a circle of hell reserved for automobile title loan proprietors and crooked cops. That it’s despicable to cater to lowest common denominator themes and plots revolving around sexism, racism, and violence. That it normalizes the actions of said plots. Sure, there are alternatives, but risible crap like Bioshock Infinite is literally hailed as Game Of The Year all over the internet. These views and actions are not unpopular. That the only good woman is a dead/raped woman. Either she’s the woman standing in the way of you having fun shooty video game times, or she’s the one who’s causing you to go on your fun shooty video game journey. Same thing, really.

Reality. Reality trumps fantasy. The reality is that video games are a basic, easy to pick up (hard to master, ok) form of action that caters to the lowest common denominator. This includes a bunch of immature 14 year olds, biologically and spiritually, and the stupid wannabe gamer girls who only play Kardashian and Farmville. Except the latter never send anonymous death threats and rape threats to the former. That’s the reality.

Why would you ever want to defend the interests of the powerful (AAA games publishers) and evil (misogynist trolls from reddit and 4chan)? If there is a most overused trope in the world of videogames, it’s of the dispassionate avenger/protector who saves the world/the innocent/the powerless. It’s a role every meaty white guy* loves to jump into - except when it’s real life.

*Respect to white guys (and people, I guess) but the point is just that society is already set up to/for you. That’s why that “being a white male is life’s easy mode” piece was 1) so good and 2) so reviled by a lot of white males. No one’s (broadly speaking) anti-white guy/person. See the quote above that ostensibly started this whole “train” of “‘thought’”.

I don't think Anita Sarkeesian's videos should be treated as an extension of the PMRC mindset. She's pointing out misogynistic tropes in video games, not advocating censorship. I mean hell, she starts her first video in the series saying that even though she's pointing out problematic aspects of games, that doesn't mean those games shouldn't be played or enjoyed. I don't understand why she's getting as much flack as she is.

Asked by



Anita is getting flack because she’s an ignorant outsider. I’m not even a gamer, and this is apparent to me.

Whether you agree the content Anita showcases is misogynistic, offensive or not, most of her videos function on the same, flawed premise: That the negative gender stereotypes she finds in these games are harmful to the gamers that play them. She argues that these games somehow ingrain negative gender stereotypes in the individuals that play. They hurt women via perpetuating these stereotypes, essentially.

This is pure, unsubstantiated BS. Anita would never fund an actual study with the tens of thousands of dollars she’s raised, because she knows any such study wouldn’t work in her favor. It’s easier to buy a bunch of video games, cherrypick the most offensive parts for ignorant viewers, and then keep the rest of the money for yourself and your organization, right?

You’ve gotta wake up to the truth: Anita’s videos are about as effective and as enlightening as an elementary school screening of Reefer Madness

Media—especially popular media—reflects already-existing norms, ideas, concepts, and sentiments in a society, it doesn’t dictate them to consumers. Slasher flicks don’t make serial killers. Grand Theft Auto doesn’t increase the probability of shooting sprees. Gangsta rap doesn’t create gangs. The game Bully doesn’t create bullies. Reading 50 Shades of Grey probably doesn’t increase the likelihood of the reader getting tied up and whipped for sexual pleasure either.

If EA Games were to somehow create and sell a video game titled Mysogyny: Women Suck, the only people who would buy and enjoy such a game would be individuals who already agreed with the game’s clearly stated ideology. Anyone else buying and enjoying the game probably just dabbles in whatever fantasy the game presents during gameplay only. 

The probability of this game somehow CREATING a misogynist is about as likely as your local library’s copy of Mein Kampf creating a Nazi. Any such result would be minuscule if charted in a study of any sort.

As a kid, teen, and adult, I’ve been exposed to TONS of media that has displayed women as the weaker, more submissive, and more sexually desirable gender. However, this is not something I feel is reality. Why? Strong female role models, good upbringing, friends, family, amazing wife, and plenty of real-life interactions with women. FUCK A VIDEO GAME! A healthy reality ALWAYS trumps a fantasy. 

If you really want to change hearts and minds when it comes to gender roles in society, you’ve got to work on changing that society’s reality, not its media—especially media that so explicitly deals in fantasy. I know we tend to blame the media for a lot of our ills, but your real-life interactions and role models play a larger role in guiding your moral and social outlook than any music, movie, game, or book you’ll ever consume.

Anita is on the most foolish of errands, but y’all are eating it up like a hot pizza. Looking for positive gender roles in a game like Hitman is like looking for positive gender roles in any of the three Expendables films. There’s nothing applicable to real life in Hitman because the game’s not meant to guide anyone through real life. It’s a violent video game, not a dating advice show. There aren’t a whole lotta healthy social norms in the game because it’s not meant to portray any sort of normality.

NOW DON’T GET IT TWISTED: I do understand that violent, male-pandering video games persist in the video game industry. They make a lot of money, yes. And I completely acknowledge that a lot of what’s in games like Hitman, Manhunt, and Grand Theft Auto isn’t exactly, uh, healthy when it comes to the gender roles displayed. There’s a definitely a lack of female leading roles in many games, too.

However, it’s not like there aren’t alternatives here. There are plenty of non-violent, positive indie and mainstream games out there that would love more customers. And there could be MORE if we supported this sect of the industry. If Anita really cared about the future of the video game industry in relation to her cause, well, then she’d encourage all of her fans to purchase video games that work outside the negative gender stereotypes and violence of games like Hitman. It’s that simple. Supply and demand might have created Hitman, but it can just as easily create games with positive messages and gender roles, and it already has. You just have to buy them and be willing to support future releases that fit in with your taste.

But Anita is no gamer, and most of her supporters aren’t either. They’re outsiders that want to see change in a market they don’t participate in. Anita’s lack of experience is plain as day, yet, she’s lauded as some kind of expert. What if we applied the same angle to me right here:

Would you take my metal reviews seriously if I owned no metal records? Didn’t listen to metal? Had no real history with metal? Disliked metal? Constantly criticized metal with surface-level complaints like it being too loud, satanic, violent, angry, and perpetuating dangerous, overly masculine gender stereotypes? No, you wouldn’t. No one—except people equally ignorant to metal—would take me seriously. I’d be an ignorant outsider, which Anita is when it comes to gaming.

And I still stand by my PMRC comparison, too. I see similarity in her determination to find social dangers where there really are none. Yeah, Anita has nowhere near the same level of power or political influence, and she probably never will. And she probably won’t try to pull off the same censorship stunts due to the inevitable failure of trying to enforce or legislate any such censorship. It would be more beneficial to her to stay on the sidelines and collect her fundraising bucks as she highlights games she deems misogynistic. I agree America’s got a long way to go when it comes to creating social equality between the genders, but video games are nowhere near the root of the issues we need to address. They’re just an easy target for the quick to complain.

All in all, it’s same shit, different decade. People have been whining and moaning over “harmful” media for generations. And it should be no surprise that those desperately seeking to be offended lose every time. You can be on that side if you want, but just be a good sport when you take your “L”.

Bruh, you gotta be kidding me x 3000. You start this off by pulling her card for not being a gamer, then announcing you’re not one either, then proceeding to speak authoritatively about the medium for a literal thousand words. Is it safe to say most of those are just as “outside” and “ignorant” as you think hers are for lacking real video game experience? Just going by precedent. It’s clear you haven’t spent much time with the subject matter because if you’d played much GTA or Bioshock or Fable or any of the other titles discussed, you’d have a lengthy log of experiences of a game asking or allowing you to treat women like vessels for your male characters’ urges, of randomized sexual violence passing for edginess, and I’d think it would make you uncomfortable. I know it does me.

There’s a rising outcry about the treatment and characterization of women in video games from within the community (not incensed parents like in the ’80s), and I’m all for it. Games have long been treated like a boys’ club, and the overwhelming ratio of titles that demoralize women to titles that even allow you to play as one is a disparity in representation that requires the close attention of the industry to resolve. Suggesting that women shove off to where they’re appreciated is the same line of thinking that’s allowed centuries of historical injustice to proliferate. Fuck that. Put women in the shooters. Let em star in the open world games. Objectify the men. Turn the tables. Art is not above reproach, least of all massively consumed mainstream mediums, and while you’re right that a game’s job isn’t to better or edify us, if that shit is hawking janky old world themes and neglecting a growing swath of its base of players, they gotta get these bars.

You’re well within your rights to dismiss Anita’s criticism off her lack of experience, but her (your) faint grasp on the materials doesn’t change the root poison she’s calling out. Overall it’s worrisome that, presented with video of a woman citing examples of times where she was offended by the depiction of rape and brutality in media, your knee jerk response would be to insist that her umbrage is imaginary, trace her back to PMRC anti-metal panic and suggest that she pony up cash to deliver you a corroborating scientific study. As an American male it’s your luxury to have your norm be the national norm and to tell the rest of the country to deal with it or scram. Happens to the rest of us every fuckin day.

What you’re not gonna do is attack a reasonable complaint about misogyny, challenge someone’s right to speak on an area of media that you have admittedly little experience in (oh, you listen to metal!), dismiss the medium’s responsibility to its paying patrons, call the offended woman, who has received threats of sexual violence for her critique, a whiner and moaner, and come away looking clean. You’re part of the problem. I thought you were better than this.

P.S. Actually, 50 Shades of Grey drove bondage sex toy sales through the roof in 2012. Do ya googles.

Reading through the Q/A and then Craig’s rebuttal was honestly the most thrilling thing that happened to me all week.


'How Do You Make Sense': Text for Zak Kitnick's '1-4'



How do you make sense?

By ‘making sense’ I mean, specifically, the kind of work canonically done by e.g. a Kafka story when its patterns add up into higher order patterns that in turn form even higher order patterns, from which patterns you abstract a dynamic that you then find in a range of disparate experiences, a dynamic that is equally evocative of the experience of going to the bank, of the experience of being broken-up with, the experience of waking up in a daze, the experience of being lost in a foreign city, or the experience of a police interrogation, and makes it possible to group together the experiences that match this dynamic in a class, regarding them as tokens of a type, allowing ‘Kafkaesque’ to become thinkable and finally become a predicate like any other. We are punning here (‘make sense’), or being coy, but for a reason. Before language finished turning into language, any 18th century philospher will tell you, we made sense by weaving sonic patterns and projecting them into the world as unifying structures: relations between sounds suggested the relations between words, and an analogy between a word’s sound and a thing’s perceptible form related a word to its things and a word’s things to one another through the word. Even the pun itself is a revival. ‘Symbol’ used to be Greek for ‘to throw together.’ ‘Syntax’ meant, down the same road, ‘to arrange together.’ Etimology is never argument, but it’s a place to start: the gentle, systematic labour of a watchmaker arranging interlocking parts, and the wild force that pulls in the dispersed stuff of the world into a class. And on the other side of action, process: the process of a surface becoming a pattern (Syntax), the process of a cluster becoming a type. (Symbol)

One take away from this natural-history parable is that sense and its making are always apart by what feels like geological time, even when they’re not. A little like Marx’s commodity, or like Musil’s thought (‘when it is finished it no longer has the form of the thinking process as one experiences it but already that of what has been thought’), finished sense usually makes its making disappear. This holds doubly true when the sense in the making is explicitly that of a form: a De Stijl painting always keeps on being an expression of De Stijl, but the sense-makingwork the painting once did – ‘once’ in cultural-historical time or in a person’s cognitive biography – as a construction site for ‘De Stijl,’ for the concept that divides the world into De Stijl things and not-De Stijl things (or grades things by their degree of De Stijl) is immedaitely already-lost-to-time. Time-tested, time-proved claims to making sense, those that distinguished themselves as a contribution to the public life, are also those whose own succes has made inscrutable as processes: we effortlessly call an instituion ‘Kafkaesque,’ a conversation ‘Pinteresque,’ an idea ‘Borgesian.’ We effortlessly recognize an abstract expressionist surface, a free jazz composition, a minimalist space. We easily read the sense-makers in each case as examples of the sense, but not so easily as generative models that produce a concept where a concept wasn’t.

Sense-making is always history or speculation, never a real-time event, because its scrutability as making, as a process, fades out faster than its scrutability as sense clicks in. On one etimologically-inspired way to think about syntax and symbol, syntax and symbol mark the two visible ends of this mostly invisible spectrum of sense-in-the-making. Sense-making starts as syntax, as arrangement of materials that forms patterns upon patterns, and turns into symbol, a projection from one instance of a dynamic to its other instances. The internal building-up of structure, and a structure’s reaching out into the world as an idea (even if just the idea of a style). We never see syntax and symbol at the same time – probably a good hint that they’re the same entity in different disguises – but there are edges of cognition where one is already (or still) accessible and the other is still (or already) saliently missing, present as a black box or a trace. There’s the edge where syntax shows up as a gap between our previous vocabulary of types and the new type, and the edge where symbol shows up as the hypothetical horizon of a pattern-building process. (The edge of Stein, or Frampton, or LeWitt.) The middle part, the one where searching for the patterns in an object crosses over into reintepreting the object as the model of a new, more abstract pattern in the world, is parts uknown. Like with most things that we use every day, we only know a little bit about how sense is made. 

This was a cool — if intentionally dense — little thing! I specifically liked, “finished sense usually makes its making disappear”. I tend to think of “sense” arising like a lil plant growing out of a sidewalk crack from the everyday moments of lived life. But there’s no discernible biological process for sense. And still, respect to David Byrne, but you can never even stop making sense!