16 votes

The aesthetic

28 comments

  1. [8]
    clerical_terrors
    Link
    I was hesitant to post this video, and I'm not sure if the fact that it hadn't been posted yet confirms that I was right to be so. I personally found the points raised interesting, and haven't...

    I was hesitant to post this video, and I'm not sure if the fact that it hadn't been posted yet confirms that I was right to be so. I personally found the points raised interesting, and haven't really made up my mind as to whether I agree or disagree, but I've seen some genuinely hurt reactions about the video itself. I don't mean to ruin anybody's day but I am very interested in hearing some more perspectives, preferably not ones filtered through the lens of twitter memes.

    5 votes
    1. [5]
      dubteedub
      Link Parent
      Yeah, I posted it yesterday to ~Life, but it didn't gain much traction. ~LGBT would definitely have been a better fit though, I didn't really think about it unfortunately....

      Yeah, I posted it yesterday to ~Life, but it didn't gain much traction. ~LGBT would definitely have been a better fit though, I didn't really think about it unfortunately.

      https://tildes.net/~life/6kz/the_aesthetic_contrapoints

      It is a really heady video and as Natalie said herself, it is difficult to explain / digest.

      I did think that the discussions on politics / gender and whether it is all just aesthetics / performance was pretty interesting. I don't have much to say on the "it's all just drag" side, but I definitely feel that way a lot when debating / discussing politics. It is not so much who is making the better arguments or is right, but it often seems like it comes down to perception on how actually came out on top. I think you can see this play out a lot of Reddit or Tildes, where the person who may be correct gets far less votes than the person who makes the more appealing argument.

      5 votes
      1. unknown user
        Link Parent
        That's also quite frequent in science and more so in scientific journalism. Unfortunately for most people how an idea is framed is more effective in convincing them than the idea itself because...

        I think you can see this play out a lot of Reddit or Tildes, where the person who may be correct gets far less votes than the person who makes the more appealing argument.

        That's also quite frequent in science and more so in scientific journalism. Unfortunately for most people how an idea is framed is more effective in convincing them than the idea itself because it's often hard to reason on the truth of a proposition objectively when one, like most of the society, lacks philosophical interests and critical reading skills. For example, in this video random people on the street are interviewed and asked "What would you do if you son came to you and confessed to being heterosexual?" Some do understand the question, but at least as many others take it as if the inverse was asked and responses range from "I'd give him a smack first!" to "Its his choice and I'd love him regardless." One does not need to be ignorant or stupid to fall for this, the way we process information (we depend on assumptions quite a bit and read far too much in to things, our brains are wired that way) is quite susceptible to this sort of "abuse".

        3 votes
      2. [3]
        clerical_terrors
        Link Parent
        That's weird, I hadn't even seen it posted yesterday. I wonder if this means there's a "posting window" for content like there was on Reddit, where posting at the wrong hour of the day was...

        That's weird, I hadn't even seen it posted yesterday. I wonder if this means there's a "posting window" for content like there was on Reddit, where posting at the wrong hour of the day was essentially a death sentence for the post itself.

        I think it's sometimes frustrating to realize that the oldest marketing adage holds true: the meaning of the message is only half as important as the way in which it is brought.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          dubteedub
          Link Parent
          It still got about 7 votes, but yeah, it dropped off the front page after an hour or two as no one else commented on it. I'm not sure if the timing is really the issue, but more that when there...

          It still got about 7 votes, but yeah, it dropped off the front page after an hour or two as no one else commented on it.

          I'm not sure if the timing is really the issue, but more that when there are already a few other more high profile topics being discussed, most other content slides pretty quickly.

          3 votes
          1. clerical_terrors
            Link Parent
            Also a believable explanation, I hope there's some way to prevent that from being manipulable, I would hate to see Tildes become subject to the same strategic posting that happens on Reddit.

            Also a believable explanation, I hope there's some way to prevent that from being manipulable, I would hate to see Tildes become subject to the same strategic posting that happens on Reddit.

            1 vote
    2. unknown user
      Link Parent
      Glad that you did post it! No it does not. That's unfair for Tildes. We're still less than 7k users here, chances are nobody saw this before. If we can not have this sort of content and this sort...

      I was hesitant to post this video,

      Glad that you did post it!

      and I'm not sure if the fact that it hadn't been posted yet confirms that I was right to be so.

      No it does not. That's unfair for Tildes. We're still less than 7k users here, chances are nobody saw this before. If we can not have this sort of content and this sort of discussion here, there's no point in Tildes existing, IMHO.

      I don't mean to ruin anybody's day

      I don't see why anybody's day would be ruined by good insight into a social issue.

      Thanks for posting this, it was an interesting watch and got me thinking. IDK if I'll comment about this---transsexuality is an interesting phenomenon that I happen to not know much about---but if I'll have time to do so, I'll add it as a separate toplevel comment later.

      2 votes
    3. BlackLedger
      Link Parent
      For whatever it's worth, thanks for posting this. I don't know much about the issues trans people actually face and found it very informative.

      For whatever it's worth, thanks for posting this. I don't know much about the issues trans people actually face and found it very informative.

      2 votes
  2. [10]
    deciduous
    Link
    This might be my least favorite Contrapoints video in a while. It's not bad, and I might even call it good. I see two possible interpretations of this video, here and elsewhere. The first is that...

    This might be my least favorite Contrapoints video in a while. It's not bad, and I might even call it good. I see two possible interpretations of this video, here and elsewhere.

    The first is that this video is the author's attempt to explain an inner conflict that she has about the way she presents and views her identity. The second is that this is truly meant to be presented as a debate without much direct deeper meaning beyond what is literally presented.

    For me, the video comes across very strongly in favor of the Justine character. She presents generally stronger arguments in a much more "aesthetically" pleasing way. The clip at the end with Ben Shapiro also really reinforces this idea, with a trans women coming off as manly, violent, and dangerous because of bad optics.

    The first interpretation, that this video is an externalized inner monalogue, comes across as unsatisfying and almost sad. What does it say that Natalie, conciously or not, makes this argument so one sided? Or the fact that the side representing the idea of trans identity being defined by the self is literally represented by an anarchist, catgirl who is borderline a joke character in her other videos?

    The second interpretation is even worse. A real debate would mean that Justine is right. It would mean that Blair White was right on was "the winner" in her debate with Natalie.

    Maybe I'm wrong, though. A third interpretation is that these thoughts presented by Justine are thoughts that the author feels, but ones that she fears or dislikes. The fact that so many people reacted so strongly against the Justine character might be a way of showing how depressing those kinds of thoughts can be. Natalie usually only puts words in the mouths of her characters if she's heard them elsewhere or thought them herself. It could be a representation of how hurtful those kind of thoughts are, especially in situations (like the Shapiro clip) where they seem so correct.

    TL,DR: the video makes me uncomfortable and I don't know if that's a good thing.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      pamymaf
      Link Parent
      I see Tabby as what I (and a lot of others) believe deep down. It doesn't matter what I look like, I am THIS. Even if I identify as a woman, I can wear combat boots and still deserve to be...

      I see Tabby as what I (and a lot of others) believe deep down. It doesn't matter what I look like, I am THIS. Even if I identify as a woman, I can wear combat boots and still deserve to be gendered correctly! This is the ideal. This is what we feel and want. This is what we're fighting towards.

      But Justine is what society is saying. If you want to be treated as a woman, you have to act like a gender conforming super feminine woman. If you don't wear makeup and dresses and heels, how are people to know that you're a woman? You can't just expect people to call you something that they don't see.

      It makes me sad that this disconnect exists. That we (trans people in general. I personally am not a trans woman, but nonbinary) have to pick either staying true to ourselves or not being misgendered.

      8 votes
      1. deciduous
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the perspective. Maybe it's the way in that the dialogue is presented in a debate format that colors it for me. That the side of "society" (as you put it) seems to win. That physical...

        Thanks for the perspective. Maybe it's the way in that the dialogue is presented in a debate format that colors it for me. That the side of "society" (as you put it) seems to win. That physical presentation feels like a more rational line of thinking than real gender identity, even when It isn't.

        3 votes
    2. [2]
      clerical_terrors
      Link Parent
      For what it's worth, my own feeling is that Justine represents might represent the kind of pragmatic thinking Ms. Wynn tends towards but doesn't necessarily always feel good about. It's hard for...

      For what it's worth, my own feeling is that Justine represents might represent the kind of pragmatic thinking Ms. Wynn tends towards but doesn't necessarily always feel good about. It's hard for me to state that because I feel like I'm unjustly projecting my own biases onto her out of some degree of parasocial attachment (which might be an issue many other of her fans still share).

      Because I don't think it's entirely wrong, yes it feels horrid to operate in a worldview where people who, at best disregard you and at worst actively want you gone, need to be placated. But if you want actionable reform, if you want progress and peace in our time then sacrifices need to be made because all the combat boots and Marxist theory in the world will not make the Ben Shapiros disappear. One of the hardest things in life is having to stay "good" in the face of people not even making any attempt at doing the same

      But at the same time I feel like I can't say that, I can't just go and tell trans people how to feel and act. I've never had to defend my very existence in a public arena, smiling through the anger, for no reason other then being slightly different from the norm. I don't feel like I'm in a position to understand the struggle and to speak on the same level. I don't even know if I really can or should.

      6 votes
      1. deciduous
        Link Parent
        I think that's a pretty good interpretation, just not one that I really got from the tone of a lot of the video. In a sense, all interpretation of authorial intent is projection (off topic, but...

        I think that's a pretty good interpretation, just not one that I really got from the tone of a lot of the video.

        In a sense, all interpretation of authorial intent is projection (off topic, but there's a really interesting video game review that goes deeply into this topic and comes off with some interesting conclusions).

        In the end, the whole situation with acceptance is shitty. It sucks that people get misgendered, threatened, demeaned, harassed, killed, and their very existence denies. And it sucks even in the small way one has to choose between being yourself and fitting in. It's a choice all people have to make in some sense, but trans people have to make it on a much more intense and fundamental level.

        3 votes
    3. [4]
      eladnarra
      Link Parent
      (Initial disclaimer that I'm cis.) To me the Ben Shapiro clip didn't feel like a complete reinforcement of Justine's arguments. The part at 19:09, in which Shapiro spouts the transphobic phrase...

      (Initial disclaimer that I'm cis.)

      For me, the video comes across very strongly in favor of the Justine character. She presents generally stronger arguments in a much more "aesthetically" pleasing way. The clip at the end with Ben Shapiro also really reinforces this idea, with a trans women coming off as manly, violent, and dangerous because of bad optics.

      To me the Ben Shapiro clip didn't feel like a complete reinforcement of Justine's arguments. The part at 19:09, in which Shapiro spouts the transphobic phrase "you're a very feminine biological man," the clip focuses in on Blair White's face.* And she looks... sad. She nods, but she also looks down and away, and her eyes are sad.

      I'm probably reading way too much into her expression, but it felt like that moment was actually a rebuttal to Justine's argument. Blaire White is on the side of aesthetics; both in looking very feminine and in her instinct to apologize for other trans women (who are being more aggressive or less feminine than she would be). And I don't feel like her nodding along to Shapiro as he says transphobic things is being portrayed as a good thing.

      *I don't know if the clip of her is from when he was saying these things, or edited in from a different exchange; either way, it's possible that it's intentional.

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        deciduous
        Link Parent
        I was actually referring to the clip with Zoey Tur (reporter who threatens him) and not the Blair White clip. I do agree that clip would fall more on the Tabby side of the argument. Sorry for the...

        I was actually referring to the clip with Zoey Tur (reporter who threatens him) and not the Blair White clip. I do agree that clip would fall more on the Tabby side of the argument. Sorry for the confusion there.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          eladnarra
          Link Parent
          Yeah, that's fair. I was combining the two in my mind since they were shown intercut (I think?). Perhaps that was intentional; like the conversation between Justine and Tabby, neither clip...

          Yeah, that's fair. I was combining the two in my mind since they were shown intercut (I think?). Perhaps that was intentional; like the conversation between Justine and Tabby, neither clip necessarily wins out?

          I haven't watched many of her other videos, so I don't know if my reading is too charitable or not. I assumed it was essentially an internal monologue, but then I read the twitter thread that @clerical_terrors linked (about how the video is hurtful to at least some nonbinary/gender nonconforming people), so I see how without a more explicit editorial slant it's... potentially problematic? And I agree that it was uncomfortable to watch.

          1 vote
          1. deciduous
            Link Parent
            I'm a big fan of Contrapoints and I don't think it's wrong to be a bit charitable. Her videos often fall into this sort of format. The issue is that sometimes these dialogues are meant to be clear...

            I'm a big fan of Contrapoints and I don't think it's wrong to be a bit charitable. Her videos often fall into this sort of format. The issue is that sometimes these dialogues are meant to be clear refutations of arguments she has seen online and sometimes they are meant to be debates between two opposing trains of thought and for the first time I feel like that line isn't really clear.

            2 votes
    4. Spiraler
      Link Parent
      Personally I think that the "debate" aspect is meant to illustrate the point made about how arguments that are more aesthetically pleasing are the ones that many viewers take away as being the...

      Personally I think that the "debate" aspect is meant to illustrate the point made about how arguments that are more aesthetically pleasing are the ones that many viewers take away as being the right ones, and that the actual content of the argument means less. All of Justine's arguments seem more appealing because she's representing the easy accepting of what society thinks and going along with it, instead of Tabby going for what she really is and believes in.

      When Justine convinces Tabby to wear heels instead of combat boots, Tabby's main response is that it makes her feel uncomfortable and that she prefers to be who she really feels like, even if society does not associate that feeling with womanhood. Justine is in the wrong for constantly trying to make her into something she is not, but since she does a better job of making herself more "presentable" by society's standards, she seems to not be so thoughtless about the fact that she is trying to impose her own ideas of gender onto another person who does not see it in the same way.

      I can see how someone might dislike this video, especially since Natalie doesn't do very much to obviously portray Justine as in the wrong, but my main takeaway from it was that Justine's ideas of gender and especially the way she imposes this idea onto others physically makes those who do not share those ideas uncomfortable.

      Lastly, on the subject of Tabby as a joke character in her other videos, that's fair. I personally think a character who is usually comic relief can also be heard as a rational character with serious ideas, but I agree that it may associate her ideas with being a joke.

      3 votes
  3. [7]
    nacho
    Link
    This is ... wow. I'm sure I'm not the intended audience because I just can't keep up with all the huge, grandiose claims being made that are somehow either obvious, or obviously ironic to those in...

    This is ... wow.

    I'm sure I'm not the intended audience because I just can't keep up with all the huge, grandiose claims being made that are somehow either obvious, or obviously ironic to those in the know.


    "What matters more, the way things are or the way things look?"

    "Gender is just like a color. Some people see yellow, other people see green. It's all a matter of opinion. (It's not)"

    "It was worse than morally wrong, it was aesthetically wrong"

    "reality plays no role in politics. Politics is aesthetics" "No, that's literally what fascism is"

    "Communism responds by politicizing art" "art is already ideology"

    "The world we live in is not a philosophical world" "In history there are periods of reason and periods of spectacle and it's important to know which you're in" "The internet is ancient Athens, not Rome"

    "In public life one thing matters [for trans women] and one thing only looking like a woman." "What does that even mean?"

    "It's ultimately men who're the judges of womanhood"

    "Gender is performance. We're all born naked and the rest is literally drag."

    "It's the identity, not the performance that makes us women." "Without recognition, the identity is meaningless."

    "Gender is not rational, it's an aesthetic"

    "Sometimes being yourself is not enough, you have to become yourself"


    And then there are all these meta-jabs at various parts of (I assume) trans culture? What do they do/argue?

    What I took away from this is confusion. I'm not sure what the take-away message(s) is/are.

    Anyone more in the know got some takes?

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      lmn
      Link Parent
      Videos like this are less about "X is right" and more "Here's what I think about X". I believe the different characters are meant to represent different aspects of the presenter's personality. The...

      Videos like this are less about "X is right" and more "Here's what I think about X". I believe the different characters are meant to represent different aspects of the presenter's personality.

      The video, to me, is not saying that trans people must dress or act a certain way but is saying that there's an inner conflict between wanting to be seen as feminine and wanting to be accepted while also presenting in a chaotic elemental way (the cat). The former persona wants to be accepted socially while the latter wants to be authentic and unconstrained.

      There's a lot to think about in these videos. I quite enjoy them. It's like being invited to someone's mind to listen in on how they think.

      9 votes
      1. dubteedub
        Link Parent
        Natalie has done a fair bit of Socratic discussion style videos like this in the past. I think she does a great job presenting many sides of arguments pretty well. If you are into those style...

        Natalie has done a fair bit of Socratic discussion style videos like this in the past. I think she does a great job presenting many sides of arguments pretty well.

        If you are into those style videos, one recent example from memory is her discussion on capitalism, which I believe also included the Tabby character as well.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJW4-cOZt8A

        4 votes
    2. [2]
      unknown user
      Link Parent
      I take this as an illustration of various narratives and prominent sides to a common problem/phenomenon that is transsexuality and transsexual persons' participation in society especially as...

      I take this as an illustration of various narratives and prominent sides to a common problem/phenomenon that is transsexuality and transsexual persons' participation in society especially as activist/political figures. Admittedly this is the first video I saw from this channel. But apparently it draws from the tradition of dialogue in philosophical literature, and like an early Platonic dialogue the sides agree on disagreeing and admit to inability to resolve the discussion into an apparent result which would be an ethical/philosophical view that both sides can accept and adhere to. Generally I find the references to philosophical tradition and philosophers correct and well-chosen. For example,

      "Communism responds by politicizing art" "art is already ideology"

      This is correct in the sense that the many if not most late 19th--early 20th century Marxist/communist philosophers that worked on aesthetics and art thought so. If you look at Marxist theories of literary criticism, for example, this is quite evident, in that, a work of literature is mainly analysed and valued by its potential effect on society and whether or not such effect is positive and negative, and so in reference to the economic, social, political and ethical theories based on Marxist school of thought and sometimes also framed by the communist state's official positions.

      8 votes
      1. Batcow
        Link Parent
        I don't know much about philosophy so I always appreciate Contra exposing me to philosophical ideas. You might be interested to know that she used to be an academic, she was doing a PhD in...

        I don't know much about philosophy so I always appreciate Contra exposing me to philosophical ideas. You might be interested to know that she used to be an academic, she was doing a PhD in philosophy, so I trust her to apply philosophy and philosophers appropriately.

        Also, I feel like I should let you know that "transsexuality" and "transexual" are generally considered antiquated terms, and only commonly used in medical circles to refer to the post/pre-op status of transgender people. In almost all circumstances, transgender is considered more appropriate.

    3. Staross
      Link Parent
      The video is like an inner monologue, it's exploring questions that the author ask herself in a theatrical way. The two characters are a bit exaggerated opposites in the spectrum of opinions (the...

      The video is like an inner monologue, it's exploring questions that the author ask herself in a theatrical way. The two characters are a bit exaggerated opposites in the spectrum of opinions (the "rebel/idealist" and the "conformist/realist") and both provide arguments for their views. It's more about exploring these questions than providing ready-made "messages", although I think the ending lean more toward the "realist" (optics matter the most in the political struggle, and the left is often messing up in that regard).

      This comment from her on another video also make things a bit clearer:

      Political videos tend not to be interpreted very charitably (I know this video is going to be upheld by centrists as evidence I’ve “gone full Antifa” and by leftists that I’m a closet centrist) so I’d better state unambiguously what I think.

      The character Tabby represents a lot of what I think is wrong about leftist strategy: the indifference to optics, the undisguised hostility to the ideologically impure, the sectarian nitpicking, the alternation between extreme optimism (“a communist revolution can happen in the United States and it will go well if it does”) and extreme pessimism (“neoliberal propaganda has so tight a grip on the general public that why should we even bother trying to appeal to them?”), the blurring of lines between recognizing the necessity of violence in certain situations and the aesthetic celebration of violence as an end in itself. Nevertheless I try to represent Tabby with some sympathy, and anticipate that my viewers will like her—my audience is at least 95% trans Antifa cat girls, but I hope that doesn’t prevent them from thinking about the critique.

      The character Justine is a mouthpiece for a lot of my complaints about the left, and the recipient of some leftist criticisms of me (“you go to brunch with these people?”), but I chose not to represent her as an attractive alternative. She’s complacent, frivolous, and ineffective, full of derision for the way other leftists do things but not contributing much for her own part either. When a fascist comes knocking on the door it’s better to have Tabby there than Justine. To see if Justine can put her money where her mouth is we’d have to see what speech she delivers following the fascist speech. This YouTube channel is effectively my attempt to make that speech, and I can’t be the one who judges how successful it is.

      7 votes
    4. Batcow
      Link Parent
      I thought she said we're in Rome, not Athens, but I watched the video yesterday so I might be mis-remembering.

      I thought she said we're in Rome, not Athens, but I watched the video yesterday so I might be mis-remembering.

  4. [3]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    What does the cw in the title mean?

    What does the cw in the title mean?

    1 vote
    1. Szkin
      Link Parent
      I believe it's 'content warning'.

      I believe it's 'content warning'.

      5 votes