26 votes

Canceling - Contrapoints

20 comments

  1. [2]
    kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    It's hard to adequately respond to this simply because the video is so long and there is so much in it (and yes, I fully realize the irony in me specifically saying this). I actually talked a bit...

    It's hard to adequately respond to this simply because the video is so long and there is so much in it (and yes, I fully realize the irony in me specifically saying this).

    I actually talked a bit about Natalie over in the Amanda Palmer thread a month ago, and my comments there give my on-the-ground feelings as all of this stuff was going on. I don't have a whole lot to add here (post-comment edit: turns out I was wrong) other than I think Natalie is right, and I'm not saying that as a blind ContraPoints stan, and I'm not saying that to stand on the other side of the line from trans and enby folks. I'm saying it because I think abusive behaviors have become so normalized online that we've grown numb to them.

    When I re-read what I wrote in the Amanda Palmer thread just now, this part stuck out to me most:

    We turn people into constellations of their worst moments only, and then we turn around and tell them they deserve the widespread hate they're facing because of it. We don't allow people to learn and grow from mistakes. The elephant memory of the internet helps us insist that who you were then is who you are now no matter how much time has passed, but it's a process that only happens with negativity. I don't ever see people digging through profiles to find positive information on individuals. A tweet from 2013 never makes the news or recirculates on Twitter because it's kind; only because it's outrageous. We make individuals into commodities, attack their weak points to take them down, and then dance with our friends on the graves of their spirit.

    Natalie expresses this same sentiment in her video, and I thought the most effective part of it was when, in the throes of dissecting Buck Angel's past, she stops and asks "who does this behavior remind you of?" with the answer "creepy stalkers who hate trans people." I think we've gotten used to heightened levels of scrutiny that the open records of mass media now allow, and I think we've also gotten used to a false intimacy that mass media encourages. These are uncomfortable and unfair ways to center relationships, but they happen so often we think they're normal.

    Furthermore, there's a pretty powerful asymmetry at play here. If people wanted to mine my past for ammunition, the only real thing they have to go on is my identity on this site. What they don't have are the other handles I've used, the posts I made when I was younger, the things I said when I was 14 that never got documented because they were spoken to friends instead of typed online, and so on. I have done and said some terrible, bigoted, awful things in my lifetime, but I have the privilege of either having those things lost to time or unable to be connected to my identity here.

    I can't have old quips taken out of context because they're not there for people to search, but modern life, particularly for someone who lives in the public eye, is a sort of open-source, perpetually documented life. Everything is there, and it's there indefinitely. I've been able to treat my online identity like an etch-a-sketch. I can just shake it up, erase my tracks, and start over. The old me is gone; the new me is however I decide to present myself, with no baggage from the past. My handle is my sole identifier, not my name and face, and I can change handles at will, unlike a name and a face.

    I think many online critics fall into this category. Their lives aren't up for scrutiny. They would likely be incredibly uncomfortable if their aggregated digital footprints were suddenly made public to the same degree as most people with "celebrity" status, or, if such information is already public, they would likely be uncomfortable if thousands of people started combing through every crumb they've ever dropped looking for their worst possible moments. (I'm not saying they shouldn't feel this way; I'm simply pointing out that those concerns are usually one-sided.)

    The epilogue to this is that I'm no longer the person I was when I said those awful, terrible, bigoted things. I've grown since then. I've moved past them. And I'm still growing and changing. Constantly. Even re-reading what I wrote a month ago in the other thread was like revisiting a past self. As I re-read the words that I myself wrote only a few weeks ago, I had to reinterrogate them to see whether they still reflected my thoughts.

    But, there's a trap here, one which Natalie acknowledges and captures articulately in her video: disavowal is limiting and isolating. I can say that I'm no longer "that person" who made those bigoted jokes and cut myself off from them, and that's relatively easy to do when it's a "me" that I'm separated from by decades. It's much harder when it's a "me" from yesterday, or when it's people who are close to me.

    The underlying truth that I think has to be acknowledged is that people are flawed. Full stop. We are not perfect, we will make mistakes, and we need the opportunity to learn and grow from them. I was reading a book recently which featured a quote from bell hooks that I saved to my phone because it struck me:

    For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?

    One of the reasons I like Natalie's videos and why I think she's particularly good at what she does, is that she is willing to present herself as flawed. It's part of her schtick (her sarcastic overstatements of self-worth and importance) as well as part of her legitimate self-expression (her frequent use of alcohol as a visual symbol for her internal pain/turmoil). She'll talk about pie-in-the-sky academic theories and then ground it with a personal truth. In her Beauty video she spends most of the time deconstructing beauty, only to admit at the end that, deep down inside, she still wants to be beautiful. Vanity. A flaw. Does that make her a monster, or merely human? To me, it's the latter, and I've always admired her ability to bring an honest and flawed humanity to what are often stuffy, formalistic topics.

    I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I suspect this video won't do much to chill the discourse surrounding her. After all, there's another asymmetry at play here, which is that her nearly two-hour video will go up against single-sentence Tweets. Maybe we should just cut our losses and say that those two forms of discourse are incompatible rather than intersecting? I don't know what good can come from trying to resolve the two. One is information-dense by design, while the other is information-light by design. I think even in a best-case scenario you get misunderstanding by pairing them, and in a worst-case scenario, like what Natalie faced, you get far worse.

    31 votes
    1. georgebcrawford
      Link Parent
      That was extremely well-written and echoes much of my unease with social media (and other) discourse, especially I think our default response when outraged should be to "cancel" the offending...

      That was extremely well-written and echoes much of my unease with social media (and other) discourse, especially

      people are flawed. Full stop. We are not perfect, we will make mistakes, and we need the opportunity to learn and grow from them.

      I think our default response when outraged should be to "cancel" the offending behaviour, not the person. Criticise them? Sure. Ostracise them? No. Unless of course they repeat their poor behaviour. I'd just like to acknowledge the weird schoolmaster tone of that last bit, but I've woken early and can't get back to sleep. Forgive me!

      14 votes
  2. Akir
    Link
    I'm sad to say that this is the first Contrapoints video I have ever not watched in its entirety. The official reason for that is that after roughly the first quarter of the video she goes too far...

    I'm sad to say that this is the first Contrapoints video I have ever not watched in its entirety. The official reason for that is that after roughly the first quarter of the video she goes too far off topic by going into the details of her own 'cancelation'. But unofficially, I simply didn't want to bother with Twitter drama. If there is one thing that this video has taught me, it's actually something I already though before: Twitter is a dumpster fire of reactionary comments that acts as a channel for users to harass eachother. And that opinion was further reinforced by the twitter thread @Micycle_the_Bichael linked earlier. Twitter is basically to social network equivalent of cable news; everything has to be black or white. Avoid standing too close to someone who is blackened or you might be confused as being black yourself.

    I do appreciate the first quarter of the video where she talks about cancellation, but I don't agree with it entirely. The process she talks about where concepts are abstracted and essentialized are by no means unique to cancel culture. Instead let us call it what it is; it's the demonization of the other caused by tribalistic thinking. If you think about it, you see it just about everywhere on the internet when we talk about politics. Let me give you an example from my infamous racist coworker; he sees that there are stores that specialize in selling ingredients for Mexican and South American cuisine, abstracts that idea into the idea that those stores exist only for Latinx people, and then essentializes that to mean that all Latinx people are racist. You and I both know that there are many people who share those opinions, and yet Latinx people are far from what we would consider to be canceled.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that the world is full of people who are only interested in reacting, and we should not be listening to those voices. We should be listening to the voices of the people who think and reason before they speak. Actions motivated by thought gives a fair trial; actions motivated by feelings gives a lynching. It is in everyone's best interests to stop and think.

    11 votes
  3. Micycle_the_Bichael
    Link
    Quickly back: Here is a really interesting twitter thread from another left-leaning youtuber and their thoughts on the video and the controversies surrounding Natalie. It is very long (by twitter...

    Quickly back: Here is a really interesting twitter thread from another left-leaning youtuber and their thoughts on the video and the controversies surrounding Natalie. It is very long (by twitter standards at least) but I think it offers a very fair and level-headed response. She also references a video of hers on parasocial relationships that is very interesting, which also relates to a video by lindsay ellis on youtube and forced authenticity, both of which I think are important concepts for understanding the pressures of being a youtuber (especially a US based left-leaning youtuber), a person that is famous on the internet, and cancel culture + youtube culture. Both of which are fairly long but are also worthy of their own posts. For now, I'll give someone else the opportunity to post them for the votes but if not will figure out what group I think they belong in after I get off work.

    10 votes
  4. [7]
    moocow1452
    (edited )
    Link
    Contra makes a YouTube apology video. Well, not really. She makes a meta-video about cancellation, what it is and how hers has affected her, and how on Twitter it's seems to be more of a...

    Contra makes a YouTube apology video.

    Well, not really. She makes a meta-video about cancellation, what it is and how hers has affected her, and how on Twitter it's seems to be more of a punishment for being disloyal to her tribe more than a slight or a failing.

    I have thoughts
    • Natalie is far more driven by principles than I would be while in a Twitter drag.

    • She probably should have blocked out the avatars of the Twitter accounts she featured if she blocked their names, but those were things they said.

    • The definition of Cancellation seems to be somewhere between announcing that you are ignoring a person and why, and making them radioactive to anyone who has worked with them and supported them in the past, and we should probably break those definitions out into different terms. (Vox: Why we can't stop fighting about Cancel Culture)

    • Something that is kind of unspoken is a double standard between minority creators and mistakes in their works. A misinformed cis creator can be informed and reformed into an ally, a "stubborn" trans person is bad-wrong forever, and has betrayed their duty of representation. (Sarah Z: Double Standards in Diverse Media)

    • This video does have the mouthfeel of an "I'm sorry, but really you don't get it" apology video, and I'm not really sure what could have been done to lessen it.

    • Twitter. Just say no.

    Edit: Spelling and added some links to the points that I wanted to explore.

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      To this day I am still completely confused as to what Wynn did wrong, so I am moderateky empathetic to this angle.

      This video does have the mouthfeel of an "I'm sorry, but really you don't get it" apology video, and I'm not really sure what could have been done to lessen it.

      To this day I am still completely confused as to what Wynn did wrong, so I am moderateky empathetic to this angle.

      8 votes
      1. [4]
        moocow1452
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        My understanding is that she featured Buck Angel in a voice bit, and once she was made aware of his baggage (regarding his perceived opinions on NB persons and Lana Wachowski), not immediately...

        My understanding is that she featured Buck Angel in a voice bit, and once she was made aware of his baggage (regarding his perceived opinions on NB persons and Lana Wachowski), not immediately falling on the sword and redubbing the part was seen as a betrayal, and any attempt to explain her decision making was seen as digging herself deeper.

        Edit: But really, it's about everything that she's ever done all at once, Buck Angel was an excuse to bring up years worth of "probable cause" and she can't defend herself from all of it.

        5 votes
        1. [3]
          Micycle_the_Bichael
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          That's not totally accurate or fair of what the criticism I have seen are. I don't think Wynn deserved all the hate she got, however I can see why many people in the community were upset. EDIT: I...

          That's not totally accurate or fair of what the criticism I have seen are. I don't think Wynn deserved all the hate she got, however I can see why many people in the community were upset.

          EDIT: I feel I should add this disclosure. I am a cis straight dude. I am nothing more than an ally who tries to listen to what the voices in the community are saying. As such, the goal of this post is to regurgitate and source the information I have seen members of the LGBTQ community say in articles and on social media. I am not a member or a voice of the community.

          1. Including a TransMedicalist (someone who believes you must have gender dysphoria in order to be "actually trans", an idea that actively erases non-binary (NB) people and members of the trans community who don't want to medically transition. [Better definition in source at end of post]) is not great. Buck Angel is very actively and loudly a trans medicalist.

          2. This isn't the first time Wynn said something that minimized/erased NB people. She's said things on twitter and in other videos in the past. Its why lots of NB people weren't willing to hear her apology, because she's apologized before and shown 0 growth from it.

          3. This last point I hesitate to add because I don't have first-hand knowledge of it, this comes only from reading threads on twitter of my NB friends so take this with a larger grain of salt than the last 2 points: Allegedly, Contra has expressed agreement/support with the ideas of trans medicalists like Buck Angel (not support via including him as a voice actor, but actively supported the views) which, as stated in point 1, actively erase the existence of NB people.

          At least, this is the information I've seen from the members of the trans and NB communities that I follow on social media and know personally and have found in reading articles.

          Edit: I am adding this source to why there is a controversy, and will say that the statement of contra is that she is not a trans-medicalist so I have scratched out that 3rd bullet, but I am not sure if I want to completely erase it because there is a contingent of the NB community who view Contra's repeated shortcomings as proof that she is actually trans medicalist and doesn't want to admit it.

          Last Edit: Spelling and grammar.

          6 votes
          1. Gaywallet
            Link Parent
            I'm NB. I've been watching contrapoints videos for some time now. Contrapoints used to identify as NB. I don't understand in the least how anyone can make an argument that she's a trans medicalist...

            I'm NB. I've been watching contrapoints videos for some time now. Contrapoints used to identify as NB. I don't understand in the least how anyone can make an argument that she's a trans medicalist or NB-phobic unless the extent of their interaction with her content is merely reading quotes or something half-assed or half-hearted at best. It's blatant misrepresentation.

            9 votes
          2. moocow1452
            Link Parent
            Yeah, I was being a bit glib. Thank you for doing the work.

            Yeah, I was being a bit glib. Thank you for doing the work.

            2 votes
    2. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      As a fellow philosophy student (from the same alma mater no less), I think this may just be a fundamental flaw in how we work.

      Natalie is far more driven by principles than I would be while in a Twitter drag.

      As a fellow philosophy student (from the same alma mater no less), I think this may just be a fundamental flaw in how we work.

      3 votes
  5. [3]
    Staross
    (edited )
    Link
    I watched half of it but it mostly seems like mindless twitter drama to me, not as interesting as some of her other videos.

    I watched half of it but it mostly seems like mindless twitter drama to me, not as interesting as some of her other videos.

    8 votes
    1. tlalexander
      Link Parent
      I’ve seen left tube videos getting longer and longer. Shaun (that’s his full YouTube handle) just released a video essay that was 2hrs and 15 minutes long. Given how much shit Natalie/Contrapoints...

      I’ve seen left tube videos getting longer and longer. Shaun (that’s his full YouTube handle) just released a video essay that was 2hrs and 15 minutes long.

      Given how much shit Natalie/Contrapoints has been getting, I wasn’t surprised to see such a long video. It must be terribly difficult to be concise when you’re the one on trial.

      6 votes
    2. stephen
      Link Parent
      Speaking as a cis het male contrapoints stan... Yeah an hour and forty is kind of a lot for me. I'm enjoying it so far though. The way she's taxonomies cancellation as a social phenomenon has an...

      Speaking as a cis het male contrapoints stan...

      Yeah an hour and forty is kind of a lot for me. I'm enjoying it so far though. The way she's taxonomies cancellation as a social phenomenon has an interestingly academic mouthfeel to it.

      5 votes
  6. Eylrid
    Link
    No one is perfect and no one should have to be perfect. Using someone's voice for a short quote read, liking them, or even being friends with them is not an endorsement of every belief they have...

    No one is perfect and no one should have to be perfect. Using someone's voice for a short quote read, liking them, or even being friends with them is not an endorsement of every belief they have ever had. If we couldn't be friends with anyone who has opinions we disagree with no one would have any friends.

    Mob mentality is as old as humanity itself. Us vs Them mentality is deeply human. There's a reason for legal systems to be built on the principle of innocent until proven guilty and careful examination of the evidence. When an angry mob passes judgement innocent people are condemned and guilty people are punished more harshly than they should be.

    8 votes
  7. [5]
    JoylessAubergine
    Link
    What did Contra do that got her cancelled? I find her views interesting but i cant stand the video style.

    What did Contra do that got her cancelled? I find her views interesting but i cant stand the video style.

    3 votes
    1. Micycle_the_Bichael
      Link Parent
      My comment above uses this source to try and give an overview. I'm at work right now but will try to find more sources once I have a break.

      My comment above uses this source to try and give an overview. I'm at work right now but will try to find more sources once I have a break.

      3 votes
    2. [3]
      vegai
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Was she cancelled? She currently has 802K (and rising) subscribers, and this video has soon 1M views, 91K likes, 2K dislikes. Isn't this just a bunch of borderline crazy people commenting on their...

      Was she cancelled? She currently has 802K (and rising) subscribers, and this video has soon 1M views, 91K likes, 2K dislikes. Isn't this just a bunch of borderline crazy people commenting on their twitter?

      edit now that I finally finished the video, she actually calls this argument "really stupid". Oops, sorry.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        JamesTeaKirk
        Link Parent
        She talks about how she has learned through multiple "cancelings" that she now has enough success to not have to worry too much about it. She also points out that getting cancelled is a very real...

        She talks about how she has learned through multiple "cancelings" that she now has enough success to not have to worry too much about it. She also points out that getting cancelled is a very real threat for smaller channels.

        6 votes
        1. vegai
          Link Parent
          And obviously for those who are on a larger platform. For instance, Roseanne Barr in 2018.

          She also points out that getting cancelled is a very real threat for smaller channels.

          And obviously for those who are on a larger platform. For instance, Roseanne Barr in 2018.

          3 votes