Online Harassment Is the Missing Piece in Discussions of “PC” Culture

Harassment of women who share their opinions online are so common, pervasive, and frightening that it’s practically irresponsible to talk about “infighting” on the left, particularly around identity politics issues, without understanding that broader context. This morning, Michelle Goldberg published a painful but important piece in the Washington Post about the way Gamergate-style threats and harassment have chased many prominent feminist bloggers out of the public sphere, or at least made them consider quitting. The reporting-heavy piece describes a sort of PTSD that being heavily trolled inflicts on writers, sometimes until they leave the Internet. … Read More

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The Delicious Irony of MRAs’ Appropriation of ‘The Matrix’s’ Red Pill

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”

As ridiculous as it may sound, there are grown men whose entire ideological worldview has been shaped by the above quote from the 1999 film The Matrix. These men are known by many names (“men’s rights activists,” “meninists,” “red-pillers,” “pick-up artists”), and while there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of nominal continuity, their core belief remains constant: men are being oppressed. … Read More

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Here’s a Crazy Idea: See the Movie Before You Critique It

The Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself includes a clip, taken from a TV appearance in 1980, in which the Pulitzer Prize winner explains the station of the movie critic. “I sit at the desk next to our music critic at the Sun-Times,” he explains. “People are very worshipful of him — ‘Oh, what did you think of Solti’s conducting last night?’ And then he will say, and they will nod like this and go away. Then they’ll turn around and come up to me and say, ‘I totally disagree with your review in this morning’s paper!’” In the clip, he’s discussing our inflexibility regarding our film opinions, but he’s also commenting on the degree to which film reviews are seen as second-class criticism. And that view has never been clearer than in the newest, weirdest trend in online film commentary: people writing about movies they haven’t bothered to see. … Read More

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Feminism Is for Everybody, Including MRAs

One of the more ironic aspects of entrenched male opposition to feminism is this: living by feminist principles could genuinely improve things for men. Yes, male power and privilege will be surrendered when patriarchy recedes, but so will outsize expectations about masculinity. In fact, a lot of the complaints that MRA types clutch to their chests about an allegedly unfair world would be irrelevant in a feminist utopia. … Read More

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Twitter CEO Promises to Fight Trolls — But Let’s Not Start Celebrating Yet

In the annals of stating the obvious, the internal Twitter forum post leaked to The Verge this week is destined to go down as a classic of the genre. “We,” proclaimed Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, “suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform.” Why yes, Dick. You do. You really, really do. The rest of the memo has been reported as a sort of internal mea culpa: “I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO,” Costolo wrote, adding that “I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.” Perhaps the most instructive line, however, is the following observation: “We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.” … Read More

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AOL’s ‘That’s Racist With Mike Epps’ Investigates the Stories Behind Stereotypes

It’s fair to say that AOL isn’t the first place you’d visit when seeking out fresh, original content in web videos (or in anything, really). Yet AOL On, the successor to AOL TV, has been quietly churning out some solid original series since 2012. The two most notable of the bunch are Candidly Nicole, a reality/sitcom hybrid starring Nicole Richie that went on to become a funny VH1 series (and earned a second season pickup), and True Trans, the documentary series from Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, wherein Grace talks to members of the trans community while also sharing details of her own transition. One of the newest additions to the slate is That’s Racist With Mike Epps, a docu-series where the comedian attempts to get to the bottom of well-known racist stereotypes — with surprisingly funny results. … Read More

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‘This American Life’ Episode Humanizes Internet Trolling as Only Radio Can

Just about every writer whose work is posted on the Internet has to deal with the bane of the comments section, but for Lindy West, a former Jezebel staffer who currently writes for publications like GQ and The Guardian, the comments section has become a war zone. She’s candid and funny, unafraid to criticize rape jokes or explain how airlines discriminate against fat people, and her fearlessness has made her one of the most notable voices on the Internet. … Read More

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The Last Days of Carles: A ‘Postscript’ to Hipster Runoff’s ‘Era’ of ‘Cynicism’

Who’d have guessed it? Carles, the shadowy creator of Hipster Runoff, the most ‘relevant’ alt of 2007 and the Internet’s foremost exponent of scare quotes, was an idealist all along. Our antihero has been in the news of late because he’s selling Hipster Runoff and its associated revenue streams — exactly the sort of cynical prank that you’d expect from him — and now he’s surfaced to publish a blog post entitled “Why I H8 Online Media.” (It’s the prelude to, god help us, an entire ebook, which is called Nothing Matters.) The site on which it’s published, carles.buzz, is supposedly the last we’ll ever hear from him, what he calls a “terminal pop-up art website blog where I will document my final days on the internet.” Of course, Carles being Carles, it’s hard to know how much of this is sincere and how much is ‘sincere’ — which has always been one of the most obnoxious things about reading him. But taken at face value, it’s an interesting, if profoundly depressing, insight into the bleak cynicism of HRO and its creator. … Read More

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