Friday, May 30, 2014

Stuff You Will Hate Posts Nothing But Garbage: Exhibit A

So for those not in the know, Stuff You Will Hate is a Tumblr blog operated by one "Sergeant D", who I first came to know as a guy who would occasionally make a legitimate point about something in the middle of a series of otherwise-guaranteed-to-be-terrible article. (As I write this and actively search for an example of this, I realize it's been awhile since he's even made the stray halfway decent point.) He's a troll. He posts shit about shit to get a rise out of people from various music fandoms because, as we all know, people take their opinions about music too seriously and "take life too seriously" as D himself states in a post intended to explain "what this site is really about."

This is the stated goal of the blog. Here are some actual quotes from that post if you're not gonna read it, as they appear chronologically.

I used to be . . . self-pitying beta f[xx]t
Taking the fun out of punk/hardcore/etc by writing songs about how your pussy hurts because you don’t like the people you go to college with?? PURE F[xx]TRY. Basically, lol @ u if you care about anything other than acquiring currency and females (I suggest pursuing them in that order, but you are free to prioritize for yourself).
You know what sucks even more smug douchelords, people with tr00er-than-thou attitudes and attention-starved Tumblrsluts? People who are just plain mean. [The fucking irony.]

If it's not already apparent by those quotes and the title of this article, this website posts nothing but shit. Nothing but the worst writing by the worst writers that is probably intended to be awful because it's "funny" or something I guess. (God knows why I still visit it other than that I have an uncontrollable need to make myself suffer.)

Sergeant D is awful. But we can get back to him because (Yoko Taro have mercy on my fragile heart) SYWH has posts by many different writers.

Now to be perfectly honest, most of the reason this website sucks is because they suck at writing about music. They make up fake new genre names in response to glacial shifts in style, many of which make no sense at all (seriously, when did early 2000's metalcore ever sound even remotely like At the Gates?), the strongly prefer music that's intentionally unintelligent, and regularly denounce music with artistic ambition of any kind, and they never address form and content beyond using the aforementioned nonsense genre names along with a set of descriptors that seem to get used exclusively on the site (if your band pioneered a trend, is pioneering a trend, or does good work maintaining artistic credibility, any of these things can be described as "advanced" by the sites writers). The site as a whole is largely indicative of the problems in modern music writing that Ted Gloria complained about in his Daily Beast piece, though I'll be generous and say that SYWH rarely ever devolves into gossip (though I wouldn't put it above them.) They're the South Park of music blogs, and they'd probably take that a s a compliment.

To people who follow me on Twitter, this is old news. I can't stand this site. But why sit down and write about it when I've got games to play and write about? I guess because something like this has been boiling for a while, but I was waiting for something truly awful to happen.

Like denouncing the feminist response to the Isla Vista massacre.

So where to even begin with something like this? I guess from the top?

There's nothing to really say about the fake Magic: The Gathering card other than that the joke is only funny if you know how the game works, and considering that's not really the blogs crowd I have no idea why it's there. I know it's kinda tangential to my ultimate point but god does bad writing like that piss me off.

Anyway, actual article. For the record, and this will be important later, the pieces by-line attributes it to one uppercut613. Full disclosure: I know this person's real name, but just for the sake of diplomacy I'm going to let the site take responsibility for posting his vile garbage and not just attack him directly.

In the wake of the killing spree committed by Elliot Rodger last week, lots of debate has been sparked about the motives of the killer. Based on his manifesto and the videos he made prior to the killings, it’s pretty clear that he hated women.

The sad part is the article could've ended right here with, y'know, some kind of sympathy for the victims and it would actually be pretty tasteful sans the Magic card.

The girls he interacted with must have been smart enough to detect that this dude was a total weirdo because none of them ended up having sex with him.

So aside from the fact that the joke itself is tasteless, I want to note that the inevitable connection of women and sex is a running theme in uppercut613's articles. For example, in this post he grades various band frontwomen by their sexual attractiveness, and in this one, the first band that he writes about that has a woman in it he immediately notes that she is a "cute asian girl". It's almost as if in his eyes, women only exist in relation to sex, perhaps because he views them as sexual "objects" of a sort whose only value are to please his eyes or satisfy his dick. 

This then led to his killing spree or what he called his “day of retribution” in which he got revenge on the people who deprived him of the sex and pleasure that he so desperately wanted.

Notice, in another example of bad writing that his the sentence about girls not having sex with Elliot Rodger "then led to his killing spree" as though this sort of thing is inevitable when guys don't get laid, as opposed to the truth which is that anyone with self-control can manage to not kill 7 people and themselves when they're frustrated with life. With this phrasing he is essentially agreeing with the killer's logic.

Of course, this gave the tumblr social activists a chance to rise up and have their superhero moment. The thing is… 9/10 times it’s pretty cringe-worthy and they probably should have just left their cape away from the computer chair.

I'm not even gonna comment on "tumblr social justice activists" (or the irony of that phrase considering SYWH is Tumblr blog posting this piece about a hot button social issue, but suffice to say you have to question the logic of this. What's wrong with using a tragedy like this to talk about the issues that matter to you when the issues at hand are exactly the kind of shit you've been talking about? When people died in a factory in New York thanks to bad working conditions, workers protested working conditions. When the Pentagon Papers leaked showing that the Vietnam war was "unwinnable", people showed up in larger numbers than ever before to protest the Vietnam war. This is how activism works. You campaign for change, and you use examples of what requires change.

1. They exaggerate the problem so they can play the role of the victim

I'm just gonna take on this section as a whole. Leading in by calling it an "extreme example" uppercut cites a quote that reads thus: "The fact that it is 2014, and women like me . . . must now live in constant fear that that they will be randomly slaughtered by childish men who can't take no for an answer." He then responds to the notion by suggesting that this shooting is an "extremely isolated incident." 

When you actually listen to feminist writers of any stripe you know this isn't true. For one, as recently as 2012 a publication as big as The Guardian published a piece about a misogynist massacre that occurred in Canada in 1989. 23 years is nothing in the context of history. Aside from that, violence against women by sexually and romantically frustrated men is not isolated, it is systemic. For example: "Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide will be killed by a current or former partner." These are things you simply know when you've put any research into the topic of violence against women. Any at all.

This is part of the point of feminism. Women really do have to live in this kind of fear, even in a modern era where supposedly huge strides have been made because Elliot Rodger was part of an active, toxic culture. 

2. They preach against misogyny while ironically giving off a sexist vibe

In fact, uppercut could've very easily learned this by actually sitting down long enough to pay attention to the video he linked in his article that he proceeds to complain nonsensically about. The main problem in this section from just a regular writing standpoint is that he has that idea he leads off with, and then never formulates any kind of cohesive argument based on it. Every sentence falls apart immediately after you read it. 

She seems to be insinuating that “male culture” is to blame for the acts that only a deranged sociopath with a twisted sense of entitlement is capable of.

Again, any research into even just Elliot Rodger himself would've shown that he was part of a culture of people that agreed with him. Need more proof? Check out the people congratulating him on his having struck back against women. From the Guardian article about the forums where Rodger hung out:

After news of the shooting broke but before PUAhate was taken offline, some users posted adulatory comments to Rodger’s public profile. A couple called him a hero.
But one user of PUAhate who had more than a thousand posts on the site contacted me via reddit to complain that the site was “being depicted as a place where bitter men sat around discussing their hatred of women”. He told me that discussion on the site was usually “more light-hearted than violent”.
He didn’t wish to give his real name. On Reddit, he goes by the username “ElliotRodgerIsAGod”.

Elliot Rodger likely was very mentally ill. Given the state of mental health care in the United States, this likely does not make him terribly unique among misogynists, PUAs, and MRAs.

So aside from the absolutely batshit assertion that this toxic "male culture" doesn't exist:

Imagine if these girls lived a day or two in the life of the average male to see what it’s like and get some real first hand exposure. How many girls who think that “women shouldn’t be viewed as sexual objects” would end up caving in and jerking off to with 10 different tabs open? How many of those girls who are tired of being harassed by dudes who whistle at them in the hallways would successfully repress their new-found urges to stare at girls’ asses in public or try to hustle nudes from them online? I want to see a hardcore feminist enter the body of the most testosterone-ridden ignorant bro right before he gets provoked into a drunken bar fight with another equally ignorant bro because one of them claimed that the other one couldn’t bench as much as him. Shit would prob get pretty ignorant.

So boys will be boys? I like in particular how he describes things he personally has done (the crack about porn), stuff that he very likely has done but doesn't explicitly admit to (trying to get nudes), and then shifts that kind of asshole behavior on to "testosterone-ridden ignorant bro[s]" through the magic of structure. It's a cute trick. This is of course before we realize that the only way he can seem to respond to assertions about the culture of masculinity is to reply "well you try it!" because that really is the only possible response that isn't a whole-hearted admission of guilt. Actually, what's funny is that this is exactly what this paragraph functions as on a subtextual level: uppercut is just listing awful bro stuff he's probably done!

3. They completely ignore any injustice on the opposite end of the spectrum

So uppercut goes on to cite a single example of a woman receiving a shorter term in prison for committing heinous crimes with her husband. Then, through the power of a single phrase: 

I’m sure there are many more examples of *man and woman commit same crime but man ends up with harsher punishment* but do tumblr feminists give a fuck about that? Probably not.

He just insinuates that violence against women and violence perpetuated by women are equally common. Given, however, that he doesn't take the time to find even a single other example relevant to his argument, I'm not gonna look for him. 

It’s not in their best interests because it’s a situation where women have the upper hand.

Men are not expected to be abused (they're expected to "stand up for themselves") so when they report abuse, especially by women, it's hard for them to get people to believe them. It's hard to believe women can abuse men because we perceive women as being soft and feminine, as opposed to the reality that women can be anything because women are people. Feminism seeks to cure both of these social ills.

The article then just kinda weirdly cuts off there without really concluding on anything. Again, just terrible writing. To be perfectly honest though, I don't really have much to conclude on either, so I'll just go ahead and mention this. Earlier this year uppercut also wrote a piece for the site about Unlocking the Truth, a metal band composed entirely of young black boys, about them being confirmed to play Warped Tour. The article had all kinds of other vile shit in it, but the key thing I remember was that, according to PR from the band, they had recently picked up a bass player who they had taught how to play, and uppercut cracked that because the boy was black, he must have already knew how to play bass.

That article was deleted. Here's what Sergeant D had to say about it when I asked him:

Since then, uppercut has been allowed to write multiple more articles for the site, including this one

The article is garbage, the person who wrote it is garbage, and the website that published it is garbage. Thanks for listening to me complain about it.

- Austin C. Howe

UPDATE: Since this article went up, Sergeant D has taken down uppercut's article about "Tumblr Feminists" but all of his other posts remain. Frankly, it doesn't change the fact that SYWH is still a pretty terrible site.

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