Saturday, 20 April 2013

Personal Issues with 'yourfaveisproblematic'

Yesterday, I was alerted to the prescience Now, on the face of this this website is nothing to worry about, and in fact should probably be encouraged. It's premise is to look at people in the public eye and point out 'problematic' things they have said/done and make 'reciepts' of them. As I said, on the face of it this should be encouraged - it's good to look critically on the people we admire to make sure what we like about them isn't clouding our judgement. However, after posting libelous things about John Green, I think we need to review some of the more 'problematic' aspects of this website. I would like to stress that this is by no means a comprehensive list, and if you find anything false about it I will more than happily put my hands up and say I got it wrong - I only looked at the website for about half an hour last night.

1) Frequently de-contextualises comments. This includes comments that were obviously made in jest and by no means represent the speakers values, comments that have been taken out of their historical time frame, and comments that have been taken out of their chronology. I'll go into more detail with specifics later.

2) Calls out people on what does/does not constitute cultural appropriation (ie. when celebrities wear a bindi/Native American headdress etc) yet refuses to acknowledge that this makes it a source of information on what is/is not cultural appropriation. If you are stating that 'this is and this isn't', then be prepared to answer for what you're saying and attempt to explain to those who have queries (ie, why aren't corn-rows/ dreadlocks cultural appropriation yet the wearing of the bindi (what wikipedia - and I know it's not the most reliable source - states as worn as fashion for many women, even though the traditional bindi is preserved as a religious symbol) is?). It's not good enough for you to say 'I can't answer that as we are not an authority' when you repeatedly make judgements on other people.

3) Attributes what fictional characters say/do to their authors/the actors who portray them. This appears to only apply to those characters who say/do something considered racially or culturally offensive, not those characters who commit moral crimes/ things that are sexually offensive. The people who run the website can't seem to understand that things that characters say and do are more often than not the complete polar opposite of an authors opinions. This links into point (1), particularly about chronology and historical context. The examples I saw of this on the website: a) John Green wrote a Muslim character into one of his novels (this character was the second most important in the novel) who says a Muslim word which is offensive, but flips it so it is almost a term of endearment. It is a word that Green wouldn't/doesn't say in his life, and a word that is completely appropriate with context. b) A character in 'Mad Men' (I believe) did 'blackface' (where a white person wears black face paint to portray a different ethnicity). Whilst this is completely unacceptable in modern times, this show is set in the 1950s, where this sort of actively was a lot more common place and not frowned on to such a degree. Equally, just because a character did something relevant to its historical context, does not mean to actor who portrayed it agrees with it. As I said, they have not called out people like Tom Cruise, Matt Damon or Bruce Willis for advocating murder simply because they kill people in their films. Equally, they do not call out Jane Austen for portraying patriarchal views in her novels. This is a ridiculous double standard. This website needs to recognise that authors and actors do not represent the views of the characters they create.

4) (This one I am not 100% certain about, but it was my impression after last nights searching) They want their blog to be an open discussion, then close off the 'ask' box feature when they receive a high volume of criticism for the libelous comments made against John Green and get angry at those who find other ways to interact with them. Whilst I understand that the people on this blog were also receiving threats (including death threats) they still have a responsibility to engage with the polite discussion. Threatening people is never acceptable, but when a site is making these claims on people who they do not know then they have to allow themselves to be held accountable for their words - particularly when these words could seriously damage a persons career. Again I am not saying that things celebrities do/say shouldn't be called out on if it is offensive/distasteful, because it's great to look at things we admire critically, HOWEVER these need to be verified before being posted on the internet. It's a dangerous place.

5) Linking to (2) makes political statements yet refuses to acknowledge themselves as a source of information.

6) Linking to above and (2), asks their audience to accept what they are saying as fact, not always revealing the source of their information (although they are mostly good as showing the source) and removes the ability for their audience to directly question me further.

Now, as I've said, I have not comprehensively reviewed this tumblr. Some of what I have said is potentially incorrect, and if anyone who either follows the tumblr or those who run the tumblr would like to speak to me about this then please do so, either in the comments or by my email. I would prefer that any comments were made directly to me as there is a high possibility that I won't see them otherwise, and I would like to address any concerns people may have.

I would also like to stress that I support the premise of the site. But the people who run it need to be aware of the responsibilities that come with running a site like this. If this site gets any more publicity, I would be very surprised if celebrities don't start to sue over some of the claims made on the site. Equally, clearly I am very angry about point (3) as it is ridiculous if you believe that the things characters do/say are they things their creators believe.

Sorry about the long break and about the rant, but this really wound me up.

Best Wishes,


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