Posts Tagged ‘trolls’

Last week I read an article where Adam Winguard, the director of the disaster that is Netflix’s adaptation of the Death Note franchise, had to quit Twitter because he was receiving so much hate mail and even death threats over his adaptation. And yesterday, the admins of a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing and discussing anime and manga received death threats for posting a positive review of the movie.

Let that sink in for a moment. A whole bunch of people are sending people hate mail and threatening to kill them over the Internet for either making or liking what many consider a bad movie. And I’d bet one of my anime figurines the majority of these angry people are fans of the Death Note anime and manga who are incensed that the director cast white actors in the movie and the numerous changes from the source material, as well as just making a really bad film, or that anyone would like the film.

Now, all three complaints are legitimate: the casting of white actors as what were originally non-white characters is a serious problem that Hollywood and the public are continuing to grapple with even now. The many changes from the source material were not only unnecessary, but actually made the film more of a mess than a wonder. And it was a really bad film (check my review here for my own thoughts on the subject).

But there is absolutely no excuse or reason–ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE OR REASON–to send hate mail or threaten someone’s life. Especially not for their creative work, no matter what decisions they make or the quality of it. And those who think nothing of doing it have some serious issues that need addressing.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time fans of a franchise or a character or something along those lines have gone a little bonkers. I was ranting about this issue of fans going crazy back in 2013, when people were leaving intentionally bad reviews of Charlaine Harris’s last Sookie Stackhouse book because it was the last book, and threatening harm to themselves and others if their favorite couples didn’t end up together (and possibly followed through after a copy leaked in Germany). Later that year, people were sending tons of mail to Warner Bros. and trying to get the White House to intervene in the casting of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie (not sure what they expected to happen with that one).

Seriously, was this worth the hate campaign? I actually enjoyed the movie.

Since then we’ve seen negative reactions to the idea of the Ghostbusters reboot, and then the female-led cast, which was so hateful everyone involved in the movie felt the need to comment and even make a joke about it in the movie. We’ve also seen people react negatively to Captain America becoming an agent of Hydra in the comics, with some people threatening the writers behind this move. One man claiming to be a Marine even said that he would abandon his moral code and become a stone-cold killer because of the change (seriously, did any of these nincompoops think that maybe this was a mind-controlled Cap, or one from another dimension, which apparently is the case?). We’ve probably all seen articles about angry males attacking women online for attempting to be part of the video gaming community and industry. And there are more of these than I’m probably aware of, with this Death Note thing just being the latest.

What’s causing people to become so angry and violent over fictional characters and worlds? Well, it might actually be nothing new. As long as there have been creative works and their creators, there have been people who have gotten passionate about them, sometimes a little too passionate (*cough* John Hinckley Jr. and Ricardo Lopez *cough*). And sometimes people even feel that their love of a property gives them some sort of ownership over said property, and therefore they have a legitimate voice in any decisions over said work. And with the Internet as both means to reach like-minded individuals and platform to voice their vitriol without worry of censure, some of these overly-passionate fans can gather en masse and make their anger heard, warranted or not. Sometimes, a few of them even feel emboldened to make threats of violence.

And I get it. I hated the Death Note movie too. I can think of several ways the Star Wars prequels or some episodes of Doctor Who could’ve been better (I actually nearly threw a shoe at the TV once because I really disliked an episode). And God, was I upset when shows I really liked, such as Dracula or Sleepy Hollow, got canceled. I would have loved to find the people responsible for all these mistakes and given them a piece of my mind.

But therein lies the problem: none of these fans have any actual ownership or say in the decisions revolving around these stories, and at the end of the day, it’s the creators themselves who get to make those decisions. And we should let them. After all, they are spending valuable time and energy to bring us these stories we love so much. It’s essentially a gift from them to us, the readers and viewers. And while not all these creative variations are welcome (*cough* first three DCEU movies *cough*), some of these creative risks have led to some the greatest pieces of storytelling ever made. Remember there was a time when the Winter Soldier wasn’t a thing, let alone a former friend of Captain America gone evil. When Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, people swore it was the worst casting decision that could be made, and yet Ledger’s Joker is arguably one of the best Jokers ever brought to life. And let’s be real, William Shakespeare ripped off and made changes to most of the stories he’s famous for! And look at him!

A decision that turned out to be right after all.

And this is not just for variations in already established characters and stories. Creators should be able to experiment with stories and characters. Otherwise, would we have Doctor Who? Harry Potter? Death Note the manga? Stephen King’s IT?

So what should you do if a story you like or an adaptation of a story goes in a direction you dislike? Well, there are two possible decisions that you could go that won’t make you look like a tool (trust me, as both fanboy and creator, they work). One is to do what I did with Death Note: calmly point out what was wrong with it or what you disliked. You don’t have to be angry to get your point across. I’ve found calmly discussing what you disliked about something does more than shouting. And besides, being rude or angry or telling someone to die never convinced anyone to your point of view or made them change their ways.

The other is to just not take part at all. After Jodie Whitaker was announced as the 13th Doctor, many fans reacted by simply deciding not to watch the show anymore. I even have a friend who decided to do that, and while I disagree with their view, I respect how adult their reactions were. (Thought to be fair, after all those years of Moffat tropes, it might’ve been easier to leave than to work up anger over a casting decision). So if you don’t like what the creators are doing, just leave. Don’t ruin the experience for everyone else who may want to try out the new direction.

And if you’re a parent with kids who may get overly passionate about fictional works, maybe have a conversation with them about how to respond to this sort of thing. It might save someone a lot of headaches later on.

While I doubt this problem will go away anytime soon–if anything, it might get worse over time–we can at least approach it in a healthy manner, rather than with further fear and anger, as well as to find healthy alternatives to anger and/or death threats. Either that, or we never get any sort of new stories ever. And I really don’t want to see that.

 

That’s all the ranting for now. The next week and a half will be crazy for me, so I have no idea how much, if at all, I’ll be able to post until October 1st. I’ll try and get something out next week, though if I don’t, please don’t hold it against me or send death threats.

Until next time, Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

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So back in the beginning of the year, I took a number of steps to improve visibility on my blog, maybe grow my audience, and  become a better writer in general (jury’s still out on whether or not that’s working). One of those was to get a special email account through WordPress, one exclusively for this site and for use as an author. Studies show that professional looking email addresses are taken much more seriously than ones that look like awesomesoccerdude83 [at] website [dot] com. And while I love my personal email account, it’s not exactly the kind of email address that’s conducive for looking professional. And if I’m going to try and get an agent or publisher, might as well look a bit more professional. Even if my idea of high fashion involves a Sailor Moon-themed sweatshirt (don’t ask for photos. I just got that sweatshirt, and I’m waiting for the right weather to wear it).

For some reason though, I have to log out of my Google Mail account (which I only use to make sure I have access to a YouTube account. Priorities!) and then log into the other account. I can’t access both at the same time. And sometime after I got the account, I forgot the password. And then I didn’t pursue getting a new password for a while. Mainly because to get it back, Google wanted the last password I could remember. Which I couldn’t remember.

There’s a GIF for this situation. Which should I use?

That’s it. Thank you Hermione. I should’ve written the password down in the first place. You’re always and forever awesome.

But two months ago, I tried to get a new password. And that started the email equivalent of broken telephone. One person would answer my email to the WordPress help team asking for an explanation. I’d explain and send the email back. A second person would answer back and ask more questions. I’d answer those questions. A third person answered and gave me the exact wrong thing for my problem. Yeah, after a while of this, I just gave up and stopped.

And then two weeks ago, I decided to give it another try. No reason, I just thought if I got the email account, I might as well use it. I sent WordPress another message, this time wording it so that even a chipmunk would understand what I wanted. A week later, I got the link to change my password. And I wrote down the password, hiding the note in a secret location.

So finally, I have my author email account back! And I’ve set a reminder on my phone so I can check the account at least once a week. And I plan to be using it as much as possible for all author-y things. For submitting stories, querying agents and publishers, and even communicating with fans (I’m sure some of you exist) and friends.

So what’s this mysterious email address? Glad you asked. Here it is:

ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com

Simple and easy to remember, right? I’ll be posting it on my About Me page, so if you can’t find this particular post or your memory is as bad as mine, you’ll still be able to contact me.

So if you’re a friend or Follower of Fear, I look forward to emailing you from this new address.

If you’re an agent or publisher, I’m always willing to talk to you about business propositions.

If you’re a stalker and imagine showing up at my home, possibly with a knife, please seek professional help for that. You can live a happy life without being in close proximity to me and/or my corpse 24/7!

If you’re planning on sending me nude photos, please don’t. Those can ruin lives when uploaded to the Internet. And depending on your age, sending and/or receiving them can send us both to prison.

If you’re a troll or con artist looking to use me for your own sick purposes, please refrain from doing so. And if you still insist on sending me emails meant to make me angry or take my money, then…YOUR MOTHER IS A ***** ***** ****ING **** **** LORUM IPSUM ****** AGMINTUM VEVEUM ****** **** ***** ***** TRUGULA ***** **** ***** *** HIPPOPOTAMUS ***** ***** REPUBLICAN ***** ***** **** ***** AND DANIEL RADCLIFFE *** **** **** ***** WITH A BUCKET OF ***** **** **** **** AND A CASTLE FAR AWAY WHERE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU *** **** **** **** SOUP ***** **** **** WITH A BUCKET OF **** *** ***** MICKEY MOUSE **** *** AND A STICK OF DYNAMITE *** ***** *** MAGICAL *** **** ***** *** ***** ALAKAZAM!!!!

Points to whoever can correctly guess what the hell I’m referencing with that long profanity.

Well, that’s all, my Followers of Fear. I’ll check the email account next week, and maybe even see an email from you guys. Until then or the next blog post, pleasant nightmares!

Before I start this review, I’m going to lay some ground rules. I don’t tolerate sexism, angry nostalgia, or anything of that sort. So if you read this review and want to comment something about the actresses in this films, or you want to tell me that the new film is ruining your childhood (what sort of childhood did you have if Ghostbusters was the most important thing in it and a new film is enough to ruin everything?), then save your breath. I don’t care, and I don’t want to hear it. And if you think it’s such a bad film, then don’t go see it! Honestly, leave it alone and let it flop on its own, like the JEM film did. Either that, or watch this video, which I feel will leave you feeling vindicated.

All good? Great! Let’s begin.

So my sister and I went to see this film today, and we have to say, we thoroughly enjoyed it. We were actually worried about how it would do, but it was funny, it had great action sequences, and it even had its scary moments (mostly my sister got scared though, because my sister has a lower scare threshold than I do).

So what’s the plot? The movie follows Erin Gilbert (played by Kristen Wiig), a physics professor up for tenure who finds out a book on ghosts she co-wrote with her old friend Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who manages to get her to come with her and Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) to a haunting. The result reignites Erin’s interest in ghosts, and, after some other stuff, forms the titular team above a Chinese restaurant. They are soon joined by the dreamy but dumb Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and MTA worker/amateur historian* Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), and find themselves following the trail of an inventor whose devices are causing paranormal activity throughout Manhattan, with a very dark end goal in mind.

And it’s just good fun! The story is very well-written, managing to sneak in references to the original film and to the haters on the net without feeling forced or weird or cheap, but actually add to the humor. The actors are all awesome, it goes without saying. I especially love Kate McKinnon’s character, Jill Holtzmann, who is like “I’m-insane-but-adorably-harmless-and-life-is-just-so-much-fun.” I bet life in her head is just a blast. Hemsworth as a hunky buffoon was never dull. And the supporting cast is wonderful, especially Karan Soni (the taxi driver from Deadpool), who I was delighted to see in the film. And five of the cast members of the original film show up for some hilarious cameos, including Bill Murray as a supernatural skeptic and Dan Aykroyd as a taxi driver. And the special effects…well, yeah, the ghosts look CGI, but it’s a good CGI. It works for these ghosts, makes them look strange and somewhat otherworldly. And they’re much more believable than the effects from the movies in the 1980’s.

I only have a few critiques of this film. One is that the villain, played by Neil Casey, is pretty bare-bones. His motivation and background were explained in a monologue, and it’s not much. But for this movie, it works well. Another is that the last fight scene feels like the filmmakers were going for an Avengers movie getting mixed with Godzilla and adding in a moment from Big Hero 6. I would’ve preferred more humor than was already in there, but it was still very fun. And finally…well, there’s a very funny scene in the credits that looks like something out of a Michael Jackson music video. I feel that scene would’ve been better placed right before the big battle, but I guess the studio thought it detracted from the mood they were going for with the climax. Don’t get it, but whatever. I think it would’ve worked in the main movie, it would’ve gone well as part of what Ghostbusters is about.

I'm excited for some ghosts! Photo courtesy of Adi Ungar

I’m excited for some ghosts! Photo courtesy of Adi Ungar

All in all, though, I enjoyed this film. It was funny, well-written, full of great actors, and I would say it’s on par with the original film. Not better, not worse. Just about equal, a 4.4 out of 5. Definitely go see it and have yourself a few laughs. Also, stick around for an after-credits scene. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it. It has a nice reference to the original film.

*Now, before you lay into Jones’s character, let me mention that yes, she doesn’t have a doctorate, but she might as well. Remember that historians as we know them didn’t appear until the nineteenth century in Germany. Prior to that, historians were basically anyone with enough education to read, write, and interview people in order to best record historical events. Her character’s not inferior to the others, she’s a throwback to tradition. And it becomes important to the story, believe me.

Yesterday was my birthday, as you probably already knew. Lot of good things happened, but there’s one thing I’d like to focus on in this post. I’m on YouTube a lot (some argue it’s typical of my generation, and to some extent I agree), and yesterday Doctor Who’s official channel uploaded a short video featuring Sarah Dollard, who’s writing an episode for the upcoming season (you can watch the video here). Me being me, I comment on the video that someday I’d like to write for Doctor Who despite being an American. And that opened the commenter floodgates.

Now, YouTube has acquired a reputation where commenters can be the nastiest people around. I’ve seen this side of YouTube before. I once was called gay for commenting on a video of an old anime’s theme song that I used to love watching that show (wrong asshole, I’m bisexual. There’s a difference), one troll told me all the stuff in a video series I was watching was staged despite proof that it all actually happened (he was easy to fend off though once it was pointed out that he had only his belief to back him up), and infamously one guy joked I’d been raped by meditation music when I commented on how a meditation video really relaxed me (you can read my post condemning that joke here). With these sort of experiences, you learn to be a little guarded in what you comment. You filter yourself so that people don’t gang up on you, strangers using their anonymity to just be awful to you or take your words out of context or a hundred other nasty things.

Which is why yesterday’s experience was so heartening and uplifting. Throughout the day, I had people replying to my comment, telling me that I had to just be a very good writer and get on the DW team’s radar in order to work for them, that nationality had nothing to do with it (later I found out that Sarah Dollard is Australian, so there’s the proof right there). I replied that I was a writer, that I had a few books out and that they were on sale in honor of my birthday (and that sale’s still going on through Sunday, by the way. You should seriously check out my work on Amazon and Smashwords for marked down or even free books).

And that’s when it starts getting really awesome. People are wishing me a happy birthday, they’re wanting to know what sort of books I write, one guy even asks for the titles of my books so they can purchase them himself! All told, there were twenty-something replies to my original comment, some of them by me but others by the complete and total strangers I’d learn to be wary of over the years.

You know, the way YouTube is, they’re not very good at policing their comments sections for abuse. Believe me, Google’s tried, but the systems they use often miss the really nasty stuff and sometimes persecute commenters for relatively harmless stuff. Some content creators on YouTube even moderate each and every comment or don’t allow comments whatsoever on their channels because of these problems. And for those viewers like myself, we have to learn to cope with this, either by not commenting in fear of the replies we’ll get or just to learn to grow a thicker skin and develop tools to deal with it ourselves.

So I comment, but I sometimes wonder if on YouTube there’s only so much civility, that comments are on a spectrum from respectful and somewhat nice to just downright awful. Yesterday surprised me and made me very happy. Within those twenty-something replies was a level of kindness and support and love that I didn’t know I could experience outside of Facebook or blogging. I got to learn that people online, especially on YouTube, can still be decent human beings even with the protection of anonymity around them, so easy to abuse sometimes.

And perhaps maybe my faith in humanity was bolstered a little.

So from now when I’m on YouTube, listening to music videos or watching funny content or whatever, I might not be so jaded. I’ll remember this little birthday surprise and I’ll know that not everyone on YouTube has the potential to be a jerk. Some have the potential to be really, really awesome people (and not just because they’re probably Whovians, though that can sometimes play a factor). And I wish the best for the people who were so kind to me yesterday, because what they did was just so overwhelmingly positive and unexpected that it deserves special mention in a time when so many people are using the Internet for awful reasons.

Bravo folks. Bravo. And thanks. You made my birthday that much more special, and I appreciate the encouragement. Here’s hoping I’m writing with the BBC someday!

I went to a certain event on campus this evening, but I arrived not realizing that while the event is advertised as happening at a certain time, it only really starts much later (a part of me actually knew that, but the part of me that’s a total freak for being on time or missing something won out in the end). The library being nearby, I decided to pop in and check my email before I decided to go home or not. When I logged onto WordPress though, I saw a notification that I had a comment. I checked, and it was from a post I’d commented on a while back.

The post itself had been from a woman who was relating her experiences being sexually assaulted in the work environment, and how several other women she’d worked with had been in the same situation, and the owners of her workplace had tried to sweep it under the rug for the sake of business and for the attackers’ families’ sakes! Naturally, I was upset when I read that post. Sexual assault is a horrific thing that happens to so many people, mainly women but men as well. And what’s just as upsetting to me is not only the act of rape itself, but those who try to cover it up or downplay it or make it seem likes it not a big deal. This sort of conduct not only adds insult to injury to the victims, but it also sends a message, that rape is okay, that the attacker can go on doing whatever because it’s not a big deal, that if we make it into a big deal than it is then innocent people will get hurt and besides, it’s only one measly person who had a bad experience, right?

So I commented on the post. Since so many women had been attacked at this place, I suggested that maybe they band together and bring to the workplace a class-action suit or something, because sexual assault and covering up for it is illegal and a disgusting act to boot. That comment got a few likes during the preceding week or two after I’d read it, but the post got a lot more! Comments, likes, new stories coming out, stories of tragedy and stories of support. One newspaper even did a story on the place, so I’m assuming that got something rolling. At the very least, that place is seeing a lot less business than it had prior to so many women coming out.

Of course, not all of the people commenting have been supportive. The comment I got was from some woman with a generic sounding name. She basically said that while sexual assault was a crime, so was lying about it. That’s it. Lying about sexual assault was a crime.

Now, I’ve seen this sort of behavior before, and I know not to comment lest I end up getting attacked. Heck, I wrote an article on this very subject a while back, so I didn’t want to be a hypocrite by getting confrontational. But I was curious. Maybe because it was supposed to be a woman who commented, maybe it was the subject matter, maybe it was because I was kind of bored and I didn’t want to walk back to my apartment just yet. But I wanted to know who this person was.

So I clicked on the article to familiarize myself with it again. I also viewed my comment in full, as well as the reply comment. And then I started looking through the comment feed, seeing if anyone else had gotten any comments from this person. Sure enough, there were more than a few comments from this person on other people’s comments and they all had a similar message:

  1. Rape doesn’t happen
  2. The women who say they were attacked at this place weren’t attacked. Whatever happened there, they wanted it.
  3. Any woman who says that they were attacked is lying for attention or some other cockamamie reason and they’re the ones being sexist and cruel by calling supposedly innocent men rapists.

Very curious now, I clicked on the person’s username to see their blog. All I got was a bland background. No blog posts at all. Not even a post saying, “Hi, this is my first post. I’m hoping for good things while I write about so-and-so a subject. Please support me and follow me.” I checked the About page as well. Not a single thing.

At this point, any doubt I have has flown out the window. And while I’m not certain if this is someone who’s personally connected to the case and the workplace in question, or just someone who generally feels that they’re being assaulted as a man (yes, I say a man, because based on the language used by this person they’re probably male) by feminists with too much power and really without hacking skills, of which I’m lacking, there’s no real way to find out. But it does tell me something. That whoever this is feels threatened by women who speak out and feminists in general and will go to great lengths to stop it.

As if there weren’t enough obstacles making it seem like a bad idea to victims to speak out. On university campuses, some of which have really bad sexual assault rates, college administrators have mishandled assault cases, expelling or blaming victims and protecting rapists with light or no sentences at all. U Va recently got into trouble for this, and even my dear Ohio State has gotten into a lot of trouble over this. In the justice system, the system that’s supposed to protect us, there are cops, judges, and many more who will say that rape isn’t a big deal or victimhood is a status to be desired or that the victim knew what they were getting into, or that rape has to be “legitimate”. Some of this is even said by politicians at the highest levels of government. And when women speak out, they can face ridicule or disbelief by strangers, acquaintances, or even their friends and family. If their case gets to court, they risk being attacked by lawyers on the stand and disbelieved by juries. There’s a chance the rapist goes free and they have to live with that every day.

In other words, there’s a great fear, and a legitimate fear too, that speaking out will only make things worse.

And it’s the people like my wayward commenter, someone who seems determined to shut up victims and women in general, who are making the situation worse. There seems to be a great terror among certain sections of the population that giving women any sort of equality or power is akin to castrating all men and forcing them to live in a dystopian society where men are slaves to power-hungry lesbian dominatrices. That is simply not true. Feminists (of which I am one) only want women to have the same economic, social, and political rights as men, without taking away men’s rights. But there are those who believe it, and will go to great lengths to make sure women are afraid to speak out or seek equality.

Last month, feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian was sent a threatening letter by a man who claimed that feminists had ruined his life and that if she spoke at Utah State University, he would commit a mass shooting at the event. Because of Utah’s ultra-relaxed gun atmosphere, Ms. Sarkeesian had to cancel the event lest she risk her life and the lives of others. What does Ms. Sarkeesian talk about? Her latest videos, articles, and appearances tend to talk about how women are objectified in video games and seen less as actual people and more as sex objects or devices that (often violently) advance the game’s story.

Violence is a common threat from people who don’t want women speaking out. And while the actual incidences of violence are low, these threats, plus the threat of ridicule, of becoming a punchline in a joke, of being called a money-grubbing slut or a power-hungry feminazi man-hater, makes it much more difficult for many women to speak out. No one wants that sort of attention on them, and for victims of assault, it’s even harder to come out when facing all that.

So what is there to do about it? Well, I’m doing it right now: I’m fighting back. I’m writing an article that exposes what is happening and pushes back against it. And I’m letting people who have been attacked and that are afraid to come out that I’ve got their back. Yes, I’m a man, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe women should be equal in society. Far from it. I’m willing to fight alongside the many women out there who demand to be treated equally and with respect in the world towards men.

So know this, folks. If you’re a woman and/or you’ve been assaulted, know that I support you and I’m there for you. And for those who still think that men are under threat by these women, I’m so sorry you feel this way, but it’s not true and some day I hope you come to this realization.

Thank you, and goodnight, Followers of Fear and everyone else.