Not even vindictive perverts will use Bing
June 23, 2015 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Better late than never? John Oliver's roughly 16-minute take on online harassment features a 20-year-old AOL commercial, a reworked version of the commercial at the end, and the news (to some of us) that victims of revenge porn may be forced to send pictures of their bodies to the US copyright office in order to get the porn taken down. Oliver's Bing joke occurs at about 13:35.
posted by Bella Donna (57 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
If people wonder why I detest the modern interpretation of CDA 230, this would be Exhibit A.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:00 PM on June 23, 2015


Also has bonus Rick rolls.

John Oliver is doing a phenomenal job as the host of his own show. He nails being funny, informative, thorough, and cogent every single time.
posted by orange swan at 12:01 PM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


The whole online asshole "we don't harass people, we swear" community was getting all prepared to flood any show hashtags before it even aired, since the topic was known.

Now a bunch of people who were all pro-John Oliver before are now convinced he's horrible.
posted by evilangela at 12:03 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now a bunch of people who were all pro-John Oliver before are now convinced he's horrible.

It's all fun and games until it's your sacred cow on the grill.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:05 PM on June 23, 2015 [22 favorites]


Despite Oliver's segment not once mentioning Gamergate, Gamergators are in conniptions over it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:07 PM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


In the FanFare thread about this episode, commenters are hoping John Oliver will do an entire episode about Gamergate. I would LOVE to see that one.
posted by orange swan at 12:10 PM on June 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


I kind of support him not making this about gamergate (although he does feature clips of its victims).

Two things that this accomplishes: 1) It doesn't give them the self-importance, ie: they are not worthy of bringing up, 2) it makes the piece more timeless - when the gamergate-asshats abandon that poisoned word, the general points on harassing women still hold up.

Also, as he doesn't actually attack them by name, they can't claim they are being unfairly critiqued for the actions of a few misguided members of their 'ethics-in-gaming-journalism-movement', instead he's only calling out those that are harassing.

If gamergate folks want to take offense, they have to directly identify as harassers or supporters of the harassers.

Well played sir, well played.
posted by el io at 12:18 PM on June 23, 2015 [76 favorites]


I wish they didn't feel quite so obliged to force jokes into the episode's main story each week. They're seldom that funny, and often just come across as irritating interruptions to an interesting, well-reasoned and rightfully angry treatment of the topic at hand.

To use this week's episode as an example, the bit about the old school teacher's lasagne and the second Rick Astley bit contributed nothing to the show's laugh content, got in the way of the excellent points Oliver was making regarding online harassment and ate up time that could have been better devoted to an extra "And Now This..." item.

As Oliver grows further in confidence, I hope that's the direction the show develops in. It's already very good, but a little more faith in the audience's willingness to stick with these topics without a sweetie being popped into their mouths every two minutes would make it even better.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:25 PM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I can't watch his spider hands.
posted by maxsparber at 12:31 PM on June 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


I wish they didn't feel quite so obliged to force jokes into the episode's main story each week.

But... He's a comedian... This is a comedy show. Yes, it spends half of it's time each episode making a pretty serious point about a neglected topic, but the moment it takes the jokes away, then it's just a left-wing political show. While I'd love to see such shows, it would reduce the viewership dramatically... Ensuring less folks in the US/world spent time with topics they should spend time with.

And the topics he deals with are so grim, it'd be a frightfully depressing show if he didn't try to lighten everything up with jokes through his segments. Yeah, some jokes don't hit the mark (a fair critique of any comedian), but to blame him for trying to be funny misses out on his primary job - to make people laugh.

A friend of mine identifies as conservative (in Canada), and watches the show religiously. If you were to take away the jokes in the main segments, there's no way he'd watch it. I suspect this is true with a significant percentage of his audience. The left doesn't need more preaching to the choir (okay, actually it does, and better preaching, but that's a different topic); it needs outreach to those that share different perspectives.

The same analysis could be done on the daily show.
posted by el io at 12:35 PM on June 23, 2015 [37 favorites]


God I got into such a Facebook argument with someone immediately after this episode aired. He was so deeply offended by the "white penis" line that I thought maybe he was joking, but he definitely was not. He then cited a Pew Research Center study on online harassment as a way of saying "women aren't the only ones that get harassed, men do too!" even though the study says that women get just as much harassment as men and even get more severe forms such as stalking and sexual harassment. He then called those specific statistics subjective.

Also, apparently the two women in the video are frauds? I keep seeing this everywhere but I haven't ever seen any evidence of Sarkeesian or Wu being frauds, it's just something I see gamergate spew forth perpetually.
posted by gucci mane at 12:42 PM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I haven't ever seen any evidence of Sarkeesian or Wu being frauds

That's because there isn't any. The closest they've come is "Sarkeesian got a lot of money from that kickstarter and therefore ghablarblebarplebarple mouthpoop."
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:45 PM on June 23, 2015 [51 favorites]


My favorite reaction to this so far was when the Gamergate crowd started sharing "gotcha!" links to the latter part of this video, wherein Oliver criticizes a guy as too oversensitive for Twitter and invites viewers to think up creative insults to toughen him up.

They conveniently skip over the part of the video discussing that this poor poor victim is the PRESIDENT OF ECUADOR and that he spent fifteen minutes doxxing his critics on national television.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:55 PM on June 23, 2015 [13 favorites]


I understand the point about the jokes getting in the way somewhat. There's a point during his monologues where you're genuinely shocked and upset. And then he deflects to a cheap joke, and it's a jarring tonal shift. The effect is to lessen the power of the moment. I don't want him to be purely didactic and humorless, but I wish the writers would let these important moments hang in the air without undercutting them. It must be hard to do, and the show is brave enough as is, so I'm not faulting anyone for not getting the balance down perfectly.
posted by naju at 12:59 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Between my class in social media law and ethics and a short piece I wrote recently about copyright and revenge porn, I've spent a lot of time immersed in the world of online harassment lately. There wasn't anything in this piece I didn't already know, but man it was nice to see someone getting justifiably angry about it all. And a person in possession of a white penis, even!

If you're interested in this topic in detail, I really, really recommend Danielle Keats Citron's book, Hate Crimes in Cyberspace. It's academic research, but entirely readable even for someone who isn't well-versed in legal jargon.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:09 PM on June 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


but I wish the writers would let these important moments hang in the air without undercutting them.

That's something Jon Stewart does pretty well. He's not above a stupid joke or an Arbys camera 3 cut in the middle of serious stuff, but when he does one of his "I know this is a comedy show, but fuck it, this situation is no laughing matter" , it really hits home. I wonder if Oliver is building into that: people expecting him to segue into a joke, but instead, he'll look into the camera, put his spider hands on the table and say "... yeah, think about that, America".
posted by lmfsilva at 1:13 PM on June 23, 2015


I loved the comedy. It's like when you put chocolate in your trail mix to make you want to shovel more of it into your mouth.
posted by angrycat at 1:19 PM on June 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


Also, apparently the two women in the video are frauds? I keep seeing this everywhere but I haven't ever seen any evidence of Sarkeesian or Wu being frauds, it's just something I see gamergate spew forth perpetually.

Gamergate has made a habit of either taking something out of context, or even creating accusations out of whole cloth, then getting them spread and repeated widely in hopes they'll stick. For example, Sarkeesian didn't identify as a gamer for a while, and now they continue to repeat that she doesn't play games no matter how things might have changed. Hell, they've made accusations that someone of had sex with a dog, and it was being repeated for months. Nothing they say can be treated as trustworthy at this point because of the habits they've shown.
posted by evilangela at 1:24 PM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


Agreed about the jokes, but I assume that jettisoning the jokes turns you into Keith Olberman.
posted by Ickster at 1:25 PM on June 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: ghablarblebarplebarple mouthpoop.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:28 PM on June 23, 2015 [16 favorites]


el io: I'm not suggesting the show should be a dour polemic, or even that the main item each week be totally joke-free. The way it's done at the moment, though, just seems so ham-fisted and awkward - the "jarring tonal shift" which naju mentions.

I agree also with lmfsilva that Jon Stewart manages those shifts of tone much better - without losing either seriousness or laughs. That's why I think Oliver's growing confidence and a tad less nervousness from HBO is all that's needed to boost it from very, very good show to a great one.

It's only been on the air for a very short time so far, after all, so we should hardly be surprised it's still got a bit of growing left to do.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:30 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's perfect that he didn't acknowledge Gamergate at all. It's a group that has been relying on people engaging with them. That's why they were so excited. "Let's launch a counter-offensive! Rally the troops!" The sooner the conversation around them dies out completely, the sooner they die out. (This is not to say that we should ignore harrassment. The show did a great job of talking about that without giving any time or worth to the attention-seeking ideas and movements behind it.)
posted by naju at 1:33 PM on June 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Please don't make sexist/anti-semitic remarks even in order to make the point that such remarks are typically made by bad people; it poisons discussion. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:17 PM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


He kinda mashed two issues together, abuse on line and revenge porn. They're different enough and have different enough remedies, that each are worthy of full segments, imo.
posted by bonehead at 2:27 PM on June 23, 2015


John Oliver-- I am so thankful for him. He is not only one of those people who gives me hope in humanity- but actually does work that I think has a great capacity to shift the tides of thinking and social behavior. He's clever, intelligent, witty and funny; and he's putting that towards service of the vulnerable; and the unheard, and ignored worthy causes in the world.

And he doesn't even have spider hands!
posted by xarnop at 2:34 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


bonehead: One could argue that revenge porn is a subset of harassment; revenge porn is a tactic, one of many in the arsenal of harassers. Honestly though, there is enough material for a multi-part (several hour) documentary on online harassment.
posted by el io at 2:35 PM on June 23, 2015


Not even vindictive perverts will use Bing

I haven't seen the episode yet but I read that automatically in John Oliver's voice and I'm pretty sure I know exactly how he's going to say it.

*watches video*

Nailed it.

Oh Jebus, I love this show. I have never had to pause a 15 minute video so I could laugh as many times before. Plus, you know, explaining a major national issue that nobody in the national media or law enforcement seems to talk about in an intelligent way.

One very small quibble though. In the section where he was calling out people saying not to take pictures in the first place, one of the people said, "Kids, don't take pictures," and I think that is solid advice for kids. It shouldn't be used to excuse the revenge porn of course, but if you are a minor as soon as you send that photo the recipient is in possession of something that can send them to jail. They may not even share it themselves, parents or teachers could find it or something and go to police. It's just not a safe thing to do.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:39 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, not saying it isn't good advice, but teens don't really have impulse control or developed brains to follow reasonable advice. I WOULD expect teens to try to avoid causing awful shit from happening (i.e. I think teens can carry a certain amount of responsability for deliberately harmful behavior)... but things that seem harmless at the time- it's hard to convince teens the consequences that could come around later are real.

So I mean, focusing on that point EITHER for teens or adults still winds up coming across as victim blaming more than helpful if it's the biggest point you're making on how to stop it. Nothing wrong with putting it out there, but not as the solution for stopping revenge porn.
posted by xarnop at 2:47 PM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yes, you are correct on that. And I was responding to a snippet with that quibble, the larger context was almost certainly just victim blaming, not a greater point about safety. I probably should not have even mentioned it.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:10 PM on June 23, 2015


As far as victim blaming, I'm fond of the "A story about Jessica.", which goes to show how complicated "being safe" can be.
posted by zabuni at 3:26 PM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


[I]f you are a minor as soon as you send that photo the recipient is in possession of something that can send them to jail.

I'm far more interested on the protection of the minor in this scenario.
posted by adept256 at 4:07 PM on June 23, 2015


but if you are a minor as soon as you send that photo the recipient is in possession of something that can send them to jail

If you are a minor as soon as you send that photo the recipient is in possession of something that could send you to jail as well. Minors who send naked photos are guilty of distribution of child pornography.
posted by Justinian at 4:12 PM on June 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Not even vindictive perverts will use Bing

Funny but incorrect! Perverts love Bing because it is much easier to find nudies and stuff. Or so I hear.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Justinian: "Funny but incorrect! Perverts love Bing because it is much easier to find nudies and stuff. Or so I hear."

Hoping to find myself in good company, I'm going to just assume that perverts use Bing, but vindictive perverts do not.
posted by Bugbread at 4:46 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just checked Wikipedia to see if its page on Bing had to be protected because of all the people adding this fact about it and let's just say I am really disappointed in you Internet
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:30 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


And the Gameygators responded in the way any group founded upon one asshole's efforts to ruin an ex-girlfriend's life would. But then, with that origin, GG is and always was basically the same thing as Revenge Porn.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:54 PM on June 23, 2015


I liked this for the most part, but the "congratulations on your white penis" thing was a pretty cissexist line, especially in the context of internet harassment right now. Transgender women are subject to a really disproportionate amount of vitriol, much of which is based on really hateful penis-centered language.
posted by NoraReed at 6:59 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


"The uploader has not made this video available in your country".
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:27 PM on June 23, 2015


He could've thrown in 4 more rickrolls and I would have laughed harder at each one.
posted by dogwalker at 8:00 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else see that 2nd rickrolling before it came? "we have exclusive video of a congressman addressing this issue" was a giveaway for me (whatever the exact wording was): congresscritters aren't known for making exclusive videos; certainly not for public organizations. I turned to my SO when he said this and declared we were about to be rickrolled.

Then I was smug (not an entirely uncommon occurrence).
posted by el io at 9:02 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Calling it better late than never is really ungenerous.
It implies Oliver was letting you down until he covered this.
No other mainstream show is covering this topic, and I am sure that Oliver and his team have a huge list of injustices to target.
And NoraReed, I understand the technicality of your complaint, but if you think Oliver was slighting the trans community with that comment I think you misunderstood his target.
posted by bystander at 11:11 PM on June 23, 2015


I liked this for the most part, but the "congratulations on your white penis" thing was a pretty cissexist line, especially in the context of internet harassment right now.

I think you're falling into the same trap that the "BUT WHITE MEN ARE HARASSED TOOOOOOO!!!" crowd is. The specific quote is, "I'm talking about the kind of direct threats that can make people fear for their safety, and if you're thinking, well come on, that doesn't seem like that big a problem, then congratulations on your white penis." In other words, "if you don't think online threats are a big problem, then you have a white penis," not "if you have a white penis, then you don't think online threats are a big problem" or the even stronger statement "those people who don't think online threats are a big problem and those people who have white penises are one and the same." The quote still allows for the possibility that some people may have white penises and also understand that online threats are a big problem. I'm actually very impressed by the way they phrased that point, as it gets right at the heart of privilege (only a white penis-owner could be so ignorant of marginalization as to think online threats aren't a problem) while still allowing that there are white penis-owners (for example, people who are trans, gay, or disabled) who have been marginalized.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 11:47 PM on June 23, 2015 [17 favorites]


This isn't about his target, it's about that kind of thing being casually cissexist. I have trans friends who were bothered by it and saw it as just another cis person conflating genitalia and gender, which is a shitty thing to do and contributes to transphobic culture.
posted by NoraReed at 11:53 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is why we need more non-lawyers in government. We're not all that far removed from Senators who (as Al Franken used to joke) referred to a microphone as "the machine."

The inability of our laws to cope with the sheer fuckery that people get up to online is quite sad. Perhaps, since odds are that everything is crossing a state line, these should all be investigated as federal crimes. If the local authorities can't/won't help Sarkeesian, Wu, et al., then the feds should step in.

Of course, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest need to develop better guidelines than they have. If people don't feel safe on these services, they'll leave.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:11 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like Bing.
posted by broken wheelchair at 12:32 AM on June 24, 2015


#Not all people with white penises
posted by Bugbread at 1:06 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Less flippantly, if he had said "congratulations with being a white male", that would be ignoring the fact that trans men suffer discrimination. There's no formulation that can only include more privileged people without accidentally including less privileged people ("congratulations on being a cis white male" ignores the discrimination experienced by jewish men. "cis WASP male" ignores the discrimination experienced by the disabled. Etc.) That's why things like "Not all men" or "All lives matter" get traction.
posted by Bugbread at 1:19 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


[A couple of comments deleted. NoraReed, you've stated your point a couple of times, and I think you can leave it at that. Everyone, let's please avoid a total derail of the thread on this argument. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 2:32 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Boo: You deleted my overthinking-a-plate-of-beans boolean logic based analysis of the joke taz :)

Sadly Sky are jerks about the licensing & it’s not possible to (legally) watch John Oliver in the UK without a Sky subscription :(
posted by pharm at 2:45 AM on June 24, 2015


When Gamergate was the big thing, they were begging John Oliver to cover it because they were convinced he would do so favorably. That mostly stopped after Colbert had Anita Sarkeesian as a guest, but I continue to be amused by the process of 1) identifying an outlet they think will be sympathetic to their cause, 2) convincing said outlet to notice them, and 3) having a tantrum when their righteous harassment isn't validated. I bet right now they're watching the end credits in slow motion to find a woman on the Last Week staff to pin this on.
posted by almostmanda at 5:24 AM on June 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I turned to my SO when he said this and declared we were about to be rickrolled.

Then I was smug (not an entirely uncommon occurrence).


So...you're no stranger to smug?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:38 AM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I bet right now they're watching the end credits in slow motion to find a woman on the Last Week staff to pin this on.

That's easy enough to do: Jill Twiss co-wrote the piece, and she's awesome. Everyone should know her name - even insignificant assholes who base their identity around video game consumption.

I did think the piece was really funny, but the end, the summary about what that AOL commercial meant twenty years ago--that the internet is part of your real life and minimizing what happens there has real costs--that was moving. We're still a long way from recognizing that who you are online is a part of who you are in real life.
posted by gladly at 6:16 AM on June 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


I saw Lux Alptraum on Twitter talking about the episode. She pointed out that revenge porn is already illegal: it has no 2257 notices. Just enforcing the law already on the books against people posting that crap would be a great start.
posted by Ambient Echo at 7:26 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would like to see studies on the actual physical effects on online attacks. Social stress and being attacked socially (even verbally) is known to produce a host of damaging processes in the body (or processes in the body we actually see generated to repair damage signifying that very real damage is occurring).

I would like the myth "words don't hurt people" to die because it's wrong, and it's really NOT just about how you think about it-- it's more about how much social support, financial resources, and survival skills you have to address the reality of people who hate you trying to cut off your social access to survival resources (your tribe is a physically necessary survival resource). It's also about knowing how many people who have living near you who would phsyically fight for you if it came to it, because one person, even trained to fight, is at a disadvantage facing a group of physical attackers or even an individual attacker taking them off gaurd.

We focus on putting blame on those who are most affected by hurtful words as being "wrong" but frequently they are right in seeing these "words" as showing they are facing real threats that they might not have the same resources to address safely causing them to RIGHTLY live in fear.
posted by xarnop at 8:10 AM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would like people not to use the word "pervert" in this context. It has historically been used to denigrate, pathologize, and generally other LGBT people, people into BDSM, and anyone else whose sexuality does not fit social norms.

The people who post revenge porn don't do it because they are "perverted." They do it because they are angry, callous, ethically negligent, and emotionally immature. The problem is not their sexuality. It is non-sexual defects in their personality, encouraged by people with similar failings.

There is no point in re-appropriating a word like "perverted." It is too problematic, and we don't need it.
posted by andrewpcone at 12:19 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Isn't the point of re-appropriating words to take back words that are 'too problematic'? Aren't all words that have been re-appropriated words that have been denegrating and awful in the contexts they were once used?

Not a hill I'd die on, but re-appropriation is some awesome-sauce.
posted by el io at 1:12 PM on June 24, 2015


Minors who send naked photos are guilty of distribution of child pornography.

In the Rehtaeh Parsons abuse-leading-to-suicide case, this ultimately was the only thing the police were able to make stick to any of the perpetrators.
posted by bonehead at 2:15 PM on June 24, 2015


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