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Rescue the princess
April 18, 2010 4:08 AM   Subscribe

Dan The Man... if computer games were more like real life. (SLYT)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (113 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd like to feel sorry for Dan, but he really ought to have known better than to get involved with a woman dressed like a princess. It's just common sense.
posted by dortmunder at 5:04 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


so in "real life" women just take mens money and lounge about in the pool? Sorry, but i saw this earlier and found it a bit misogynistic. well animated though.
posted by marienbad at 5:16 AM on April 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I kind of wanted to laugh at it at first, but it left that bad misogynist taste in my mouth. Plus, I felt sorry for the ninja at the beginning. What options do they have?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:26 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whoa, they made Redbelt into a video game?
posted by kid ichorous at 5:29 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The "real life" comment was added by the poster, and isn't really inferred by the animation. she isn't supposed to be a typical woman, she's a spoilt princess! did you notice that the protagonist attempts to solve every conflict in the video by punching someone, that's not a subtle commentary about man's true nature, it's just that he's a video game hero and that's how they do things.

It's a nicely done video though.
posted by ham at 5:32 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lol! Women.
posted by Drexen at 5:43 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Love the princess's "voice".
posted by ropeladder at 5:50 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Come on! The misogynist argument happened on CartoonBrew and it was as silly then as it is now.

She's a princess . They're known in stories for being spoiled and lazy. It is not a comment on women as a whole. Case closed.

You need to lighten up if you're offended by this.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 6:14 AM on April 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


Plus, I felt sorry for the ninja at the beginning. What options do they have?

Shades of Clerks
posted by odinsdream at 6:40 AM on April 18, 2010


Yea, the OP's framing kind of colored the the whole viewing experience for me in a not-so-good way. On its own, it's a cute (and harmless) animation.
posted by JeffK at 6:47 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


it left that bad misogynist taste in my mouth

she isn't supposed to be a typical woman, she's a spoilt princess!

I saw this earlier in the week, and have eagerly awaited its appearance on the blue and the inevitable shit fit.

This "It's misogynyst! No it's just silly!" dialogue is playing out elsewhere as well. I personally don't find the video endearing enough to defend or bad-natured enough to decry, but I did give some thought about what I think may be at the root of the dichotomy.

In my opinion, it's the animation style. I think a video that looks like an 8-bit video game is bound to open itself up to two schools of interpretation. Those that view it as a film see it as only a story, about one particular man and one particular woman, each with their own unique character, and are therefore unlikely to see it as a generalization.

However, those that see it as a video game, especially in this vintage 8-bit style, are more likely to see the characters as metaphors. No one plays games like this to "save the princess," they know the plot is a thin veneer over a basic framework of "overcome challenges, achieve satisfaction."

When your Mario is killed for the nteenth time at that one boss, you aren't concerned for the welfare of the digital princess, or worry about the Mushroom Kingdom's declining number of able-bodied plumbers, you are frustrated with yourself. Get past the boss, and the reward is as satisfying as accomplishing any challenge in the real world.

In the video, then, the princess which we relate to as the token "reward" suddenly reflecting stereotypes associated with one particular type of reward (the trophy wife) is a sudden twist that causes the metaphor to seem much more specific. This is no longer what you interpereted it to be, this is mean, this is no longer fun. The plotline is no much more heavy-handed, and you no longer have freedom to read yourself into it.

It's a bit of a worlds-collide moment that I think is a commentary on the idealized concept of "happily ever after" versus the challenges of real life, albeit with a hackneyed mechanism of conflict. Ultimately though, it's really an ideal story for the medium, which could easily be mis-used.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 6:49 AM on April 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


Apply this sort of analysis to The Big Lebowski and you will deserve getting your carpet pissed on.
posted by warbaby at 7:03 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, I understood why people would rally against this. However, I didn't think it was misogynistic because it was playing with the 'save the princess' trope.

I enjoyed it because Dan acts as we would if we were playing this game. Come on, imagine if you couldn't get to the next screen but the 'princess' directed you back to the house...you'd blindly follow back to the house because no further clues are offered; there is nowhere else to go. Are his actions sexist? Not really, there is no other option but to buy the things from the shop which appear above the 'mission-giver's head.

If anything therefore, the film was about our own lack of perception, and the feeling of having no other choice but to work for goals offered to us by others. If this were the first thing to suggest a female 'princess' is responsible for the suffering, then yes it would be misogynist. However, it just continues the sexist narrative already present in the 'save the princess' narrative.

In games we act out imaginary worlds such as these, which are often more simple (and therefore often misogynistic) than reality. It doesn't make the game's players sexist, it just means they enjoy the simplified world.

--

In other words, what Mr. Anthropomorphism said is true. Added to that though: I saw the video as about mario-like "overcome challenges, achieve satisfaction" narratives more than 'real-life' gender stereotypes. The film surprises us by staying confined to the gameplay of platformers (notice how he kicks and punches his way through every task because that is the only action a video game character has), yet extending the storyline past freeing the princess.
posted by deticxe at 7:07 AM on April 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I like the part where the dog peed on him.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:34 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear - this isn't misogynistic because its message is not that once you get into a relationship with a woman she will just lie around demanding consumer goods which you, the man, will have to work yourself to death for, and once you are tapped out she will leave you for a wealthier man, but that once you get into a relationship with a princess all of this will happen. And not, we hasten to add, a princess in the metaphorical sense of a spoiled, wealthy young woman, which I believe was discussed a few months ago here in the context of "Jewish American Princess" as a term of abuse, but specifically the daughter of a king and queen.

That's lucky, because otherwise I'd be worried. That said, it might be worth having a look at the YouTube comments beneath it:

I'd kick that bitches ass

fuckin bitches are all the same

i would hack the game so that i can kill this bitch XD

Just kill the bitch and done with it man

so fking true...lol the 45 thumbs down are girls who took this personally because thats who they are (Daughters of the crowned heads of Europe or a fantastical, monarchic nation, I suppose)

this shows the reality of every family (Involving the daughter of a crowned head of Europe or a fantastical, monarchic nation, again I have to guess.)

fearfulsymmetry's suggestion that this is what real life is like may be incorrect, but it's certainly not an outrider; there's a strong feeling that this is exactly like either life in general or the specific life of the comment-leaver. Speaking purely personally - and I know that this isn't a hard and fast rule - I tend to be slightly cautious of anything which makes people whose ideal problem-solving approach involves killing women feel that expressing their desire to kill women is legitimated by context. It's inference rather than implication, but it's a useful tool.
posted by DNye at 7:37 AM on April 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


I come at this from many experiences in discussions of H.P. Lovecraft's writings, where two attitudes develop pretty quickly:

1) OMG, this guy was a crazy racist! Who would read his stories?

2) I like his stories, so I don't want to hear about it. (or, I will handwave it away with appeals to "man of his time")

#2 is especially problematic, because lots of people are now generally familiar with at least some of HPLs settings and "mythos" than have actually read his stories -- so the accusations of racism (and sometimes sexism) are befuddling, because they are thinking about tentacles and three-lobed burning eyes, not shifty Kurds or whatever.

The next stage is when the #1ers begin suggesting that the #2ers are also racist, and the #2ers accuse the #1ers of ruining everything, because it's all about the squiddy bits anyway!

Walking the line between those attitudes, acknowledging that HPL was a racist (and a snobby classist and...), and racism is a central theme in his stories that can't be ignored if you are going to read them at any depth whatsoever, becomes pretty difficult. But you have to do it if you want to treat the material with any kind of respect.

So, back to the post:

1) Most 8-Bit video games have sexist and/or racist elements. They were directed at young teen boys of at least 20-25 years ago, and they reflect broader social opinions filtered through a lens of what that audience wanted/was assumed to want. (Notice, this last bit is no excuse; it's an explanation.)

2) Many of us played these games as kids and remember them fondly.

So, what do you do?

First, you don't go "She's just a princess!" or "It was a product of its time/culture!" because the proper response to that is "So what? Sexism is always a product of its time/culture. Plus, the whole idea of "princess" is so laden with sexist assumptions that you are just proving the point." Next, you don't feel all ashamed for liking something that, as a 12 year old, you enjoyed because you weren't exactly reading subtext at that age. You don't even have to feel bad for nostalgic enjoyment, although some reflection on what your adult mind might tell you about that nostalgia would be nice. With luck, and some reflection, you can maintain a certain appreciation for the material (and how you felt when you first played it) without ignoring its negative qualities. You can also celebrate games that didn't go down this particular path.

"Dan the Man" tries for humor by capping an already sexist scenario with another, more blatantly sexist one. It's pretty much squarely in the #2 camp, and it's hard to give that a nuanced response. I was pretty much expecting the replay to have Dan punch the princess after freeing her, so I can at least praise that piece of restraint.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:46 AM on April 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think if games were more like real life he wouldn't be fighting against a giant robot who explodes and leaves pieces of gold and a key the size of Dan's forearm.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:54 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


of at least 20-25 years ago

I'd wager that stuff like this is still around these days.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:14 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you view Dan as the average citizen and the ninjas and robot as education levels and the princess as a symbolic representation of the American Dream and the shopkeeper as finance capitalism and the helicopter as the government then the entire thing becomes a fable about economic collapse.
posted by Drastic at 8:16 AM on April 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'd wager that stuff like this

Well, yes, but generally not as 8-Bit videogames.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2010


It seems (a little) misogynistic when you realize she's a princess.
posted by DU at 8:36 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it misogynistic if it reflects how you feel about your life and ex-wife? I tried hard, she wanted more, didn't get enough and now I'm back on my own... slaying ninjas, trying to save the princess on stage 2.
posted by tomplus2 at 8:55 AM on April 18, 2010


(I just like the sound the characters make when they talk.)
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:05 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


/me lights pipe

You could view this video as misogynistic (which I do). You could also view the "guy saves the princess" trope as misogynistic.

I think this video highlights how the entire premise is anti-women. The player character in this game represents every player, as we and he (during the game) necessarily share the same goals. We can project ourselves onto him in the game. It seems natural then that an NPC in the game - the only female character - is representative of our relationship to women.

This video breaks the illusion that most games offer by providing more depth to the interaction between the player's character and the NPC. we see more of the assumptions behind the two characters and their relationship. Where would their relationship go? Given the game's setup, the lack of communication on the player character's part, and the assumptions the game designers have shown in making the game and its characters, this is one possible outcome.
posted by zippy at 9:05 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, the real clue to me is this setup that if you marry a princess, she will still ride your ass for money.

She's a princess--she's already wealthy! That is kind of the whole point of being a princess.

Furthermore, in the fairy tales from which the "rescue the princess" trope is taken, what happens afterwards is that the hero marries her, is made king, and becomes instantly fabulously wealthy and powerful.

Therefore, I call out the "it's not about women, it's about princesses!" dodge. No, it's not. It's pure unadulterated self-pitying sexism: those bitchez, always squeezing us dry, amirite?

And so while I think the idea and animation is good, the actual characters are about as fresh as 1952.
posted by emjaybee at 9:05 AM on April 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, the shop keeper represents the parasitic middle-class bourgeousie. At the end of the video, Dan throws off the chains of capitalism. Later, I presume, he unites with his brothers and sisters to own the means of production.
posted by zippy at 9:19 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


These beans are 8bit.
posted by nola at 9:21 AM on April 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I always hated that the few female options on Mario Party were frilly princesses or things that are pink with bows. Coloring Boo pinks and placing a bow on top of him does not make girls feel included in gaming.
posted by melissam at 9:24 AM on April 18, 2010


Although there is a character punching and a character yelling for objects, it doesn’t have to be viewed as male and female. You’ve never met people in real life who are looking for an infinite number of objects and stated they would not be happy until they acquired them? (I have heard people actually cite the exact things…house, fluffy dog, large TV, iphone…both males and females). Maybe it isn’t male/female but people. If you are leading your life pursuing an infinite number of objects, or you feel someone is pushing you in that direction maybe the point is …don’t play, which is what the video ended on.
posted by Wolfster at 9:30 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This reminds me, did Trucker's Delight ever get posted on the blue? Forget implied misogyny, how about flat out stalking and rape? (While at the same time being hailed as being "so awesome" and a "great 8-bit animation")
posted by ymgve at 9:37 AM on April 18, 2010


It's reasonable to observe that the female character is a princess, and that she represents a type of woman.

I eagerly look forward to the upcoming RACHEL the LAWYER, SARAH the BUILDER and JANE the NORMAL_PERSON.
posted by howfar at 9:46 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


This reminds me, did Trucker's Delight ever get posted on the blue?

Yes, more than once, I think, and there is a 500+ comment MeTa thread with scars to prove it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2010


Sexist bullshit.
posted by John of Michigan at 9:52 AM on April 18, 2010


ymgve: "This reminds me, did Trucker's Delight ever get posted on the blue?"

Yes.

It didn't last long.
posted by mindless progress at 10:02 AM on April 18, 2010


Shortly after that story ends. Dan, develops an unhealthy fetish for guns, begins to drink heavily and joins his local Tea Party.

If Dan and the Princess had allowed themselves the intellectual and emotional curiosity to grow spiritually, instead of accepting the plutocratic lies of rampant commercialism oligarchic hyper-Capitalism they might have remained together, enjoying every new day as a precious gift that brings it’s own rewards.
posted by Skygazer at 10:13 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


If the accessories to the princess' lifestyle weren't so Malibu Barbie, then perhaps there wouldn't be quite as many grumblings. But when you update an ostensibly medieval setting with modern day objects, it's hard not to update the princess character into a modern day woman. The creators were perhaps a little lazy in their choice of accessories. Would it have been so hard to have the princess demand
1.) Many shiny ponies
2.) Additional turrets
3.) A fancier carriage
4.) And a lap dog?
posted by redsparkler at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never understand the line of thinking that says one has to condone the ideology behind something to think it's funny. Humor is a composite of irony and absurdity, two traits which do not at all guarantee a PC good time.
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:31 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Squeakyfromme,

The converse is also true. A work that requires you to share its ideology in order to enjoy it is not really much cop. I was very mildly amused by this video, but I don't think I'm its target audience. If I was angry with women, or even just "princesses", I'm sure I'd find it much more amusing.
posted by howfar at 11:39 AM on April 18, 2010


If I was angry with women, or even just "princesses", I'm sure I'd find it much more amusing.

If I understand you correctly you seem to be saying it's ok to be mildly amused at something that's not PC, but on some sort of sliding scale the more amused you are the more likely you are to harbor some sort of deep seated issues? I don't buy that at all.

On the contrary, I think politically incorrect subjects lend themselves particularly well to humor because the fact that the average person wouldn't be expected to endorse these ideas ADDS to the ridiculousness of it, and again, I think that irony and/or absurdity - rendered in a clever, creative way - is all you really need to generate a laugh.
posted by squeakyfromme at 12:06 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


From one comment on CartoonBrew:

It’s funny because it’s true you tools!

Pick out a hundred random woman and I promise you’ll struggle to find the ones that don’t act like that when given the chance.


("it's people like you that cause unrest...")

I found it funny up to the part where she asks for the house and they get back to the house. When it started to turn less of a moralistic tale ('be careful what you wish for' a la The Fisherman and His Wife) and more "omg women just want more and more until they've cleaned out your bank," I became much less amused by it.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I took it as a commentary on the role of mercantile activity in the narrative structure of 8- and 16-bit games, with special reference to ninja-punching. But that's just me.
posted by Hogshead at 12:23 PM on April 18, 2010


Squeakyfromme,

I said nothing about it being "politically incorrect". Who cares? You brought "PC" into the discussion, and I'll thank you to take it out to where it belongs and shoot it in the back of the head.

But is this video funny? Not really. The point is that it is only really funny if you find it satirical, and in order for it to be satirical, don't you have to believe it reflects a real and somewhat significant truth? I reckon most of the people who think that can't get laid.

Ironic/absurd enough for you?
posted by howfar at 12:25 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Howfar: But is this video funny? Not really. The point is that it is only really funny if you find it satirical, and in order for it to be satirical, don't you have to believe it reflects a real and somewhat significant truth? I reckon most of the people who think that can't get laid.



Whoa. My goodness, you win the prize for best gilding of the beanplate in this thread, sir.

Outstanding.
posted by Skygazer at 12:46 PM on April 18, 2010


Nowhere is the difference between the Blue and the Green more apparent than this very thread.
posted by effugas at 12:47 PM on April 18, 2010


Skygazer,

"Gilding the beanplate" That's a magnificent phrase, but I'm unsure as to its meaning. You do know I'm taking the piss though, yes?
posted by howfar at 12:58 PM on April 18, 2010


I'm quite sincere in my belief that "political correctness" is pretty much the Godwin of the 21st century. As soon as somebody brings it into a discussion, you can be pretty confident that nothing useful is going to come out of that line of discussion. In this case, I have no idea what it is intended to mean, as so often.

We can certainly say that the people who really enjoyed this, going from comments left, either believe that as a general rule women are out to get luxury objects, and the eternal struggle of the man is to get sex from them without having to pony up for them, or that the best way to deal with women, all else being equal, is to kill them. These are illuminating viewpoints.

Having seen the boingboing thread, I think I have a new favourite comment ever. Quoted in full for awesomeness.

Oh, I think it's quite accurate and in an abstract and misogynistic but earned way quite true in RL. About every one of my male friends has been "Raped" by a messy divorce that was caused by the woman being a domineering "Princess".

Really, if I was the "Barbarian hero" (of some fantasy world, game, etc.) and looted some horrible desert temple and came back to the city to settle with my share of the loot I'd not spend 90% of my haul buying the "Silver haired light skinned foreign princess" from the slaver. I'd just spend 5-50 gold pieces on a cute, petite dark skinned girl who could cook, clean, be good in bed (as in keep you warm, snuggle) and see a guy who provides and doesn't treat her like a punching bag as a 'good person', not the very least a man should be before he's allowed to indulge her shopping whims.

The "Tree Ninja" guy wouldn't even get off that lucky as this video game character did, he'd be going on deadlier quests to pay the "Interest" on all the stuff his "Princess" wanted. On top of that she rarely if ever lets him bed her.

My "Barbarian" character would just then have to go on "Easy" local quests, like "Wipe out bandit gang", "Fight pack of Desert worms", "Fight rogue mummy"... to secure his place as "Local Hero" versus "Wild loose cannon" as most "Adventurers" are seen as. That'd be a really wonderful "Fantasy Life" with a nice arabesque desert home, a cute gypsy dressed wife, managing some simple honest businesses like camel merchant and going to the Kaffe house for hookah and drink while discussing poetry and philosophy with friends and peers.

-----Take note, I'm "Genre Specific" most fantasies/RPG games, etc. the players RUN from the "Desert area" quick once they've killed the "Lich King and found one third of the magic talisman" or other such nonsense, preferring the "European" forest areas. Therefore, just get used to fighting the monsters and the nasty environment, less competition from other "Adventurers"... And a "Barbarian from the Northern wastes" is used to a "Harsh Desert", but this one's warmer. Make sure to secure the water supply, get a tan, learn from the locals, easy.

As far as the "Moneylender" character goes, well my personal opinion is "Pigs that devour usury must be beheaded." But I'd keep polite and just watch, listen and learn. Then when I saved the town from a rampaging "Desert Dragon" (calling on other "Adventurer" friends to help) I'd have a direct word in the Sultan's ear about it and he'd probably (maintaining his own "princess" wife's desires) have problems with that guy too...


I think we've all thought quite a lot about which female slave, ideally, we'd like to buy. Also, if the Sultan met us, he would dig us and we would agree on a lot of things.
posted by DNye at 1:11 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Skygazer,

"Gilding the beanplate" That's a magnificent phrase, but I'm unsure as to its meaning. You do know I'm taking the piss though, yes?
posted by howfar 13 minutes ago [+]


Whoa, again. So that was one hell of a 180 stealthy abrupt pissing on the beanplate?

Hmmm...I guess it would make sense. Sometimes gilding the beanplate involves some bodily fluid or other... at any rate, A#1 First Class Outstanding, beanplating activity.
posted by Skygazer at 1:18 PM on April 18, 2010


Psst...I realize taking the piss involves no bodily fluids...and gliding a beanplate is like, leading a dead horse to water, which is a lot of what's going on in this thread...but I see your horse is still alive now...
posted by Skygazer at 1:26 PM on April 18, 2010


The princess is just a gender-charged stand in for a block with the caption "Enforced Aspirations of the Industrialized Middle Class". Dan goes to the next level when he realizes that instead of chasing the empty promise that the older shopkeeper (representing the oligarchy and entrenched wealthy) has set out for him and simply tricks him into desiring that for himself. Dan then is free to live in his treehouse hermitage and ascend to the next level towards enlightenment.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:30 PM on April 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


But is this video funny? Not really. The point is that it is only really funny if you find it satirical, and in order for it to be satirical, don't you have to believe it reflects a real and somewhat significant truth?

Why is that a necessary prerequisite? Obviously it has to refer to something, yes, otherwise it would just come off as sheer nonsense, but I think it's enough to just be aware that the stereotype being sent up EXISTS without having to personally endorse it.

To give an example: self-deprecating humor is usually considered the least offensive and most socially acceptable kind, because it doesn't attack anyone but the person making the actual joke. But if we truly believed that that person thought of themselves as a real piece of shit, would it still be funny? No, it would be depressing, but it's not something we concern ourselves with because we understand - most of us do, anyway - that humor trades in exaggeration.

Which is where political correctness comes in: if you truly believe that the princess must necessarily represent ALL women rather than just a particular type of woman, then yes, I'd say you're a dour stick in the mud who is more interested in elevating others' perception of you through holier-than-thou tactics than you are in improving society in any pragmatic manner. The only thing laughing at a joke entails is an appreciation of the creativity that spawned it. Humor is not politics, even when it's talking about politics.

Also:

I reckon most of the people who think that can't get laid.

Huh???
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:42 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm quite sincere in my belief that "political correctness" is pretty much the Godwin of the 21st century. As soon as somebody brings it into a discussion, you can be pretty confident that nothing useful is going to come out of that line of discussion. In this case, I have no idea what it is intended to mean, as so often.

I didn't know PC was a fuzzy term, but just to clarify I'm talking about a person who seems more interested in proving how enlightened they are through needless grandstanding and making mountains out of molehills than they are in elevating the discourse through any kind of practical means.

For instance, here I think the notion that the princess must be a token generalization of women in general is inherently flawed in that those who assert it seem to be wanting to force the rules of drama - which usually DOES seek to assert a moral lesson - on comedy, which has different aims altogether. Seriously, I think the argument that anyone needs to be offended by this game falls apart the second you acknowledge that the princess need not represent a stereotype of WOMEN in general but merely a stereotype of a GOLD DIGGER in particular. A crucial distinction.

So, yeah, sorry to bring up the dread "PC" term - I admit it's often trotted out as a placeholder in lieu of an actual argument - but I fail to see how this video could be considered offensive unless we're really trying to assert that NO women EVER have a disproportionately unhealthy fixation on material goods, which would obviously be just as thorough a whitewashing of gender relations as to deny that some men are overly obsessed with the physical (queue obligatory Tiger Woods joke)... in other words, PC as fuck.
posted by squeakyfromme at 2:03 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, to make sure I understand - there's a kind of art trolling going on here? If you don't like the idea that this video is striking a chord with people who see it as an opportunity to express their violent feelings towards women, or to say that this is what all women are like, a way to register dissent is to make up curious phrases to describe the behaviour of people in the thread, or to imagine other metaphorical constructs the characters might stand for? This is a sort of creative writing process, which both generates content and expresses disapproval of the idea that there might be anything questionable about the piece itself?

I'm relatively new to Metafilter, so this may be an established custom that I just don't get.

Squeakyfromme: Interestingly, the chap I quoted above from boingboing believes exactly that the princess represents (almost) all women, because in his friends' experience (almost) all women are domineering princesses who have raped (sic) them with divorces. Does that make him a dour stick in the mud who is more interested in elevating others' perception of (him) through holier-than-thou tactics than (he is) in improving society in any pragmatic manner? Only, he has some very pragmatic ideas for improving society, including a more equitable distribution of adventurers in both forest and desert regions and action taken by the Sultan against providers of store cards. That's a manifesto for change right there.

On a tangent, one of the odd things about these constructions of the endlessly protean concept of political correctness as crowd-pleasing hypocrisy is the idea that if you disagree with the person creating this construction you must be doing it to "elevate others' perception of you". Whose perception? Clearly not the perception of apparently right-thinking people like the constructor.

Is this tied in to the importance of self-effacing humour? Squeakyfromme, are you suggesting in a self-effacing way that your perception has no value, and that therefore sensible curriers of favour should seek to elevate their perception in the eyes of people who would be impressed by precisely the opposite of what would impress you (to wit, a disdain for the positions that they are - clearly dishonestly - espousing)? Or do you sincerely believe that nobody would want to elevate their perception by you, and would go so far as to lie about what they think just to make sure that you and people like you didn't have a positive perception of them? Because you're right, that would be depressing. I don't know you, personally, but I certainly don't have a sense sight unseen that your opinion is worthless.
posted by DNye at 2:05 PM on April 18, 2010


The yipping Kirby dog was cute X<

The implication that this is "more like real life" can fuck right off, though.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 2:19 PM on April 18, 2010


Sorry - interpost. Sincerely, I'm really confused now. The people who think that the princess in the video game is representative of all women don't sound very much like what you imagine political correctness to be, Squeakyfromme. They are people leaving comments saying things like:


fuckin bitches are all the same


and

so fking true...lol the 45 thumbs down are girls who took this personally because thats who they are

or indeed

Oh, I think it's quite accurate and in an abstract and misogynistic but earned way quite true in RL. About every one of my male friends has been "Raped" by a messy divorce that was caused by the woman being a domineering "Princess".

I've never met anyone who has self-identified as politically correct, rather than being called it by somebody who didn't like what they were saying. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure that those aren't statements phrased in ways that would elevate anyone's perception in the eyes of this group of people whose perception of them people pretending to be offended by things are apparently seeking to elevate. This is bewildering to me.

I'm interested in the rules of drama and comedy, though. Could you give me a bit more on them? I know that Tolstoy thought that the function of aesthetic experience was, or at least should be, moral improvement, but even in his time that view was being challenged. What are the rules you're working from?
posted by DNye at 2:19 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm still stuck on him having 650 coins, buying a car for 500, and having 100 coins left. Where did the other 50 go? Taxes?

That, and what was in the salesman's attic?
posted by Evilspork at 2:28 PM on April 18, 2010


DNye: if a particular person doesn't find it amusing because it hits too close to home for whatever reason, that's fine. But there's a difference between "I find it offensive" and implying that it simply IS offensive by any objective yardstick. So to answer your question with a question: is it reasonable to assume that just because it's possible for one individual to read a justification for his misogyny into this video that those of us who see something more innocuous in it should be required to decry it as contributing negatively to society?

As for your last two paragraphs, I think the "holier than thou" motive is the more dominant PC character trait, not "crowd pleasing". I don't think it's about being liked so much as respected. And I honestly can't parse what you're saying with the self-effacing humor bit.
posted by squeakyfromme at 2:41 PM on April 18, 2010


That, and what was in the salesman's attic?

The attic represents all of the unpleasant things that enable our modern economy that average consumers like Dan would rather not think about. Child labor overseas, corporate lobbyists, TARP funded executive bonuses, deforestation, factory farming, and any other component of the sausage making process that causes polite people to talk about sports instead.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:46 PM on April 18, 2010


but I fail to see how this video could be considered offensive unless we're really trying to assert that NO women EVER have a disproportionately unhealthy fixation on material goods,

Sure, some women like things.
As do some men like things.

But is there a golddigger epithet that applies to men? I'm trying to think of one and can't, even though I had a recent conversation with a guy who wanted to marry a successful woman who could support his artistic endeavors and keep him comfortable.

That we have "golddigger" and not an easily accessible male equivalent seems to be a pretty powerful argument that the stereotype exists, and this video engages in/furthers it. Hence all the comments in other, less well-mannered forums about being raped by princesses and such.
posted by angrycat at 2:47 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


squeakyfromme, to address the whole motive thing you're talking about:

I recently went apeshit over some reactions to a post about a disabled woman. My going apeshit was not because I wanted to be liked or respected. My going apeshit had to do with the fact that as a disabled woman, some of the comments hit me like a punch to the gut. Although I'm a new member, I've lurked long enuf on metafilter to know that people try to not be dicks, but sometimes there's inadvertent dickery. So, my going apeshit was more or less, "Here's how your opinions are causing pain and here's why."

In addition to being disabled, I'm white and straight. If I said/did something that cause a person of another ethnicity or different sexual orientation pain out of ignorance, I'd want to know about it, so that I could stop doing it.
posted by angrycat at 2:53 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apologies - let me try again with less involved syntax. You think that people who say these things don't actually say them because they think that they are the right things to say, or because they are true. They may, but that's not the motivation. Originally, you said that their motivation was to "elevate their perception".

So far so good. You've drawn a distinction in your latest post between wanting to be liked and wanting to be respected, but I don't think that changes the baseline. It's about elevating the way they are perceived, to stick to your language.

Now, whose perception of them are they seeking to elevate? Clearly, not yours. What they are doing lowers your perception of them, because you believe that they are simultaneously dour stick-in-the-muds (that is, prudish but sincere) and seeking to elevate others' perception (that is, insincere and seeking to improve people's opinion of them). That seems to be a contradiction to me, but it's not a particularly relevant one. The point is, they are doing this to improve their perception. And, since clearly your perception is not being elevated, they don't care about how you perceive them.

Which is where self-effacing humour comes in. Is this self-effacing comedy, where you are joking that anyone who really want to elevate their perception - people who were serious about being thought well of - wouldn't want to improve your perception of them, and in fact would go to far as to say things which specifically lowered your opinion of them - so the joke is that your perception of someone has no value? Or do you genuinely think that anyone who wanted to be well thought of (respected, in your current formulation) would actively seek to avoid having you as one of the people who thought well of them? Because that would be kind of depressing, and would make me feel a little bad for you.

Anyway, that was what I was asking. Sorry it was confusing.
posted by DNye at 2:53 PM on April 18, 2010


The people who think that the princess in the video game is representative of all women don't sound very much like what you imagine political correctness to be, Squeakyfromme

The view that the princess represents all women is not politically correct in and of itself, it's the idea that the video should be censured for it that is politically correct. The "princess = characteristic woman" trope is just the wrongheaded idea that led to the political correctness (or, in the case of the people you cite, political incorrectness).

That said, it strikes me that maybe the reason threads tend to run aground whenever the term "PC" is brought up has as much to do with devolving into an argument over definitions and semantics as anything else.

Case in point:

I'm interested in the rules of drama and comedy, though. Could you give me a bit more on them?

Give me a fucking break. I think it was pretty apparent from my context that I merely meant to imply that whereas drama often DOES seek to impart a moral lesson, comedy just wants to make you laugh. Sure, it sometimes does say something about society but sometimes it's no deeper than "hey, don't you hate it when this happens?"

But no, I don't have a master list of comedy do's and don't's for you to pick over. Guess I lose the semantic argument.
posted by squeakyfromme at 2:59 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


But is there a golddigger epithet that applies to men?

Maybe not, but there's also not an analogous female stereotype for being obsessed with the physical, either, so that's kind of a stalemate there.

That we have "golddigger" and not an easily accessible male equivalent seems to be a pretty powerful argument that the stereotype exists, and this video engages in/furthers it.

Well, no one is denying that the stereotype exists, but I'm not sure what you mean by furthering and engaging in the stereotype. I don't think you're implying that it encourages women to act like golddiggers so I assume you're saying it encourages men to regard women as such. See, I don't agree with that at all. I think most of us are grown ups with minds of our own, but sure, there are always going to be mindless idiots who latch on to the most hateful ideas... you can't eliminate those people from society by getting rid of any form of art or entertainment that could be taken the wrong way.

If I said/did something that cause a person of another ethnicity or different sexual orientation pain out of ignorance, I'd want to know about it, so that I could stop doing it.

Sure, but I think it's just as much on the person being offended to evaluate whether a particular joke or statement was meant to be directed at them personally as it is for the person making the joke to ask themselves whether anyone could possibly BE offended by it... because there's always someone in this world who will be offended by any given thing. That's not restricted to humor.
posted by squeakyfromme at 3:21 PM on April 18, 2010


angrycat: But is there a golddigger epithet that applies to men? I'm trying to think of one and can't, even though I had a recent conversation with a guy who wanted to marry a successful woman who could support his artistic endeavors and keep him comfortable.

"Kept man" or "kept boy" is probably as good as it gets, but that's a back-formation from the original and more common "kept woman". "Gigolo" or "toy boy" suggest a sense of the exchange of sexual or romantic contact for money (or at least financial stability)... all of these are a little different, though, because they usually postulate that the only reason the (younger) man could possibly be with his partner is for the financial stability or other practical advancement they offer - the woman is often considered damaged, ludicrous or nymphomaniacal, or a combination thereof - qv the different reactions to, for example, the relationships of Demi Moore and Ashton Kucher, with a 15-year age gap, which is often depicted as somewhat freakish, and Harrison Ford and Callista Flockhart, with a 22-year age gap which does not generally seem worthy of note.

Whereas I think the message that a lot of people are getting from "Dan the Man" is that the tree ninja is basically a good guy - he rescues the princess, buys her nice things, then works to buy her more nice things, then gets in debt buying her even more nice things. He doesn't try to talk to her about their financial circumstances, and the clear implication is that she would not be receptive to any conversations about the need to economise, because her response to not having the nice things she wants is to cheat on the tree ninja, and then leave him.

Squeakyfromme: I'm sorry I upset you. I thought than when you talked about the rules of drama and comedy you meant that there were rules of drama and comedy you wished to reference. It's not a totally insane thing to take from that - there are all sorts of rules of drama and comedy, from Aristotle onwards. I thought you might be referencing pre-existing thought.

But no problem, we can go from there. I think what you're saying with the metaphor of the rules of comedy and drama is that a joke is only a joke - it doesn't need to have context or a point, and if you place it in context or look for a point you are making a sorting error, and trying to treat it as if it were not a joke but something else, like a vignette or a play. So, people saying "it's funny because it is true in its depiction of common female behaviour" are making a mistake (but are not being politically correct). People who say "it's not funny, because it is untrue in its depiction of common female behaviour' are also making a mistake, and are saying it not because they believe it but because they want to be respected by another (thus far absent) group of people, who would also say that and might mean it (as yet unclear), and would also be wrong.

OTOH, you can say "it's funny because it accurately represents the behaviour of a class of women I am calling gold-diggers", and that is OK - the comedy there being observational comedy - although I guess you could have a short play with a moral lesson about gold-digging. In a sense, that's what this is - the lesson being that you shouldn't go out with one, and if you do meet one you are better off introducing her to someone who will meet her needs rather than trying to make her happy with your own admirable personal qualities (physical courage, agility, the sincere desire to make her happy, even though she is a gold-digger). Or you can just say "it's funny", and argue that any further interpretation, apart from the former, is making the sorting error of treating it by the rules of drama.

(Incidentally, I think you're right that threads often run aground because of definitional problems when the term "PC" is introduced. And I also think I know why, and that we can see why here - because it's introduced as a pejorative term used to dismiss the views people who do not think the same way as the person who is calling them PC, but the person who is using the term has often not really thought about what it means - or even what it means to them - before using it.)
posted by DNye at 3:36 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ahem - that should be "the view of people who do not think the same way, etc", of course.
posted by DNye at 3:39 PM on April 18, 2010


Anyway, that was what I was asking. Sorry it was confusing.

Np, but I still think you're oversimplifying matters. You're reducing everything down to a one-on-one interaction between the ostensibly PC guy and any particular individual he may come across. Well, obviously there are any number of conflicting opinions to be had on any given subject, and often you won't know in advance what the person you're talking to thinks on any given issue, so no, it's not going to come down to how one particular person thinks of him. Anyone for whom the esteem of others is a big priority is typically going to align themselves with a particular group of like minded people and seek to maximize their position within that group.

But really I think the validity of the PC concept and whether its practitioners even exist is secondary to - and not incompatible with on either side of the coin - my central argument, which is that the idea that the princess in this video is, by either moral necessity or just established convention, meant to represent the female gender as a whole is flawed. I'll be happy to continue any discussion about the merits of the PC concept - within reasonable limits - by direct message but for the purposes of this thread I'd prefer to focus on the representation debate.
posted by squeakyfromme at 3:39 PM on April 18, 2010


Squeakyfromme, I'm not advocating that anything be censured here. I'm just sympathetic to the position that some have voiced that the way the video deals with a stereotype lessens the humor value of the thing.

As far boy toys v. golddiggers -- for me the difference is that I don't perceive anger directed to "boy toys," although I guess there is an element of mockery involved, but there is anger at women who are perceived to be "golddiggers."
posted by angrycat at 3:48 PM on April 18, 2010


Squeakyfromme:You're reducing everything down to a one-on-one interaction between the ostensibly PC guy and any particular individual he may come across

Not at all - I'm looking at your model, where people say things they do not believe in the hope of being respected by a group of people who have not been identified, but are clearly outside that one-on-one interaction. I'm kind of awesomed by the idea that possibly everyone who has expressed what you would identify as a PC viewpoint is feigning disapproval, in the hope of gaining the respect of others who are also feigning disapproval. That feels like a legitimately crazy world.
posted by DNye at 3:55 PM on April 18, 2010


angrycat:As far boy toys v. golddiggers -- for me the difference is that I don't perceive anger directed to "boy toys," although I guess there is an element of mockery involved, but there is anger at women who are perceived to be "golddiggers."

Sure - I think what's interesting is that in both cases the woman basically gets it in the neck - the young, attractive woman with a wealthy or influential male partner is a gold digger, whereas the older, wealthy or influential woman with a young, attractive male partner is doing something somewhat undignified or humorous. There's a fascinating, if not strictly relevant, detour there about the conditions under which older women are or are not allowed to express and satisfy sexual desire...

Back on the anger thing - I think we can hopefully agree that the people responding elsewhere to this video with a variation on "he should have killed this bitch", "I wish I could kill this bitch" or "I would hack the game to be able to kill this bitch" are expressing quite a lot of anger. I'm pretty agnostic, pace squeakyfromme, about whether that anger is specifically directed at all or nearly all women, on the grounds that all or nearly all women are gold-diggers (except where it is specifically stated, like the guy with the pragmatic slave-buying policy quoted above), or against this fictional woman and by extension her gold-digging (princess, if you'd rather) ilk, who are a subset of all women. I'm ready to take a stand and say it still isn't totally healthy to respond to a what-happens-next riff by expressing a sincere desire to kill a woman, be she ever so pixelated.
posted by DNye at 4:12 PM on April 18, 2010


I think what you're saying with the metaphor of the rules of comedy and drama is that a joke is only a joke - it doesn't need to have context or a point, and if you place it in context or look for a point you are making a sorting error

Umm, yes and no. It does need to have a context - otherwise it would be gibberish - and in some manner it needs to have a point, but that point doesn't have to be a moral lesson, it could just be a humorous observation.

Sorry if I got snappy in backing off the discussion about "rules" of comedy vs drama, but to elaborate a little further on that what I was getting at was not about any sort of hard-and-fast guidelines the comedian should be following, but guidelines the person receiving the joke is ideally following in his or her interpretation of it. So in this case it's more like an absence of a rule, a rule others are wanting to invoke which says that any derogatory representation of a particular female in a work is meant as a commentary on women as a whole.

But why? Who says it does? And if it's not an established convention and you're just seeking to found it as a new one, toward what aim? To continue with your use of the term sorting error, it's more of a LACK of sorting at all... basically wanting to lump everything into the same bucket regardless of the artist's intent. I mean, couldn't you just as easily see this video as a metaphor for the pointlessness of playing video games at all, that regardless of how many goals you achieve and how much wealth you accumulate you're inevitably going to come back for more, repeating the cycle if not with this game than the next? In that scenario the princess doesn't really represent women at all, but the time- and energy-draining game itself.

(Incidentally, I think you're right that threads often run aground because of definitional problems when the term "PC" is introduced. And I also think I know why, and that we can see why here - because it's introduced as a pejorative term used to dismiss the views people who do not think the same way as the person who is calling them PC, but the person who is using the term has often not really thought about what it means - or even what it means to them - before using it.)

Fair enough, but if the user of the term DOES in fact elaborate on it and place it in a specific context, is it still fair to hold it against them? Isn't that the same sort of hand waving dismissiveness that you're accusing the person of to begin with (I use the royal "you", not implying that you're doing it in particular)? So while there's nothing wrong with bemoaning the general use of the term or expectations on where the conversation is likely to head after it's used, I still think you have to address any valid points if they are in fact made.
posted by squeakyfromme at 4:13 PM on April 18, 2010


As far boy toys v. golddiggers -- for me the difference is that I don't perceive anger directed to "boy toys," although I guess there is an element of mockery involved, but there is anger at women who are perceived to be "golddiggers."

A fair point, but is the lesson to be imparted here that golddiggers deserve LESS scorn or that the boy toys are unfairly being given a pass? The first option is kind of indefensible, but the latter implies that the only thing inherently wrong with this whole scenario is the dearth of boy toy bashing in society, which is not particularly the artist's fault.

I'm not advocating that anything be censured here. I'm just sympathetic to the position that some have voiced that the way the video deals with a stereotype lessens the humor value of the thing.

Well, censure means to publicly reprimand, and you are airing grievances in an open forum ;)

But seriously, I understand how the humor value could be lessened for a particular person with pre-existing baggage that clashes with the theme or tone of it, but a) I don't think there are any inherent problems with it for those approaching it with a blank slate, and b) I don't think it's the artist's job to anticipate and tiptoe around other people's sore spots. You often hear creators say "if I can touch one person with my work it's all worth it" but you never hear them say "if I've pissed even one person off then I wish I could take it all back", and of course you wouldn't, it's not a reasonable expectation.
posted by squeakyfromme at 4:38 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Squeakyfromme, seems they are giving you it a bit in the neck here. But, equally, you seem to be defending an outmoded and awkward position.

Your stance is that "the princess [is not] meant to represent the female gender as a whole", and that it follows from this that the video is not misogynist. By this logic, a video of a black man with pearly white teeth and red lips gobbling fried chicken and watermelon while rolling his eyes is probably just harmless fun. After all, he plainly doesn't resemble what all black people are like.

It's obvious that you're not a misogynist (just as I'm not a racist, even though I just brought up all those racist clichés). And I really doubt that the makers of the "DAN the MAN" video were trying to do anything but make a funny cartoon. But freedom of speech works for everyone.

When people bitch about stuff you like, you might as well shout "thought police" as bring up the "concept" of "political correctness". No one suggested that the video should be banned, or that people shouldn't think like that, or that they shouldn't find it funny. I certainly didn't. I just said it wasn't funny, with a rider of something offensive about people who enjoyed it. Such is my right, feel free to tell me I'm a dick.
posted by howfar at 4:45 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm ready to take a stand and say it still isn't totally healthy to respond to a what-happens-next riff by expressing a sincere desire to kill a woman, be she ever so pixelated.

Sure, but how does that reflect badly on the video itself or the people/individual that created it? I don't see any point it calling them out for offering something potentially dangerous to the world unless one thinks that the complete absence of any material patronizing to women is going to equal the absence of men who patronize women, an idea that seems patently absurd in light of centuries of experience with repression having offered no evidence that it works.
posted by squeakyfromme at 4:49 PM on April 18, 2010


I'm halfway through a response, but - oh, wow:

But seriously, I understand how the humor value could be lessened for a particular person with pre-existing baggage that clashes with the theme or tone of it, but a) I don't think there are any inherent problems with it for those approaching it with a blank slate

So, basically, if you don't think it's funny or find it offensive, that's because you have some "baggage" - maybe a hang-up, maybe a traumatic experience. Essentially, you are in some way broken. If you have no pre-existing issues - if you are mentally sound and baseline - then you will find it funny and won't find it offensive.

Wow. Again.
posted by DNye at 5:04 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


unless one thinks that the complete absence of any material patronizing to women is going to equal the absence of men who patronize women

Squeakyfromme, I think you're labouring under a misapprehension here. Despite not wanting to talk about PC, you apparently believe that criticising this video, or finding it tired, sad, offensive etc is equivalent to thinking it a great offensive evil. No-one here is asking for the absence of this video. Everyone is just talking about it, mostly in a negative light, because it's not very funny.
posted by howfar at 5:07 PM on April 18, 2010


Your stance is that "the princess [is not] meant to represent the female gender as a whole", and that it follows from this that the video is not misogynist. By this logic, a video of a black man with pearly white teeth and red lips gobbling fried chicken and watermelon while rolling his eyes is probably just harmless fun. After all, he plainly doesn't resemble what all black people are like.

I disagree. The stereotype of the black man with big lips eating chicken and watermelon is pretty much ALWAYS used to invoke a negative stereotype of African Americans as a whole and not just a particular subset of them. Furthermore, there seems to be no point to the stereotype AT ALL except to mock some random, perceived element of black culture that's different than that of white culture (which it's really not, because even to the extent that it's true there are plenty of white people who eat chicken and watermelon...). Therefore, even if you could get past the racism and didn't mind making fun of people just for being different, you're still left with an unobservant non sequitur, a pretty formidable trio of roadblocks when your destination is hilarity.

So whether it in fact resembles all black people is irrelevant, it's obviously an image invoked by someone with the intent of casting an aspersion on blacks as a whole, whereas the same cannot be said of the golddigger stereotype; there's no reason at all
why someone can't invoke the golddigger and just be referring to a specific category of women, and an unequivocally shady one at that.
posted by squeakyfromme at 5:11 PM on April 18, 2010


So, basically, if you don't think it's funny or find it offensive, that's because you have some "baggage" - maybe a hang-up, maybe a traumatic experience. Essentially, you are in some way broken. If you have no pre-existing issues - if you are mentally sound and baseline - then you will find it funny and won't find it offensive.

Wow. Again.


I didn't intend "baggage" in a derogatory light, just as a pre-existing experience that might trigger negative memories or connotations in one person but not another. I can see how that might be misconstrued, but there's nothing in what I said that guarantees that you WILL find it funny just because there's nothing about the subject that rubs you the wrong way.
posted by squeakyfromme at 5:15 PM on April 18, 2010


Burhanistan: Dan then is free to live in his treehouse hermitage and ascend to the next level towards enlightenment.

That to me is the crux of it. Dan attempts to get to the next level, but there is a failure of a imagination and breakdown in his sense of purpose, so he can do nothing but backtrack and set his sights lower and try and make the best of his lot, but inside he is still very much needing to move on to the next plane, and this inability to "settle down" and put away his questing nature leaves him in a state of perpetual existential anxiety. Something is very wrong and he just becomes automaton-like in the illusion of progress and purpose that is materialism. Of course he's going to mess things up and lose the girl, his spiritual journey has taken a serious detour and he is asleep inside no longer truly registering what is happening around him and his will has been compromised. We are seeing the world through his eyes and he does not love the princess, he does not want the house/flat screen behemoth TV/fancy sports car, all he really wants is to get to the next level. Stupidly, with futility beating his boat against the current trying to keep body and soul together, as well all do.
posted by Skygazer at 5:19 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]



posted by angrycat at 5:26 PM on April 18, 2010


And of course it is funny...we all know the purpose of what Dan's life is, anyone going back to the original Mario Bros. can easily understand the absurdity and humor in Dan being forced to drop his eternal need for progress and momentum and act completely out of character with a bourgeois setting. Any one-dimensional character becomes a figure of fun and entertainment, you know like Superman settling down and mowing the lawn or Batman baking a souffle.
posted by Skygazer at 5:26 PM on April 18, 2010


I didn't intend "baggage" in a derogatory light, just as a pre-existing experience that might trigger negative memories or connotations in one person but not another.

that's true for all, people, though, so i don't understand your distinction. "baggage" is usually used somewhat pejoratively, i think. (shrug)
posted by angrycat at 5:28 PM on April 18, 2010


I don't think it makes any difference whether or not you understand baggage in that sense to be inevitably a negative term, squeakyfromme - but, OK, let's take out the idea of finding it necessarily funny.

Your statement is now "if you have a baseline, normal, undamaged way of looking at this, you will experience it as I do - correctly and with the right assessment of its "humour value". If you have been in some way damaged in the past in such a way that you are unable to look at this with clear eyes, you may not experience the same humour value as I do."

That's pretty dangerous in absolute terms, but also incrementally; the options you're giving us now are:

1) You do not have a normal, undamaged view of the issues - because of some past trauma, you are unable to view this the right way.
2) You can view this the right way, but are pretending to agree with the traumatised people in group (1) in order to get their respect, and the respect of the other people who are also pretending to agree with them.
3) You share my life experience and are not trying to curry favour, so you have the right response, which is on a spectrum defined by my response.

I think that this may be a lot more offensive to many people than a Mario Brothers spoof...
posted by DNye at 5:36 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


that's true for all, people, though, so i don't understand your distinction. "baggage" is usually used somewhat pejoratively, i think. (shrug)

You're probably right about the pejorative, so I'll own up to not thinking when I wrote that and apologize to anyone who may have taken it personally.

That said, I'm not sure that the fact that everyone has their sore spots is any kind of stumbling point in my reasoning. That just means that for any given person that has a negative reaction to a joke there are countless others that approach the subject in a completely neutral light.
posted by squeakyfromme at 5:41 PM on April 18, 2010


The stereotype of the black man with big lips eating chicken and watermelon is pretty much ALWAYS used to invoke a negative stereotype of African Americans as a whole

Unlike the gold-digger stereotype, which is not value-laden at all.

some random, perceived element of black culture that's different than that of white culture

Unlike the gold-digger stereotype, which is generally applied with an even hand to men and women alike.

there's no reason at all why someone can't invoke the golddigger and just be referring to a specific category of women, and an unequivocally shady one at that.

Then it's a damn good job that women haven't recently experienced centuries of violent oppression, otherwise people might have to think twice about the subject of their jokes.
posted by howfar at 5:47 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


DNye: I am not arguing in favor of a "right" way to view humor at all... on the contrary, I'm asserting that that there multiple levels that humor works on, but that doesn't mean there's anything magic about it... you can still explain it on an individual, case-by-case basis. But I don't see the misogyny argument really being all that defensible; I think you kind of have to be constantly on the lookout for it to see any intentional trace of it in "Dan the Man", which is why I (regrettably) characterized it as "baggage".

Honestly I think you're trying too hard to anticipate my next argument and in doing so are dog piling one false assumption after another. Primarily you want to have me saying that someone SHOULD think "Dan the Man" is funny unless there's something wrong with them. Not true. There are plenty of reasons to find it unfunny, and all I have been attempting to do is show how one particular reason is misguided. Out of that you want to take some extremely specific statements and create a general worldview that can be used to predict squeakyfromme's outlook on not just humor, but hell, ALL IDEOLOGY in general.

So, to summarize, I would characterize the implications of my argument as follows:

1) some negative life experience may be triggered by a particular joke, so much so that you have a hard time regarding the joke in and of itself. This could be perfectly rational - an elderly person or someone with a degenerative illness is probably not going to find a joke laced with references to mortality as funny as a healthy college student - so your charged use of terms like "undamaged" and "the right way" seem intentionally chosen to inflame and cast aspersions on my motives.

2) once again, "senses of humor" may vary but the one thing we have in common is that they tend to be based on irony and absurdity; nonetheless, there is enormous room for variance in how ironic or absurd a person needs something to be to find it humorous, and a lot of that has to do with how common the observation is... if it's something that's been beaten to death (ie. cops + donut shops) then it's far less likely to get a laugh than if it were a fresh observation. That's where the creativity comes in: I think most of us get more out of a joke if it sounds like some effort went into it and it's the product of a unique mind than if it were an observation nearly any of us could have made if we'd stumbled across the components in action. As such, merely lacking a particular negative life experience or PC mindset does not in any way guarantee that you will find "Dan the Man" or any other joke funny.

3) I think it's entirely possible to laugh at a joke that expresses an ideology that you would find objectionable if it was broached as a serious topic. This would not be true if humor were less about irony and more about teaching moral lessons, but for reasons I've gone into at length above there is no reason to either expect or desire that out of our humor. So if you're thinking this means that "Dan the Man" would be funny even if the creators admitted they'd intended it to be misogynistic... yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying. As long as the creativity is the same and the observations are fresh, I don't really care if they're misguided. Again, I'm an adult and can think for myself, and as such I'm capable of taking what I need out of a joke and discarding the rest. If I were paying money for it knowing that the creators were using that revenue to fund a sex slave ring, I would obviously feel differently about it, but how often are we forced to make those distinctions?

And that's about it. Sorry to retread familiar ground here but I feel like at this stage I'm merely correcting misapprehensions about previous statements I've made, and maybe in some instances I thought I was being clearer than I was, so hopefully that gets us back on track. You can say what you will about my character but I'm not here to curry favor so much as to get at the truth of the matter through analysis. That said, I'm human as well and occasionally find myself misspeaking, but on the other hand there often reaches a point in an argument where emotions get heated, patience gets stretched thin, and there's a tendency to willfully distort or misread another's argument(s) with the intent of discrediting them and bringing a quick end to the debate. Let's avoid that. Come at me in any tone you like, but let's disagree on what we're actually disagreeing on and not some cardboard facsimile of such.
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:50 PM on April 18, 2010


Unlike the gold-digger stereotype, which is not value-laden at all.

Maybe we should swear off on using words like "loan shark" and "cheater" as well, since those also make negative value judgments. What they also do is describe a form of behavior, not an entire gender or race, and are we seriously trying to say that there is nothing wrong with women using men for money?

Unlike the gold-digger stereotype, which is generally applied with an even hand to men and women alike.

Non sequitur... and irrelevant. I addressed why earlier in my response to angrycat.

Then it's a damn good job that women haven't recently experienced centuries of violent oppression, otherwise people might have to think twice about the subject of their jokes.

So what are you saying? That it's still such a touchy subject that the mere mention of the golddigger stereotype - one which describes a form of voluntary action that is not AT ALL illustrative of women in general (regardless of how often we have to reiterate this) - drives modern women into atavistic hysterics? Or that the violence and oppression were triggered by the stereotypes, rather than the stereotypes being a by product of their existence?
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:59 PM on April 18, 2010


I'm really disappointed in this video, because when I read that this would be "more like real life," I was picturing a live-action, low-budget video of a regular guy attempting to beat up level bosses, and getting his ass kicked. I could see it all in my mind, and I thought, "this will be hilarious!"

But, instead, it's an animation of a Super Mario Brothers-esque ninja sprite being bossed around by a nasty gold-digging princess sprite. Oh, the lulz. I turned it off halfway through.

Emjaybee was right when he said "the actual characters are about as fresh as 1952."
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 7:04 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Squeakyfromme,

I think people have jumped all over you here. But I've no idea what you're actually defending, so....meh.
posted by howfar at 7:28 PM on April 18, 2010


so your charged use of terms like "undamaged" and "the right way" seem intentionally chosen to inflame and cast aspersions on my motives.


You know, I think that would be more damning if you hadn't repeatedly described people who don't have the same appreciation of the "humour value" of this video as having "baggage", and then apologised to anyone who "took it personally" when it was pointed out how dismissive and rude that was. I can't really think of a more concerted way that you could go about trying to tell people that their reactions were irrational and yours rational. However.

So, let me try to finish the post I was distracted from by the baggage thing.


Squeakyfromme:Umm, yes and no. It does need to have a context - otherwise it would be gibberish - and in some manner it needs to have a point, but that point doesn't have to be a moral lesson, it could just be a humorous observation.

OK, so the observational comedy bit, there. And I can see that there are a number of humorous angles to this. The old schopenhauerian definition of the comic trigger as a disjunction between concept and percept is actually not a bad one for a lot of purposes. Here, the concept is that this is a Mario-ish computer game with a Zelda-ish hero, in which a hero battles monsters to rescue a princess. The percept is disjunctive because:

1) Rescuing the princess is not the end of the game, or at least the end of the level.
2) Rescuing the princess is not a "happy" ending, but rather an action that leads to the ultimate loss of a life.
3) Despite the fantastic setting, the hero can buy cars, pools, lounging patios - that is, the princess has the desires of a modern-day "gold-digger" rather than even a context-appropriate one.
4) The hero has the option of _not_ rescuing the princess, and in fact has to let someone else do it to finish the level.

And so on. So, there's anachronism, there's holding the shot - there are a number of recognised comic devices. The dramatic ending not actually being the ending is a common gag - from the uncomfortable freezes on Police Squad to the videos on College Humor in which Zangief is a janitor, or Mario is an unemployed plumber with a mushroom habit. This is not revolutionary as a comic device, but it's familiar, certainly. (On preview - yes, very much like Batman baking, or Superman mowing the lawn.)

That said, I don't think there is the strict distinction between "funny" and "lesson-bearing" that you're postulating. People take different things from media. The chap from boingboing I quoted above used this video as the jumping-off point for quite a detailed discussion of how he would behave if he found himself in a fantasy world. Physically, that is.

So in this case it's more like an absence of a rule, a rule others are wanting to invoke which says that any derogatory representation of a particular female in a work is meant as a commentary on women as a whole.

Yes, as you say, and no. Let's imagine for a second that you have just watched a film in which every female character is vain, stupid and conceited. The worst of them exploits and betrays the good-hearted hero, and for no good or compelling reason causes his death. Let's say this is a comedy - a knockabout farce, sort of thing.

(Side note - at showings of Tommy Wisseau's The Room, when the female lead explains that she has just done a bad thing for no dramatically compelling reason, the audience shout out "Because you're a woman!".)

At the end of the film, your friend (let's assume there is nobody else in the room whose respect he is seeking to gain) turns to you and says, "Wow. That movie's portrayal of women was really negative."

What's the response? Is it unfair to suggest that, because it wasn't clearly stated that the finite number of female characters represented all woman? Or, indeed, because the film did not contain every woman, but only those specific women? I think it's possible to identify elements in objects without having to prove that those elements were directed at every possible entity mentioned or featured in the object.

But why? Who says it does? And if it's not an established convention and you're just seeking to found it as a new one, toward what aim? To continue with your use of the term sorting error, it's more of a LACK of sorting at all... basically wanting to lump everything into the same bucket regardless of the artist's intent.

"The artist's intent" is actually quite a big issue, but I don't think it's one we need to worry about here. We have an object, and we can look at that.

I mean, couldn't you just as easily see this video as a metaphor for the pointlessness of playing video games at all, that regardless of how many goals you achieve and how much wealth you accumulate you're inevitably going to come back for more, repeating the cycle if not with this game than the next? In that scenario the princess doesn't really represent women at all, but the time- and energy-draining game itself.

You could do that, I guess, but I don't think you could do it very easily. You'd really have to try quite hard to support a highly idiosyncratic interpretation. It's possible that that was what the artist intended to communicate, but if it is he has done so very badly.

So while there's nothing wrong with bemoaning the general use of the term or expectations on where the conversation is likely to head after it's used, I still think you have to address any valid points if they are in fact made.

I think I have; the way you use PC - to describe views which you think people are pretending to have in order to get respect from people who aren't there and/or who might only be pretending to hold them themselves, seems to me to describe a fundamentally ludicrous universe of human relations which I do not think exists, especially since I'm not sure that anyone has demonstrated that there is any benefit in pretending to hold these particular views. (On preview - actually, it turns out that some people might sincerely have these reactions, as a result of a past trauma or their current state of emotional distress, and the rest are pretending to agree with them. So, yes. Still inexplicable.)

On preview, I think Howfar makes a very good point, which I think one can take in a slightly different direction. I'm not sure that it's a complete defence that this video only criticises one kind of woman, that type being the "gold-digger", because that's partitioning - you've already replied to Howfar that in your opinion it would be racist to present a generic caricature of a black person, which is different from presenting a caricature of a specific and undesirable kind of woman, but how about if the only black person in a video was a violent, wife-beating drug dealer? Would that be OK, because it was only going after that well-known subset of black men who are violent, wife-beating drug dealers, just like the well-known subset of women who are gold-diggers - both of which are "shady"? That seems to me to be problematic in its own way. It becomes more problematic when the audience who approve of it frequently approve of it on these grounds:

1) I hate , and I now feel I can share my hatred of this subgroup.
2) Not only do I hate this subgroup, but it also isn't a subgroup: all (black men/women), or at least the vast majority of them, are like this. I feel I can share my hatred of all of these people.

I'm absolutely happy to agree with you that the creator almost certainly didn't intend to go out and make a piece of work which would encourage men to fantasise about murdering women. However, it does take some easy ways out - one of which is making the princess character a stereotype (in a "guys, you know what I'm talking about, right?" way), and also making her so obviously the villain of the piece - the tree ninja is clearly driven into debt by her unreasonable demands and squeaky voice. The representation of her "trapping" him - stopping him from moving on to the next level - also felt a little bit too on the nose for comfort. The point where she was demanding a $2999 dog was, I think, the point at which I thought "All right! I get it! She's shallow, greedy and makes him spend money he doesn't have! Evil woman is evil!" - to the point where, although she is the one person in the whole game he doesn't punch, she still pushes him off a helicopter. She isn't just a gold-digger, she's also an adulteress, a violent spouse - you name it.

And names, in fact, are I think key. Howfar, again, has said this quite succinctly, but if you think there is a set of women identifiable as "gold-diggers" who are fair game - a general "you", not you personally - then why not also carve out from the set of women who deserve respect the subgroup of sluts, the subgroup of teases, the subgroup of job-stealing career women und so weiter. Once you put your mind to it, society has conveniently identified many, many ways in which women can be identified and judged as personally and morally deficient, and thus excluded from the set of worthy women - worthy of love, of respect, of protection by the law or their community, and so on.

All of which is a long way outside the source material. I don't think Studio Joho set out to make any sort of invitation to hate on women. I like the animation style, I think it looks cute and parts of the mapping of credit-driven suburban life to a fantasy game environment work and are amusing. It's a useful reminder that sometimes, if you are focused on one thing, you might miss out on a nuance which other people will pick up on, whether or not it featured in your artistic intent (for example, to go from the slightly to the utterly ridiculous, Trekstor not noticing what the name of their new MP3 player, the iBeat Blaxx, sounded like). But no, I don't think this is like real life - it's certainly not like my life; I find the women in my life to be sources of support and strength to me, not squeaky diamond hounds.

Possibly if you have had some negative life experience with women, though, it might increase the humour value for you in seeing a negative representation of one? That would work the same way, right?

posted by DNye at 7:36 PM on April 18, 2010


There's enough overthinking in this one thread here for the whole year!
posted by Burhanistan at 7:43 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


squeakyfromme: “I've never understand the line of thinking that says one has to condone the ideology behind something to think it's funny. Humor is a composite of irony and absurdity, two traits which do not at all guarantee a PC good time.”

I don't know about PC - frankly, I find it pretty useless for categorizing just about anything.

Note that "politically correct" is a term which went through several stages. For a very, very brief period, it was actually used within our society to indicate the current trend away from any hint of sexism, racism, or bigotry in general. Almost immediately, the earnest use of the phrase "politically correct" as a call for that kind of careful move away from any hint of bigotry was overwhelmed by a backlash against the "PC" movement - which had already by this time been made part of the institution - which came from several quarters. One of the places where the backlash against the idea of "PC" reform was strongest was amongst those who were partisans of freedom of speech - and they protested vociferously because they felt that the institutionalization of a work environment that was supposed to be "comfortable" for all might be restrictive of people's freedom to speak their opinions. Of course, there was also a strong backlash against the PC movement amongst those of us who have ever gotten some small pleasure out of something that had a bit of cruelty at its heart. And, sadly, that happens to be most of us. So I think it's natural for anyone to be leery of "political correctness" - because it's a term that can provoke fear if we're concerned that it might be something we're guilty of.

But the trouble is: sexism is a form of cruelty. It's the dismissal of all women as being a particular way. And sexist humor is cruelty, too; it's humor that laughs at the expense of all women, and that laughter can make any woman unhappy in society as it is. And when we say "politically correct," honestly we just mean the general consensus that it's simply not fair for us to be sexist, racist, or bigoted in general. "Politically correct," in this case, just means "not sexist." So let's at least have the guts to phrase this thing directly, and to face up to what we really mean by our words. When you say that humor can sometimes be 'un-PC,' what you really mean is that sometimes humor is sexist, racist, or bigoted - and that in fact such jokes are common and even natural. And that's something I think I can agree with.

But they comprise what I think should be termed low humor. Sexist humor is low because it's at someone else's expense. Those who are intellectually aware of themselves and their impact on society will not be happy or comfortable laughing at sexist jokes, because they sense the conflict between the joke and their ideals immediately; and, more to the point, the joke simply isn't funny to them, because, regardless of their own personal experiences, they'll know that it flatly doesn't ring true. The sexism in it will set them off. Humor isn't really refined - or, in the end, very funny - if it's at someone else's expense. It may seem funny in the moment, but unless it says something about the way the world is, humor fails. I know some people may disagree with me on this, but I've found that it seems to be astoundingly true.

zippy: “I think this video highlights how the entire premise is anti-women. The player character in this game represents every player, as we and he (during the game) necessarily share the same goals. We can project ourselves onto him in the game. It seems natural then that an NPC in the game - the only female character - is representative of our relationship to women.”

I can't really tell if you're serious or not, but this little theory gives me the chance to point something else out. Inevitably, people respond to this sort of sexist tripe by saying 'oh, it's not sexist - he's just talking about some women, not all women!' Many have explained in this thread why that really can't be the case, and I'm glad they have; it makes about as much sense as my friend in high school did who try to explain to me that only some black people were "niggers." But you're not saying that, zippy - you're suggesting, I think, that this might be some higher critique of the sexist roles it depicts.

I wanted to point out: if, in fact, this is true (which I sincerely doubt) then it's still low humor. Laughing at the expense of anyone - even racists - is a lower species of humor, and therefore doesn't get as funny as higher comedy. There are plenty of web sites on the internet where one can go nowadays to spend lots of time laughing at idiots, but it turns out that's really a spectacular waste of time. The only purpose of that kind of thing would be to highlight some deeper point about what's going on; and I don't see that happening here.
posted by koeselitz at 7:46 PM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and Burhanistan is correct, as usual. Stupid, unfunny, sexist little video. Let's move on, shall we?
posted by koeselitz at 7:47 PM on April 18, 2010


You may well be right, Burhanistan. The loopy (in the sense of travelling in long loops and in the sense of zany or odd) bits about political correctness and the role of negative life experience in comedy appreciation, I think, took it a long way from the source material, but it's been an interesting journey. One that I think I'll abandon for now, though.
posted by DNye at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2010


Metafilter: There's enough overthinking in this one thread here for the whole year
posted by howfar at 7:49 PM on April 18, 2010


Oops, I didn't mean to put the kibosh on the hypertrophic analysis! I think that it can be a fun exercise to explode a particular work (if one could call this video an actual "work") and really mine the apparent misunderstandings. However, There really is a point when one statrs projecting all sorts of of intent into another's plain ignorance, at which time it can become a kind of unhealthy diversion.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:55 PM on April 18, 2010


Can I have a plate of beans with that?
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 7:57 PM on April 18, 2010


koeselitz: I'd add to your comments on political correctness that it long since ceased to be a term used by anyone who might actually think that a broad approach involving inclusive language, for example, was a good thing. I've never met anyone who self-identified as politically correct. I've certainly never encountered any organisation that claimed to be built around political correctness. As a phrase, it's like "anti-literacy" or "pro-abortion" - it's only used by people who want to denounce a behaviour.

Its use in this thread I found particularly interesting, because it's being used by Squeakyfromme to describe an act of deceit - pretending to be offended by something that one is not actually offended by, in order to gain the respect of others (who are either also faking or are genuinely offended by the same thing, possibly as a result of a negative life experience). It's sort of interesting to see a term becoming conceptually tangled up to the point of poetry, without actually changing its functional application (describing a failure that one feels must be present in the mindset of somebody who is more concerned about something than one thinks they ought to be, roughly). Because it's totally subjective, however, it's not much use as a descriptor.
posted by DNye at 8:04 PM on April 18, 2010


am i the only one who is finding DNye's comments really difficult to understand? I read his first few 2 or 3 times each and i really don't know what he's going on about.

I enjoyed the video. I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn't framed as 'real life', but just left it as a story about one particular couple who do represent types that actually exist.

The youtube comments are unfortunate, but they almost always are, and it's not the creator's fault.
posted by empath at 8:24 PM on April 18, 2010


Possibly if you have had some negative life experience with women, though, it might increase the humour value for you in seeing a negative representation of one? That would work the same way, right?

Of course. But it's not the only way to derive anything pleasurable from it.

It becomes more problematic when the audience who approve of it frequently approve of it on these grounds:

1) I hate , and I now feel I can share my hatred of this subgroup.
2) Not only do I hate this subgroup, but it also isn't a subgroup: all (black men/women), or at least the vast majority of them, are like this. I feel I can share my hatred of all of these people.


I think where we differ the most on this is that I just don't feel the need to distance myself from these worst-case-scenario types by calling out a potential - but almost certainly unintentional even then - problem area. I have no issue at all with the fact that there are no positive female role models in this video, because there's really only one woman in the entire thing! I think the humor value would be diminished rather than increased if a bunch of pointless female characters were introduced just to add some sort of cognitive balance on the merits of women. Now, if there were three dozen women in the video and they were all scandalous in one way or another, that might raise a red flag, but with a minimalist cast of three basic stock characters - only one of which is female - it doesn't register at all.

Once you put your mind to it, society has conveniently identified many, many ways in which women can be identified and judged as personally and morally deficient, and thus excluded from the set of worthy women - worthy of love, of respect, of protection by the law or their community, and so on.

This ties in with that primary point of dissent: I just don't buy that passing references to stereotypes have the dire, slippery slope implications that you suggest. I mean, hell, these stereotypes DO exist, we've all been exposed to them our entire lives but somehow we've come out the other end with a healthy sense of respect for women, minorities, etc. I think that the vast majority of us are thinking adults fully capable of forming our own opinions - how often we exercise that option is a fight I'll save for another day ;) - and those that choose to go the bitter, hateful route are unlikely to have turned out to be loving, model citizens if only those sketchy ideals hadn't slipped into their mass produced entertainment. At heart, then, this whole scenario is just one specific example of the larger argument on whether society has a responsibility to protect those who don't think about the consequences of their actions from themselves.

And finally, to wrap things up - I really have to be hitting the sack - I think that ultimately it's easier to write this off as misogynistic if you otherwise would have found it unfunny to begin with. Which I can see - the premise is admittedly thin, and once you get the gist of it it does tend to run the theme into the ground - but nonetheless I don't think the rationale that sees this as misogynistic can be sustained indefinitely and still maintain a sense of humor at all. There's something that you could latch into in literally any joke that could theoretically be hurtful to someone or taken the wrong way.
posted by squeakyfromme at 8:42 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those who are intellectually aware of themselves and their impact on society will not be happy or comfortable laughing at sexist jokes, because they sense the conflict between the joke and their ideals immediately;

Not necessarily. Believe it or not I do sometimes enjoy a joke in purely abstract terms as a product of the creative impulses that went into it. I guess that would be akin to enjoying a short story for the writing style even if it failed miserably at whatever narrative intent it was going for, and as such is probably only relevant to those who are of an artistic bent themselves or at least have a compelling interest in creativity as a behavioral science. Otherwise I see how cognitive dissonance may factor into it, but even then I think the source of offense has to be clearly intentional and not just one of many possible readings.

I don't have any issue at all with your distinction between low/high humor, but I'm disappointed that you don't make a distinction between jokes that are aimed at a pattern of behavior and those that objectify an entire gender. OK, we've established that there is not a male corollary for golddigger, but there are other gender-specific humorous stereotypes that skewer men, such as the "chauvinist pig" who gets his comeuppance. As a man should I automatically be offended when I hear that term evoked? Of course not, because it applies to a particular kind of male exhibiting a specific type of behavior, it doesn't imply that all men act that way.
posted by squeakyfromme at 9:14 PM on April 18, 2010


Um, is the world really supposedly full of women who demand money/things from their men, and men who go into debt because they can't say "no"? I mean, that's not been my experience, and yet so many people seem to believe this is true. Am I just hanging out with the right kind of people?
posted by davejay at 9:25 PM on April 18, 2010


I'm shocked (though I guess I shouldn't be) that this thread has 100 comments so far, and nobody brought up the "Your princess is in another castle" line from Mario, which it seems pretty clear (at least to me) that the video is specifically referencing; not "women" or even "princesses."
posted by Amanojaku at 10:46 PM on April 18, 2010


I had an idea this thread would go into 'sexist vs. non sexist' territory but not in such an ..unexpected and strangely wonderful way.

I love you Metafilter.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 1:41 AM on April 19, 2010


The youtube comments are unfortunate, but they almost always are, and it's not the creator's fault.

I'm not sure. If you find your work being eagerly accepted by people with unpleasant political/social/religious/whatever views, you might ask yourself what you put in your work that they are reacting to. If it wasn't your intended message, you haven't done a very good job of presenting your message (at the very least).
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:31 AM on April 19, 2010


Davejay: Um, is the world really supposedly full of women who demand money/things from their men, and men who go into debt because they can't say "no"? I mean, that's not been my experience, and yet so many people seem to believe this is true. Am I just hanging out with the right kind of people?

It's not just you - I can't think of any relationship in my experience much like that - certainly not one I've had, and not, I think, which anybody I know has had. On the other hand, going from the responses to this video, a lot of men either have had exactly this relationship, or are convinced that you cannot have a heterosexual relationship without it being this relationship. Which is odd.

Empath: Apologies - I tend to write rather long sentences when I'm tired, which along with the different cadences of British and American English might make the whole thing a bit of a mess. I'll try to be more pithy in future, but I'm afraid this is going to be tl;dr territory.

I think, reading back, that you may have misunderstood the distinction I was drawing between his possible viewer groups, Squeakyfromme: you seem to have thought I was accusing you of trying to curry favour, which I wasn't. To reiterate, the three distinct groups are:

1) Those who do not have a normal, undamaged view of the issues - because of some past or present misfortune, they are unable to view this the right way (These are the people with baggage)

2) Those who can view this the right way, but are pretending to agree with the emotionally upset people in group (1) in order to get their respect, and the respect of the other people who are also pretending to agree with them. (These are the politically correct people)

3) Those who share a neutral life experience and are not trying to curry favour, so have an unbiased and honest response.(These are the people whose beliefs are not affected by past or current trauma and who are not pretending to hold a view they actually don't in order to gain respect - that is, the baseline. You are in this group, in your model, at least re: the humour value of jokes about gold diggers.)

For me, that discussion rapidly became far more interesting than the one joke in the video.

Case in point - Squeakyfromme, you made a couple of statements in his summing up which really caught my eye:

I mean, hell, these stereotypes DO exist, we've all been exposed to them our entire lives but somehow we've come out the other end with a healthy sense of respect for women, minorities, etc. I think that the vast majority of us are thinking adults fully capable of forming our own opinions - how often we exercise that option is a fight I'll save for another day ;) - and those that choose to go the bitter, hateful route are unlikely to have turned out to be loving, model citizens if only those sketchy ideals hadn't slipped into their mass produced entertainment.

I'm not sure who the "us" here is - it might be members of Metafilter, it might be humanity in general. Either way, the basic idea - that representations in media have no impact on how people develop, or how the people who raise people develop, or indeed how the people who create the representations in media develop - is just a really novel one. I'll come back to that at the end.

I hope you don't feel offended by this discussion - I've found the perspective you've offered to be really interesting - interesting a very long way beyond the discussion of the YouTube link. I hope you didn't feel too roughed up over the "baggage" thing, but that was... not a good word choice, let's say. Now we're both a bit rested, I would just like to pick up two things. You said to Koeselitz:

OK, we've established that there is not a male corollary for golddigger, but there are other gender-specific humorous stereotypes that skewer men, such as the "chauvinist pig" who gets his comeuppance. As a man should I automatically be offended when I hear that term evoked?

Which is an interesting question. First up, of course, "male chauvinism" was a term specifically created by feminists to describe a specific reaction to feminism - Chauvin was a diehard Bonapartist, and the idea being communicated was that male chauvinists were those who refused to accept that the status of women in the world had to change or had changed. However, there are rough equivalents applied to women, to describe those whose view of that change is (to the speaker) unreasonably extreme. The obvious one is "female chauvinism", which was coined by Betty Friedan to describe what we would probably taxonomise as radical or lesbian separatist feminism - that is, the minority form of feminism which is often represented as baseline feminism by non-feminists. However, other terms exist and are now more popular - "feminazi", "man-hater" - and, for that matter and depending on which bar you are drinking in, "PC" or indeed "feminist".

A lot also depends on your perception of power balance - feminists tend (or at least tended - it's not a term I've heard in discourse for a while) to identify male chauvinism as a problem because when the term was coined men were the gatekeepers to political and economic power. You could certainly find people who would argue that the traditional imbalance of power between men and women has now disappeared - or even that the pendulum has swung too far, and women are now oppressing men - hence emerging terms like "feminazi". This is about social construction of the language, ultimately: women haven't historically had a position of social and political dominance to defend, so there is not a well-established term to describe a diehard defender of that position (like "chauvinist").

By the same token, husbands have traditionally earned money and wives have spent money (as housekeeping), because western women, certainly in the classes that were writing books and keeping records, were not generally allowed once married to keep their jobs. As a result, there isn't really a historical basis for the idea of a male gold-digger, because the concept wouldn't have been coherent. The closest you can get is a character like Aramis in The Three Musketeers, on whom women spend their husbands' money, or the man who marries an otherwise unprepossessing woman in order to get his hands on her family wealth - that is, her father's money (both still popular fictional tropes, of course).

So, a gender-swapped version of the female "gold digger" has only really been conceivable in the relatively recent past. On the other hand, the narrative in Dan the Man shares recognisable elements with Madame Bovary, to compare the sublime with the YouTube. If you want, you can trace the "gold-digger" archetype way back - Semonides of Amorgos is talking about the curse of "thoroughbred" women who don't do housework and have to be kept happy with expensive gifts getting on for 2700 years ago.

And, finally (rather late, you might say):

I don't think the rationale that sees this as misogynistic can be sustained indefinitely and still maintain a sense of humor at all.

Of course, one of the things that our female chauvinists (or feminazis) are often called is humourless, which I think ties into Koeselitz' meditations on humour and cruelty. It seems to me that cruelty is something that, for whatever reason, is often, even if inappropriately or inexplicably, funny. As Mel Brooks said, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger, comedy is when you fall down an open sewer and die".

The humourless feminist/PC thing is interesting, though. During the Hi. Whatcha reading? thread (which is the thing that really got me interested in Metafilter) or possibly in the MetaTalk thread around it, the idea that jokes and even humorous T-shirt slogans about rape were common on American campuses was mooted. I was surprised by this, but evidence did seem to be given. That tied in to something I read later on the blog of "Harriet Jacobs", who writes pseudonymously about being a rape survivor.

Apologies, by the way - I know this has gone pretty dark, but I think we've been talking about larger questions than whether the tree ninja should have saved the princess for a while, now. This post by Harriet Jacobs was about what happens to her, and the decisions she has to make, when somebody around her tells a joke which downplays rape or treats it as amusing. That blog post is here, and it's pretty grim reading.

This is a long way from a YouTube animation about a hen-pecked ninja - I get that, and I'm not seeking to draw equivalency between the two. What I guess I am saying is that, Squeakyfromme, this is the logical extent of your baggage/negative past experience model. When you say some negative life experience may be triggered by a particular joke, so much so that you have a hard time regarding the joke in and of itself or that for any given person that has a negative reaction to a joke there are countless others that approach the subject in a completely neutral light, that was the situation I found myself thinking about. And, if you wanted to look at it a certain way, it supports your contention. Harriet Jacobs is clearly not going to be able to approach a joke about this particular subject in a completely neutral light as a result of a negative life experience. However, I think that would be an unwise tack to take.

So, what else can you take from it? Among other things, that possibly we are individually not as well placed to decide that we've come out the other end with a healthy sense of respect for women, minorities, etc as we might often think. And, secondly, that there isn't a "neutral light". The man telling that joke is a product of his own life experience - here, his experience of an environment which has taught him that it's OK to make a throwaway joke about women being raped. I'd probably describe that as a negative life experience, personally, but it's certainly a life experience. Your experience if you read it is likewise shaped by your life experience. You might not respond as viscerally as Harriet Jacobs, but that's not because you have no influences - you just have different ones.

Short version (I know, too late): It's very tempting to see your own comfort level as the objective and rational one, and to assume further that anyone who isn't operating at your comfort level is either processing some sort of negative experience that makes their perspective unreliable or is faking it to try to impress (I assume) the hot feminists or other subgroup. It's hard to resist, to the point where it doesn't even feel like there's anything to resist. The Marxists call something like this dominant ideology, and elsewhere it is called common sense or conventional wisdom (insert joke about oxymorons here), but I quite like the metaphor about water - that fish never need to notice that they are wet, essentially, until they aren't.

Apologies again - for those who did, thanks for reading. For those who didn't, you probably didn't miss much of immediate relevance to the video at hand.
posted by DNye at 6:40 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Silly me, I thought the video was pretty straightforward and humorous.
Part 1 - The Setup
Oh, it's a 8-bit video game, ninja dude has to fight the bad guys and get to the next level
Part 2 - The Twist
Yay! ninja dude saved the princess, they can live happily ever after! Hmmmm, how come he's trying to leave but can't and ohh, I see, we get to see what happens with the "happily ever after part", still ninja dude seems afraid of commitment
Part 3 - It twists harder
Wow, princess is quite the materialistic one it seems, that was unexpected. Oh, it seems ninja dude's new goal is to make the princess happy by buying her things. That seems like a bad approach to have as a goal for a video game.
Part 4 - The (anti)-Climax
Poor ninja dude, all that work down the drain, and it seemed like the harder he tried, the more screwed up his life became how's he going to get to the next level now?
Part 4 - The resolution
Ninja dude realizes he's a ninja dude, and the material girl would be better off with the banker. Hooray! Leveled up at last.

Rather than misogynistic, it struck me as ninja dude did what was (externally) expected of him only to realize that way led to misery. However, when he stayed true to his "real" self, resolution occurred.
posted by forforf at 6:41 AM on April 19, 2010


Even aside from the blatant misogyny, it was shockingly anti-Semitic how they represented the Jewish character as a swindling, toad-like usurer.

(If you deny that was their racist intent, it's only because you are not as progressive and keenly sensitive to hateful sub-text as myself. Your (possibly feigned) ignorance would be merely pathetic if it wasn't coroding our very civilization like so much acrid bile in the bloodstream.)
posted by dgaicun at 7:31 AM on April 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure. If you find your work being eagerly accepted by people with unpleasant political/social/religious/whatever views, you might ask yourself what you put in your work that they are reacting to. If it wasn't your intended message, you haven't done a very good job of presenting your message (at the very least).

Fight Club.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:51 AM on April 19, 2010


Fight Club.

Sure. And the uncritical acceptance in some areas was a problem for Palahniuk, wasn't it? Sort of the way that "Born in the USA" got used in ways that Springsteen did not intend, and that caused him some problems (or at least some uneasiness). Obviously, the author has only limited responsibility to the audience, but it usually means something when this happens (the author is unclear; the author is dealing with a controversial issue in an overly-nuanced way for some of the audience).
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:37 AM on April 19, 2010


I was agreeing with you.

On the other hand, this can only go so far-- can you really blame the Guess Who for Lenny Kravitz thinking 'American Woman' was a pro-USA patriotism song?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:45 AM on April 19, 2010


I was agreeing with you.

Oops, sorry. And, yeah, authorial responsibility has limits -- I don't think that Bugs Bunny cartoon teach children that rabbits can talk or that you can run off a cliff safely. Heck, I think it is hard to listen to "Born in the USA" and interpret it the way the Reagan-era Republicans did, and I find it hard to believe that anyone would read "American Woman" as pro-USA, but people do a lot of weird stuff. The case with "Dan the Man" is, however, a lot less ambiguous. You have to add a lot of nuance (or, less charitably, disingenuousness or obtuseness) to the video to avoid the problems.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:01 AM on April 19, 2010


squeakyfromme: “I don't have any issue at all with your distinction between low/high humor, but I'm disappointed that you don't make a distinction between jokes that are aimed at a pattern of behavior and those that objectify an entire gender.”

I didn't make a distinction because there's no distinction that can be made there. It may be a little more sexist to laugh at a whole gender than it is to laugh at a segment of that gender, but it's still low humor either way, because you're just laughing at someone. And the simple tearing down of other people is low humor. I'm constantly sort of astounded that people don't seem to get this; in the end, it doesn't really matter that you're only laughing at some women rather than all women. You're still laughing at people!
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 AM on April 19, 2010


I had an epiphany last night about the whole P.C. thing (although yes, labeling it P.C. is Goodwin-esque, just using it for shorthand here).

When I say: This video is unfunny to me in significant part because it the yucks come from depicting a stereotype --

Others who found it funny hear: You are a bad person for finding this funny. If you find this funny, you must be a woman-hater.

I think that's where the clash is.

Here's how I was once in the "others" camp. As a kid, I was a big fan of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. There's one line in the film where somebody refers to tomatoes as a vegetable and the Japanese guy with limited English says, "Actually, tomatoes are fags."

Now, as a kid, not knowing any gay people, I found that line hilarious. It had this WTF quality to it that I, devoid of the 'baggage' of being gay and having to deal with epithets of "fruity" and "fag" and the like, found hilarious.

So later, I recalled this line (absolutely not thinking about it) to several friends, one who happened to be gay. They gave me disapproving looks, and I felt like I had just outed myself as a shitty human being.

But I wasn't, just clueless (back then) as to how hurtful these epithets can be.

Well, this seemed a lot more profound last night than it did today.
posted by angrycat at 2:55 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Angrycat: I had an epiphany last night about the whole P.C. thing (although yes, labeling it P.C. is Goodwin-esque, just using it for shorthand here).

When I say: This video is unfunny to me in significant part because it the yucks come from depicting a stereotype --

Others who found it funny hear: You are a bad person for finding this funny. If you find this funny, you must be a woman-hater.


I'm clearly far over into tl;dr territory, but I think that's very true. And nobody likes to feel judged, understandably. Which I think is where the idea of political correctness comes in - it's a shorthand to express the idea that the person or organisation doing what is perceived as judging cannot sincerely believe what they are saying, and must therefore must be faking it. How you unpack that - well, that's the tricky part.
posted by DNye at 12:04 AM on April 20, 2010


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