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November 10, 2018 10:04 AM   Subscribe

At XOXO, Natalie Wynn (ContraPoints on youtube) talks about talking about fascists online [yt]. Features internet culture (the bad parts), personas, what hurts and what doesn't, and transitioning in public. posted by postcommunism (15 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I'm just here to stan for Contra Points. (Am I using that right? Because she's doing brilliant and deep analysis while also being hilarious and exactly as sexy as she wants to be.)
posted by abulafa at 10:39 AM on November 10, 2018 [9 favorites]

I was at this talk. Honestly I'd not heard of XOXO before, a friend of mine tipped me off. The talk was great! It went over pretty well at the event but I think a lot of people there may not have known who she was or how her work looks. And she didn't show much in the way of clips. Her YouTube videos are great in part because they are so carefully staged, directed, and edited. She can't do that on stage, it's totally live.

Happily I went away and started watching some of her actual pieces and am just blown away. I think she's just right there under the surface and could break out huge. OTOH, she may be too brainy for mainstream play. A big part of what I like about her is she's got a deep intellectual underpinning to her critiques and it's hard to see that working well in a culture of 15 second viral videos.

In her talk, I was really struck by her talking about how hard it was for her to sometimes be criticized by people on the left. How she's created these characters she performs so its those characters that people criticize, not her personally. That feels healthy to me but also a little sad. OTOH maybe it's just brilliant.

I want more ContraPoints. FWIW this is her Patreon for funding.
posted by Nelson at 10:47 AM on November 10, 2018 [11 favorites]

I'd not heard of XOXO before

Ugh I mean "I'd not heard of ContraPoints before". XOXO I know; I go to it to learn about projects like ContraPoints I don't know about!
posted by Nelson at 10:55 AM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Natalie is great and I love her work. Thank you for linking to this talk, which I might have missed otherwise!
posted by bigendian at 11:20 AM on November 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Contrapoints is so great! I like to introduce folks to Natalie with The Left, a hilarious and so on-point critique of political rhetoric. Maybe she's our day's Oscar Wilde, or maybe she's our Walter Benjamin.
posted by St. Oops at 12:24 PM on November 10, 2018 [9 favorites]

Oooo, thanks for posting!
I love her videos, and heard some of her background, and how she has worked to mitigate the personal cost of being in the spotlight, but I hadn't been able to find this sort of public presentation. (I had actually wondered if she was avoiding doing any public appearances to reduce her exposure to harassment).

I think she's smart and brave and witty and talented and goddamn heroic. Youtube has become something of a cesspool in recent years (the YT video that started autoplaying for me after watching this was some "historian" giving a "lesson" on how "immigration destroys nations" [facepalm]). My hope is she will inspire more positive voices, like hers, to speak out.
posted by ethical_caligula at 4:35 PM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I discovered ContraPoints a few weeks ago, and...yeah, it's pretty amazingly great. Her sense of humor and her characters are hilarious, and they're seamlessly interwoven with really thoughtful, intelligent commentary.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:55 PM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I watched her XOXO talk again last night and the thing that struck me is how vulnerable she is. She's very direct and personally honest, particularly talking about her transitioning and also the criticisms she's gotten from fellow leftists. Her ContraPoints shows are personal but highly scripted and, as she says, insulated because she's playing characters on YouTube, not herself. The XOXO talk is herself and it's pretty raw. I like it, am thankful for it.

Also was impressed with her critical distance from herself, her awareness of what she's doing and selling. Like she introduces herself as "a Youtuber" a term she hates because it's "associated with people who film dead bodies" (referencing Logan Paul's stupid thing in Japan). She's much, much more than a fluffy YouTube entertainer, but also realizes that's the category she most fits in and owns it.
posted by Nelson at 7:09 AM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

I thought that her shift from expository to discursive style was a product of her getting more sophisticated production values: that characters came along with more lighting, costumes, editing, etc. But considering the fact that she's spoken about the strategic decisions behind her earlier style, I shouldn't be surprised that there's a similar strategic motive.

The fact that she talks about the shift as a response to getting kind of railroaded by some leftists reminds me how much more important solidarity is than infighting.
posted by entropone at 8:27 AM on November 11, 2018

At the risk of turning this thread into my own personal fanboy gushing.. the Incels segment about Tinder is just amazing. She compares her experience dating on Tinder in various gender roles to the experience of rejection incels communicate. It's remarkably personal, something she acknowledges and defuses early. And then she goes into 3 minutes of some of the most complex and honest discussion of a transgender person's dating life I've ever heard. And then manages to connect it back to the subject of the episode, Incels, in a way that's both sympathetic and insightful without excusing their misogynist bullshit. "I prefer the firing squad of dicks" is a hell of a line.

(It gets even more intense further along with her talking about her unhealthy relationship with 4chan. I'm still not sure I've fully absorbed it. There's a lot going on here.)
posted by Nelson at 9:35 AM on November 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Meta: I posted to FanFare Talk asking if there's interest in discussing the ContraPoints YouTube videos.
posted by Nelson at 10:05 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

It makes sense that she was previously immersed in atheist Youtube.

Her use of characters feels like on one hand, a good alternative to atheist Youtube such that it lets her acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of contradictory viewpoints. Where a lot of atheist Youtube only acknowledges contradictory viewpoints to "rebut" them. But on the other hand it can feel like a 4chan style attempt to dodge criticism by mixing real racism with "ironic" racism.
posted by RobotHero at 1:21 PM on November 18, 2018

and is profiled in The New Yorker
posted by pharm at 2:08 AM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

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