Post Subject Shows Up for a Cameo February 23, 2012 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Chris Arnade showed up to post a comprehensive response to the many criticisms in this thread about his controversial photography project
posted by the young rope-rider to MetaFilter-Related at 8:17 AM (116 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Yes, very cool. I tossed it up on the sidebar.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:18 AM on February 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I didn't see that, making this a sorta useless metatalk post! Thanks, Jessamyn.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:28 AM on February 23, 2012


Thanks for posting it, for others who didn't see the sidebar appearance.
posted by kalapierson at 8:35 AM on February 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah - I saw it here first. Not useless at all. Thanks!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:39 AM on February 23, 2012


Yeah, I missed it on the sidebar, so thanks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:41 AM on February 23, 2012


Wow, considering most of that thread was "your art is bad and you should feel bad," that's a fantastic response.
posted by griphus at 8:41 AM on February 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yeah, his response was even and mature; very nice. It contrasted well with the ridiculously stupid "I'd never hit that; she's ugly" derail. Ugh. That was just flat-out thread-ruining for me in an otherwise pretty wonderful post.
posted by heyho at 8:48 AM on February 23, 2012 [18 favorites]


If /r/shitmefisays/ existed most of that thread would be posted in there. His response was impressively level-headed considering the tone of the discussion.
posted by Memo at 8:56 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, pretty much what heyho said. My feminist sensibilities are not so finely hewn as many others, but that thread was a pit of nasty sexism if I ever saw it. The ugliness exposed had nothing to do with the photographs, which on their own are quite powerful.
posted by msali at 8:57 AM on February 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, I had missed it too. I just spent my lunch hour poring over these pictures. They were very thought-provoking and I was happy to see such a well thought out response from the photographer. If not for this MeTa, I probably wouldn't have made it down as far as Chris's comment on the blue because some of those other comments were bumming me the fuck out.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:06 AM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


heyho: " It contrasted well with the ridiculously stupid "I'd never hit that; she's ugly" derail. "

Yeah. Agreed. I stopped reading the thread at that point. Would not have returned without this post, so thanks, rope-rider.

I'm glad he addressed the consent issue.
posted by zarq at 9:09 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


His response was impressively level-headed considering the tone of the discussion.

Indeed. That thread was one of the worst of Metafilter's "For me to POOP on!" cattiness.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:12 AM on February 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I hadn't seen that thread, so thanks for this Metatalk.

Ten posts in and someone calls him a douche. Metafilter at its finest.
posted by bondcliff at 9:21 AM on February 23, 2012


I don't want to point fingers at the OP, because I'm glad that I got to see Chris's work, and I wouldn't have without that post, but the framing of that post could have been a lot better.

Making the first link a Twitter feed, describing the guy as a "forex trader" and then following that up with the Business Insider coverage (that just has cherry-picked pics of female prostitutes without the context Chris provided in his work), before linking to the actual work in question really did a disservice to Chris and the Faces of Addiction project.

This guy volunteers his time over at a non-profit, puts his own money into this photography series, and I think he deserved a better introduction to Mefi than he got in that post.
posted by misha at 9:41 AM on February 23, 2012 [21 favorites]


I would also like to register my happy surprise that dude was so level-headed in the midst of denigration. What a pleasant and well-spoken person.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:55 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting. I wouldn't have seen the MeFi post otherwise. I'm glad both the OP and the subject were able to respond to the criticism in the thread so well.

...the framing of that post could have been a lot better... I think he deserved a better introduction to Mefi than he got in that post.

I think a "better introduction" is less in the framing of a post and more in the behavior of those responding to a post.
posted by flex at 10:07 AM on February 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think a "better introduction" is less in the framing of a post and more in the behavior of those responding to a post.

Even if that were the general rule, framing this as a story about "a FOREX trader with an odd pastime" is a bit off the mark.

That thread was disappointing, but Arnade seemed like a class act.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2012


It wasn't as bad as the Roger Kimball thread. You shouldn't have to agree with an article to have an adult conversation about it. It's pretty frustrating when any hope for a conversation is drowned out by all of the shouting.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:33 AM on February 23, 2012


His response was impressively level-headed considering the tone of the discussion.

Yeah, this.

Yesterday, I posted this, a light-hearted riff on British stereotypes. Four posts in, somebody (either me or the author of the FPP's subject matter - it's difficult to tell) was called a racist. Nice. Another user, mippy, then shows up and elects themself defender of all poor underdog, misunderstood Brits, with special powers to rule on all matters concerning political correctness.

The author of the FPP's subject shows up, as newly signed up user DaveChild, and shows himself to be a thoroughly decent bloke. It turns out that he's a Brit and, unlike mippy, has a sense of humour. Does he get an apology? Does he fuck.

I hope that DaveChild sticks around, as I do Chris Arnade. They seem like the sort of people that would be a credit to this place. But I wouldn't blame either of them if they didn't.
posted by veedubya at 10:36 AM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


that thread was a pit of nasty sexism

The sexism was hardly the most embarrassing thread about that thread.
posted by Dano St at 10:39 AM on February 23, 2012


On balance there were a bunch more mefites sticking up for Mr. Arnade than there were denigrating him. I think that's worth acknowledging.
posted by pwally at 10:44 AM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The thread was a perfect storm of two ugly trends on MetaFilter: The "I'm going to crap on art" trend and the "I have a negligible amount of experience with photography and that makes me an expect!" trend. It makes it very hard to want to post about the arts in general, because the peanut gallery comes rushing in with this strange urge to demonstrate how clever they are by shitting all over it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:52 AM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's afternoon. /humorless

It's "humourless". /pedantry
posted by DaveChild at 10:41 AM on February 22 [4 favorites +] [!]


Yeah, wow, dude fit right in and fast.
posted by griphus at 10:52 AM on February 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


veedubya: " Yesterday, I posted this, a light-hearted riff on British stereotypes. Four posts in, somebody (either me or the author of the FPP's subject matter - it's difficult to tell) was called a racist. Nice. Another user, mippy, then shows up and elects themself defender of all poor underdog, misunderstood Brits, with special powers to rule on all matters concerning political correctness.

She's from the UK. What do you believe she should apologize to the author for? For not finding his work funny? For seeing him indulge in stereotypes in his writing?
posted by zarq at 11:01 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I understand your anger veedubya. Mippy is only the head of IT to the Deputy Defender of Poor, Underdog, Misunderstood Brits and I
ve been getting sick of her power plays also.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:04 AM on February 23, 2012


I'm just heartened to see that Arnade really is trying to make a substantial difference in the lives of the people that he photographs. There's so much pain there - how could someone walk away from that & live with themselves?

I sure wish America would get serious about addiction & recovery. So many good lives lost to willful political pandering & just outright lack of compassion. I've never done heroin, but way too many people close to me have gotten sucked into its maw, & I just despair at ever seeing some of them lead ordinary lives again, & it hurts.

At first, I suspected a sort of classist voyeurism, but as soon as I had read through a few of his descriptions, I picked up the empathy. He's out there on the front lines, where more of us should be. Good on him for trying to raise awareness, and to reach out & help.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:04 AM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


veedubya: " Yesterday, I posted this, a light-hearted riff on British stereotypes. Four posts in, somebody (either me or the author of the FPP's subject matter - it's difficult to tell) was called a racist. Nice. Another user, mippy, then shows up and elects themself defender of all poor underdog, misunderstood Brits, with special powers to rule on all matters concerning political correctness.

She's from the UK. What do you believe she should apologize to the author for? For not finding his work funny? For seeing him indulge in stereotypes in his writing?


The interesting part is that he is British also, and when he shows up in the thread and says that, they joke at each other about tea, and a palpable wave of relief passes over the thread. Intesting example of inside/outside dynamics.
posted by Diablevert at 11:16 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Diablevert: " The interesting part is that he is British also, and when he shows up in the thread and says that, they joke at each other about tea, and a palpable wave of relief passes over the thread."

Well, sorta. People are still arguing about hate speech in there.
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on February 23, 2012


Anyone can Monday-morning quarterback the framing of a post. That's easy. It's a lot easier to find some justification for negative behavior than restraining oneself in the first place or giving the benefit of the doubt.

It's harder to find something good to post, feel excited enough (or not too intimidated) to share it with MeFi, and then hold your breath and hope some MeFites will enjoy what you've brought to the table - and that people won't be dismissive or needlessly critical.

This was the OP's second post. Making them feel bad that their framing wasn't up to some high MeFi standard is not going to encourage them to come back and participate more here. Making them feel guilty that you think they didn't serve their subject well enough (and then their subject showed up here to see that pile-on), well I don't think that's the OP's fault, framing be damned. I could well say to you, if you want to constructively criticize purely to be helpful to the OP, in a community spirit, you could be framing your words a lot better.
posted by flex at 11:30 AM on February 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Hate speech? Ridiculous.
posted by veedubya at 11:41 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I hope nothing I do gets posted on metafilter. I'm a balls-to-the-wall advocate for marginalized people so I would probably come off as a smug condescending racist self-promoting monster who only works with people because I'm colonialist only out to make money and fame.

Oh the other hand, I'm always ready to hate on someone's work that I don't find up to my high standards, so yeah.
posted by fuq at 11:54 AM on February 23, 2012





Anyone can Monday-morning quarterback the framing of a post. That's easy. It's a lot easier to find some justification for negative behavior than restraining oneself in the first place or giving the benefit of the doubt.

It's harder to find something good to post, feel excited enough (or not too intimidated) to share it with MeFi, and then hold your breath and hope some MeFites will enjoy what you've brought to the table - and that people won't be dismissive or needlessly critical.

This was the OP's second post. Making them feel bad that their framing wasn't up to some high MeFi standard is not going to encourage them to come back and participate more here. Making them feel guilty that you think they didn't serve their subject well enough (and then their subject showed up here to see that pile-on), well I don't think that's the OP's fault, framing be damned. I could well say to you, if you want to constructively criticize purely to be helpful to the OP, in a community spirit, you could be framing your words a lot better.
posted by flex at 11:30 AM on February 23 [3 favorites +] [!]


I was really kind of depressed by the reception of the last post I put up; reading the comments I kept wanting to protest, explain myself, or defend the damn thing. There were a lot more 'favorites' than attacks in the comment section, so I was able to assume that maybe a silent public had enjoyed it and taken something positive away. Maybe.

Some topics are definitely safer than others around here, so I don't want to paint with broad strokes, but the peanut gallery can seem very unfair sometimes. You really do have to be genuinely excited about something to take the time to post about it, and the reception can be really difficult.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:02 PM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think there's a lot of MetaFilter users who would benefit from reading their own comments, asking themselves "where does all this anger come from?" and then doing something about it. The vitriol in threads on bullying is easy to figure out. The vitriol aimed at people who are just creating something and putting it out into the world is far uglier.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2012 [24 favorites]


I really want to post about the recently announced google VR glasses. I don't really care to read 50 comments about google being evil , marketers being evil or other random noise. I really hope someone with more fortitude makes a post.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:07 PM on February 23, 2012


Ad hominem: "I really hope someone with more fortitude makes a post."

I posted about both Google Wave and Google Dashboard when they were launched. The threads didn't go too badly.
posted by zarq at 12:36 PM on February 23, 2012



I really want to post about the recently announced google VR glasses. I don't really care to read 50 comments about google being evil , marketers being evil or other random noise. I really hope someone with more fortitude makes a post.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:07 PM on February 23 [+] [!]


I'll distract everyone with a post about Margaret Atwood and Apple, and you can slip in for the sucker punch with Google.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:39 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The vitriol aimed at people who are just creating something and putting it out into the world is far uglier.

I have always wondered that. And there's the flip side, where people read vitriol into sort of the usual jokey snark and then go on the offensive, feeling totally justified because the other people started it.

I mean everyone has their idio-normal settings for how much is too much. The thing that has been interesting to me, over time, is that a lot of the people who are in the "dish it out" camp are also sometimes in the "can't take it" camp as well and I never know how that reconciles to them. I think part of it is the "THIS vitriol is justified while THAT vitriol is unacceptable" calculations that people do. If you're just a little off in your math it winds up making you seem like the antagonist when you maybe thought you were the "defending the underdog" person.

I tend to post about long-dead things so if you're someone who thinks octagonal houses are stupid ... well, they basically don't exist anymore so I guess you got your wish and you can not complain in my thread. It's like listening to my mom complain about how her mother in law used to treat her. "Well mom she's been dead for 15 years so I guess you showed her, huh?" I often think, when a post or comment makes me mad or annoyed what sort of outcome I think my comment about that comment should have.

I like to think I have the occasional ninja ability to sometimes get a thread re-directed when it looks like it's taking a bad turn, even when I'm not posting as a mod (though I'm aware I can't be really divisible form my role on this site entirely) and I wish sometimes that more people felt that THAT was their responsibility, not just bitching out someone who they think should get bitched out, or interrogating someone whose beliefs you find wanting.

I have no answer or decent response to the "Well let me tell you what sort of breasts *I* like..." types of responses that the breast implant lawsuit thread seemed to create, but I think there is some sort of my-opinions-let-me-tell-you-them urge in people that isn't always constructive. And heck it's fun to talk about breasts. And of course, being able to ignore people who are doing that thing again may be one of the best traits to have for commenting here. Not easy, but we should give people badges for it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:41 PM on February 23, 2012 [23 favorites]


"I really hope someone with more fortitude makes a post."

As a high-level Dwarven cleric, I believe I am suited for this.
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on February 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


being able to ignore people who are doing that thing again may be one of the best traits to have for commenting here

Exactly. Only I would replace "commenting here" with "serenity" and understand "people" to apply especially to my friends and relations.
posted by shothotbot at 1:05 PM on February 23, 2012



I like to think I have the occasional ninja ability to sometimes get a thread re-directed when it looks like it's taking a bad turn


Yes, and thank goodness this site has the benefit of those amazing super powers.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:06 PM on February 23, 2012


You really do have to be genuinely excited about something to take the time to post about it, and the reception can be really difficult.

I've posted one FPP and although I thought it went pretty well, I was glad it was something neat I found on the internet and not something I was emotionally attached to. Not being really into the post subject made it a lot easier on me.
posted by immlass at 1:12 PM on February 23, 2012


jessamyn, it's a little disgusting how much you have exploited octagonal houses over the years. When are you going to see them as more than just the sum of their sides?
posted by Think_Long at 1:12 PM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am practicing ignoring right now.
posted by futz at 1:21 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's odd how that thread went. I think lots of threads would go better if people were not so quick to police other people's comments, such as afroblanco's. We get that you didn't like his comment, but was it necessary to derail the thread over it? If you didn't like the comment, maybe silence, flagging and moving on would have been the better strategy. The whole "omigod you're so naive" thing was a bit much.
posted by jayder at 1:22 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


jayder, you mean like when you jumped on something I didn't say and said I was overstating it? Ha!
posted by heyho at 1:27 PM on February 23, 2012


I think there is some sort of my-opinions-let-me-tell-you-them urge in people that isn't always constructive.

Or as the somewhat popular blogger Tbogg likes to say "All ya’ll dumb motherfuckers don’t even know my opinion on shit!"

(Which is a clever mot, but one inferior to "Chunky Reese Witherspoon is not a Ben & Jerry's flavor," IMO.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:39 PM on February 23, 2012


"I think part of it is the 'THIS vitriol is justified while THAT vitriol is unacceptable' calculations that people do."

I've been thinking about this in its more general form recently—in response to a recent thread, but I can't at this exact moment recall which one.

But I think that the deeper problem is a kind of twofold cognitive blindness. The first part is the obvious: that we have very strong incentives not to recognize our own hypocrisy/inconsistency.

The second is more subtle. We rely upon our intuition with regard to recognizing qualitative similarity. That is to say, we don't go around deliberately using our rational faculties to determine if two things are similar, and therefore in the category of things we ought to scrutinize for hypocrisy/inconsistency; but, rather, we take for granted that we just know what is similar and what is not, and then check (sometimes) for hypocrisy/inconsistency. And this is neither irrational nor unproductive, as scrutinizing every pair of apparently unlike things for possible likeness is simply not possible.

So what happens is that hardly anyone ever notices they're being inconsistent because, well, in their view they're not. Consistency is an attribute which cannot apply to two unlike things.

And why don't they stop and recognize that two things are similar that they thought were dissimilar when someone else points out their hypocrisy/inconsistency? Because most people's response to anything but the mildest criticism from trusted associates is to question the motives of the person being critical, which also happens to make perfect sense when the two things are so obviously completely different, as any fool can see.

So, you know. That's why everyone else never holds themselves to the same standards as they expect of everyone besides themselves.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:41 PM on February 23, 2012


immlass: " I've posted one FPP and although I thought it went pretty well, I was glad it was something neat I found on the internet and not something I was emotionally attached to. Not being really into the post subject made it a lot easier on me."

I agree that a lack of emotional attachment makes processing criticism easier. We should all Click Post and Let It Go. But having said that, watching threads derail because someone has a bone to pick ain't always easy. I've posted things I had no emotional attachment to whatsoever where the resulting threads were just Not Good and sometimes, that's just going to happen.
posted by zarq at 1:50 PM on February 23, 2012


Well let me tell you what sort of badges *I* like...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:55 PM on February 23, 2012


And there's the flip side, where people read vitriol into sort of the usual jokey snark and then go on the offensive, feeling totally justified because the other people started it.

I mean everyone has their idio-normal settings for how much is too much. The thing that has been interesting to me, over time, is that a lot of the people who are in the "dish it out" camp are also sometimes in the "can't take it" camp as well and I never know how that reconciles to them.


There is a prevalent style of online (and offiline) debate, which is to parse one's opponent's words for the least charitable interpretation and flame it as a 'gotcha'. On MeFi, this sort of thing frequently gets rewarded by favourites, in a way that measured responses are usually not. This style seems to spill over into what should be more regular interactions, so quite innocuous threads can devolve quite quickly into yelling. I try to ignore it, but it does ruin an awful lot of potentially interesting discussions here for me.

Anyway, that's my theory, be it a lot less insightful than Ivan F's.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:12 PM on February 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Just caught up with the thread. Ew . . that was . . that was not good.
posted by Think_Long at 2:14 PM on February 23, 2012


"The vitriol aimed at people who are just creating something and putting it out into the world is far uglier."

I don't think the thread that's the subject of this post, nor the other thread mentioned in this thread, are fairly being held to be examples of this. I don't disagree that this happens; I just don't think it happened in these two cases.

With regard to Arnade's photographs, they and he and the post all suffered from some very unfortunate framing, and certainly not all, or even mostly, chundo's fault.

I think that even if there hadn't been things mentioned that would prejudice this particular community against the photos, merely the historical context of this kind of photography project is itself prejudicial. Understandably so. Contrary to some others, I think that stagewhisper's latter, long explanatory comment in the thread was helpful and not "ugly" and provided a lot of relevant context. My own experience as I read the thread was a wavering opinion on the matter.

A few people responded immoderately, and possibly without looking at the photos or paying much attention to their larger context, and were provocative. But this is MetaFilter and there are thousands of active members. There's no avoiding that these days, if there was ever time that could be expected to be avoided. Those people didn't make up the majority of the commenters, and their comments didn't make up the majority of the critical comments. Most of the critical comments weren't provocative and, well, stupid. The majority were thoughtful. And there was discourse. Which is good.

And this is especially true of the other thread. The immoderate and provocative comments came from the people who reacted strongly against the relatively mild criticism of the stereotypes. The term "hate speech" was used only by the person being harshly critical of those he perceived as accusing others of hate speech. In other words, it was a strawman, and a very provocative one at that.

Indeed, aside from those who seem to be very, very angry at those few people who were mildly perturbed, the thread was congenial.

In my opinion, what was really obnoxious anywhere in those two threads was the sexism in the Arnade thread. Which is, unsurprisingly enough, completely invisible to a great many people. But, well, you know. There's apparently no getting away from some variation of the "I'd hit that" crap on MetaFilter (or anywhere else, I suppose).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:26 PM on February 23, 2012


See also: Special Pleading.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:29 PM on February 23, 2012


"Anyway, that's my theory, be it a lot less insightful than Ivan F's."

No, I think you're correct, but that it's not so much the pursuit of gotchyas and favorites. Rather, we just naturally read perceived allies charitably and perceived enemies uncharitably. This is probably the biggest source of perceived (or, if you wish, real) hypocrisy. When an ally says something that seems like it might be hypocritical, or that an enemy claims is hypocritical, we look carefully for reasons to determine that it was not. Needless to say, we do the opposite in the case of enemies.

This seems so obviously true as to be trite, I know.

But think, for example, about a very, very common kind of hypocrisy accusation: what I call the generalization fallacy accusation of hypocrisy. We think of our perceived enemies as much more homogeneous than we think of our allies. Which is convenient, because it makes it easier to take an individual example from a class of enemies, generalize that individual's stated view/behavior to the class, find another individual of that class who thinks/behaves inconsistently...and then conclude that, and subsequently accuse, the entire enemy class of being hypocrites.

Meanwhile, when any two examples from among a class of allies states/behaves contradictory things, we just dismiss that as being the result of the fact that they don't actually believe exactly the same things. Unless we're forced to admit that they do, which is pretty rare. And all of us who are a class of allies, as a whole? We're obviously not all hypocrites for this reason, that's stupid.

But if you read political blogs, right or left, you'll find that pretty much all accusations of hypocrisy are of this type. A few are about actual individual hypocrites. Most are about how the enemy, as a class, is inherently hypocritical.

Why accusations of hypocrisy are so attractive is another topic. But they clearly are.

With regard to my specific example above, I think we can, individually, behave better by being extremely wary of ever being seduced into utilizing this argument. It's hard to do, trust me. I've been fighting it for years now. I formulated this particular set of thoughts about eight years ago, and I still find myself employing these kinds of arguments. And not for willful or negligent lack of self-awareness about it, either.

With regard to the more general generosity (or hostility) problem, the only possible solution that comes to mind is to train oneself to force oneself to construct hostile interpretations of arguments that one finds felicitous, and to similarly force oneself to construct generous interpretations of arguments one finds offensive. That is, if there's a moderately strong reaction, or stronger, then play devil's advocate against one's own natural inclination. Some insight might be gained. Expecting oneself to be dispassionate, or to simply recognize "the truth", or something else less onerous, is likely to be a route to a different means of expressing bias.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:54 PM on February 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yesterday, I posted this, a light-hearted riff on British stereotypes. Four posts in, somebody (either me or the author of the FPP's subject matter - it's difficult to tell) was called a racist. Nice.

Segundus' simple "Racist." comment was a joke.* That's what good humor looks like: nice and subtle, poking fun at expectations. There's a gentle absurdity in calling all stereotypes racist—especially ones so mild—yet questions whether we should really seek humor in them.


*I guess. That its sincerity is debatable makes it all the more brilliant as satire, as it also rubs those who lack a sense of proportion on such matters (I am sometimes guilty of this).
posted by Jehan at 3:19 PM on February 23, 2012




Segundus' simple "Racist." comment was a joke.* That's what good humor looks like: nice and subtle, poking fun at expectations. There's a gentle absurdity in calling all stereotypes racist—especially ones so mild—yet questions whether we should really seek humor in them.


Yeah, it probably was, so it's a great example of how easily that kind of quip can blow out of control in text. The readers don't know us, they can't necessarily infer by our tone whether we intend to be serious or sarcastic. If people write in a clear, unambiguous manner they'll find that less people wildly misinterpret their comments.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:22 PM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is a prevalent style of online (and offiline) debate, which is to parse one's opponent's words for the least charitable interpretation and flame it as a 'gotcha'. On MeFi, this sort of thing frequently gets rewarded by favourites,

...and sometimes a MeTa for a victory lap. I hate those conversations.
posted by Hoopo at 3:25 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


One time I made a joke nobody got and someone called me an idiot and got 73 favorites, made me really sad. 74 people all thought I was an idiot. That is more people than I know IRL.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:31 PM on February 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


if there are badges being given out, I want one!
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:40 PM on February 23, 2012


No, I think you're correct, but that it's not so much the pursuit of gotchyas and favorites. Rather, we just naturally read perceived allies charitably and perceived enemies uncharitably.

That's true. But there's also the issue of the causes of wrongness...if you think about it, what causes other people to be Wrong? I, based on my life's experience and reasoning abilities, understand the truth about this situation to be X. Other people clearly believe Not-X. Why? There can only really be four causes: They are ignorant, they are stupid, they are crazy, or they are lying.

Anything else suggest the possibility that truth is somehow non-universal or incapable of perception, which most people have a great deal of difficulty accepting, for then what good is it, it could lose or change....
posted by Diablevert at 3:43 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


if there are badges being given out, I want one!

Honey Badges Don't Care
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:45 PM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


No, I think you're correct, but that it's not so much the pursuit of gotchyas and favorites. Rather, we just naturally read perceived allies charitably and perceived enemies uncharitably. This is probably the biggest source of perceived (or, if you wish, real) hypocrisy. When an ally says something that seems like it might be hypocritical, or that an enemy claims is hypocritical, we look carefully for reasons to determine that it was not. Needless to say, we do the opposite in the case of enemies.

Yes, indeed. And it's not just "hypocrisy" of course. When we read a story that says "Politician We Like accused of Bad Thing" we think "how dare those lying scum make such an accusation?" And when we read "Politician We Hate accused of Bad Thing" we think "Ha, I always knew that PWH was a jerk!"

To me, that was the initial problem in the Arnade thread: "forex trader" goes into category of "People We Hate" for much of the Metafilter readership and I think a lot of people in the thread just dismissed the work out of hand based on a set of stereotyping assumptions about forex traders as a class.

The key concept here, of course, is "charity" in the technical or rhetorical sense. We should always try to assume, until it is proven otherwise, that our interlocutor is rational and participating in good faith, and try to construe their statements as generously as possible. I think that one of the unhappy side-effects of a lot of the training we get as textual interpreters in contemporary discourse is that it centers around a hermeneutics of suspicion: unmasking the racist, sexist, ageist, cisgenderist etc. etc. assumptions that are "coded" into the texts we receive. That's a valuable exercise, of course, but it does mean that any community like Metafilter is going to be full of people who have spent years getting rewarded for pouncing on statements and demonstrating that they're really made in bad faith in some way or another: "when so-and-so says X they REALLY mean..." As a mode of textual analysis that can be very productive (although it can be drearily reductive, as well). But as a mode of conversation it's just about as "uncharitable" as possible. We do get a lot of conversations that devolve into denunciation-vs-justification, which is rarely going to be all that enlightening.
posted by yoink at 4:00 PM on February 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


One time I made a joke nobody got and someone called me an idiot and got 73 favorites, made me really sad. 74 people all thought I was an idiot.

I remember that! I was one of the 74. I think the lesson there, and in general, is that sarcasm is not a great idea on the internet, because there's almost always going to be someone stupid enough to say the thing you were joking about, and say it in all seriousness. In the absence of tone, knowing-you etc, it's very easy for people to think that you are that person.

This doesn't mean no jokes, but sarcasm generally doesn't work well I find. I remember last year in a MeTa, some mefite (Klang? Rory? Koesilitz?) said they realised how badly their sarcasm generally went, and decided to make a conscious effort to never be sarcastic in mefi and how well it worked out for them. Inspired by that, I tried to follow it myself going forward, and have been much more aggressively reigning my instinctual sarcastic responses in. And you know what? It worked really well for me, and I feel like I've been a better mefite and gotten more out of the site and - perhaps arrogantly - I feel like other members have gotten more out of my contributions since I've been doing that, too.

I also still make jokes, not that you would know this from the painfully earnest novella above.
posted by smoke at 4:00 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


To me, that was the initial problem in the Arnade thread: "forex trader" goes into category of "People We Hate" for much of the Metafilter readership and I think a lot of people in the thread just dismissed the work out of hand based on a set of stereotyping assumptions about forex traders as a class.

See also, the one-dimensional mouth-frothing that occurs any time economists or economics is mentioned here, regardless of content.
posted by smoke at 4:02 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Large sections of that thread, to say nothing of the subject content itself, made me want to shoot myself.

...not in the "har har I am 4chan" way, but in the "life is terrible, and everyone who is alive is also terrible" sort of way.

So. Yay?
posted by aramaic at 4:08 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi, I'm the guy who "ruined your thread"! Feel free to continue to savage me here.

Meanwhile, I learned a bunch of things from that thread :
1) There is a subset of johns who specifically seek out the least-desirable prostitutes
2) Some of them choose the least-desirable prostitutes because they're vulnerable
3) Others do same because they can get away with beating the prostitutes (or worse)
4) Still others do because they see "sleaze" as a thrill
5) One commenter provided a fair amount of information about the john message board culture, something I previously knew next-to-nothing about

Oh! And I got to hear a first-person account of somebody who worked in a womens' shelter and actually worked with some of these prostitutes.

In all, an interesting discussion. Or would have been, without all the shouting. My only regret was that it was a derail -- although it wasn't completely off-topic.

I should have expected the response I got, though. A lot of users here object to plain speech, and like to act as if we live in an ideal world. But some subjects -- such as the lives of drug-addicted prostitutes -- call for plain speech, and without it, useful conversations often don't happen.

But please do continue to "call me out on" my "disgusting sexism". I'm a terrible person.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:10 PM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some Of My Best Friends Are Forex Traders™, and I clicked into those links ready to get my hate on (I was pleasantly surprised to find a really thoughtful artist doing interesting work).

If the post had said "librarian has odd hobby, takes photos of addicts". You would've either not noticed the subjects profession, or noticed and thought to yourself "why did they mention his job?". The way it was written is full of intent: to highlight the unexpected juxtaposition of wealth and poverty. I don't blame the OP, as this was the hook as written by both the Times and Business Insider, but it clearly set expectations which the thread dutifully fulfilled.

I mean yeah, I wish people bothered to look at the links rather than just react to the headline, but that's how I feel about every god-damned thread on metafilter.
posted by danny the boy at 4:11 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco, you're not a terrible person. You just have demonstrated several times here that you are genuinely bewildered that people don't feel exactly the way you do about everything. It makes it really difficult to treat what you have to say in good faith, because the way you say it is entirely indistinguishable from someone who, rather than being just "curious about how other people think" is actually just making a lot of obnoxious judgements about why people aren't exactly like them.

I'm glad you learned a lot, but you don't seem to care that it came at a lot of emotional expense for many others.
posted by danny the boy at 4:15 PM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's a big difference between looking at something critically and taking a big heaping dump all over it. Yes, the framing was bad, but the content of the post was good. I was really surprised by the assumptions people were making about the photographer. Why the hell not go out and talk to people? Why not find out about how other people live? To me, Arnade's project doesn't say "Ooh, look at me, praise me, I'm deigning to communicate with the less fortunate." He's giving them a voice. He's saying "Tell me your story. Be heard." Gotta respect that.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:31 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obviously Afroblanco just needs to fuck more prostitutes. I'm sure someone can whip up a kickstarter and set him on track.
posted by fuq at 4:45 PM on February 23, 2012


But some subjects -- such as the lives of drug-addicted prostitutes -- call for plain speech, and without it, useful conversations often don't happen.

You know noting of prostitutes, yet propose to know how they should be spoken about?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:48 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad you learned a lot, but you don't seem to care that it came at a lot of emotional expense for many others.

Unbelievable.
posted by jayder at 6:27 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad you learned a lot, but you don't seem to care that it came at a lot of emotional expense for many others.

You say "unbelievable" jayder, I say quoted for truth.
posted by msali at 6:38 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


But please do continue to "call me out on" my "disgusting sexism". I'm a terrible person.

I am constantly amazed how many people say things in this format and then expect to be taken seriously.
posted by kagredon at 7:08 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jeez, Afroblanco was not being willfully ignorant, he was asking a serious, if tasteless, question. And then several people responded with "don't you understand not everyone else is like you" over and over again. And Afroblanco responded by going "no seriously, does anyone have an actual answer to my question?" Castigating someone for asking a question isn't really an answer to that question.

I thought it was an interesting question, that eventually was addressed with interesting information. Wondering how the most downtrodden sex workers actually get on as sex workers doesn't mean you are hopelessly naive about all aspects of the world.
posted by malapropist at 7:13 PM on February 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


The thing that has been interesting to me, over time, is that a lot of the people who are in the "dish it out" camp are also sometimes in the "can't take it" camp as well and I never know how that reconciles to them.

People who are unusually harsh on others are frequently even more harsh on themselves. The internal consequences of having a flaw are so severe for them that they cannot bear to hear criticism from others. (they already criticize themselves enough)

I don't think much reconciliation goes on there; It's a much more primal thing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:46 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I often think, when a post or comment makes me mad or annoyed what sort of outcome I think my comment about that comment should have.

-jessamyn

[That should be put in a header above the posting window.]
posted by caddis at 7:57 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to be in a band with both Afroblanco and a forex trader. (well, forex research director, but anyway..)

That thread (and some of this one) was one of the more distressing ones for me in the "on the internet, no one knows you're a person" fronts. I can tell you for certain that Afroblanco was asking in good faith, and can tell you that there are good people who work forex (and that not all are one-percenters, either.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:31 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


if you're someone who thinks octagonal houses are stupid

I only have one customer who lives in an octagonal house, and the only internet service she can get is satellite. Apart from that, it's an excellent home.
posted by flabdablet at 9:45 PM on February 23, 2012

I think the lesson there, and in general, is that sarcasm is not a great idea on the internet, because there's almost always going to be someone stupid enough to say the thing you were joking about, and say it in all seriousness. In the absence of tone, knowing-you etc, it's very easy for people to think that you are that person.
That's just accidental trolling. The solution isn't to stop, but to start doing it on purpose.
posted by planet at 11:49 PM on February 23, 2012


I wonder if the incidence of stress related heart problems has risen with the growth of the Internet. It has allowed more people to be more testy with more efficiency than anything in history.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:04 AM on February 24, 2012


Ad hominem: "One time I made a joke nobody got and someone called me an idiot and got 73 favorites, made me really sad."

Not to reopen an old wound, but it was this one, wasn't it?
posted by vanar sena at 2:04 AM on February 24, 2012


But please do continue to "call me out on" my "disgusting sexism". I'm a terrible person.

Yes, you are, because you *never* come to meetups anymore. What's up with that?

When I saw your first comment, I went "WTF is wrong wi...." and then I got to your username, and because we have been to meetups together and you have been to my house for parties even, I could "hear" your voice and I knew that you were not, I dunno, make a bad joke or being horrible or whatever.

It was a good reminder to me to do that thing I try to remember to do but that I'm pretty bad at, which is to think of mefites - all of you, but especially the ones I disagree with or haven't encountered much here - as people I've been to meetups with, because that generally keeps me from leaping immediately to the worst possible interpretation of any given comment.
posted by rtha at 3:25 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another user, mippy, then shows up and elects themself defender of all poor underdog, misunderstood Brits, with special powers to rule on all matters concerning political correctness.

I did no such thing - I simply expressed my opinion - a common one amongst British people - that the Jeeves and Wooster stereotyping is really annoying. My own personal definition of 'political correctness' is 'don't go out of your way to piss people off by carelessly chosen language', and I don't think that applied here. I was surprised - I mean, genuinely really - the author was British given how cliched the article was. The 'sense of humour' thing is one that is commonly invoked when people complain about stereotypes, and that too is tiresome. I have an exceptional sense of humour - I even laugh at that thing where people pretend to descend a staircase by gradually stooping - it's just not triggered by things I personally consider to be tiresome.

And I think I did apologise in my own special British way, y'know? I'm not going to apologise for finding that kind of thing tiresome, because that was dishonest, but I would prefer not to be thought of as rude and I'm sorry if I came across that way.

DaveChild seems a nice bloke and I too hope he sticks around.
posted by mippy at 4:11 AM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hate speech? Ridiculous.

veedubya, I would not describe it as hate speech at all. It's just really fucking annoying if you're British. It's the reduction of 'Britain' to a weird steampunk fairytale thing that's annoying. And I mean that in a lighthearted way.

I was also pretty pissed off with SlapHappy's assertion that anyone who pointed out that they didn't care for this type of stereotyping were denigrating those of us who experience 'real negative stereotyping'. I have bipolar disorder and I can give you a list of the ways in which the stereotypes surrounding this have made my life more difficult and more secretive, right down to the video link that went round on a banter list I'm on (I'm not explicit about my condition) that used the disorder as a synonym for 'crazy ex-girlfriend'. This is something I get seriously, incredibly pissed off about. BUT you can get pissed off about serious racism/sexism/disabilism and still find yourself irritated by things that, in the scheme of things, matter less. Nobody's comparing it to racism, seriously.
posted by mippy at 4:21 AM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyway, never mind. I have an infected heel so I'm probably overly grumpy anyway. Stupid antibiotics.
posted by mippy at 4:22 AM on February 24, 2012


I will never ever understand what motivates someone to post a finger-wagging comment. Afroblanco phrased his question with heaps of crass, but so what? Complaining and sniping and hoping for concordance with your prim tut-tuts so that you're suffused with rosy righteousness is parasitic, like how a half-man half-mosquito mighht behave. It derails conversations more surely and utterly than honest engagement ever could, because suddenly the thread is a moral battleground, and everyone feels like they need to chime in and justify themselves. Just fucking keep it to yourselves, Christ!
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 4:29 AM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I like to think I have the occasional ninja ability to sometimes get a thread re-directed when it looks like it's taking a bad turn

Jessamyn, Jessamyn
Does whatever a ninja cyn
Puts a thread / back on its rails
When she thinks / its bound to fail
WATCH OUT!
Here comes the Jessamyn

Afroblanco, Afroblanco
Goes wherever an investment bank goes
Asks a question / 'bout sex work
That doesn't mean / he's a jerk
WHO CARES!
Here comes the Afroblanco

Chris Arnade, Chris Arnade
Look at all the photographs he made
Some are cool / some are funky
In New York / if you're a junky
WATCH OUT!
Here comes the Chris Arnade
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:34 AM on February 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


nicolas léonard sadi carnot: "I will never ever understand what motivates someone to post a finger-wagging comment.

OK. Please don't push the bounds of irony now, and make one yourse-

Afroblanco phrased his question with heaps of crass, but so what? Complaining and sniping and hoping for concordance with your prim tut-tuts

:D

so that you're suffused with rosy righteousness is parasitic, like how a half-man half-mosquito mighht behave.

My gawd. It's full of... fingers.

Wagging.

Primly. :D

It derails conversations more surely and utterly than honest engagement ever could, because suddenly the thread is a moral battleground, and everyone feels like they need to chime in and justify themselves.

Just fucking keep it to yourselves, Christ!
"

Yeah, sorry. No.

Personally, I figured afroblanco was taking the piss and didn't bother responding to him, but sometimes people do say shit so heinous that a response is pretty much going to be inevitable if not necessary. Whether people overreact too often or not around here is subjective. Most of the time, I do think it happens too often, but hey, that's a whole 'nother discussion.

posted by zarq at 5:18 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


zarq zarq zarq, zarq zarq zarq
He's as old as Noah's Ark
Takes animals / two-by-two
Kinda kinky / But whatchya gonna do?
LOOK OUT
Here comes the zarq zarq zarq
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:10 AM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Finger-wag, finger-wag
You forgot to close your italics tag
Everything / that you write
Is all slanted / to the right
LIKE THIS!
Please close the italics tag
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:14 AM on February 24, 2012 [20 favorites]


quidnunc kid, quidnunc kid
How I wish of him we were rid
Why put up / with that guy?
Don't ask me / I don't know why
WHAT AN ASSHOLE!
Here comes the quidnunc kid
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:22 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Repetitive song, repetitive song
Why have I been singing it so long?
It is stuck / in my brain
Now my ears / bleed in pain
PLEASE STOP!
Singing this repetitive song
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:25 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


FIFTH VERSE SAME AS THE FIRST
posted by griphus at 6:37 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Number one, number one
Vote quidnunc kid number one
What is this / number one?
I don't know / but it's fun
I guess?
Anyway: number one
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:42 AM on February 24, 2012


Vote #1 for the quidnunc kid
Even if you already did
In twenty-twelve / He's our man
Replace the mods / Yes we can
VOTE #1!
Vote #1 for the quidnunc kid
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:00 AM on February 24, 2012


It is stuck / in my brain
Now my ears / bleed in pain
PLEASE STOP!
Singing this repetitive song


I can help you. I can. I will make that song leave your brain right now. Ready?

Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where are you? We got some work to do now.
Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where are you? We need some help from you now.
Scooby-Dooby-Doo, here are you, Your ready and your willing.
If we can count on you Scooby-Doo, I know you'll catch the villian!


You're welcome. Someone else will need to help you get this song out, tho.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:01 AM on February 24, 2012


Scooby-don't, Scooby-don't
Takes the cases the others won't
He's not scared / he solves crime
Doesn't run away / all the fucking time
CHOOSE COMPETENCE!
Choose P.I. Scooby-don't
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:06 AM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh dear. This looks like it's time to bring out the big guns. Nothing succeeds like Weebl. (If that one doesn't dislodge it, there are several other flashloops on there you can try. I'd recommend Kenya, Scampi, Badgers, and Amazing Horse, in that order.)
posted by radwolf76 at 7:33 AM on February 24, 2012


No, what you want is a bit of Piero Umiliani. all together now:

MAH NA MAH NA
doo doo doo doo-doo
MAH NA MAH NA
doo doo doo doo-doo


posted by mippy at 7:39 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let me help:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful thread
That Started from this front page post,
Which sprung from chundo's head.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:40 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Photog was a mighty forex man,
Over which we did bicker
Some addicts he took pictures of
And posted them to Flickr
And posted them to Flickr
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:55 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks guys. It's gone now. I'd just like to apologise to everyone on MeFi for my comments above, and promise every single one of you that I will not engage in this kind of behaviour ever again. May God afflict me with pustulent asshole warts if I am lying.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:55 AM on February 24, 2012


You know, the 'tut-tuts' and finger wagging could have been expected. What suprised me were the people who thought I was joking around. I mean, people said things in the thread like "he can't be serious", but I thought they were just being rhetorical. You know, that thing people do online where they make a big deal about how flabbergasted they are that you'd even say such a thing.

In the end, I don't think I did anything awful or evil or sexist. But I do kinda regret derailing the thread. Even though I got some really good responses -- and I still think it's a fascinating topic -- it really did not have anything to do with photography. I did not foresee that it would become a full-blown derail.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:33 AM on February 24, 2012


mippy: " MAH NA MAH NA"

My kids will not. stop. singing. that song.....
posted by zarq at 9:34 AM on February 24, 2012


i get Guided By Voices' 'Kicker of Elves' stuck in my head a lot, and change the lyrics to suit the situation.

Doo Doo doo doo do doo, making some tea...
Doo doo doo doo do doo, posting on't thread...
posted by mippy at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


the quidnunc kid: "Finger-wag, finger-wag
You forgot to close your italics tag
Everything / that you write
Is all slanted / to the right
LIKE THIS!
Please close the italics tag
"

Half the fun
is making people
lean.
posted by zarq at 10:30 AM on February 24, 2012


It's like listening to my mom complain about how her mother in law used to treat her. "Well mom she's been dead for 15 years so I guess you showed her, huh?" Wait, are we sisters? (With the added awkwardness that I adored my paternal grandmother, plus we shared a birthday!)

While I'm derailing, one of my best friends in college claimed that everyone has a "brain-cleansing" song: something you can sing/hum that will push out any other song stuck in your head without itself getting stuck. (I'm pretty sure his was the Brady Bunch theme song.)
posted by epersonae at 11:53 AM on February 24, 2012


It's just really fucking annoying if you're British.

As someone with British parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a passport that says I too am --technically speaking-- British, my impression is that EVERYTHING is really fucking annoying if you're British. Based on my relatives, you'd think thinly-veiled complaints and passive aggressive criticism are the national pastime. Really though, the Jeeves and Wooster thing surely has to be preferable to the "Little Englander" and "drunken hooligan" stereotypes I've encountered in Europe. If you had to pick. Which you don't.
posted by Hoopo at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


one of my best friends in college claimed that everyone has a "brain-cleansing" song:

The kookaburra song does it for me.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:33 PM on February 24, 2012


What I don't get is why Americans don't think we all talk like Ricky Gervais yet. Seriously, estuary - the accent of Gervais - is taking over the media here. It's the generic London/south east accent.

Hoopo - I used to post on a talkboard belonging to a UK paper (hint: not the Daily Mail, though they did have their own at one point) that was notorious for the heavy-handed modding in place to prevent libel suits (to the point where mention of one celebrity meant an instant banning, thanks to the meme that this person liked to tie kids to radiators and piss on them. I'm really not a fan of said celeb, but really. There was another incident where someone got called a 'baby-rapist' and offered to fight anyone who thought he was for 1000EUR. It was a bit of a wild-west.) The word 'cunt' was spread about with such abandon there that it came as a shock to see that it's very much frowned upon here. Said talkboard eventually got pulled after a user tried to sue the paper for libel, and they decided it wasn't worth the cost and effort anymore. I can't see that happening with the New Yorker somehow.
posted by mippy at 3:57 PM on February 24, 2012




+Metafilter: A Drink For All Ages!
posted by nicebookrack at 9:26 PM on February 24, 2012


The way it was written is full of intent: to highlight the unexpected juxtaposition of wealth and poverty.

Yeah, that was part of why I thought it was interesting, so I wasn't going to downplay it. But then again, I work with traders all day, many of whom are wonderful people, so I don't have the knee-jerk reaction that they are to blame for all the world's evils. I think I obviously underestimated the early crowd's ability to RTFA and avoid prejudice on that front. Glad people appreciated it in the end, derails notwithstanding.
posted by chundo at 10:24 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


chundo, I *did* RTFA - just to clarify that not everyone's negative reaction was due to an inability to RTFA. As I said a couple of times in the thread- My issues with this genre of work did not assume evil motives on the part of the photographer. I've been in and around large University art departments for a good chunk of my 45 years here on earth. In my experience, without fail, (and starting way before the internet as we know it existed) at any given time in any large University photography department located in an urban location there are at least 1-2 students in the photography department working on a series of documentary/editorial-style portraits coupled with biographies/interviews/descriptions of one of the following marginalized groups:

1. Homeless people

2. Prostitutes

3. Strippers/Sex workers

4. Addicts

Most of the time the reasons the students choose these subjects is because they have an altruistic or empathetic impulse, or a desire to better understand people whose life and experiences seem so foreign to their on. Once in a while the interest is mainly prurient or calculated to generate attention through titillation, but in general the impulse is positive.
Every time one of these students decides to begin a series like this, photography professors have to point out the potential pitfalls and precedents if the students are committed to see their project through. It's an ethical discussion that comes up again and again and again. I was actually floored to find out that this seems novel to a lot of people (both the project and the ethical considerations) because in my little bubble of experience the first reaction will be to consider the merits of the work at least partly in its fraught relationship to its subjects.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:11 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think this project is more about humanity than art. Seeing this solely as an art project is seeing it through too narrow of a lens.
posted by caddis at 4:39 AM on February 26, 2012


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