PIXEL BURN – Anita Sarkeesian plans more video series, Bro Team Pill DMCA’s Angry Joe

In which Matt takes aim at the gaming press' favourite Patron Saint of Clicks, along with shitty behaviour from YouTubers abusing the DMCA system.
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[TRANSCRIPT]

Hello my name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I take a sarcastic look at the week’s gaming news.

Gaming’s Harbinger of Armageddon or its hoop-earringed divine saviour depending on who you talk to about her, Anita Sarkeesian announced this week plans for two new video series to accompany her still-unfinished “Tropes vs Women” series.

Now before I continue, I don’t think Ms Sarkeesian is Doctor Doom in a lumberjack shirt. However despite what the gaming press would have you believe, she’s also not the anointed saviour of videogames who speaks with the voice of God. Which for some people is all the excuse they need to whip out their Fair Trade pitchforks and renewable burning torches. Particularly as it HAS been rather a slow news month after all.

So Boston Dynamics have kindly loaned me this little…non-gender-specific quasi-autonomous unit, their Problematic & Toxic Speech Disintegrator, or PTSD for short. Its job will be to monitor me for any ideological transgressions, and punish me accordingly.

So as I was saying, Ms Sarkeesian announced two new video series to accompany her “Tropes vs Women” series. One being “a miniseries presenting examples of positive female characters in games,” the other “a video series examining the representations of men and masculinity in video games.” Conveniently responding to two of the biggest criticisms levelled against her work: specifically that she ignores positive representations of women in games, and hasn’t covered how men are represented.

Which, as well as her continuing media appearances, public speaking appointments, interviews and other events, and her ongoing work as, and I quote, (READS PAPER) “vocal advocates for gender equality in virtual culture”, basically means Anita’s going to be juggling a lot of balls in 2015.

[ROBOT ACTIVATES]]

I…I mean keeping a lot plates spinning.

[ROBOT POWERS-DOWN]

Not forgetting Tropes vs Women in Videogames of course, because how could you when the gaming press announces every new episode like its another coming of Jesus. Although Anita herself might as well have forgotten, given she’s only covered 3 of the 12 topics originally promised to her Kickstarter backers. Who don’t really seem to mind overly much, even though it took her around 9 months after the success of her Kickstarter to get her first video out. In light of that one does have to question the wisdom of starting not one, but two brand new series when you haven’t even finished your existing one yet. In fact Anita has released only seven videos for Tropes vs Women in Videogames over a period of about two years. Unless you count that quite frankly surreal testimonial video, in which a bunch of games industry blokes all lined up to explain why they hate themselves.

You know if I didn’t know who some of these people are, and they were speaking a different language, I’d almost believe I was watching penitent dissidents in some sci-fi dystopia confessing their crimes against the state.

[THE PENITENCE BROADCAST]

Fortunately for Anita’s backers – and games journalists hungry for clickbait – the waiting period between subsequent episodes was significantly shorter.

And in all fairness one of the new video series is covering one of the twelve original topics she promised, “Positive representations of women in videogames.” So instead of a single three-part video backers will be getting a miniseries instead. Probably around the time they start claiming their pension.

“But Matt,” I hear you cry, “the videos take a long time to make because Anita has to play all the games for research and to gather footage.” Well if acquiring footage takes too long, perhaps she could borrow some from YouTube Let’s Players and give them appropriate credit. Oh wait, sorry, she already does that…except without the whole “giving credit” part.

Now you could reasonably argue on grounds of Fair Use that featuring Let’s Play footage was a transformative use of the material…which is exactly what Feminist Frequency said. Most of the YouTubers whose footage was featured didn’t mind anyway, so no serious harm was done. But failing to attribute sources is a big greivous no-no in academic circles, and Anita had no trouble remembering to cite sources for her thesis.

Of course an academic paper is whole different kettle of fish to an informal series of YouTube videos. I mean it’s not like they’re being used in classrooms or anything!

Oh.

She doesn’t borrow all her in-game footage from YouTubers, no. She does actually play them herself occassionally. After all, how else could she disingenuously cherry-pick out-of-context scenarios that are entirely player-orchestrated, to support her arguments? Like she did with the newest Hitman game, painting it as an amoral woman-murdering simulator instead of what it really is: an amoral person-murdering simulator that, nevertheless, still penalises players for completely unnecessary civilian casualties. Like this one.

Another argument often deployed in Anita’s defense is that it takes her a long time to write the script for each video. Something I know far too well. Yes, this show is scripted. Sorry to show you all the Wizard behind the curtain there. But I digress. It takes me a bloody long time to do a roughly ten minute-minute long weekly video, so I can hazard a pretty good guess as to how long and arduous it must be to script a video twice as long, covering a narrower scope and with much higher production values.

Except Anita doesn’t write all her videos herself. Her co-writer and producer is self-facilitating media node Jonathan McIntosh, who claims to be a “pop culture hacker” and an outspoken advocate of Fair Use.

Hey, we have something in common!

He also comes out with such utter bollocks on twitter you could write an entire thesis on it. Although he did make that Buffy vs Edward from Twilight mashup years ago that I found genuinely amusing.

He’s still a wazzock though.

Despite all these extra commitments however, Anita might still pluck the proverbial rabbit from the hat and somehow pull it all off. After all, they do say women are better at multitasking.

Particularly since Feminist Frequency declared in their annual report that they’re expanding the organisation by hiring some new staff. Maybe they can hire someone to properly credit all that Let’s Play footage they use, assuming they don’t blow their entire budget on more cherry pickers.

Well that was my attempt to give a reasoned, non-offensive summary of this particular news item, and I think I did okay. I mean I’m not dead yet, right?

ROBOT: UPDATE COMPLETE.

Oh, my robot’s updated. Let’s have a look at the patch notes. Lemme see “improved targeting algorithms”, “better accent-detection protocols,” “a more comprehensive slang library”…hmm, what’s this? “Ability to connect directly to Tumblr.” Huh.

ROBOT: CHARGING MAIN GUN! SHITLORD DETECTED!

But I didn’t say anything offensive you shiny metal twonk!

ROBOT: INNOCENCE IS NO EXCUSE!

You have no reason to kill me!

ROBOT: REASON IS A TOOL OF THE PATRIARCHY!

Fuck. Erm…ah ha! Logical paradox! This statement is false!

Shit, um…If a tree falls in a forest does it make a sound?! Bollocks!

What is 1 divided by zero? Who shaves the barber? When is Half Life 3 coming out? Commence override Picard Alpha-Alpha-305!

ROBOT: SHITLORD TERMINATED.

In other news, popular gaming YouTuber AngryJoe this week released his “Top 10 Gaming Controversies of 2014” video. Which was viewable for all of about a fraction of a gnat’s fart, in internet time, before some arsehole issued a DMCA notice against it.

Now who could’ve done such a thing? A disgruntled publisher? A spiteful indie dev? Well no, it was another YouTuber actually. Specifically YouTuber BroTeamPill, whose logo is shown here under Fair Use for purposes of criticism and commentary regarding him being a dickhead.

BroTeamPill, or “Brote” as he’s sometimes called, claims he issued the DMCA because of this collage, created in the early days of GamerGate by an anonymous internet person. The red part shows people considered, at the time, to be on the side of GamerGate while the blue part shows people considered to be against GamerGate. Note the position of the logo for BroTeamPill. [“COMMENTARY & CRITICISM” FLASH UP].

The picture appears briefly in this section of Joe’s video where it lurks inneffectively in the background, barely able to snatch even a fraction of viewers’ attention away from Joe’s manic dancing hands. Nevertheless BroTeamPill emailed Joe objecting to the use of the image, claiming it insinuated he was pro-GamerGate and was thus detrimental to his brand.

According to Brote himself he is in fact “Anti Anti-Gamergate.” Which might sound like the cop-out bullshit excuse of a dickhead, but for legal reasons it’s the absolute 100% truth. He certainly never shamelessly courts Gamergate’s attention every chance he gets, nor basks in the praise some of them give him, and never happily accepts other people making pictures linking him to GamerGate, only to disavow all affiliation the moment it becomes inconvenient for him.

Although let’s give Brote the benefit of the doubt and assume he is indeed “Anti Anti-Gamergate”, but totally not a part of GamerGate itself no sirree. Lets also assume he was sincerely defending his his brand.

Six hours after emailing Joe and receiving no response, Brote then issued the DMCA and posted screenshots of it on twitter. Like a dickhead. But the letter of the law is on Brote’s side: BroTeamPill’s logo is their property and it IS protected by copyright, so he has every right to defend it. On the other hand, Fair Use allows Joe to feature it – however briefly – when discussing a news topic or event. The logo is barely noticeable in the original picture, and even less noticeable in Joe’s video where it appears for all of 29 seconds. I counted.

As you all know a DMCA puts a strike against your YourTube account, and after three strikes Google shuts your entire channel down. So of you earn a living from your YouTube channel, as AngryJoe AND BroTeamPill both do, a DMCA is the equivalent of dropping a nuke on a farmer’s crops.

After private discussion over emails, and public slanging matches over twitter, Brote and Joe have since resolved their spat. The DMCA has been withdrawn and the video is now back up, with an annotation clarifying that BroTeamPill is not in anyway associated with GamerGate. So aside from enforcing his copyright – as he is entitled to do, Brote has achieved absolutely fuck all other than reminding people how fucked-up YouTube’s copyright system is.

Although Brote has also inadvertantly given both Pro-GamerGate and Anti-GamerGate people something they can almost unanimously agree on. That he’s a dickhead.

So that’s something I guess.

That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you liked it then please do let me know, and let your friends, family and the San Francisco Hipster Collective know as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. And if you didn’t like it then you could always issue a spurious DMCA to get it taken down. Apparently. You can go now.

Matt

About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.