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Monday, November 28, 2011

218

The Best Time I Rapped on the Internet and Everyone Hated Me

This October, a social media contractor at my advertising agency was charged with making a viral video to acquire more Twitter followers for one of our clients. (For the record, that is the most 21st-century sentence I have ever written.) She decided to go the parody route and wrote a rap about the newly released Windows Phone, but was too shy to actually perform it, so she approached me and asked if I would record the video. “I think you’re the only person who could keep a straight face for this,” she pleaded. I said sure.

A week ago, I was walking into my office in downtown Seattle when I felt my cell phone vibrate. The text preview screen informed me it was from an unknown number and said something about Windows Phone 7. I figured it was work-related, so I slipped my phone back into my pocket, message unread, and went inside.

At my desk, I started to get to work when a message from a friend at another agency popped up.

Nick: how is it going
me: It’s fine. I’m bored.
Nick: Just fine? I was reading a blog that I check out every day and came across this article. Do you know the article I am talking about? It is on Gizmodo.

What? I was puzzled, both by the serial killer way Nick was typing, and also because I had no idea what he was talking about. Then it dawned on me. I grabbed my phone to pull up the text I had received a few minutes earlier. The unknown number turned out to be a public relations guy I had gone out on one date with, months ago, and then promptly forgotten. “Haha,” I thought smugly. “I must have really left an impression.”

Then I actually read the text.

“Hey there, it’s Chris – have you been rapping in any windows phone 7 videos lately?”
How did he find that?! I responded in my typical eloquent fashion: “AHHHHAHA”
Chris followed up immediately: “A gizmodo post and viral video may be circulating our office at the moment.”

Internet drama! I rushed back to Gchat and asked Nick to link me to whatever the hell he was talking about.

Nick: Be prepared. Don’t die.

I took Nick’s advice and did not die. Instead, I clicked on his link to the Gizmodo start page. I was shocked and delighted to behold a giant freeze-frame of my face. I then noticed the sobering headline:“White Girls Rapping About Windows Phone 7 is Worse Than Your Parents Having Sex.”

Oh.

A Quick Behind the Music: back when I was an attention-hungry teenager, I quickly learned that people were very easily entertained by my antics. Flossing my freestyle became my gimmick in the high school cafeteria, later my go-to party trick in college. I never thought I was amazing, but I also knew that bad/funny/unexpected can often trump real talent.

I’m not rapping as much as I used to; the dog days are over. Or so I thought. Back to the little video filmed at my agency — I performed it, my coworker Tweeted it, we mostly forgot about the whole ordeal. Until that fateful day last week when some random Twitter user submitted the video to Gizmodo. I received a barrage of amused emails and texts before I could even finish reading the article. This small sample selection of reactions is an accurate representation:

“Ummmm looks like you're famous. Can't believe I have friends emailing me about you.”
“Teachout — your video is on break.com you are famous!!! Nice rap, miss when you use to rap for us”
“ i knew those raps in jr high were prepping you for something big.”
“please tell me this isn’t you.”
“You are an internet sensation.  I enjoyed the feedback comments from your viewers!”

That last one was from my dad. DAD! DAAAAD. It’s comforting to know my father is aware of the fact that everyone on the internet thinks I have stripper boobs. Sorry, family!

Yes, stripper boobs. What? I don't know. My friends and family may love me, but the internet hates me. It wants to appraise my body, and then wants me to "die in a fire." As many a commenter has delighted in pointing out, my rapping is worse than Rebecca Black’s singing.

“I think this is the worst thing on the Internet, and I've watched videos from both Courtney Stodden AND Vanessa Black, plus I've survived 4Chan.” – I assume Vanessa Black = Rebecca Black, unless…?

“Until she opened her mouth I thought she was attractive....I didn't think I could lose interest that fast.” Rude, but I’m pretty sure many guys I’ve dated share this sentiment.

It’s surreal to think that over 140,000 people have seen me rap, and they all have drawn a collective conclusion about what kind of person I am:  a dumb, annoying, slutty white person. The horror!

There are only three things that honestly bother me:

1. The weird level of misogyny.
“Shut up and show us your boobs already.”
“holy shit! STFU!!! Make me a sandwich, show me your tits, and again, just STFU!!!”
“This is what happens when you trap 4 strippers in a room and pay them NOT to take off their clothes.”

Apparently, an accepted default insult is to call girls strippers.  You can also say a lot of detailed things about their bodies and what you would like to do to them in lieu of any relevant criticism.

2. The fact that many outraged commenters on these sites actually seem to think that we were serious. That’s like being angry about the SNL Laser Cats sketch because you think it was a real TV pilot. (Not that I would be so deludedly generous as to compare this flash-in-the-pan video to the eternal hilarity that is Laser Cats.) Give me a break. It was bad on purpose, trust. I do not think this is real hip hop, a real song, anything. Give me some credit here.

3. When people say that we “killed rap” and are “proof that white people can ruin everything” … NO! This is the knife that cuts the deepest. I love and respect rap. Just look at my Facebook; under “most influential figures” in my info, Nicki Minaj is ranked #1! True devotion. I understand that I am a middle class white girl from Washington, not a whole lot of street cred, but please, internet, I beg of you, do not undermine my passion for this music!

Everything else is entertaining and nothing more. The top comment on Break.com:

“CAN SOMEONE PLEASE SLAP THAT FAT A55 FOR TRYING TO "GANGSTA". WHAT A DISGRACE TO THE WHITE NATION”

That is too dumb/confusing to be taken as an actual insult. I mean, I’m offended as a human by the “white nation” shout out, but not the “FAT A55” barb.

The question on everyone’s minds, of course, is this: WHAT is she going to do now?! Well, my initial plan was to collaborate with the woman I have been compared most to, the one and only R-Black. We can embark on a joint tour called “Haters Gonna Hate,” where we just perform various remixes of “Friday” and “Windows Phone 7.” I will move to LA to “really start my rap career,” try to make one album with that same guy who wrote that stupid single that Paris Hilton and Haylie Duff fought over in 2004, but of course when the record drops it will be a complete failure. Then I will record a sex tape and “leak” it to TMZ, gaining a brief window of exposure, but quickly fading back into obscurity. I will then get impregnated by an E! Network PA I meet at a club one night, and after I give birth to little Jaynezn, I will get a spread in Star magazine about how “Motherhood has changed me!” and then I will release a vanilla-heavy fragrance (available exclusively at Macy’s) and perhaps a line of flowy mom-blouses at Kohl’s.

Alternately, if that plan fails, I guess my entourage and I will just do what one insightful Gizmodo commenter prophesized:

“When they become middle-aged suburban mothers, they're totally gonna reminisce about this at their monthly margarita night. 'OMG, you guys. We were so crazy back then.'“

OMG, you guys. So crazy.

When Emily Teachout is not humiliating herself for all the world to see, she writes about food and travel, drinks all the wine, and maintains a very fruitful parasocial relationship with T.I.



218 Comments / Post A Comment

CrescentMelissa

dang. Thanks for sharing this!

milenakent

this video just seems really awkward because the lady in the middle rapping reminds me of my 1st grade teacher@n

Nicole Cliffe

Ohhhhhh EMILY. Waves of cringe-y Internet sympathy and solidarity.

melis

@Nicole Cliffe Seconded, heartily.

theguvnah

Aw. I kind of love this girl.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@theguvnah: Emily is so fierce I can't staaaand it

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@Too Much Internet: Seriously, tough face into pose face at 0:07? <3

simone eastbro

to be honest, i was hoping this was a melis-penned piece when i clicked on the facebook link.

IT'S STILL GOOD.

melis

@simone eastbro Oh yeah, "Emily Teachout" is my online stripper-boob alias.

emilylou

@simone eastbro Ha! It's okay, I secretly wish everything I wrote was melis-penned, too.

melis

@emilylouise That's such a weird coincidence, I secretly hate myself and am consumed by self-loathing every waking moment.

wee_ramekin

@emilylouise Well, I think we all know how much I <3 melis-penned articles, but what would you do if I told you that So I've Decided to Have Additional Favorite Hairpin Writers...?

DrFeelGood

This is awesome. You have a wonderful sense of humor about the whole situation.

wee_ramekin

Oh grrrl! That's awesome / horrible. And I want to let you know that I'm so sorry that people said all those horrid things. I think that you are amazing and also rad.

wee_ramekin

@wee_ramekin OH MY GOD IT JUST REALIZED THAT THIS IS MY/our EMILY LOUISEIE <3 <3 <3!!!!!!! This makes my whole world so very amazing! I knew that I loved you before, but now it's like, x5billion.

emilylou

@wee_ramekin Aha! My cover is blown. THANK YOU, my beloved W_R <3, and to everyone else here who is SO NICE. It's refreshing after being maligned by YouTube commenters.

melis

@emilylouise Oh, you're delightful. And you changed your avatar for the occasion!

wee_ramekin

@emilylouise Oh no! I didn't realize that there was a cover to blow (THAT IS WHAT SHE SAID OH EM GEE)! I just saw your picture in the contributors box, and it is your old avatar picture, and and and...oh nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I hope I didn't ruin your day/life/the Hairpin.

emilylou

@wee_ramekin NOnonono. There was no cover to be blown, I was just using it as a figure of speech. EVERYONE CAN (AND SHOULD! kidding) KNOW WHO I AM. Nothing is ruined, this is the best day ever because everyone here is awesome.

candybeans

@emilylouise yay i already thought this author was adorable, but now knowing who it is (or, internet-know who it is), i think the piece is even MORE adorable!! adoreaballs! and you reacted to all this with so much grace and humor! a million internet points to you.

CrescentMelissa

@emilylouise I always love your comments. And now I love you even more now that I have a tiny glimpse into what you are about. I love that you did this, and were able to do it with a straight face, aaaand wrote about it too. Seriously, the best!

emilylou

@CrescentMelissa @candybeans @EVERYONE ELSE
I am overwhelmed. Thank you. You all are so great. I really, really appreciate the positive feedback (and also appreciate the less positive feedback in other threads; I will happily take intelligent discourse over "U R FAT A55" any day). I feel very lucky to be a contributing member of this awesome community!

martini

The best article that I have read on the Hairpin.

Guy DeBr0'd

Those dudes were hella lame. Everyone knows you can't judge a woman's worth without looking at her butt.

wee_ramekin

@Guy DeBr0'd AGHHHHHHHHHHHH!! ;)

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@Guy DeBr0'd: You mean her A Fifty-Five.

Guy DeBr0'd

@Too Much Internet If we weren't in mixed company, I think it would be more proper to refer to it as "dat azz"

SheWhoReadsInSkirts

@Too Much Internet Now, I will be singing Scfifty-five to myself. All. Night. Long.

mush

I LIKE this woman.

purplesocks

EEEEEEEEMILY i love you

km1312

A stranger once called me a "cracker bitch" for saying "whattup" to my friend on the street.

Anyway, this article, your take, and honestly, THE VIDEO, are awesome.

Kyle Wagner@facebook

Wait, so do you not actually like Windows Phone? This is sort of important to me.

emilylou

@Kyle Wagner@facebook True confessions: I HAVE NEVER USED ONE, SORRY
If everyone must know, I currently have an HTC EVO (not the weird 3d one, just the normal one) and I like it.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@emilylouise: We're EVO friends! High five.

redheaded&crazy

nothing like misogyny on the internet to remind you that everybody sucks, forever. :D

redheaded&crazy

@redheadedandcrazy except for you emily. you rock, obviously!

one of my friends likes our group to freestyle recaps of our events - cottage weekends, parties, paintball outings - we are extremely white and extremely uncool (and I'm really terrible at freestyling) but fuck it, it's fun!

wee_ramekin

You guys, I have a depressing thing to talk about. It is YouTube comments, and also comments on a lot of other sites. Every time I make the mistake of reading comments on YouTube or news sites, I come across so many misogynist comments like the ones our @emilylouise was subjected to, and it makes me cringe and cry and rant and foam at the mouth and then lapse into a comatose state. Do you think that people really think these things? Like, deep deep down in the core of their souls? Or do you think that people are just getting some sort of thrill from being able to say disgusting schlock like this because it's the internet and no one will know? (Not that that's better, or anything...).

I guess I just am having a day and I hate it that it's okay to say/think horrible stuff like this about random but very real (and very beloved! By me at least, and probably the whole 'Pin!) people.

kayjay

@wee_ramekin People get very brave on the Internet. And yes, I actually do think they think these things they say.

melis

@wee_ramekin No, don't worry, it's actually all one guy and he's working on an elaborate art installation. It'll all make sense at the gallery opening, I promise.

HillsideHoyden

@wee_ramekin Don't forget that there are a ton of very normal people like you and me who watch YouTube videos but never comment on them. The ones who post misogynist crap just like being offensive (but yes, it reveals something ugly about their inner selves). Haters gonna hate, trolls gonna troll, horses gonna horse. #trufax

Alixana

@wee_ramekin I totally agree that internet comments (everywhere but here!) are horrible and make me so angry-sad. I wish I could stop reading them.

The most personally frightful to me, and among the worst places for this kind of misogyny, is the comments section of the most widely-read legal news & gossip blog. They hate all women, and female lawyers especially much, and it makes me nauseated to think that someone I see in court in the morning could be posting that garbage all afternoon.

emilylou

@wee_ramekin One thing I try to keep in mind is that most of the people who delight in posting malicious YouTube comments are bored teenagers, not awesome people like Hairpin commenters. Like @HillsideHoyden said, most of the nice, normal people like you & me are not bothered with commenting on videos.

But yes I think a lot of them do really think it :/ And enjoy being able to say asshole-y things under the cover of internet anonymity, where they don't have to answer to their offensive statements. Ugh.

redonion

@wee_ramekin Augh. I have these thoughts. Like is our whole society going to hell in a hand basket or is this just internet bravado and dumbassery? And in either case, WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? And how do we not accept it anymore?

smidge

@wee_ramekin Ugh. I like to think that people just enjoy being shitty because it's the internet and no one will know, and I hope they don't actually think those things.
That's one of the reasons I'm such a devoted follower of the Hairpin, though--it's so refreshing to read such a classy group of commenters who can disagree without resorting to name-calling/misogyny/poor grammar.

Polina

@wee_ramekin Yeah, I was just bitching to a friend about all of the anti-OWS hate on the internet for instance. Hate, not well thought out criticisms. And how it seems sometimes like we are a nation of trolls hiding behind our computers. Maybe I sound like an idiot, but that is exactly one aspect of OWS that I find refreshing. You can just as easily be a stupid protestor, but you're forced to put a face to that. Look at websites like Reddit. It really aggravates me. I know I don't have to look at it, but I do look at it to see trending stories or stupid funny things. I'm babbling a bit, but anyone get me?

Valley Girl

@wee_ramekin It's such a downer, thank God for The Hairpin and other bastions in the cruel internet seas. This very amaze-awesome-tastical piece calls it the "weird level of misogyny", but the sad thing is that we all know there's nothing weird about it at all, it's actually very normal and commonplace.

wee_ramekin

@smidge I agree about the classiness of our commentariat. I actually had a nightmare the other night that there was a commenter on the Hairpin who was like all those Other Commenters, and I didn't know what to do and I didn't know how to handle the situation and everything was ruined.

In other news, I miiiiiiiiiiiiight be addicted to the 'Pin.

But really, what would we do if a commenter like that came here? I woke up and worried about it. Would Edith have the power to ban that commenter? Would we all pile onto the commenter and tear them a new one? Would that just be feeding into their sick delusions of grandeur? Would we just ignore the comments so as not to feed the trolls BUT THEN there would be COMMENTS like that on OUR PIN? What would we dooooooooo?!?!?! I think I need an action plan so I don't have any more nightmares.

The Lady of Shalott

@wee_ramekin Ohhhhh Tinycups (can I call you that? I want to call you that) I feel like this exactly, all the time! The most depressing thing is reading the comments on sites like the newspaper for my (small) town where there is always some dumbass ready to crucify the victim or do some "if only people were Christian and worked hard everything would be all right" and it is SO DEPRESSING. Even major news sites are like this! There are so many morons on, like, CBC.ca! And it makes me SO SAD. And I am so afraid that people think like this, deep down in their core. They can't, really, right?

It drives me bugfuck insane that people say things like "SEXISM AND RACISM ARE THINGS OF THE PAST, NOBODY REALLY ACTS LIKE THAT ANY MORE" and then literally on the next website there will be a dozen people calling our beloved Emily a stripper slut. I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT AND IT HURTS MY BRAIN TO THINK ABOUT IT TOO MUCH.

People really think these things? But other people think sexism is dead! HOW CAN I RECONCILE THESE THINGS IN ONE BRAIN

melis

@wee_ramekin SO DOES SPATES NOT EVEN EXIST IN YOUR WORLD ANYMORE OR WHAT

#neverforget

wee_ramekin

@The Lady of Shalott Tinycups! Please always and forever call me "tinycups"! @Mr. SinGin knows how fond I am of diminutized versions of my already midgey name. He called me "Minikin" the other day, and my heart exploded with happiness.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@wee_ramekin, @all: It's a weird kind of group-think, one up-manship thing, at least among dudes. And yes, primarily very young dudes (or very social stunted dudes.) Like, if you could just step through their computer screen and stand there in front of them and say "... why would you say that?" they'd just shrink away.

Dudes... hmm, it's hard not to generalize, but dudes tend to weaponize words in a way to constantly test each other for social standing fitness, but in a very crude way (as obviously witnessed.)

smidge

@wee_ramekin I used to get really offended when people called me diminutized things, but now I kind of love it.
Also, regarding a plan of action: set them on fire (tm)? Counter their misogyny with cool logic? Give them complicated riddles to answer?

piggie

@The Lady of Shalott Local paper comments are The Worst, if simply because you know all of those people saying horrid things are shopping at your grocery store.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@melis: Spates was our tame bro, and in fact, was possessed of a pleasant honesty. Sometimes.

wee_ramekin

@Too Much Internet Apropos of nothing - because he's certainly nothing like spates - where is @atipofthehat?!

melis

@Too Much Internet Sometimes.

MollyculeTheory

@wee_ramekin It's probably bad for the sites who foster those kind of commenters, in the end. I wrote something recently and my Future-Mr. suggested I submit it to Salon and I was basically like "nooooooo! The commenters! Are so mean! Noooooo!" (not like losing me as a contributor is any great tragedy for anyone but you know what I mean!)

Guy DeBr0'd

I can only aspire to be a second-rate sp8ce

Diana

@wee_ramekin

Ask me how I feel about Reddit!

paper bag princess

@wee_ramekin There is a Chrome extension called YouTube Options that allows you to hide the comments on every video always, and it is the best because now I am not even tempted to read all those stupid mean things people say. I wish it also worked on newspaper sites but for now I am happy with youtube.

wee_ramekin

@Diana How do you feel about Reddit? (I'm asking because you so often put into brilliant words a lot of the rage that tumbles around in my head.)

Polina

@wee_ramekin Seconded. I have big feelings about Reddit and I need help.

Guy DeBr0'd

@lizzle If you weren't in thrall to Google, you could use Element Hiding Helper for AdBlock. I have comments blocked just about everywhere, and it's fabulous!

D.@twitter

@Alixana The only place I regularly read comments anymore is the Hairpin. Even NPR has gotten too infuriating.

nobodyputsbabyinthecorner

@The Lady of Shalott @Piggie The local paper is the worst!! There's a lot of cop / community tension in my small-ish town and the comments make me never want to leave my house.

rayray

Late on this but anytime I am raving lyrical about the 'Pin to anyone (almost daily) part of my recommendation is always the fact that the comments are not the part you wish you hadn't read, but equally as enjoyable as the posts themselves in many cases, and that if there is a difference of opinion it never ends in someone being called a cunt or a nazi, but with people understanding why they might have caused offence and coming out feeling positive about the whole thing. SO.
But also a lot of the time (in life and on the internet) it's so easy to surround yourself with people who are nice and rational and not assholes and then you actually look at what's trending on twitter or the comments on (even the most reasonable) news sites or whatever and you remember that OH FUCK, the world is full of doucheblankets.

Craftastrophies

@The Lady of Shalott At least (at the VERY least) it means I have something concrete to say to those fools who think that woman-hate is not an issue and we are all free and equal in this world.

@D.@twitter It took me so long to find the comments on the 'pin because I am just so used to never ever even looking at the comments. I don't have the sanity points.

I think a lot of it is the initial tone of the conversation here - props to Edith et al and also all of us (I feel so weird giving myself props?). Also the willingness of people to jump on those here who violate the tone, but also ignore those who are clearly just trolling. Or to just reverse troll the fuck out of them (thanks, melis!)

I think maybe this article is relevant? http://dashes.com/anil/2011/07/if-your-websites-full-of-assholes-its-your-fault.html And can I just say again how gd grateful I am to Edith and Jane and everyone for being a presence in the comments and not just content generators, and for setting such a lovely tone. It really is an oasis in an internet sea of hate and misogyny.

steve

@wee_ramekin
My faith in internet-humanity was restored a little bit when I discovered that clips on YouTube from that episode of Futurama about the Neutral Planet have exactly the same number of likes and dislikes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpaQpyU_QiM
En Español:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKJp5wOzKnE

miwome

@wee_ramekin xkcd will at least make you laugh a little about it!

Orange_prose

@wee_ramekin I have an add-on for Firefox that lets me turn off comments, so I just do that and pretend that all is right with the world. But I think most people are just enjoying getting to say things they'd get punched/ostracized for in real life.

Slapfight

@wee_ramekin @smidge, Whenever I make the mistake of reading the comments prettymuch anywhere (seriously, HuffPo commenters?!) I HAVE to come here and wash the disappointment in humanity out of my skull. YouTube commenters are THE WORST. My friend did the Jew York rap video and she was brutalized. She took it in stride, just like the writer. Eh. You can't be responsible for other people's stupidity.

BoozinSusan

@wee_ramekin OK, so Mike Birbiglia tweeted about this wonderful SNL sketch about what unearthing troll commenters actually would be like. http://www.hulu.com/watch/284937/saturday-night-live-internet-comments-talk-show Feel free to imagine these people whenever you are sad about how awful anonymous commenters are.

oh, george

@wee_ramekin I KNOW. have you seen this? http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-decoy-website-launched-to-lure-away-all-moroni,26393/

fondue with cheddar

@Craftastrophies That's a great article. I know it's a lot of work to monitor comments, but it's well worth it. When there are assholes in the comments, the good people avoid them and then they end up being nothing but assholes.

steponitvelma

@Alixana Ack! Right? I have to stop reading that well read legal gossip blog altogether due to the stunning amount of misogyny. Yuck!

miwome

@Craftastrophies I haven't read the article yet, but I just wanted to note that I am incapable of NOT reading the title to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands," which is just a TAD incongruous.

Craftastrophies

@miwome That comment just changed the whole tone of my morning for the better.

kayjay

We need to come up with a new word because "awesome" just doesn't cut it with regards to this. Awestastical? Amazerad?

Whatever. Emily, you are amazeradawestastical.

Cawendaw

@kayjay And scrumtralescent, too.

kayjay

@Cawendaw Charles Nelson Riley you are a delight.

Craftastrophies

@kayjay Is amazeballs not enough? You do have to say it 'amaaaaaaayyyyzebaallls!!!!!'

K.@twitter

Emilyyyy (wannabeflapper)! You are my favorite internet personality.

emilylou

@K.@twitter AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! The internet comes full circle.

Tulletilsynet

Middle age is severely underrated. Every night can be monthly margaritas night. I miss middle age.

Tulletilsynet

Also, I am going to glue this clip onto my retina and watch it instead of the top videos at my pub.

ksk21

I don't even need to watch the video to know it is probably one of the best things to ever grace the internet. You should also follow the advice of other celebrities and just not read what people write about you...or create another rap responding to their insults! That'll learn 'em!

MeghanElizabeth

I'm way more embarrassed for the haters who thought you were earnestly rapping about a tech product than I am for you. You're great. What a champ.

Ham Snadwich

It's a well established fact that white people ruin everything. Exhibit A.

The Lady of Shalott

Dear @emilylouise, I love you, please let us be friends.

emilylou

@The Lady of Shalott It's a deal!

lyzl@twitter

Yeah, it's pretty easy for people to forget that even on the internet, people are still people. Your video did not kill rap, but it may have killed some people's already illin' sense of humor and to that, I say, oh well. *slow clap* for fighting back. PS your boobs are fabulous!

rabbitrabbit

I am glad for the lack of vitirol here, but am a little worried that this smart, sardonic website is turning into a thoughtless grrrrl support group via its comment threads. Let's be honest: this video is bad, really bad. If you have to justify how 'down' you are ('I do love rap! This was a joke, OBVIOUSLY!') something went wrong in the planning phases. Yes, the writer's sense of humor and thick skin here are admirable. But the video is awful, and (lest we forget) all of this questionable content was put together for nothing more noble than a corporate gimmick, which the writer agreed to put herself square in the middle of.

wee_ramekin

@rabbitrabbit There is no way that anyone could make a rap video so bad that it would merit the misogynist trash that the author received. Nope, no way, no how. Just because you sign up to do a YouTube video doesn't mean that you have to be okay with mouth-breathers commenting about your breasts.

rabbitrabbit

@wee_ramekin No one is suggesting the misogyny is warranted; it's obviously not, and it's an issue worth calling attention to in this article. But this is far from the author's only point here, and the fact that misogyny is bad and wrong doesn't make this video right.

wee_ramekin

@rabbitrabbit I guess I don't see the point in commenting on the quality of the video because it seemed obvious to me that the article wasn't about the quality of the video. I also gleaned from the article that the purpose of the video was "to go viral", so I assumed that the video was purposefully not great.

For me, this article was more about the author's humorous reaction to becoming an internet "pariah" than it was about the video itself. I support not only the author's attitude, but also the fact that the piece was well-written and funny.

(Ha! I just looked and I did actually write "Oh grrrrl!" upthread.)

LRMG

@rabbitrabbit I am just really confused by your point. I don't think the writer ever claimed this video was good. So you don't like it, so what? Is your point that we all need to point out how bad it is? What purpose would that serve?

I think this article is great, for the larger cultural points it makes. To me the video is basically secondary. Thanks for writing this Emily!

rabbitrabbit

@wee_ramekin Well, by "bad" I meant more than "uninteresting," but it looks like I may be the only one who thinks white people making raps that make fun of rap to make money is even slightly problematic. So taking a different point, this is a truly depressing statement:

“I guess I don't see the point in commenting on the quality of the video because it seemed obvious to me that the article wasn't about the quality of the video. I also gleaned from the article that the purpose of the video was "to go viral", so I assumed that the video was purposefully not great.”

So if there's no content or purpose behind this video other than 'to go viral', and it was designed to be purposefully bad, why in the world are we talking about it at all? The writer is only writing about her 'experience' being an internet 'pariah' because she actively participated in making herself one.

Valley Girl

@rabbitrabbit I'm glad for the lack of vitriol in your comment, but I'm also a little worried that this smart, sardonic website is accumulating comments from lurkers whose main contributions seem to be concern trolling what the site is supposed to be. I'm thinking of the "hoebaggy shoes" debacle, by way of another "for example".

Diana

@Valley Girl

I don't think that's fair. rabbitrabbit is clearly taking the time to make thoughtful comments, with which you may disagree strongly, and that doesn't make her a "concern troll". Just because she's a "lurker" with a different reaction to this video doesn't automatically undermine what she says.

Valley Girl

@rabbitrabbit Also, since your argument seems to be that Emily "made herself" the target of online misogyny...It doesn't matter what we do, being female and online is more than enough to make us vulnerable. To say that talking about in a relatively safe space among peers makes it a "thoughtless grrrrl support group", well, there are far worse things to be.

deepomega

@Valley Girl Yeah uh I'm more worried about this smart, sardonic website accumulating comments from lurkers that are me-too-ism under a veneer of we're-all-in-this-together. RR is right, the video was really embarrassingly bad, and two of the three points about the criticisms are basically defending it on merits. Yes - commenters were misogynist, and if this piece were "the best time I rapped on the internet and was judged for my boobs instead of my terrible rap" I'd be on board. But that's not what this article is.

Ham Snadwich

@Valley Girl - I think you may be concern trolling about concern trolling.

purplesocks

@rabbitrabbit that's funny, i didn't realize a silly youtube video could be right or wrong. the internet! the center of all moral integrity!

boyofdestiny

@Valley Girl I don't have a dog in this particular race, but I've seen plenty of regular commenters concern troll about what the site is supposed to be, too.

bloblo

@rabbitrabbit I agree with everything you are saying. Maybe I'm just a my-opinion-is-not-valid "lurker" cos I don't comment with any regularity, but I was kinda surprised that there has been almost no criticism of the parts of this piece (and there are a few) that warrant at least an eye-roll.

and no offense to the author. that she went through this is pretty hilarious and unimaginable. but yeah, the point is not that internet comments are INSANE, but that the commenters don't know how much she truly loves nicki minaj, or something, or whatever i don't know

bloblo

@rabbitrabbit I agree with everything you are saying. Maybe I'm just a my-opinion-is-not-valid "lurker" cos I don't comment with any regularity, but I was kinda surprised that there has been almost no criticism of the parts of this piece (and there are a few) that warrant at least an eye-roll.

and no offense to the author. that she went through this is pretty hilarious and unimaginable. but yeah, the point is not that internet comments are INSANE, but that the commenters don't know how much she truly loves nicki minaj, or something, or whatever i don't know

Polina

@everyone Saying we're becoming thoughtless is bound to get a reaction. Concern trolling or not.

Guy DeBr0'd

@boyofdestiny Oh, what's that supposed to mean, hmm?

wee_ramekin

@rabbitrabbit I think I'm getting something different from the article than you are. As I stated above, the article sparkled for me because I see it as someone's humorous take on what it's like to be an internet pariah. My perspective on the 'Best Time I' articles is that they are articles about unique, random things that happen to the contributors, and then we get to hear the story in the form of a funny article. For me, it didn't matter that Emily's video was bad, or that she was doing it for viral marketing. It doesn't matter that she might have foreseen that she'd be an "internet joke". That wasn't the point. The point was that something interesting happened to the author, and now we all get to read about it and laugh because it's a well-crafted piece of writing.

From what I can see, that's not what you took away from the article. It seems like you wonder why the author is even writing about her experience since she didn't produce a "quality" piece of work. It also seems like you're calling into question whether or not producing a video for viral marketing is something you should be ashamed of. Neither of these points crossed my mind because I didn't see them as central to the piece, which I saw as someone telling a funny story. I bristled at your first point because it irks me that you question the smarts and wit of people who are being vocal about the empathy they feel for the author. A 'Pinner can be smart and sardonic - as I think this comment thread shows! - and still feel sympathy for someone who is being made fun of and having her body assessed by misogynist jerks.

toodles

@rabbitrabbit From one "lurker" to another, I completely agree, too. I do feel empathetic towards the author - no one should have to read mouthbreathing YouTube comments like that - but I find the video both unfunny and problematic for multiple reasons, which would indeed be beside the point except for the fact that her defense of it necessarily also defends its quality.

Yes - commenters were misogynist, and if this piece were "the best time I rapped on the internet and was judged for my boobs instead of my terrible rap" I'd be on board. But that's not what this article is.

This from @deepomega is better than any summary I could come up with. Once again, I'm sorry the video garnered shitty comments that didn't have anything to do with the video and had everything to do with misogyny, but calling into question some of the basic assumptions of the piece isn't concern trolling.

Valley Girl

@Polina Saying we're becoming thoughtless is bound to get a reaction. Concern trolling or not.

That is all that I was trying to say. I never meant to imply that anyone's opinion is invalid because they don't comment often. But when someone's only comments ever are to say "I thought this was supposed to be a feminist/not thoughtlessly supportive/whatever website", I consider that concern trolling rather than an attempt at real conversation. Maybe it's just an inauspicious start to one's commenting life and I'm looking at it the wrong way.

In hindsight, wee_ramekin is much smarter and articulate than I could ever be and I never shoulda said nothin'.

queenofbithynia

@Valley Girl I think you are missing the larger point that whenever a group of women are publicly kinder and more generous to somebody they internet-know than the law strictly compels them to be, we all die a little bit inside. I am going to have to go home and kick my cat to balance this out (she's a girl.) We'll have no girrrrrl-power-mutual-support-therapy sessions in MY house! That's how I know I'm a thoughtful person.

wee_ramekin

@toodles Is she defending the video though? I honestly don't see that she is. To me, this article reads like she knows that it wasn't a great video.

Is that entire video not capitalizing on the fact that it's a group of people doing rap badly?

I also don't see the article as Emily asking for validation or kind words from us to soothe her hurt feelings ("It was such a masterpiece guys *sob* and why is everyone so meeeeeeeeeean *sob sob*?"). It read to me like "Guys, here is this funny story about the ~*~best time I~*~ put this bad rap video online and everyone hated it. It's weird that they didn't realize it was a parody and it's double-triple weird that they took this opportunity to say that I have stripper boobs".

Mary McKenna@facebook

@wee_ramekin

I appreciate that RR brought attention to some issues that are admittedly not the the main point of the article but are still worth considering as part of this discussion. My own reaction to this article was mixed: sad at the sight of another intelligent person being put to work according to this formula (make a deliberately crappy video, hope it goes viral and helps sell some new technology of dubious value), but her way of dealing with this sad situation of her infamy was obviously hilarious and commendable. I don't see why we can't be cognisant of both dimensions.

deepomega

@Mary McKenna@facebook Yes. And additionally, something RR has been hinting at but not coming outright and saying, is that making a "deliberately bad" rap is actually problematic, in a historical context. I 100% believe that Emily didn't intend for this, but nobody else has mentioned it, and it makes me uncomfortable to just take her at her word that what she made is uncriticizable - which is exactly what her claim regarding point 2 is.

Guy DeBr0'd

@queenofbithynia I think y'all are missing the larger point that you're guests in my snow globe, so act nice. Or at least make interesting and/or humorous repartee that'll get you picked up for next season.

toodles

@wee_ramekin Yeah, the point of the whole video is that it's people doing rap badly, but I read her response to criticism #2 as a defense of it as an effective joke. I tend to agree with rabbitrabbit upthread that white people making fun of rap (or using rap to make a joke, whatever) is more than a little problematic. I also think it's not funny, but that's obviously subjective.

I think her response to the way it blew up is great and commendable and even instructive for all of us floundering about in the Internet Age (haha gross thing to say, but still) but, you know, that was my initial reaction to the video itself.

toodles

@deepomega This, big time. I feel like the reaction is almost always uncritical when things like this pop up (white people singing rap lyrics to a "comedically" acoustic accompaniment, or that guy doing Kanye's tweets as opera or whatever), not just here but across the Internet. It always makes me uncomfortable. You articulated it better than I would have, thanks.

Guy DeBr0'd

We need to get Dave Bry in here to judge the rap & its sociocultural milieux from a professional standpoint.

queenofbithynia

@Diana The concern troll business comes in not when someone makes forceful if unpopular points, but when they complain that not enough other people have made those points already and that this represents a creeping something-or-other.

I'm kind of a jerk in comments all the time, but I try to be scrupulous about saying *my opinion* rather than "I'm worried and concerned that nobody has yet articulated *my opinion,* what could be the matter with everybody else?"

also omfg could everybody stop saying "problematic." If you mean offensive or appropriative or dumb or straight-up racist, just fuckin say it. "problematic" is for wishy-washy milquetoasts.

finally, has it occurred to no one that the reason most people haven't criticized or critiqued the video is because most of us are at work and can get away with reading the internet, but not watching it move and dance and sing at us?

deepomega

@queenofbithynia Sorry, I was trying to be nice. It's racist. And "I did not watch the video" is a pretty half-assed defense.

toodles

@queenofbithynia It's also dumb, if that helps you. I, too, was trying to be nice.

rabbitrabbit

@queenofbithynia I didn't mean to imply everyone should feel the way I do or dance around stating my opinion, which I think came across pretty clearly. I just thought it was disturbing no one had a critical reaction to the video. But you're right "problematic" isn't direct, so yeah, I think the video, and this kind of stuff in general, is racist. And so is saying you don't have 'street cred' because you're middle class.

Guy DeBr0'd

Pretty sure there's a website for just this kind of thing.

Really Nice@twitter

@rabbitrabbit God, I agree. This kind of stuff is completely racist, and it's crazy to me that comment after comment rolled on by without ANYONE pointing that out. (Until you, of course!)

maevemealone

@queenofbithynia I think I'm most confused by her surprise at her PR Company driven viral video going viral. (I also can not see the video at work). No wait, I'm most surpised by her reaction to youtube comments. They suck and are worse when directed at you personally, but this couldn't be her first time on the internet outside of this tidy little url.

Midie

@queenofbithynia

I like how you demonstrated how irresistible it is to resort to "complaining that not enough other people have made those points already" in your last paragraph ("has it occurred to no one that...)!

I don't point that out to be snarky, but I think it is indicative of the fact that many commenters on this site feel like they are part of a community and hope their comments speak to a collective understanding of things. Which is nice.

Ellie

@Really Nice@twitter Sorry but I have to violently disagree that it's racist. It's really stupid to say that hip hop is only the domain of black people and that if you're not black you can't engage with hip hop in any way.

queenofbithynia

@Midie Oh by all means, point it out to be snarky! Lord knows I don't mind. The thing I think is Hairpin poison is not snotty rhetorical flourishes, though (they are indeed irresistable.) What's poison is endless metacommentary on if we are arguing the right way, if we are being too nice or too mean, where we all end up agreeing only that whichever way ladies argue on the internet is wrong. You are absolutely right (if you were going to say so) that I do it too, but I shouldn't. It's dumb and lousy.

The Hairpin is not the only feminist blog that argues amongst itself about whether an atmosphere of stifling positivity makes angry people feel bad, but I think we do it less than most places and I really really really want it to stay that way.

I never, ever would object to anybody saying "hey that's racist" about a white person rap video, fuck knows ninety billion percent of them are racist. But the why hasn't anybody ELSE noticed-es are the worst, on any topic and I would rather have other people call me a hypocrite for falling into the horrible metacommentary chasm myself than have everybody go around stapling their hands to their foreheads all the time. I want to fight about things worth fighting about, not fight about the way in which we fight.

deepomega

@Ellie White people rapping is not racist. White people rapping intentionally terrible raps is. Next!

Ellie

@deepomega What is your reason for drawing that distinction?

rabbitrabbit

@queenofbithynia "The Hairpin is not the only feminist blog that argues amongst itself about whether an atmosphere of stifling positivity makes angry people feel bad." Woah! What about the possibility that an atmosphere of uncritical positivity meant to make people feel good can stifle critique and healthy reflection? And ask and ye shall receive: you are a hypocrite, because you're the only one continuing the meta-conversation here, which (as you note) is a really convenient way to avoid having a conversation about actual content, like the fact that this video is racist.

deepomega

@Ellie I'd kind of rather not tumble too far down this rabbit hole on this thread, so I will be very quick: Historically, in America in particular, white people have done intentionally awful versions of black culture as a "joke", but the joke is not that white people are awful, it's that the thing they are doing is not worth being taken seriously. It is a refusal of respect.

Ellie

@deepomega I appreciate that, which I hadn't thought of or been aware of before, but I think it's too difficult to say that there are specific ways that certain people can or can't engage with a certain style or mode of art or whatever, and that restricting a whole mode to "serious" and "authentic" expressions because of its historical context really is too problematic (in the theoretical sense, not "problematic" meaning racist).

Craftastrophies

@deepomega White people rapping 'ironically' terrible raps, especially to sell things, is racist. I am really glad this was mentioned because I would probably be too chicken to bring it up. And maybe some of that is the pressure to be nice to other women, but you know what? I will TAKE that over comments about boobs. (Although, boobs are awesome.) I think the commenters here do a pretty decent job, on par, of gentle, helpful criticism, of which RR's comment is a perfect example.

I have NOT watched the video, because I am at work, and I don't intend to because I am pretty sure I will hate everything about it. Mostly (apart from aforesaid racism) that's fine, because clearly I am not the target for an ironic internet rap about a windows phone, and I don't have to love everything ever. And, look, I will cop to being super white and a bit racist and kind of liking stuff like this when it's more in my own genre of music, eg: ben fold's acoustic covers. But I actually cannot listen to them anymore because it makes me feel way too racist and complicit in... all of that bullshit.

That said:
Yes - commenters were misogynist, and if this piece were "the best time I rapped on the internet and was judged for my boobs instead of my terrible rap" I'd be on board. But that's not what this article is.

I think that IS what the article is... almost. I admit that I skimmed the apologetic excusing bit at the end and did roll my eyes (some of my best friends are Nicki Minaj!). It's not about your lack of street cred, it's about your having of a massive amount of privilege. And affecting the mannerisms and expressions of people who don't have that privilege is having your cake and eating it too, and is basically not cool. I wish point three wasn't in there. But I do think the point of it is about the horrible misogyny and general terribleness of the internet.

deepomega

@Ellie That's fair! I think it's a discussion worth having. I mostly want to explain why some of us might not have responded to this as completely supportive, especially when some of her defenses ("one of my favorite musicians is a rapper!" "not a whole lot of street cred") play really hard into this fucked up context of racism.

Guy DeBr0'd

Would a close reading of this discussion help me understand Kreayshawn?

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@Guy DeBr0'd: She got swag blastin' out her ovaries. What don't you get?

Guy DeBr0'd

@Too Much Internet If someone interpreted her as a disrespectful caricature regardless of whatever intent she has, is she racist?

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@deepomega This! White people knowing that they can't rap, and putting their non-talents on display should only offend white people.

And FWIW, Emily, that video would have been a SENSATION with a bit more production value and/or if you looked at the camera. People just couldn't see your mad skillz with a z.

maevemealone

@Craftastrophies @deepomega Having watched the video now that I'm home, it's not racist by any stretch of the imagination. It's silly, amateur, perhaps a bit naive, definitely embarrassing, but not racist. People of all races make embarrassing rap videos everyday, turning them into multi million selling albums. And I wouldn't just casually accuse someone of racism. That's a pretty big firebomb to throw on someone so if you accuse someone of it, you better be willing to stick around to defend it.

Craftastrophies

@maevemealone Maybe 'appropriative' would be better? I don't know, but I definitely agree with deepomega re: playing into the context of racism that already exists.

I'd also like to point out that someone can do or say something racist without actually being a racist person. Most people will accidentally do that at some point, especially privileged people, because the deal with privilege is that you don't have to be aware of other people's contexts. As someone with a fair whack of privilege myself, I regularly put my foot in it and do or say something that someone later points out as being... a little bit not good. Everything about that experience really sucks.

maevemealone

@Craftastrophies Nope, sorry. You would have to tell a lot of white guys to stop singing jazz. Adele would have to stop recording albums because she's white, Eric Clapton couldn't play guitar because he plays too much blues. Those came out of the black community too. Race is a tricky thing, but there's a difference between acknowledging race and being racist. Clueless rich kids will always be clueless rich kids. Rap is now a broad enough genre to be able take hits like this. I think the discussions about who's "allowed" to rap and who's not are as tired, bored, apologistic and as white liberal hand wringing as it gets.

deepomega

@maevemealone Please see what I wrote above about the difference between performing raps and performing intentionally bad raps.

toodles

@maevemealone There's a huge difference between rapping as music and rapping badly as a "joke" and/or marketing tool. Unless, of course, you're claiming that the video is an earnest contribution to Musical Letters.

Craftastrophies

@maevemealone Hm, you are sort of convincing me to move my line on this a bit (because clearly I am the arbiter of what's racist? Ha, no). I definitely take the point about not putting barriers and limits on an artistic genre. But ultimately I still feel not ok about spoof rapping, as per deepomega's comment. I think maybe it's the 'only I may call my mother bad names' thing. At the very least it's a could/should issue - as in, can white people do intentionally bad raps? Well... I'll go with yes. They can. Should they? Probably not, because even if the initial thing is not racist, the status of black people, and by extension black people's art, is such that many many people are going to take it as a reinforcement of their disdain for those things. I totally agree about acknowledging race and being racist. But I think in a situation like this, there is more subtext than actual text about race, and I think that can be harmful. I don't want to say it's the worst ever, it's at the most casually racist. But that still buys into the system, if not at the point of generation then at the point of consumption (by some).

I will admit that the topic is tired and boring. But seriously, what's wrong with some white liberal hand wringing now and then, if it stops us from being racist all the damn time? I'm all for it, even though it IS hard to wring my hands and clutch my pearls at the same time. :P

Guy DeBr0'd

@deepomega I think you're setting up "intentionally bad" as too much of a straw figure. I think you need to read what she wrote with a little less gendered ear.

If you won't engage with that anymore, then maybe you can give your perspective on my question in re: Kreayshawns intent vs. reception.

Ellie

@maevemealone I totally agree with this. I think that modes of music or art are too universal to be relegated specifically to a specific people or a specific historical context. (I'm still a little confused about certain Halloween costumes though!) I really don't want to sound like I'm trying to be "I'm special and I have a special informed opinion" but I, like I'm sure many of you, really, really love hip hop, and have read semi extensively about its historical contexts and various forms and related genres and stuff and I think it's great that lots of different people are into it in whatever way they are into it. For an incredibly obvious point, there are tons of people in other countries who make hip hop about their specific situations in life. E.g. white kids in Serbia. (A friend of mine did a dissertation on global hip hop in post colonial context.) Hip hop may have emerged in one specific context but it's grown so far beyond that that I think that it must be treated like any other form of art. Anyway, humorous freestyling is really not new (though I am aware of the difference between it being funny and hip hop, and it being funny "because" it's hip hop) and I don't think that it's fair to say that someone who uses a mode of expression without an authentic claim to its historical context is appropriating - in this specific context at least.

queenofbithynia

@maevemealone Oh it isn't either a firebomb, it's a valid opinion. I came home and watched the video too and I thought it was super uncomfortable-making -- the mugging for the camera mostly, not so much the actual rapping, which I found more or less inoffensive. If I weren't predisposed to be charitable because of the post I'd already read, I'd say it looks pretty racist. As it is, I know she meant no harm, but that doesn't keep the video from looking like every it's-funny-because-we're-white pseudo-rap 'creative' presentation I cringed through in middle school.

Ellie

@Craftastrophies My immediate reaction to this is that if white people "can" do "good rap," then obviously white people "can" do "bad rap." As per my last comment, I think that hip hop, at least now, really isn't just a "black people's art." I know this is not that popular an opinion but I think it's good to have all kinds of art be for everyone. I think at heart it's just a style of music and that you would have to be much more specific about what KIND of hip hop you are referring to if you wanted to find some that was uniquely associated with a racial or socioeconomic milieu.

deepomega

@Guy DeBr0'd I'm not sure what's wrong with calling it intentionally bad when she says "It was bad on purpose"?

Kreayshawn is interesting because it's hard to tell what the intent is. The impression I have is that she is trying to make good music that she would enjoy to listen to, but I'm not exactly a Kreayshawnologist.

Guy DeBr0'd

@deepomega This is why I think the words that she wrote can have another interpretation than the "intentionally bad" reading:

Nicki Minaj and other female rappers of color already get comments on every front just like those in the article. A rapper like Kreayshawn gets even more shit for being a woman and white, even though her intention is respectful.

Women who have a skill or talent often internalize cultural messages to downplay those things. The author also talked about doing it a lot to entertain. That may be perceived as a simple gender performance. It may also be one of the only acceptable outlets for someone of her gender and race to be able to do something she really enjoys.

A viral marketing ploy requires actual or feigned low production values and an unrehearsed appearance, that doesn't mean some care didn't go into it from the performers. Maybe if they had crowd-sourced the implications of it here, they could have decided to tell their bosses "Fuck no!" Maybe that wasn't an option while still keeping their job.

maevemealone

@Craftastrophies Why would you make rules about who can make what kind of music? Just to keep everyone comfortable and keep it authentic? That's boring. And as @Ellie says, rap and hip hop really do now speak to so many cultures, that the discussion should really just stick to "Emily, pass the mic". Or get a new job that doesn't put you up to such stupid ideas as this.

Craftastrophies

@maevemealone Well, I definitely don't think I should be making any rules - even if anyone ever is qualified, that person isn't me. The above is my opinion about what is and isn't appropriate and possibly offensive? I would definitely err on the side of people, especially people in a historically oppressed group, being comfortable. I think possibly authenticity is a different discussion, although just as interesting.

I certainly take your and Ellie's points about art and expression and the freedom thereof. I don't know, though, I feel like this is the kind of thing that SHOULD be totally fine, but that we live in a world that means it sometimes isn't. So possibly my problem is with the way the world, particularly the mainstream, consumes it. And I was going to say that maybe that shouldn't be the problem of the creator except that 1) I think that's a cop out, and a privilege, to not have to deal with the real, predictable outcomes and 2) it's not (just) for self expression, it's for selling something.

Also, I think it is really really important to be able to have conversations like this, as boring and tiring as they are. And I also think it's important that people are able to say 'hey, I think that thing is racist'. Doing something racist is not the worst thing in the world. And while I think we need to be careful and nice about calling people out - partly because we could be wrong or missing the point, partly because you catch more flies with honey, etc - I think it's dangerous that many people's reaction to someone saying a person did something racist is to act like it was a personal attack. 'That thing you did seems racist to me' is NOT the same as 'you are an awful person'.

Saiko

@rabbitrabbit You're not the only one. Also, such entities as Adele get called "fatty" etc on YouTube, yet one expects not to draw any ire whatever for something as bad as this? People suck and are dumb, and this company was trying to co-opt these very same dumb people into accepting their fake meme--this is what happens.

Polina

@Ellie "Hip hop may have emerged in one specific context but it's grown so far beyond that that I think that it must be treated like any other form of art." Yeah. But is it free of that context? Like when my cousins who live in another country send me a mix, and suddenly I hear the white rapper co-opting the n word because they believe it to be part of some hip hop language. Anybody can rap, that doesn't seem to be what is being contested, but that the context and content are still important despite that.

Ellie

@Polina Well, I think using that word if you're white is something totally different. It's NOT "part of some hip hop language" so that does seem like a misapprehension. But ultimately, yes, I think hip hop, as an incredibly expansive and diverse genre, is free of that context. To me, it's sort of like saying that we shouldn't like the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack because it co-opts jazz.

Polina

@Ellie Right, but name another genre where something like the n word is used. That is precisely the sort of thing that makes hip hop itself different. And yes the n word is an obvious example of racism, one we can agree on. But it doesn't mean that less overt forms don't exist. I'm not trying to fight with you, I just feel you are really oversimplifying.

Ellie

@Polina I'm not 100% sure what you mean when you say that hip hop is different because some people making hip hop use the n word in songs. I don't think that this fact means that the entire genre is confined to a specific racial context. Maybe it is an oversimplification, but I think it's necessary not to restrict any one mode of art to any one group of people.

Craftastrophies

@Ellie Guys. I just say thanks to everyone in this thread for disagreeing but doing it civilly and actually having the conversation, instead of shouting at each other. It's so amazing, especially in the context of the usual reaction that the article was talking about. I just wanted to let you all know that you rock, even when I think you're wrong :D

Ellie

@Craftastrophies I agree! I really enjoy discussing/debating issues and have enjoyed talking about this one. I genuinely appreciate other people's perspectives, it's a good way to learn things and sometimes I even have my mind changed on a certain issue or aspect.

teebs

OMG you were so crazy back then.

faintly_macabre

The "vanilla heavy fragrance" just makes this perfect article even perfecter. Yes.

MaryF

omg want to be your friend.

Nutmeg

The only video of me on the internet where I am recognizable is one where I am very drunk and keep telling my friend recording it, "Stop taking pictures. I know you're taking pictures because that's what cameras are for," except with much more slurring.

hairdresser on fire

AAAHH! Great piece, Emily! Shout out from a Seattle Pinner. Girl, I am absorbing some innernet h8 all the way over in the U-District for ya. You shall be collectively purchased drinks at the next 'Pinup, I imagine.

Am I still smart and sardonic (re: upthread comment) for being supportive? I probably would have cried at some of those internet comments, ridiculous or not. What chutzpah!

Valley Girl

Pff, you grrls and your ~thoughtless support~. /sarcasm tag

Emily, major props and big ups for standing down the innernet h8.

martini

@hairdresser on fire Yes! Free drinks for Emily at the next pinup! EMILYYYY.

joeks

"I love and respect rap. Just look at my Facebook; under 'most influential figures' in my info, Nicki Minaj is ranked #1! True devotion."

In light of the above, I agree with Criticism Point #3.

jamie schuh

Love this, and love your sense of humor about the situation. A friend reminded me this weekend that she has a video of me booty-shaking to old Destiny's Child, and that I should never, ever fuck with her.

ladyfriend@twitter

I really felt for you. Having done social media for companies in the past, I know how misguided some of the approaches can be. I shudder to think of how awful it would've been to have had to put my name, let alone face, to some of the horrible ideas I was asked to execute. What was with the person who WROTE this rap being "too shy"?

wharrgarbl

@ladyfriend@twitter I have some sympathy for the lyricist. Some people freeze, or flush, or stammer, or tense up and look like flailing wooden puppets when trying to perform in front of an audience. (Full disclosure: I will choke like Dr. Heimlich's underpaid test subjects if it's my own stuff. It winds up being like amateur night at the German Nihilist Comedy Club.) I fully appreciate the importance of having an enthusiastic and confident performer and the necessity of admitting it when you're just not fitting that bill.

Maybe the solution is just to burn youtube comments to the ground, mix the ashes with salt, and shoot them into space?

bloblo

@rabbitrabbit I agree with everything you are saying. Maybe I'm just a my-opinion-is-not-valid "lurker" cos I don't comment with any regularity, but I was kinda surprised that there has been almost no criticism of the parts of this piece (and there are a few) that warrant at least an eye-roll.

and no offense to the author. that she went through this is pretty hilarious and unimaginable. but yeah, the point is not that internet comments are INSANE, but that the commenters don't know how much she truly loves nicki minaj, or something, or whatever i don't know

bloblo

@chirdia i was not TRYING to post this THREE TIMES in two different areas of the comments section. but it's too late to delete or else i just can't figure it out. when my new hard drive comes these problems will be a distant memory. :( :(

Agarina

@chirdia I dunno...I think that the Nicki Minaj part was said in jest...

bloblo

@Agarina yeah i don't actually think the point of the post was to let us know she loves nicki minaj, i was just trying to end my comment with something dumb to convey my inability or unwillingness to write a precisely formed critical comment

Saiko

@chirdia I probably wouldn't be considered a lurker, and I don't really get the point of this either. A purposely bad video was tweeted to the public with the purpose of drawing attention, and now the writer can't believe it drew attention and all people could talk about was that it was bad?

Agarina

The internet is the worst! If you and Rebecca Black go on a "Haters Gonna Hate" tour, I will buy all the tickets, because you seem nice, and also because no 13-year-old deserves the kind of awfulness people direct at her.

AmbiSinister

Since we're on the subject, I just wanted to share this since it's the best troll smackdown I have ever seen: http://asylumlabs.com/untrolled.jpg (It's not mine, I'm just hosting it on my site for the time being.) I really liked this article!

Tim Dunbar@twitter

You're awesome for putting it out there and hot, so good for you.

Cartoon Superhero@twitter

White people, please stop.

whimseywisp

THIS VIDEO IS EFFING HYSTERICAL. Seriously, I almost just laughed so hard I started crying in my cube. I had to keep it together, because I'm at work. But really? Love it. Thanks for sharing it with us. Sorry this internet is so douchey. I feel like the Hairpin is truly a comment oasis. Y'all are ALL SO AWESOME. /sobs

lawndaisies

Perhaps eventually internet infamy can lead to something good. Your post shows you have the ability to stay on the humorous side of all this, that's respect worthy. Nicely written piece.

Luna

How did he find that?! I responded in my typical eloquent fashion: “AHHHHAHA”
A quietly hilarious line.

fabel

Okay, not sure where to put this, but it's in regard to the discussion above about racism. I don't understand how white people rapping (badly, intentionally badly, not badly, whatever) is racist? Accidental or otherwise? I always thought intentionally bad white rappers were making fun of themselves-- not black rappers or culture. Like, "look at me, I can't rap because I'm white & this is humorous because some white people actually TRY to rap & fail, but I'm failing on purpose!" Or something?

Inkling

@fabel The specifics that rankle me are when the white people speak in accents/employ words/appropriate gang signs that they don't use normally. It seems more like mockery, as opposed to Weird Al's White and Nerdy, which is done in his own voice and about some "white people stuff".

fondue with cheddar

@Inkcrafter I didn't take it as mockery. Emily said she loves and respects rap music. White people trying really hard to be something they're not is funny. We're dorky.

fb1277435226

I find this via Gizmodo's follow up article (http://gizmodo.com/5863131/about-that-one-time-we-turned-a-rapping-windows-phone-7-fangirl-into-a-hated-internet-personality?autoplay), and gotta say, you've taken this all in stride and kept your sense of humor about it, which is pretty cool. Rock (or rap, whatevs) on!

shovel

What a great attitude! As they say, spoon 'em if they can't take a fork.

boxofrain

@fabel--I totally get what you're saying, and I think that's what some people take away from white people rapping badly. The reason I think there's more going on than that is that:
a) Because of minstrel shows, there is a long history of white people imitating black people to get laughs in the most stereotypical and racist way possible. Often when white people today rap, they put on an incredibly stereotypical display of "what rappers act like" which ends up being just an modern version of minstrelsy.
b) If this phenomenon had nothing to do with race/imitating Black people for the purpose of humor, then there would probably be a similar fad with people singing opera or playing the cello terribly--or just singing white pop songs intentionally terribly. There's not, though, and I think the reason is that part of the point of white people doing rap is to demonstrate "Look how ridiculous rap is! Isn't it silly!?" In reality, though, while there's obviously good rap and bad rap, rap is just as valid an art form as any other, and we don't need people intentionally shitting all over it for laughs.

Ellie

@boxofrain To be fair people do put up funny videos of "white pop songs" (or just, pop songs) as a thing. Like Miranda Sings.

wharrgarbl

@boxofrain I wouldn't call it a "fad," but it's definitely A Thing for white-dominated musical genres to be exploited for humorous effect, be it "singing a popular song intentionally badly," "singing a ridiculous song well," or "singing a completely ridiculous song badly." It just sort of blends into the background noise when This Is Spinal Tap! comes on, or Metalocalypse is a smash hit, or Weird Al Yankovic hosts a music awards show, or Sublime sells a record because it's not racially charged, it's just white people being goofy.

wharrgarbl

@boxofrain I wouldn't call it a "fad," but it's definitely A Thing for white-dominated musical genres to be exploited for humorous effect, be it "singing a popular song intentionally badly," "singing a ridiculous song well," or "singing a completely ridiculous song badly." It just sort of blends into the background noise when This Is Spinal Tap! comes on, or Metalocalypse is a smash hit, or Weird Al Yankovic hosts a music awards show, or Sublime sells a record because it's not racially charged, it's just white people being goofy.

boxofrain

@boxofrain You're right, parody is totally alive and well in other genres. I would say the difference is that Spinal Tap and Weird Al are both white people parodying white musical styles. Also, the parodies are structured to actually sound as much like the songs as possible, while changing and exaggerating it enough to be funny.
In my view, white people rapping intentionally rapping badly is a different breed because it's parodying a culture that they are not part of--and, I would argue, consciously pointing out and being proud of how much they aren't part of that culture.
That being said, I think it's totally legitimate for white people to rap well, or cover a song they like. I just think the author's reference to freestyling being "her party trick" makes it clear that this was of the "OMG rap is ridiculous! I'm white, get it!?" camp and not the genuine camp or even the parody-of-a-specific-rap-song camp.

Carly Presho-Dunne@facebook

love it teachout. this is perfection.

Laura MacIsaac@facebook

You were fine. The internet is a sexist jerk. Don't listen to it.

Britta

You are rad. I love you.

Chris Browning@twitter

I can't believe I read this whole article. What a waste of time. "I did something meaningless and stupid to gain attention and now I don't like what stupid meaningless people had to say about it!!!".

shudder

Shelving the whole racism thing (and, you know a few centuries of US history! whew, that was easy!), it's amazing how much of a free pass viral media shit like this gets, no? I mean, this is Microsoft paying some company to pay some social media contractor to work with some advertising agency to produce a video that's pretending to be made by real people who just happen to love a Microsoft product. That's some effed up ish! If content on the Hairpin were produced by advertising and passed off as editorial, people'd be screaming bloody murder. So why is it cool when advertising is passed off as user-generated content?

oh, george

just adding to the choruses of "you're awesome" !! cuz it's true.

Robin Brown@facebook

I don't think you deserved that abuse. But you have to remember that your client wanted a "viral video". And got it. At your expense. Social media is a dangerous place for companies. I remember a guy from Bank of America singing an adapted corporate version of U2's One that went "viral" being roundly abused. Companies should leave "viral videos" to kittens and babies. There is no excuse for the things people said but people get mad and mean when they sense insincerity.

Jessica Langlois

i like your song!

mostly i love your very funny analysis of the nerdy/exhibitionist internet video medium. people build up their idols to knock them down, right?

and hell yes for telling the story here -- don't let those sad woman-haters have the last word.. taping away in their Dostoyevskyian dungeons.. forever alone.

holla!

Sam Biddle@facebook

Hi Emily—sorry, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings with my post! I just thought the video was really terrible. Too bad about all the misogynist internet scum amoebae, but at least your employer is probably happy.

emilylou

@Sam Biddle@facebook It's okay, Sam Biddle, you did not hurt my feelings! Nor did the commenters. Some of the ignorant misogyny was bothersome, but my feelings are fully intact. I liked the Gizmodo followup article though.
(My employer seems to be relatively indifferent about the whole thing, weirdly...)

Carly Presho-Dunne@facebook

Yo Sam Biddle: Go watch your parents have sex.

Sam Biddle@facebook

@Carly Presho-Dunne@facebook How do you think I was able to make that claim in my headline with certainty?

Carly Presho-Dunne@facebook

@Sam Biddle@facebook haha well played

Chris Gage@facebook

The "Durango" moment really makes it.

gladfanny

Dear God, I'm so sorry. People on the internet are ghastly. I have a video up that my friend and I made that's a "parody" on "3 Year old Crying Over Justin Bieber." Had been crying that way - seriously - about a breakup, and it turned into something funny that we had to put on film. It IS astounding how many people are so, so angry at me, calling me whore, a dog, and telling me I'm fake. I mean . . . it's CLEARLY fake.

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