"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Outrage World

"It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled sea of thought." - John Kenneth Galbraith

***

How feminist blogs like Jezebel gin up page views by exploiting women's worst tendencies.

"One of my friends posted a link to last week's Jezebel post titled "The Daily Show's Woman Problem" as her Gmail chat status, alongside the words "Every woman must read this." Obediently, I clicked, and read a lengthy post that began with the assertion that The Daily Show is a "boys' club where women's contributions are often ignored and dismissed." When I finished reading, I was outraged! But not, as the majority of Jezebel readers and commenters seemed to be, at The Daily Show.

Jezebel writer Irin Carmon's argument is essentially this: "Former videogame show host" Olivia Munn may soon become the show's first new female correspondent in seven years, but her potential hiring is nothing to celebrate, because, while she's a woman, she's not the right kind of woman.

The rest of the post was given over to quotes from various comediennes and Daily Show executives who'd been fired, or never hired, by the show... Female Daily Show employees whose stories didn't fit into this narrative... were mentioned very briefly...

[This is] a prime example of the feminist blogosphere's tendency to tap into the market force of what I've come to think of as "outrage world"—the regularly occurring firestorms stirred up on mainstream, for-profit, woman-targeted blogs like Jezebel... They're ignited by writers who are pushing readers to feel what the writers claim is righteously indignant rage but which is actually just petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism. These firestorms are great for page-view-pimping bloggy business. But they promote the exact opposite of progressive thought and rational discourse, and the comment wars they elicit almost inevitably devolve into didactic one-upsmanship and faux-feminist cliché. The vibe is less sisterhood-is-powerful than middle-school clique in-fight, with anyone who dares to step outside of chalk-drawn lines delimiting what's "empowering" and "anti-feminist" inevitably getting flamed and shamed to bits. Paradoxically, in the midst of all the deeply felt concern about women's sexual and professional freedom to look and be however they want, it's considered de rigueur to criticize anyone, like Munn, who dares to seem to want to sexually attract men.

When Jezebel was founded, it proposed itself as an explicit alternative to traditional women's magazines. As any first-year women's studies major will tell you, these glossies make money by exploiting women's insecurities... Jezebel must also sell ad space... the easiest way for Jezebel writers to be provocative is to stoke readers' insecurities—just in a different way... women's insecurities sell ads. The only difference is the level of doublespeak and manipulation that it takes to produce that result...

On the Web, writers tend to play up the most jealousy- and insecurity-evoking aspects of controversy, and then anonymous commenters—who bear no responsibility for the effects of their statements—take the writers' hints to any possible extreme. It's just how the Internet works."


Comments:

"I think you just described the majority of political (not just feminist) discourse in this country in a nutshell"

"Jezebel is a joke. It trades on cheap outrage and dishonest discussion. Note most of the comments are "acceptable opinion" to blatant cheerleaders, nothing else really makes it through. Its rigged as a right wing talk shows hosts call ins. Whether its video games, films, comic books, the answer is always knee jerk screams of sexism. Its like a parody of some chick whos taken a few too many womens studies courses and is raging"

" If you do a little digging, you'll find they don't have any facts--only talking points. It's like the Fox News of feminism. When you try to engage in a thoughtful debate with some of them and they realize they don't have a leg to stand on, they call you names and a traitor to your race... I know feminists aren't a hive mind. But you'd never know it from some of the commenters here, on Jezebel, and on Feministing. It's hard to argue that, generally speaking, the Jezzies' first reaction when confronted with a view that doesn't jive with their own opposing view is to attack or ignore"
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