YouTube and Cultural Intolerance (2008)

PhotoCollage: YouTube Intolerance

America is. Vaudeville. And. Sexicon. Yes. But there is a darker side to YouTube that vaudeville never had. Even when the whole vaudeville thing had disintegrated to the cynicism of the strip tease, cynicism was a street-wise grime, but it was not a religion nor did it have the semantics of religion or hate. Hate speech is very real. As is the sexicon. Semantically, religiously, and otherwise. I was YouTube's biggest fan and had 300 videos there. Most of them explored artistic issues. The popular take on le Tube is that it is a place where "normal" people can see and hear themselves in ways not imbued with the distortions (often found in the subtle aristocracies of speech and language) traditional media is accused of promoting in its corporate manipulation of reality and image. Americans in particular trust YouTube. Yes. In much the same way they trusted ...

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PhotoCollage: YouTube Intolerance

America is. Vaudeville. And. Sexicon. Yes. But there is a darker side to YouTube that vaudeville never had. Even when the whole vaudeville thing had disintegrated to the cynicism of the strip tease, cynicism was a street-wise grime, but it was not a religion nor did it have the semantics of religion or hate. Hate speech is very real. As is the sexicon. Semantically, religiously, and otherwise. I was YouTube's biggest fan and had 300 videos there. Most of them explored artistic issues. The popular take on le Tube is that it is a place where "normal" people can see and hear themselves in ways not imbued with the distortions (often found in the subtle aristocracies of speech and language) traditional media is accused of promoting in its corporate manipulation of reality and image. Americans in particular trust YouTube. Yes. In much the same way they trusted vaudeville as a venue to entertain them with a wholesomeness that was a contrived illusion, and vaudeville did, indeed, succumb to change in technology and access to film. Americans feel corporate media twists who they fundamentally are. User-generated content is providing the veneer of a perceived credibility traditional media has lost hold of. YouTube by-passes institutional icons. People honestly believe they can only trust people like themselves. But the dark side to America has infected YouTube and there is no cure. The irony is a link not only to speech and language, but to the perhaps inevitable rise of religion and its connections to traditionally marginalized parts of the American character. Any comprehensive scan of YouTube finds religion there fighting the "good fight" for god, country, and fundamentalism. This and the hate speech it employs is on the rise. Maybe it was inevitable. Nevertheless, this is so utterly offensive I had to either vomit or leave. Or do both and I did both. In my own simplified case, I was stalked for about three years by a Lutheran evangelical minister from Kentucky (who hid who he was for about a year and then emerged from the closet) who had joined forces with, of all things, gay writers, to create fake channels and fake websites to spit their invective from. That these people were a little flamed-out by Art (something they don't understand but that's the point ne l'est pas si) is an understatement. Everything they could hate was there in the public domain for them to hate and they do hate and they hate well. It's sort of what they do. It was not an accident that my usually consistent level of email hate and death threats subsequently ballooned to such an extent that one is compelled to draw a line in the sand and make the call that these people are so filled not with just hate, but self-hate; a self-loathing that ignoring (I could usually do this) was becoming harder and harder to pull off. Where do you draw the line between the semantics of hate speech and violence. The same people creating these YouTube channels were the same people sending the death threats and now they were on the phone. It was draining. But I was ripe to be punished and they had assumed the torch to do that. Coming home to find one's pets hung by the neck with wire on the front porch made me go pretty dark myself. I don't know how I could divorce the animal cruelty from threats that said very clearly they would hurt anything I loved. Well, they did. I was not all that hard to find but now I am very difficult to find and I am gone from YouTube. Murderous threats may not be legal -- the semantics and even the sexual semantics, they hate sex, are irrelevant -- but this only made them laugh. "He-he" is the public term they use as they don't take law enforcement seriously whatsoever. If YouTube reflects the American character as Americans insist it does, it also reflects a casual if strenuous disregard for tolerance, and ideas that challenge the real status-quo. The hate speech and the language of the death threats had the same synoptic ridicule and vitriol that the fake channels have, but there was a disconnect between the public and the private where the stalkers obviously felt more free to threaten murder and mayhem privately that they censored in the public realm. In this regard, there weren't simply two languages going on here but more like a dozen and one of them was a fundamentalist reproach where they would not only "get me" but so would god. My own supposed sin was perceived within a sexual context but it was never anything their use of semantics could identify as their use of words rarely leads them to an understanding of anything let alone sex. That their god is an instrument of hate and retribution should not have surprised me but I was failing to see that YouTube was growing darker and darker with it. These were the semantics of oppression and as such they cannot be easily disconnected from the semantics of the sexicon. The Middle Ages had, too, an inquisition whose purpose was to ferret out that which titillated and must be punished. These were the shadows of a righteous morality and they were beginning to grow quite long. They hate Art (they are offended that it might exist in the turbulence of any culture war they cannot control) and they are confused when their own icons are deconstructed as ideas. They don't understand the relationship of Art to the First Amendment or how icons are represented as symbols to be seen in other than traditional ways and what they do understand is the power of violence, hate speech, and their ability to employ technology to terrorize which is proficient. The witches of tomorrow will be burned at YouTube stakes. There is a connection between hate speech and behavior. That a fundamentalist minister and writers who claim to speak for the gay community would join forces to intimidate -- and to kill harmless animals -- was ironic but there is a lot of irony to an institution, YouTube, whose success is based on a public rejection of corporate dynamics. Technology changes but people don't change that much or that quickly. They bring their hate and religions and speech with them. YouTube is not a free-for-all of ideas anymore. It is a free-for-all of intimidation. Perhaps it was at one point a place where ideas could be articulated but that line in the sand has been crossed. The sexicon is not an idea. It is the abuse of an idea. The idea of language. There is a street-wise cynicism at YouTube now not at all unlike the cynicism that heralded the end of vaudeville with the semantics of the strip tease where women who were attempting to survive were exploited by the men who disingenuously claimed to love them. What haters usually claim to either love or hate is usually something far more complex than their need for simplification can comprehend. The sexicon is a symbol where sex itself is objectified and thusly, deeply hated. This is a self-hatred. The tools of hate, violence, and religion are on the rise at YouTube and to assume that corporate America is unaware of this is to seriously underestimate their ability to identify the semantics that traditionally open doors for them (such as the door that lead from stage to screen) to dominate a culture they understand quite clearly can not only be dominated but can be manipulated to the point where it is unable to recognize itself.

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