Posts tagged Exploded
“The thing about memes is that through repetition, they create a shared language,” says Professor Julie Levin Russo, an adjunct assistant professor at Brown’s Modern Culture & Media Program. “If you understand the premise of the meme, you can communicate a lot very easily, with whatever twist you’re putting on the meme structure.”
On Jan 4, the “Shit Girls Say” meme was radically transformed. New York-based graphic designer & video blogger Franchesca Ramsey a.k.a. Chescaleigh unleashed “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”, and it blew up the Internet. In the video, Ramsey plays her blonde-haired white friend who she portrays as curiously confused, and innocently ignorant. “Why isn’t there a white entertainment television? The Jews were slaves too, and you don’t hear us complaining all the time,” Chescaleigh as-white-girl asks the camera. She portrays her friend as at times confused (“Is this racist?”) other times annoyed. Overall, her white friend is completely unaware of fundamental cultural and racial differences between her and her black friend. It’s these awkward moments that fuel the humor of this viral video.
When Franchesca appeared on Anderson Cooper a few days after the video blew up, Cooper asked *the question* that mainstream media was dying to know: Is the video racist?
“I don’t think that talking about ignorance is racist,” Franchesca tells Cooper. “And like I said, I’m not labeling anyone racist because that would infer that the statements were saying someone was better than another race – and that’s not what any of the statements are doing.” Shortly after her Anderson Cooper appearance, Franchesca produced a sequel, “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls Part 2.”
Soon, more “Shit X Says to Y” versions of the meme began to appear. “Shit White Girls Say to Brown (Desi/Indian) Girls” features an Indian woman portraying her white girlfriend, who asks questions like “Do you want to go to 7-11? Oh oops, is that racist?” It is cutting, and points to some of the underlying racism that Indian-Americans experience regularly.
In “Shit White Guys Say to Asian Girls,” actor/comedian Cindy Fang dresses in drag, playing a white dude and points out some of the obnoxious, arrogant statements that some white guys say to Asian women. “Sorry, I have a hard time telling Asians apart,” she says, with a tone that conveys how the white guy she is portraying doesn’t feel like trying to educate himself. He is blissful in his ignorance. And then, a blatantly racist statement: “Why do they call it Bangkok? They should call it Bang Pussy!!!” This video speaks to the painful sexism and racism that Asian women experience.
Of course, it’s just comedy – and the talented Fang masterfully exaggerates these statements to hammer home the crass, yet serious joke. Moreso than “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls,” “Shit White Guys Say to Asian Girls” is doubly as biting, taking swipes at sex and race relations. It’s almost as upsetting as “Shit Asian Girls Say”, another version of the original “Shit Girls Say” meme.
In Latoya Peterson’s blog post “Exploring the Problematic and Subversive Shit People Say [Meme-ology]” on Racialicious, she notes that it isn’t until “Shit Black Gays Say” (and part 2) and “Shit Southern Gay Guys Say” that the viewer starts to see the performer’s subjective interpretation of themselves.
“It’s notable that these videos are the principals representing themselves (as opposed to someone else’s interpretation of them), perhaps since these groups are still so invisible in the public eye that no one else but them could speak to their experience,” writes Peterson.
How “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls” Shifted the Conversation
“There’s a way in which the meme format allows for a more granular renditions of identity than you often see in mass culture,” says Professor Russo.
Chescaleigh’s video shifted the focus from the narrator as subject to the narrator as a vehicle for social critique. Now X is saying something to Y. Previously, X was either speaking for themselves, or portraying the stereotypical subject, usually in drag.
“Do you know the guy at the liquor store? I mean, I assume you guys all know each other,” says the Arab girl portraying her white friend in “Shit White Girls Say…to Arab Girls”. “I’ve never met one of you before! I mean, I’ve seen Arabs on TV…on the news. Was 9/11 your fault?”
Writing for The Guardian, Thea Lim points out that the statements in all of these videos imply a sort of “friendly prejudice”:
What’s friendly prejudice? The most common defence of racism is: “But I didn’t intend to be racist.” This response relies on the idea that if we didn’t intend to offend someone, then their feelings can’t possibly be hurt. The Shit X Says to Y videos are delightfully validating because they show that those with the genuinely lovely intentions of being your friend and seeking commonality with you can still be rude and hurtful.
A commenter on the NPR story that questioned if Franchesca’s video was “racist” tried the good ol’ “role reversal” trick (that always fails), which attempts to deny the existence of white privilege. “If the roles were reversed…Jesse [Jackson] & [Al] Sharpton, would be involved, lawsuits filed, perhaps riots…”. Says Lim:
The reason why relationships between white and non-white people, or straight people and gay people are fraught, is because of our history – long gone, recent or ongoing. Racist, homophobic or simply thoughtless comments are insulting not just in and of themselves, but because they are a bilious reminder of the times when straight, white people have dehumanised and denied other groups their human rights. Of course, non-white and gay people can say nasty or even prejudicial things to white and straight people, but those things don’t deliver the sting that comes from decades of being on the wrong end of an unequal relationship.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I have watched my friends react to these videos with anger and sadness. I have seen others shout “That’s me! That totally happened to me.” Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The most important aspect of these videos, however, is that people are actually reacting to them. They’re easy conversation starters, a segway into sharing experiences past and present.
Looking at our own biased perspectives and cultural baggage is not easy, but it is necessary. The “Shit X Says to Y” iteration of the “Shit People Say” meme forces viewers to actually think about what they’ve said to their friends, and what their friends say to them. Humor helps us in those strange, uncomfortable moments.
But are we ready to deal with this?
In her post on Racialicous, Peterson points out that, still, “Shit Girls Say” and “Shit Black Girls Say” received a lot more views than their “Shit X Says to Y” social commentary videos. “Maybe that’s because, as a culture, we are accustomed to laughing at stereotypes,” writes Peterson, “but we aren’t prepared to unpack how we perpetuate them.”
After a few weeks of Internet madness, the noise died down. By the end of January, conversations about this meme were starting to feel stale. So the Internet chilled out and went back to its usual, easy humor. I started seeing these videos on my Facebook news feed: “Shit New Yorkers Say,” “Shit Chicagoans Say.” But it’s only a matter of time until the currents shift again.
Image via Chescaleigh’s Facebook page.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
Famously thrilling and troubled web app platform Twitter announced today that it now has 1 million apps developed on top of its microblogging streams, social graph and API. The company says that at this time last year there were only 150,000 apps built on top of Twitter.
A 6X expansion of apps built on top of Twitter between the company’s 4th and 5th birthdays is truly remarkable. It’s even more remarkable because it’s been widely alleged that the developer community is unhappy with Twitter’s leadership and feels disinclined to invest in building more apps. Happy or not, this is a huge jump in activity and I think the claim deserves a little investigation. Many people have guessed that the numbers aren’t very solid, but there are a number of explanations that if combined could add up to this big, big jump.
Clearly the vast majority of these 1 million apps being built are experimental and never see the light of day. Some are no doubt internally facing at corporations. But there has always been basement tinkerers building on the Twitter API (thank goodness) – why were there 6 times as many last year as there were before? Twitter says that the 1 million apps were contributed by 750,000 developers – so the vast majority are only contributing one “app.”
Twitter says that there are multiple factors that contributed. Here are the things I believe have contributed to the big, big growth of app numbers.
Website integrations account for a substantial number of what are counted as apps. Tweet buttons and Follow buttons are not included in the 1 million, though, Twitter spokesperson Jodi Olson tells me. WordPress integration of a Twitter account and its Tweets does count, though. As does the @anywhere feature that lets a site display a pop-up about any Twitter whose username is hovered over. This may be a big enough portion of the growth the 1 million number feels a little dishonest; developers critical of Twitter seem to think so and say this is just another example of the company misrepresenting itself for its own benefit.
When Twitter killed the unauthenticated version of its API, that did contribute “a one-time spike” in the number of apps the company was able to count, Olson says. That’s probably a very big factor, but it indicates that there were a lot more apps in the wild than the company was aware of, too.
Another factor is that many developers are not unhappy with Twitter. The company’s call that developers not build Twitter clients, its acquisition of favored startups in particular sectors, its preferential granting of access to the fire hose of content and an allegedly poor history of communication with its development ecosystem all added up to create the appearance of dissatisfaction. Many people we heard from today said they weren’t unhappy, though.
Mobile app integration is on the rise. Tech analyst firm IDC performs quarterly interviews with more than 2,000 mobile app developers and found that 57.5% of mobile apps under development in Q1 included Twitter API integration. In Q2 that number jumped to 62.3%, according to Scott Ellison, IDC’s VP of Mobile and Consumer Platforms. When iOS integrates Twitter and makes it easy for mobile apps to do so too – well, look out numbers.
The Salesforce acquisition of Radian6 for over $300 million probably help stir up a lot of app development as well. “Since December 2010, more than $500 million has been invested in ecosystem companies,” Twitter wrote today, “and more than a billion dollars has been paid out in acquisitions.”
Finally, there are a shortage of alternatives. Many people I heard from today said they didn’t like building on Twitter but it’s the best source of social data available. That may change when Google Plus releases an API.
All of those factors put together could very well contribute to explaining a large increase in developer interest in Twitter over the past year. Especially if you’re willing to accept website integration as “an app.”
View full post on ReadWriteWeb