LOLcats: the later years

The route down which all LOLcats go. So very sad.

(Trigger warning for sexual exploitation — commenters have been triggered, so seriously, this is a real trigger warning. The sexual exploitation, specifically taking pictures of this LOLcat without its consent, with multiple tiers of sexual reference at every stage, in this video. It is graphic and really fucked up.)

Via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Theater.

What’s interesting about this short film is, it treats the average LOLcat as a person who might actually have issues with the kind of problematic exploitation that a real person might undergo, facing ridiculous health care costs. The humour comes in reflecting real human experience, laughing at our own misery where we’re destroyed by systematic murder-by-spreadsheet.

This is the kind of gallows humour that takes a certain sort of person to laugh about. If you’re not one of those sorts of people, apologies.

Update: So it seems many commenters think I never should have posted this, because they were triggered. I had a trigger warning, but it was apparently insufficient. I had wanted to have a conversation about murder by spreadsheet, because that’s ultimately what sent this LOLcat into a suicidal spiral, but the exploitation was apparently far too visceral for many commenters for this to happen. I am apparently also worthy of criticism, denunciation, approbation and shaming, for calling this “humour” at all. Watch and read at your own risk.

Update 2: It has also been pointed out to me that there are some very explicit and direct references to humiliation porn, which makes the video all about sexual exploitation and means no conversation could conceivably be had about the murder-by-spreadsheet thing now. We’ll have to have that conversation another day. I am also presently very suspicious of the motives of the SMBC crew who, while they’ve historically been pretty funny, have really screwed this one up with enough tells that this was all about humiliation porn instead of satirizing the dehumanizing effects of murder-by-spreadsheet.

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LOLcats: the later years
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66 thoughts on “LOLcats: the later years

  1. 2

    “This is the kind of gallows humour that takes a certain sort of person to laugh about.”
     
    From a TTC – History of Russia lecture:

    What most offended [the Decembrist rebels] was the terrible contrast between what ought to be (their ideals from experience in western Europe) and what was. […] It often pained them to hear the way Europeans spoke about Russia as a savage land […], filled with a backward society.

    [One day, five were to be publicly hanged.]
    The chairs were pulled out from under their feet, and at this moment, 3 of the victims, after hanging briefly in the ropes, slipped through the knots and fell to the ground. Before they were strung up again, one of the condemned […], whose legs were broken by his fall, remarked […]
    “My god, they can’t even hang men properly in Russia.”

    -Mark Steinberg on Sergey Muravyov-Apostol

  2. 4

    Yeah, not seeing how that’s at all funny either. Or clever. Or appropriate to post, non-descriptive trigger warning or not. Made it a little under 30 seconds, until the flashbacks got too bad.

  3. 7

    You and Daisy Cutter already think I’m a horrible human being and a shit ally. Nothing I say or do could limit that. And if you didn’t realize it’s a dark bit of satire before you viewed it, and you didn’t take the preemptive apology or the trigger warning as earnest, then you’re simply repeating your prior judgment of me rather than looking for honest dialog.

    If you want to hate me, just fucking hate me. Stop looking for excuses.

  4. 8

    Like I said, the trigger warning was pretty damn vague. And your pre-emptive apology as such was mostly talking about healthcare. If you feel you have to put up trigger warnings and apologies for your “jokes”, maybe you should take that as a sign that you shouldn’t be sharing those “jokes”.

    It’s not so much “satire” (from what I saw, again, I didn’t see most of it), as it’s making sexually exploited folks the lowest of the low and the butt of a joke.

    Maybe you should think about why you are defending rapey humour instead of what you feel is a grudge against you. I don’t hate you, I don’t think about you nearly enough to do that.

    What possible honest dialogue could there be when you tell a very triggered rape survivor that they just have a grudge against you and hate you abloo bloo bloo. Seriously.

  5. 9

    I am very sorry that you were triggered, and that my trigger warning was insufficient. That is my sincere error.

    This is orthogonal, however, from the point that you’re now in moderation for being an asshole, repeatedly. Since I’m not doing any of this for “the cookie” of being called a good ally by assholes, I’ll live with the approbation you’ll inevitably call down on me.

  6. 10

    Jason I realize you probably aren’t very fond of me, either, but I have to say I too was kinda shocked at this post. Humor is notoriously subjective (and I tend to like depraved satire) but this video struck me as vile. It wasn’t a commentary on how awful sexual exploitation can be (and it doesn’t have to be, I know), it was making the victim of said exploitation the butt of the joke for having to whore out. Just too close to reality to strike me as funny, and it seems like punching down instead of up.

    When one posts a video and recognizes that it might need a trigger warning it can’t help but come across as glib and almost gleeful nose-thumbing when one still posts that video as comedy. Notice that I’m not imputing motives to you, only honestly describing how it reads.

    Yes, I complained when PZ did it too.

  7. 11

    That’s fair, and absolutely worth discussing too. I certainly didn’t have any such motives, and posted mostly intended to talk about the exploitation of someone about to be murdered by spreadsheet, but intent ain’t magic, as the meme goes.

    I totally get the punching up vs punching down thing, and where this film could be interpreted that way. I don’t think the victimized were the intended targets, but the inhumane continuous exploitation of the already-victimized.

    But you know what? The only reason I might not like you is because you, Daisy Cutter and Happiestsadist have very often, in the past, teamed up to attack someone (four times, me, by my count) for an oversight or a difference of philosophy as though the person was launching an all-out attack on your civil rights. Thus you were called churlish at Stephanie’s, which you apparently wear with pride now. Even when we’re trying our damnedest to take into consideration others’ feelings, there’s a bunch of us who are being thrown under the bus repeatedly by a very specific subset of the commentariat. And sometimes the “attack first and sort it out later” thing IS churlish.

  8. 12

    Well, Jason, there’s only so much JAQ’ing off a body can take from the commentariats at so many places. I don’t expect you to understand how this feels viscerally, but it’s a thing.

    There is no ganging up, either. Daisy, Happiestsadist, and I obviously agree on a lot of things and get pissed at the same kinds of things.

    for an oversight or a difference of philosophy as though the person was launching an all-out attack on your civil rights.

    That’s not true and it’s not fair. The objection on my part wasn’t anything so hyperbolic.

  9. 13

    Thus you were called churlish at Stephanie’s, which you apparently wear with pride now.

    Yes. The connotation of being inappropriately ungrateful, especially when the topic is my civil rights and my reaction to its tepid support by the president, is too deliciously awful not to.

  10. 15

    In situations where it’s not a 101-level post, yeah, people “Just Asking Questions” is annoying and I have the same kind of hostile reaction to someone airdropping into an older post about atheism to “just ask questions” they obviously think are gotchas for atheists. I understand fully how people can use “questions” asked in bad faith to abuse people. I might not have direct experience in all my every-outward-appearances-of-privilege, but I sympathize at least.

    Look. I’m hot-headed myself, and say things I’m not proud of to people I should be more amenable to listening to on occasion. I’ve been an asshole to people who probably don’t deserve it, even if they were assholes to me first in my estimation. We’re going to have backstory because of it. It’s going to mean neither of us will take each other at face value again, unless we bury the hatchet.

  11. 16

    Jason:

    This is the kind of gallows humour that takes a certain sort of person to laugh about.

    I shan’t here reiterate my opinion of the piece*, but yes, it takes a certain sort of person to find this humorous.

    (Thus your trigger warning, no?)

    * Other than to note that the “kicker” is that even suicide doesn’t stop the exploitation.

    (Cheery!)

  12. 17

    [meta]

    The only reason I might not like you is because you, Daisy Cutter and Happiestsadist have very often, in the past, teamed up to attack someone (four times, me, by my count) for an oversight or a difference of philosophy as though the person was launching an all-out attack on your civil rights. Thus you were called churlish at Stephanie’s, which you apparently wear with pride now. Even when we’re trying our damnedest to take into consideration others’ feelings, there’s a bunch of us who are being thrown under the bus repeatedly by a very specific subset of the commentariat. And sometimes the “attack first and sort it out later” thing IS churlish.

    Sometimes, eh?

    (Sometimes, churlishness takes other forms, too)

  13. 18

    You know what makes you a shit ally? Making fun of what other people experience which you will never have to live through. You could be an ally if you’d just shut the fuck up with the half assed excuses and the sniggering to your dudebros and listen, but you’re more determined to make fun of the very same people and in exactly the same way as the people you’re supposedly rebelling against. At this point, too many male atheists seem to think they can give fauxgressive lip service to women and do a victory lap because hey, by the pallid standards that men have to stoop down to these days, you’re a prince.

    So you fail because you honestly didn’t think about this crap, then when informed of it, you just dismissed two of your posters—-and I suspect I’ll be next—as being cranky and unsatisfied perpetual sourpusses—-sourpusses, HAR HAR—–so you don’t have to even try to do shit, and fixed it up with fauxpologies and defensive bullshit.

    But the fauxgressive dudes will sure fight us when it’s the enemy doing something sexist. I’ll give you that. It’s shockingly easy to denounce republicans or religious people, but when the fauxgressive set does the exact same shit, all of a sudden, people like Daisy and Happiest Sadist get characterized and just perpetual long time biased malcontents. Those women, forever frustrated.

  14. 19

    To people who are calling it gallows humor: it’s not you on the gallows. Now imagine slowly strangling to death and having people who you thought were on your side giggling and snortlaughing at it.

  15. 20

    Oh Ginmar. You simply love to make shit up about the people you’re criticizing. You’ve done it in every comment thread you’ve deigned fit to airdrop into, to read my mind and impute motivations onto me that simply aren’t there.

    Sniggering, dudebros, fauxgressive? Fuck you. Just simply fuck you.

  16. 21

    And that’s not even to mention all the coded sexist language you imagine that I like to use. You’re dismissed for making shit up.

    Meanwhile, Happiestsadist and Daisy Cutter can hit my moderation wall and whisper into my ear exactly how wrong I am and how terrible a person I am, whenever they feel like it. What they say doesn’t hit my page unless I decide it can, but appears in my inbox and in my comments app on my phone (highlighted, even) so I get every inch of their approbation even if others can’t see it.

  17. 23

    Jason, nobody has said you’re a horrible person.
    But people are criticising you heavily, not only for fucking up with this video, but also for doubling down.
    This video is guys making fun of a form of sexual exploitation and coercion that will not happen to them and that’s a problem.
    The laugh is not the bitter laugh at a fucked up system, the laugh is at “Lolcat” who prostitutes herself (and whom are we kidding, this is not about cats)
    To have gallows humor you have to walk to the gallows, not standing in the crowd.

  18. 24

    Point to a thing that I said (not what someone else said I said) that looks in the least like doubling-down or not taking into account the things that were said about this video.

  19. 25

    Seriously, “these tactics” = making shit up. I’m not doubling down about anything except that saying I’m saying things that I’m not is FUCKED UP, and not behaviour that I will condone.

  20. 26

    And Jason does exactly what I said he would, with the added cachet of false equivalency of accusing me of sexism and comparing me to a blatant woman hater like David Byron. Happy now, Jason? I know you’re not going to publish these, seeing as how you’ve dismissed me for some unnamed sexism that apparently only afflicts people who criticize you, but fuck you back. You cowardly little shit.

  21. 27

    This is the kind of gallows humour that takes a certain sort of person to laugh about.

    Yes, and I’m not sure I’d be proud to be the sort of person who found this funny.

    And I’m not sure I’d call it gallows humor. Specifically, gallows humor is a joke made by a person in a life-threatening situation typically to other people in that situation. SMBC doesn’t really count.

  22. 28

    I know Ginmar only included these accusations to get me to publish the comment because it proves my point, but, see, saying I’m accusing her of sexism is *exactly what I’m talking about*. You’re completely pulling that out of your ass! You cannot attribute to me things that happen in your imaginationland, and not in reality!

  23. 29

    Well, actually, ginmar can totally make shit up. Everybody else can tell you why you really posted the video and how you really reacted to it. They can tell you how you must react to it if you’re a real feminist. They just can’t do it without putting their own credibility on the line.

  24. 30

    Jason, I’m new-ish here at FTB and mostly lurk. Because I followed PZ to FTB, I have a expectation that the writers here will provide safe place. Thanks to The Crommunist, Natalie Reed, Mano Singham, Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson, and many others, that expectation has mostly been met. Out in the random internet, there’s no expectation and my guard is up. I’m careful.

    This video triggered me in a very negative way. It hurt. I’m too new to angry about that. I’ll even blame myself for the expectation of safety. It was obviously premature. If this exact same post and warning had been anywhere but FTB, I would have hit the back button.

    I won’t be boycotting you or denouncing you. I’ll just read everything you write as if it were coming from a potentially hostile place. If I had been invested that would make me angry.

  25. 32

    Jason, thank you.

    I wish I had a perfect answer but I’m only speaking for myself. It’s that expectation which made me ignore it in the first place. It would have to counter that. Maybe big red letters? Or your phrasing of “For serious, this one is gross.”

  26. 33

    Jason, the best way to do a trigger warning is to lay out in as clear and exhaustive a way as possible the stuff that is in it. If it contains rape threats, simulated rape, and racist language (for example), say so. Don’t hint at it, don’t be oblique. No two people are triggered by the same things, either – someone might not be triggered by racist language and by rape imagery, but would be triggered by racist rape imagery, for example. So spell it out.

  27. 38

    Mostly okay, Jason.

    I’m going to quibble about the second-to-last sentence of the addendum. Messing up about something like this doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does open you up to criticism. Going through the world with privilege takes constant work and vigilance to not accidentally step on the toes of the unprivileged (I say this as someone who is privileged in some ways and not in others). If you get called out, the best way is to (1) accept the criticism and (2) try to not repeat the mistake. Arguing that the criticism is wrong or acting petulant just makes people not trust you. That’s the way it is, unfortunately, because people who don’t mean well and who are just playing ally in order to get cookies act that way (BTW: this is a HUGE problem). Oppressed people don’t have the time or energy to tease the two apart, except in rare cases. Being a rare case pretty much requires that you have previously demonstrated your bona fides to the degree that they are willing to accept that you genuinely mean well but just slipped up.

  28. 40

    I’ll grant you that that sentence is petulant, but it’s mostly petulant about the specific criticisms I’ve received from people who are extremely quick to criticize me and try to take away the “cookie” that I don’t even want. Specific people with specific history of being blatantly uncharitable with me, making things up about what I think or why I do what I do, repeatedly, don’t hold much truck with me. Allies (or wanna-be allies) are allowed to have emotions too.

  29. 41

    Jason, what made you look like doubling down?
    Those things, for example:

    And if you didn’t realize it’s a dark bit of satire before you viewed it,

    I totally get the punching up vs punching down thing, and where this film could be interpreted that way. I don’t think the victimized were the intended targets, but the inhumane continuous exploitation of the already-victimized.

    You defend the video that does make fun of sexual exploitation. Several people, most of them not being Josh, Ms. Daisy or Happiestsadist, told you about, and you mostly do so by attacking those three about the animosities you have.

    If you believe me from past interactions that I’m not here to attack and annoy you, it’s shit and it punches down.
    And actually, I’m sick and tired of it, and I think many others are, too.
    We heard the same arguments you made in defense of this shit from people about Jim Jefries or the Dell disaster.
    It’s not only tireing, it is a damn punch in the face to hear it from you.

  30. 42

    *shrug*
    Being an oppressed person is hard. Many times, it is very hard to trust anyone, even allies. So when an ally messes up, many times it is easier (not necessarily better, easier) to cut one’s losses and leave rather than run the risk of getting hurt trying to fix the problem. Also, like I said, there is a pattern, a well-established one, of people labeling themselves allies and then refusing to act like one. So, many oppressed people are very leery of allies and hold allies to very high standards – higher standards than those demanded of oppressed people and non-allies.
    This doesn’t make it right. It makes it understandable.

    Of course you are allowed to have emotions. But petulance doesn’t reflect well on anyone and makes it more difficult for you to (re)gain trust of the community you want to be allied with.

  31. 43

    A) I didn’t attack Josh — while we have our issues, he didn’t make shit up about my motivations or willfully misinterpret what I said.

    B) Define “defend”. I wanted to talk about the problematic parts of it. I even agree that I didn’t focus enough on the glaringly obviously problematic part of it.

  32. 44

    I cannot speak for Giliell, but in my mind, if someone is speaking from a privileged position, they cannot say that they object it whatever it is often enough.

    This goes back to not hinting and being oblique.

    If it pisses you off, makes you angry, disgusts you, is terrible horrible no good no bad and icky, say so. Repeatedly. Say why.

    Don’t let people who aren’t sure of who you are and where you stand on an issue stay in doubt. Because, quite frankly, the default assumption of the oppressed towards the privileged is that the privileged know about and approve of the oppressive shit. Because being proved wrong about that is a hell of a lot better than assuming the best and being proven wrong.

  33. 45

    It’s perfectly acceptable to assume I’m staking that privileged position, but to literally put words in my mouth is beyond the pale. I’m well aware that, as the large-privileged person, I don’t get the small-privilege of the benefit of the doubt.

  34. 48

    I am also a somewhat new reader to FTB. I have no agenda in this comment other than to add my perception. I’m a lurker and I’m still learning.

    I don’t really know about being triggered so I won’t go there. I can’t say I’m really that familiar with the concept but I will Google. I am not mad and I don’t think you’re a bad person for posting the video.

    I was interested in the “death by spreadsheet” discussion so I decided to view. People I love have died by that spreadsheet. I wanted to read the discussion. I watched before the updated warning but I don’t think it would have mattered (for me). Suicide after a financial loss is personal for me too. Watching that video made me sad and not much else. I think the video is provacative but not funny. However, I’m used to coping with being sad about sad things and then trying to figure out how I can make a difference.

    I guess the difference here is that I didn’t expect the butt of the joke to be the victim. I might have found it funny if instead of the LOLcat, the butt of the joke were the creators of the spreadsheet, the sexual exploiters or the callous bystanders. I kept expecting the tables to turn and that would happen and THAT might be funny but it never happened. Along with the sadness, I was left feeling I didn’t get the joke. I’m still trying to figure out what people find funny about it.

  35. 49

    For the benefit of those just joining us, here’s what I think about that video. When I started out watching it, I was working under the apprehension that the exploitation of taking pictures of LOLcats was a given — that these cats probably wouldn’t consent to those pictures is also a given. I put the trigger warning in the post because of the very specific leering and sexual innuendo at about the 1m mark (? — near “in ur bed takin ur monays”). It didn’t occur to me that the whole taking-pictures exploitative nature of the video, or of the LOLcat phenomenon, was just as bad as that one part. And now that it’s been pointed out to me that people could be triggered by *that*, not just by the sexual innuendo I specifically put up the warning about, I completely agree. By the same token, though, the whole phenomenon of LOLcats is about exploiting images of creatures that don’t have a say in how their emotions or actions are interpreted.

    As I’ve said multiple times so far, I really wanted to talk about the health care aspect, because that needs to be talked about too. But not at the expense of anyone who’s triggered by the exploitation here.

  36. 50

    Esteleth,

    I read those comment as “Here is what I’m hearing you say.”

    Why does the person hearing it put so much faith in their interpretation, especially when that interpretation adds a whole lot more content to what was actually said? And especially when their interpretation, just coincidentally of course, happens to be about the worst interpretation you can arrive at? In most other topics, this approach is pretty much called a strawman and called out as such.

    Props to Stephanie @29 and Jason throughout. It’s reassuring to see you call out shitty ‘arguments’ and behavior consistently no matter whose ‘side’ they are on. I see no reason why the privileged and unprivileged shouldn’t both be held to the very minimal commenting rule of “don’t put words in other commenters’ mouths”.

    And credit to Josh in this thread. I usually instinctively skip over what he has to say, because I caught that he’s pissed off the first few hundred times, but I’ve been wrong about him obviously as he provided a lot of content and argumentation here and responded on point. Seriously, it’s good to see.

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