Saturday, August 6, 2011

Biz Buzz - Beware of What you Share

I just became aware of a HUGE controversy in the Arts community and I'm probably going to get hate email for this myself, just like Regretsy did. But I have to speak my mind too. If you haven't already heard, it's all about the "HOBO Wedding". Etsy featured it and you can see their post here Handmade Weddings: Depression-Era Hobo

This post was rife for ridicule. I read it and got quite a kick out of it myself. The hobo invitations and little Bandanna sack decorations, Beat up straw hats and overalls. Not the ideal wedding most of us have planned, but I know some Ren Faire workers that love their costuming and genre so much they Feast on Faux Boar and Mead for their nuptials. To each their own right?

So some found it more than just odd like April (Helen Killer) of Regretsy, who posted a snarky commentary of the wedding It’s called “poverty.” You’ve probably never heard of it.

I for one, am particularly fond of snark, so I thoroughly enjoyed her commentary, as that was just about what I was thinking. But apparently the Bride, Groom and the family didn't find it funny at all. So Regretsy, with second thoughts, made another post. Faux-Bos and Faux-Pas

April starts out saying she didn't realize how much her post would hurt and offend. I related to her Chastity/Chastity critisism, as I have been know to say to a gay, Where is the Straight Pride Parade? or to a person of color, What is this BTV nonsense? Not because I am prejudiced, but because I think the divisions are so unnecessary, because I personally think people are people and should all be embraced as part of the global community. I guess that it's the closed minded ones who are offended and hurt by what we say. 

I totally understand oppression, but at least you are part of a group.  What about people like April and me, who are oddball freaks that few understand? What group do we belong in?

The beginning of the "apology?" post read like Perez Hilton, when he finally realized that his snark was hurtful. Really Perez? How long did that take? Smack yourself on the head you dumb ass.

But it ended with the obvious. If you expose your ridiculous fantasies to the world, you expose yourself to ridicule. PLEASE Hobo Wedding Participants! If you seriously thought this would not get both negative as well as positive comments you are either naive or just plain stupid.

Lesson Learned: If you are putting yourself on the Internet, you are exposing yourself to a global community who may, or may not like what you are doing or saying and just deal with it. After all www does stand for World Wide Web if you didn't know.

I for one, think that marriage is a mistake no matter how you dress it up, but that is my OPINION. Now all you happily married people can send me hate mail and negative comments :)


MerCurios said...

Very well written. I can empathize with both sides of the story.

However, I thoroughly believe that if you can not take the ridicule as well as the praise then you should not put yourself out there.

The world had always been full of opinions - good and bad. But they are just opinions. Don't take them personal...rise above.

There is no such thing as bad press. Watch that couple get a book deal out of this. Seriously.

As long as they were happy and had the wedding they chose to have that is all that matters.

alexkeller said...

To each his own, I say.
But I agree with you both, if you put yourself out there, you need to be prepared to take the bad with the good.

La Alicia said...

I suppose that life would be really boring if we were all the same -- so to each his own! :)

Matt said...

Hi. Matt Brown. Member of the wedding.

We actually came around within about 48 hours of the kerfuffle to agreeing that the optics looked bad, and that the images themselves could be hurtful. We even apologized for that. But two things:

1. 99% of the details of that story were DEAD wrong. The bride may have made some poor word choices, but other than that, the details, the context was all wrong.

2. I don't agree with April's response follow-up AT ALL. I think she took the wrong lesson from her experience. Of course, she's entitled to that, but I don't have to agree. Her take was: this is the Internet, and nobody cares about your context. I think that's actually really shameful.

People in Regretsy forums seem to think that we all have no choice but to tolerate incivility on the net. I say that's a bullshit justification for trashing people thoughtlessly. People talking on Regretsy have the right to say any horrible thing they choose, including calling my nephew fat and his new bride a "bitch who should be kicked in the cunt." But if April Winchell had the slightest concern at all for being civil, she would encourage people NOT to go after her targets on their own spaces, and her sit wouldn't discourage dissent. I read every single comment on Regretsy: anyone who dares dissent from the official groupthink view is quickly down thumbed then hidden away.

Plenty of people at that wedding have been destitute, in jail, in halfway houses, broke. That wedding wasn't making fun of the poor; it was specifically celebrating what was the spirit of community and perseverence among the hobo subculture, which is a pretty perfect message for a young couple to send, actually. I could tell you all the ways in which people got basic facts wrong, but I'd have to know first that you don't agree that the context doesn't matter or that trying to set a record straight is a lost cause on the Internet, or that all that matters is that "people were offended."

Personally, I find that encouraging groupthink and discouraging dissent is much, much more frightening than two wealthy (wrong) hipsters (I guess?) making the terrible mistake of sharing their wedding photos with a community they love, without thinking to put a disclaimer on it (which in hindsight, we wish we'd done). When April writes, "I don't give a shit about your context," I think it's mean-spirited, disingenuous, and a dangerous justification that she should exert no editorial authority over her readers' tar and feather mob mentality.

I love snark, love boundary-pushin comedy, all of that. I don't think Regretsy is horrible

akaCINDERS said...

Thanks for the comment Matt, good to hear from your side. Not sure that a disclaimer would help though. I do think that April went a bit far, but that's the nature of her "beast" and that's why Regretsy is so popular. And as I said about Perez Hilton, that's why he was so popular too.

I also truly believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion and their joys, whether it be a Hobo Wedding, or a truly nasty commentary on it. Guess I'm just too laid back from all that Pot Smoking in the 70s.

Thanks again for your commentary.

Matt said...

Thanks for letting me say it! Snark is awesome, but civility is awesome, too.

About the disclaimer thing: I think it may have helped. Consider this website--

Read the disclaimer at the very bottom. It's perfect, and it actually reflects exactly how we feel.

I think April has her guard up, because she's used to people getting pissed for the WRONG reasons, like they can't take a joke. Also a friend of mine (heroically but possibly rashly) threatened to right an expose of all this and send it to her connections at the Times. I only found out about that later. I never, ever had any reaction like, "Let's sue those people!" That would be misguided and mockable. But I do think there's a take here, aside from the original story, which is that groupthink is dangerous and should be discouraged, even on the net.

The Atlantic Wire picked up this story, parroted all of the Regretsy talking points, and made zero effort to get the actual context. It also gets some things entirely wrong. That is SCARY. That's a real piece of journalism. Context doesn't have to matter to April, but isn't it CRITICAL when it comes to journalism?

Jane said...

Oh Cindy, I love your thoughts and ideas. You shouldn't belong to any group - you are in a class by yourself!

In a very minor way, I had a bad and partially public experience recently and even though I felt I was right, I feel sullied...I want to retreat from the internet for a while...

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