Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who am I responsible to?

So I had this weird turn of events overnight. I was checking out my YouTubes (this is not another rant about how YT sucks, I promise - I got that out of my system yesterday) and saw an interesting piece from one of my favourite YouTubers, Mr Safety. He makes a range of stuff, usually comedy under the name SMPFilms.

But yesterday he did something really different and enigmatic. I don't usually post other people's videos but in this case I'll do it for illustration purposes:

I really liked this, there's a lot crammed into that 20 seconds. I found it enigmatic - lots of possibilities suggested but you don't learn anything definite. And it suggest a much larger story. So I decided to do something similar, almost a scene from a movie that doesn't exist. Here's where the weirdness kicks in.

I'm going to explain the video first, in an attempt to minimise any weirdness here. This is intended as a classic action film setup. The bad guys have killed the hero's family in the hope that will break him. Instead, it has the opposite effect, galvanising him into action. He has nothing left to lose now and he's going to get his revenge or die trying. And to be honest, I was also experimenting with a few video and audio effects I don't normally use.

Here's my slightly longer video (24 seconds), moody voiceover and all:

This is where things got weird for me. The first commenter was a semi-regular commenter who was extremely peeved at what he saw as my "suicide video". That floored me. I hadn't even considered that people could take it that way. Then I watched it within YouTube and noticed there was only one gunshot at the end after the video goes dark. Something with the uploading process had cut of the multiple gunshots I had actually put at the end of the video to suggest the hero was starting a big gun battle.

OK, I can see how this can make it look more like a suicide. You know, if you totally ignore the voiceover dialogue. And you know nothing about action movies. This would normally be a "whatever" moment for me but this guy is really insistent. He is straight up demanding that I take the video down because it's irresponsible to suggest suicide in a video.

Who here can guess at how I respond to being TOLD what to do?

What really pissed me off was that his reading of the video was totally wrong. Despite the fact his conclusions about the video were wrong, he was convinced I had to base my actions on his incorrect interpretation, not my actual intention. He kept commenting and commenting saying how wrong the video was. He made a 7 minute video ranting about how wrong my 24 second video was. Essentially he had a serious bug up his arse about the issue, which suggests to me he has some history with the issue of suicide.

Now, I have a bit of a history with this guy so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I gave him some reasoned responses (a LOT of responses) but made it clear there was no way I was taking the video down. All without telling him to fuck off (a complete stranger who pulled this shit would most definitely be told to fuck off in no uncertain terms.)

It's similar to what I went through after writing a post about a year ago entitled "I'm going to kill myself." It had nothing to do with actual suicidal thoughts, it was all about how frustrating Microsoft products are to use. But ever since then I've been getting search engine traffic almost every day with some variation of "I'm going to kill myself". And I regularly get comments on that post from people claiming to be suicidal.

This is what we in the trade call "fucking creepy." I did edit that post to put some stuff at the top saying essentially "ummm... don't do it." It's severely unsettling when one's utterly inconsequential and shallow rantings attract such sad people. I suggest to them they pause in their plans long enough to read some of my posts - maybe they'll get a laugh and it will distract them long enough to make it through another day.

So what is my responsibility with these things? Personally, I lean towards "just this side of fuck-all". I don't think I do much that is actively destructive to delicate psyches but I don't think it's realistic (or even possible) to suggest that I vet every single thing I say or write with the most vulnerable individual in mind. Besides which, I think that would make for some seriously boring blogging.

The guy on YouTube actually made the comment "is there some inner meaning, something that is going to elevate people to a higher understanding of life?" Oh. My. Fucking. God. I'm supposed to be elevating people to a higher understanding of life now?

I'm seriously screwed.

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