Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kinetic (Saturdays): [dot dot dot]ting a troll

On the heels of the bananacakes WSJ business about too much darkness in modern YA literature and its subsequent fallout in the YA community and beyond, it seems like an apropos time to trot out this little gem of a kinetic typography video. Not because it's about darkness or YA literature, but because it so cleverly converses with culture of internet comments.

Happily, all of what I read regarding the WSJ article was considered and well-written – although I will admit that I consciously ignored most of the in-site comments to any of the articles in question, so I am sure my view has some skew. All the same, the vehemence with which the internet rose up in response to this issue is a good reminder (for those of us who might forget) of the sheer number of individuals out there in the world. AND THEY ALL HAVE OPINIONS.

Some are more reasonable than others.

Some, conversely, are so unreasonable that they fall in the "I couldn't make this up if I tried" category. And we creative types have field days with those.

This video falls under the second category. The author of this text, a dear soul going by the moniker Axman13, took umbrage with pretty much every aspect of a Newgrounds game called Super PSTW Action RPG, and in 2010 brought his complaints to the comment boards. What resulted was so heinously, patently bad that one of the voice actors for the game dramatized the rant, and a designer added the kinetic typography text. And the rant became golden.

So this immediately makes me think of two things.

First is the Stephen Fry speech which I posted for the inaugural Kinetic Thursday, in which he rallies against verbal snobbery, chides those "semi-educated losers" who go around sharpieing missing apostrophes onto signs and writing letters to grocery stores about "less" and "fewer," shakes his head at the idea that all that haughtiness is done for the sake of clarity. This last argument, Fry claims, "almost never holds water."

"I think," he continues, "what offends examiners and employers when confronted with extremely informal, unpunctuated and haywire language is the implication of NOT CARING that underlies it." And yet, Axman13 (and all the commenters to WSJ kershnuffle) obviously cares. He obviously cares. Cares beyond the point of "right" or "wrong" language. And his point is made! I might wince and sigh and judge at all the "resons" and "pepoles" and "blaaaaaaaam!s" used, but I still get what he means.

Proper language is wonderful, and often necessary for many kinds of clarity, but Not. Always. Communication is much more forgiving than we usage sticklers and spelling queens would like to admit.

The second thing I think of is how integrative our contemporary creative culture is, and how lucky we are for it. Just as Axman13 gave an actor and a designer the opportunity to create something bigger than the component parts on hand, the WSJ article kicked a snowball downhill that gave tens of dozens of authors a fantastic platform from which to make thoughtful, useful counterpoints. It gave a forum for tweeters – readers, writers, publishing industry folk, librarians, teens and former teens – to weave into visibility a previously invisible web of what YA literature means (#YAsaves, in particular). It created a fascinating, mostly supportive intellectual and academic dialogue in a very immediate and very public sphere.

And if that isn't what communication is really about…

Anyway, Axman13 "liked" the video.

Maybe Gurdon will end up "liking" the dialogue her odd editorial engendered, too.

Intense Debate Comments