Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

On "Manufactured Rage"

About a week ago, or so, this article was posted on the website Pink Raygun. I didn't comment on it at the time, because I wanted to take some time to organize my thoughts. Then I forgot about it, on account of the fact that I have the attention span of a dustball.

Now, I have to admit that while Pink Raygun is a very nice site manned by intelligent people, I'm rather used to not seeing eye-to-eye on quite a few feminist issues covered there. This means of course, I very possibly have a pre-existing bias and might be misreading a claim that the blogger never meant to make. Feel free to judge for yourself.

Someone is a blogger for a female-oriented site and is mistaken for one of those angry feminist bloggers and thus treated with suspicion and fear. I'm sure I speak for the entire hive-minded uni-vagina that makes up comic book feminist bloggerdom when I apologize profusely for the indignity of being mistaken for us.

Okay, that's not really fair. It does suck to have assumptions made about you just because you share a couple of miniscule characteristics with someone else (especially one with more extreme opinions that you do not share), and it's only natural to establish distance from that other person/group.

However, I think all this could have been done though without using the phrase "manufactured rage".

See, that phrase gives me the impression, possibly false, that the blogger in question is accusing many feminist bloggers of somehow falsifying or overstating their emotional reaction.

There are very few things that will set off my (quite real, thank you) temper more than the implication that my emotional reaction isn't genuine.


Just because YOU don't see why a certain cover/statue/plot device/character design/whatever is upsetting to someone does NOT mean that they're not genuinely upset!

People can have a lot of reasons for reacting to stimuli in a different way. Perhaps the person has had some bad experience that makes them more sensitive to a particular issue. Perhaps this is an issue that the person has found him/herself dealing with a lot, and this particular instance is the last straw. Perhaps the person is just having a bad day and thus something that would ordinarily seem small ends up causing a storm of rage. Perhaps they're mistaken. Perhaps YOU'RE mistaken. Anything's possible.

Those are only a small sampling of the many many reasons that someone might be more angry than another. It doesn't matter which one, if any, is the reason and really, it's not anyone else's place to conjecture, the point remains that any of those are perfectly valid reasons for the strength of the emotional response. It's pretty damn presumptuous to assume you know the person well enough to be able to tell for certain that none of those reasons apply, that they're faking it.

Or put simply: Just because someone's overreacting (in your opinion) doesn't mean that it's not a true reaction.

Perhaps I'm just naive, but could someone please tell me what the point of manufacturing rage would be? These are BLOGS. Very few of us actually get any sort of income from our work here, we're not getting paid to cause controversy or denounce the competition. And honestly, if we're trying to start a letter writing campaign, or persuade and mobilize the masses, wouldn't we be better off choosing a cause that we actually, genuinely feel strongly about? Otherwise, what's the damn point?

It's infuriating, it honestly is. I won't claim I've never overreacted or been mistaken; I won't claim I've never been influenced by personal bias or changed my mind once my head was clearer; I certainly can't claim I've never been hypocritical or contradicted myself, but I can tell you that every emotion that I've expressed on this blog is genuine and is mine. Fuck "manufactured rage", mine is damn real.

And since it's my blog, I'm going to revel in my right to express it.


  • At August 05, 2007 11:55 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    What's really sad, is that you have to keep pointing this out. I guess we just need the inimitable Mr. Meely to come and point out to all us uppity feminists that we need to be quiet and polite.

    I am now laughing hysterically and will probably have to be sedated.

  • At August 05, 2007 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well said.

    Generally speaking, bloggers and writers who provide the initial reactions to whatever issue they find offensive or bothersome rarely (if ever) are those responsible for the "manufactured rage" aspect of any issue. Those bloggers or writers who have been giving their public opinions for any length of time (and have the intelligence to be able to get across a point without resorting to sensationalist tactics) generally don't resort to manufacturing rage, either.

    There are those, who, rather than make their point intelligently, resort to twisting around the words of others, ascribing motive to individuals not in evidence, name-calling, and threats. There are those who, rather than give their opinion unapologetically, regularly seem to seek validation as to whether something is offensive or not before taking a stand on an issue.

    These are the people who are guilty of manufacturing rage.

    At no point did Lisa ever say or imply that others should just sit down and shut up. Never did she say or imply that people shouldn't get upset or have feelings about things. All Lisa's piece did was point out that there are real-world repercussions to so-called "harmless" venting. There are real people with real feelings on the receiving end of the seemingly endless stream of rage and scorn that fuels the blogosphere. Some seem to believe that if there is little or no chance that you'll ever have to face one of those people in real life, there's no harm done. And maybe to the internet rage-aholic, there isn't - but others who do interface directly with the scorned end up dealing with the misdirected apprehension themselves.

  • At August 05, 2007 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I fail to see what James Meeley's dating history has to do with any of the points he was trying to make.

    Oh wait, he just moves goalposts faster than Johanna Carlson. And MAN, that takes SKILL.

  • At August 05, 2007 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Holy crap, I'm reading further, and Meeley's pulled out the "Ron Marz is my bestest friend ever" card! He's UNSTOPPABLE!

    Look, last time I checked, Ron Marz was doing well for himself with a successful creator owned project and continued employment at DC, so... I don't think he needs the water carried. Sheesh!

  • At August 05, 2007 6:14 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    John -- Just how are we supposed to read this sentence clause?: "Once I’ve assured them that I’m not part of the manufactured outrage on the internet" (Emphasis mine)

  • At August 06, 2007 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    While the Pink Raygun piece can be (although I don't think Lisa @ PR meant for it to be) read as implying that all or most of the blogging on fangirl/feminist axis consists of 'manufactured rage'-- and that implication is manifestly untrue...

    ...IMHO, the argument that you seem to be making here, that little to none of said blogging is 'manufactured' in this way, doesn't seem entirely accurate either.

    I'm a regular reader of WFA, and several similar blogs. I enjoy your blogging, and Ragnell's, and Karen Healey's, and several others -- and I have no reason to doubt your sincerity or the courage of your convictions.

    However, proportional to the standards of the comics blogosphere, WFA is a reasonably influential linkblog, and I think it's naive to assert that none of the posts that show up there have not been 'manufactured' to get your attention, and the additional hits such attention provides.

    As you note, such attention is not likely to translate into money -- but I'd argue that for most comics bloggers the attention/hits are what they're really after anyway. After all, if hits and/or outside attention are not the endgame, why blog at all? Why not simply jot down your thoughts on a paper diary or a entirely private online journal -- like, say, a 'friends-only' LJ account?

    Now, I'm not suggesting that there's anything you and Ragnell can (much less should) do to address this. I can't conceive of any sort of litmus test that could reliably separate the 'sincere' post from the 'gimme more hits, WFA!' posts.

    (And, IMHO, some of the craziest/worst posts make for the most entertaining reading anyway. ;))

    If anything, you should probably take it as confirmation of your success in directing greater attention to and discussion of the issues you care about.

    But I don't think it's out of line to suggest that SOME the posts concerning those issues have been 'manufactured' to enhance the online visibility of their authors.


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