Are YouTube Videos Weaponized Tools of Marginalization?
1/03/2017 by Dylan James Harper
Milo Stewart (1) is a delightful young trans person who makes YouTube videos, mostly about being trans. They made a video about cisphobia (2) that unfortunately caught the attention of the brigade of YouTubers that consider themselves "anti-SJW" and now his videos, literally all of them, are flooded with dislikes and harassment (seriously, do not go in there unless you're prepared to see a lot of aggressive transphobia).
While that's tragically predictable, and obviously a sad representation of the state of internet culture (#BurnTheInternetToTheGround2K17), what's also troubling is the plethora of videos made by primarily cis women and trans individuals that, at best, distance themselves from Stewart, and at worst actively attack the YouTuber who was legally a child up until very recently (most of the videos occurred while Stewart was still a minor).
It's not my place to discuss the ethics of those particular people (although it shouldn't take much thought to come to a conclusion), and of course there's always an added expectation placed on people who are in marginalized classes to perform progress. However, it seems worth noting that this phenomenon is strikingly similar to how colonialist systems have always operated historically.
If you go through the history of virtually any colonization effort by a major power, the first thing that's done is always to immediately place the colonized people into various classes. That's hardly new information, and there have already been scores of books and essays and stories that document, explain, and deal with this (Settlers, and Things Fall Apart are two good examples). What's interesting here is that it's sorta happening unofficially, on a microlevel, in a relatively small community.
YouTube videos have been weaponized as tools of marginalization. That's been true for a long time. The community has gotten so adept at this however, with harassment campaigns as the main mechanism, that the inner community reclassification is occurring without any direct state, church, or university interference, which is usually a necessary component of this step of colonization, which usually requires a large, well-funded authority figure to actually do the reclassifying.
This might be easily dismissed as just a reflection of a well established culture of marginalization. However, social media, primarily sites like Tumblr, have demonstrated that, whatever else its flaws, these communities can exist in an area where the systems of marginalization aren't so directly replicate, providing even the slightest reprieve from a marginalizing, oppressive society. YouTube, however, is not affording anyone that benefit, clearly recreating this mechanism of colonization.
Dylan James Harper is the Chief Political Editor for CSuiteMusic
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