Thoughts on Podcasting [VEDA #1]

Context: I got to write and host on a class podcast titled The Web We Weave in an episode centering around Tony Zhou’s Every Frame a Painting. This is a reflection on what I learned from this experience.

Preparing for this podcast was definitely one of the more nerve-wracking parts of my life. I felt as if I needed to prove to myself that I was capable of being in charge of such an episode, of being able to take the stage with my voice after hiding behind the written word for so long.

Photo credit to: https://singingmachine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/stage-fright.jpg

When looking for material to address Every Frame a Painting, I went through first some of the series entries before poking around Vimeo to find every episode of the series uploaded there, before turning to Tony Zhou’s Patreon for EFAP, which offers alternate versions of the episodes for educational use (at a price), and then to Twitter and Reddit, both forums that I used quite often. Showing these different resources to my partner, we both made our own observations. As I watched Zhou interact with his followers and advise them on how to critique the works that had impacted them, I saw how viewer-audience participation worked its way into Zhou’s new media and how it allowed him to continue participating himself despite how long it had been since the series had updated.

I was not initially exceedingly familiar with Every Frame a Painting, nor was my partner Kevin. However, I was familiar with the YouTube scene and personalities like the Nerdwriter, so when we sat down to plan out the episode, we each brought our own impressions on the series and our own contexts (Kevin had previous experience with the Soul Pancake episode of The Web We Weave). Kevin pitched questions to me while I did my best to answer them, and I would then in turn bring up different topics of conversation (such as the Reddit AMA mentioned in the episode and the idea of Tony Zhou perpetuating the participatory culture with his work). Collaboration was more than integral in making this episode what it was. It was also more than reassuring to have someone who was so confident on board and had faith in my work. We worked on applying Every Frame a Painting to the terminology we had covered in class and we put it all into one Google Doc entry.

The document was interesting because it was far more fragmentary and incomplete- when writing for another mode, because it relied much more on my voice and the natural chemistry I had with the co-producer, I found that it was both challenging to not fall back and write out whole monologues or answers to questions without stifling the conversation, and recording became difficult because I found myself worrying that my co-host would feel cramped or cut off. It was difficult to not be overwhelmingly self-aware of everything. This did help my rhetorical composition in the end and I think it’s made me more adaptable than I was before.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Rubber_bands.jpg
Flexible like a rubber band!

The process also felt much faster and immediate than writing, say, this reflection or another blog post or article, which takes me a lot more time. It also felt natural to go faster than with my previous work. While structuring the argument and conversation was both very much the same, it also felt different because I had someone else to bounce off and interact with. In a way, it was like having another person alternating the argument paragraphs- similar arguments that still differed in subtle ways.

I’ve learned that I need to work on my timing- we went over by a lot and editing involved cutting out a lot of material and it was a struggle to finish the episode in time while balancing other obligations. I need to work on my self-confidence as I was exceedingly nervous during the episode, and I think that it is evident that while I eased up as time went along, I still have a long way to go.

But given the chance to work on a similar project? I’d jump at the opportunity.

Why I Don’t Write Editorials Anymore

To be clear, things haven’t changed. After all this time, I’m still a very opinionated individual.

It’s true, I don’t write that many editorials anymore- some of the more political “Dear Kath” letters were the closest things to op-ed articles that I’ve written for awhile. But it’s not because I don’t hold opinions on current events (or just in general) anymore.

It’s also not because I’m tired of writing editorials- although admittedly, I’ve grown wary of the single-minded focus with which I immersed myself in opinion articles for several years.

The main reason that I don’t write editorials nowadays is because of the general atmosphere and environment I currently live in. We live in an over-saturation of opinions and misinformation. Everyone talks over one another and drowns each other out. Note too, that this is a world of acidic (and at times toxic) negativity. I feel like that in such an environment, my acerbic, cutting analyses do not serve to be an entirely positive influence. I like to think I’m fighting a good fight and trying to be a voice of reason. However, I think the impact of editorials are still limited.

I look at the streamers and YouTubers- the new media stars and I admire how they help people with their content- by making them laugh and making them feel less alone in the world. Sure, some will say that their content is disposable and silly, but it doesn’t change the impact that they’ve made on thousands or millions of people. And it’s so fucking beautiful.

That is my greatest wish- more than anything else- to bring joy with all my work, no matter what form it may take.

-D

(P.S.- I had to write this editorial though. It was a response to another article that desperately needed to be rebuked. I might write a supplement on this next.)

 

The Freedom of Expression

Entry #2 – February 19, 2017

Dear Kath,

A question that’s been plaguing me as of late concerns where the line is when it comes to the freedom of expression that has been granted to us.

See, last year, I would not have even considered the idea that there is a line to be crossed. I wrote about my frustrations concerning the lack of freedom of expression when it comes to opinions held by a minority on my college campus, and my editorials often expressed those opinions and argued towards an absolute free speech that should be unchecked and unregulated by anyone or anything.

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I didn’t say that, motherfuckers. (Photo credit here)

I quoted Voltaire like any pretentious pseudo-Ivy League Student would. You know that quote that everyone uses- “I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Funnily enough, Voltaire never actually said that. Does that make us university students look more pretentious? It certainly makes me feel that way.)

I still stand by this statement, but at times, I do question it.

There is an answer to my question, of course.

The minute free speech becomes an issue is when the speech is crafted to hurt others.

Last year, when I wrote my grievances about the limitations that political correctness placed upon my freedom of expression and when I wrote about how the reactions to the chalk graffiti on my college campus were blown out of proportion, I confess that was out of line and that I remained insensitive to the legitimate fears of the people (which have only grown in light of our new president). I was in the wrong, and I hurt them, even if that wasn’t my intent.

I own that mistake and apologize for it.

I revisit these thoughts in light of the recent drama surrounding Pewdiepie and the anti-semitic accusations against him. I see that his content has hurt others, and I see him paying for his mistakes. But I also see that his content was taken out of context and manipulated. So it makes me think.

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This is the face of an antisemite (and this is sarcasm). (Photo credits here)

So perhaps I should amend my question. How big of a role does context play? What do we do with free speech when the intent was not malicious? Does the message matter more than the intent, and what does one do when the original message is twisted out of existence or disappears completely?

But that’s a question that I don’t really know how to answer, so I shall leave that for you and for others to decide.

Thanks for listening.

-D