laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
[personal profile] laurashapiro
Note: This post is addressed to friends of mine in the vidding community who have expressed anger and frustration that the current discussions around Vividcon's policies, accessibility, and trigger warnings are taking place.

Vidding is my fandom. For me, Vividcon is its nexus, the highlight of my year, my favorite place to be, where almost all of my very best friends are. It's where I see great vids and have great conversations, where I dance my ass off and have my mind blown. All of it is made possible by a fastidiously-organized concom and the vidders and vid fans who volunteer and participate. I love it.

Vidding is my fandom. Vividcon is my con. I am part of it. I feel responsible for it. That's why I'm making this statement.

The VVC concom asked people to offer concerns and suggestions about their Background and Policies document. The fact that many people have done so does not mean they are "bashing the con", just as giving critique in vid review does not make a person "mean". I have complete confidence that when the concom says "VividCon welcomes comments and feedback on the VividCon Background and Policies statement. We would like to express our gratitude to those who have taken the time to make a comment or write to us about their concerns" they mean exactly that. I respect the people on that concom, some of my best friends in fandom, and I know that they are sincere in wanting to hear criticism so they can learn and improve -- the same way many vidders who come to the con sincerely want criticism on our vids so we can learn and improve.

This is not about being "politically correct", a phrase that I have a lot of problems with. This is about trying to make Vividcon accessible and fun for everyone.

Regarding the trigger warnings debate specifically, I'm going to quote [personal profile] thuviaptarth here because she says just what I would have:
Last year's discussions about warnings in fanfiction changed my mind about warnings. I am firmly opposed to censorship. I don't have triggers myself. Generally I prefer to avoid vid warnings. I am almost certain that my position on my premiering vid will be "Choose not to warn." And I am in favor of implementing warnings for common PTSD and physical triggers, preferably as a separate list rather than included on the vid or in the vidshow itself.


The thing is, I am opposed to requiring warnings for "offensive content." That's something I consider a free expression issue. I am in favor of warnings for "triggers," which is more of a disability and accessibility issue. I don't feel that my artistic freedom of expression is best served by my incapicitating people with flashbacks or inducing a migraine.

Her entire post is worth reading.

A person who requests trigger warnings is not a crybaby. They are a survivor of trauma or a person with disabilities trying to protect themselves from serious harm. They are not asking other people to take responsibility for them. They are taking responsibility for themselves.

To return to the subject of the con itself: in order for to make Vividcon accessible and fun for everyone, some things will have to change. Change is upsetting, and it takes work. It's particularly hard for people who have loved VVC for years just the way it is. We feel protective of VVC and of the people who make it happen.

But I want to work for the change, because I believe that my pleasure is not worth more than other people's pain, and because as much as I love Vividcon, I believe that it's possible for it to be better. I want to be sure that everyone who is interested in coming to Vividcon can come, can feel welcome and safe there the way I do, can return home with the same cherished memories of fannish delight and deep thinkiness and social hilarity that I do. I want everyone to love it the way I do.

I want everyone to say, the way I do, "Is it August yet?"

ETA July 1, 2010 4:35 pm: I am reading every comment but I may not be able to reply to them all. At this time I am also not moderating comments, but will do so should it become necessary. I am working full-time, busy tonight, and going away for the weekend, where Internet access will be limited. But I am taking it all in. Please do continue to discuss among yourselves.

on 2010-07-01 05:55 pm (UTC)
sisabet: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sisabet
Shit. I've opened this box to comment and ended up closing the browser and trying to do something else on umpteen thousand posts over the past few days and really, I think I am probably better for it. I will probably do the same here

God, Laura, I know I know I know that you love the con and you just want it to be better and more people to love it the way you love it and your heart is in the right place and that it is an awesome heart but...

There has been public bashing of the con - and it seemed to me to be by people who probably haven't ever attended VVC or even considered VVC. We are a *very* specific subset of fandom, you know - not that many people are even comfortable with our chosen method of expression, much less want to spend a weekend wrapped up and reveling in it. The first time I opted out of the discussion was when people who actually had attended the con spoke up to possibly give some context and were kind of dismissed as being ignorant assholes. Ooookay.

Yeah, I kind of agree with Brad about the splintering and I really agree with Lim about the impossibility of making VVC completely accessible so stop acting like that is the goal. The last time I saw this shit go down, it was in a church, is all I am saying. Not this SPECIFIC kind of shit, mind you, but still - it is creepy and I'm wondering if VVC is gonna be analogous to the Disciples of Christ and if the other theoretical vidcon will be Church of Christ and if that means it won't allow music in the vidshow (Nondenominational Christian church humor - trust me, it is HILARIOUS) and it just makes me feel oogy. Which is my right and I own it and you are not responsible for it at all so please please please do not apologize to me. I do not want any apologies.

I am coming to terms with the idea of warnings on vids. I personally will not warn because I feel my vids are art and art is not ever safe. The pressure of adding warnings to my vids, actually, is also kind of... I don't know but I think I had an anxiety attack over it this morning. Just, I spend all day everyday taking care of other people, right? And I work with traumatized kids, kids with very real PTSD. I do not want to cause *harm* to anyone, that is for sure.

But I do want my vids to provoke. I want them to engage and I occasionally want them to upset or even anger the audience --- absolutely and without question. I want that because that is what I feel when I make a vid. I want to be able to express myself without worrying that the end result is gonna cause someone to be really and truly *hurt* - that paralyzes me. I can't take responsibility for that AND take care of myself. I have to have an avenue of expression that is not reliant upon me worrying about protecting other people from harm. I will burn out, otherwise. Does this make sense?

on 2010-07-01 06:01 pm (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
I'm gonna co-sign this and kiss you.

on 2010-07-01 06:23 pm (UTC)
sisabet: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sisabet
*Kisses you back and slips some tongue*

I'm sorry for everything you and your family have been through. I've been mostly off LJ/DW due to issues of my own but I hope I get to spend much time with you this August.

on 2010-07-01 07:55 pm (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
YES, much hugs in your future next august!

I miss vidchat :(

on 2010-07-01 08:01 pm (UTC)
sisabet: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sisabet
We should do vidchat again! I burned out on everything pretty violently a few months ago but that was before preVVC excitement started!

on 2010-07-01 08:08 pm (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
We really really should revive vidchat. That would rule!

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on 2010-07-01 06:14 pm (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] rachelmanija
To take a leaf from AO3, which has a set of basic warnings but also has "chooses not to warn" as an option, would you be okay with labeling all of yours "chooses not to warn," as a number of fic writers do?

on 2010-07-01 06:42 pm (UTC)
sisabet: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sisabet
I am coming around to it. It is hard to explain but one of the things I use vidding for is to escape this thing called Vicarious Trauma or Compassion Fatigue. What it means for me is that I have to hear and see some pretty awful things and I *have* to engage empathetically with it or I can not effectively utilize my own resources of patience and understanding and kindness to help someone else deal with their trauma.

After a while though, enough real horror stories? And you start to disengage emotionally from everything. Not just work (which suffers) but from, well everything. Have a traumatic event happen in your own life or in your family and you're toast - no resources to deal with it. Mostly for me it results in callousness and horrid anxiety, but for the most part I try to police myself and do all the self-care things I need to do to function and be effective and also to be happy and sleep at night.

Vidding? Is where I tend to put it all. And I know my vids sometimes are awful to watch (I made them that way!) but if I am taking my secondary trauma and using vidding as an outlet for *that*(and never doubt for a moment that Women's Work and Get Low were just that) and suddenly I have to face the idea that I might be causing real harm to the audience, I don't know what to do with the anxiety that sparks.

I mean, I've thought of this before and the whole, well everything at VVC is watch at your own risk was comforting because it was out of my hands and I could just share this without a moral issue or shame or guilt. Choses not to warn might be my only option but it still does not alleviate it, at least for me, at least right now.

on 2010-07-05 05:47 pm (UTC)
dharma_slut: They call me Mister CottonTail (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] dharma_slut
I am an outsider to this culture of yours, but I don't think your culture has as much to do with it as all that.

Well... you know that most people who have issues will, for instance, look to movie reviews before they pay for a movie ticket. If the review contains a spoiler, so be it, and if it doesn't contain a spoiler, folks will hunt for a friend who will provide one. Same with book reviews.

But watching vids for the first time at a con, there won't be any reviews available, I don't think.

Personally, I would seriously, really-truly, want to KNOW that you make your vids for your own personal therapy needs.

I would surely watch them, but I would appreciate having the warning that I need to put my own armor on.

Seriously, say something. Don't stop making your vids in the way you do, don't not show them, just don't dump your traumas on other people without a little warning. It's not that horrible a compromise.

on 2010-07-01 06:47 pm (UTC)
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (hermit)
Posted by [personal profile] arduinna
That label is already on every vid at the con.

Under existing VVC policies, there's nothing stopping individual vidders from looking at the blanket "choose not to warn" label and deciding that they want to add individual warnings instead, while those who choose not to warn are *already covered*.

on 2010-07-02 11:26 am (UTC)
thingswithwings: dear teevee: I want to crawl inside you (a dude crawls inside a tv) (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] thingswithwings
But, the thing is, that label isn't already on every vid at the con, is it? I attended last year, and don't recall seeing anything in any of the literature that said "all vids are 'choose not to warn' unless it is indicated othewise,' and I don't recall seeing anything in the vids upload form that said "your vid will be default labelled 'choose not to warn' unless you put other information in the program or on the vid." Though it's possible I am missing something! But having no information whatsoever on the vids is not the same as having creators choose (even passively, by not-checking a tickybox, say) to label as "choose not to warn." Where is the blanket "choose not to warn" label? Because it seems to me that it's something that's been retroactively created by this year's con policies, and not the general state of the con as it has functioned in years past.

It seems obvious to me that, given the choice, some vidders would choose "choose not to warn," and some would choose "no warnings," and some would choose "warning for X." And that many vidders who hadn't thought about the issue might realise, upon being given that choice, that their bouncy fun multivid about hugs wants a "no warnings" label, rather than a choose not to warn label. Frankly, it's the "no warnings" label that I want most, and that I think people simply don't consider when writing their descriptions in the con program. If you've made a vid with rape or violence in it, you are likely to consider whether or not you want to warn; if you've made a vid that requires no warnings, the issue might not even occur to you. But a simple ticky-box on upload would make (some) people say, oh, no warnings for this one! Then it gets labelled, by default, as safe, rather than having a default "caution - enter at your own risk" label.

(of course it's also fine to label your vid choose not to warn if it's a happy bouncy multivid about hugs, but I'm saying, some people might make a different choice).

on 2010-07-02 10:25 pm (UTC)
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] arduinna
Where is the blanket "choose not to warn" label? Because it seems to me that it's something that's been retroactively created by this year's con policies, and not the general state of the con as it has functioned in years past.

It's always been the case, actually, just not explicitly stated until right now. And of course to be precise, the con policy is "we don't require or provide warnings", not "we choose not to warn". (Which I realize is a subtle difference, but slight changes in language can mean different things to different people, so. I consider those two statements to be effectively identical in meaning, fwiw.)

Vividcon came out of the Escapade tradition, which had an explicitly no-warnings-required vidshow (after someone brought up the idea of warnings ca. 2000 - before that, warnings was just something no one ever did), and VVC very much stuck to that. While the VVC website never explicitly stated that the con didn't provide warnings, it did always say something along the lines of "Vividcon does not discriminate against vids for [list of example things that might be in vids], and you may be exposed to any of that or more; consequently, only adults 18 and over are allowed into Vividcon".

This served as a blanket "caveat viewer" warning for the entire con: all the vidshows, all the vids shown in part or in whole in panels, any vids shown in the con suite, vids shown at room parties. Vividcon never required any of its vidders to put warnings on any vids, although some vidders chose to do so on their own, which is perfectly acceptable.

(There are historical reasons why it was just understood by the early attendees that "you may see things you don't like" also meant "and you won't be warned about them", and the concom likely felt that it continued to be understood as a basic part of the con's culture, until it became clear that that was no longer the case, at which point they took the implicit policy and made it explicit.)

To put this into context, I have never heard of a single vidshow at any con that required warnings on vids (other than MediaWest traditionally segregating gen, het, and slash vids). I've sent a vid to three cons so far this year, including VVC, and haven't had to put warnings on it for any of them, and I would be *very* startled to find a warnings checkbox on any other vid submission form.

It may be growing as an *online* practice, but warnings are simply not part of the general con-based vidshow tradition. It's not just a Vividcon thing.

I'm also not sure how much people who aren't familiar with the con who are chiming in on this actually realize just how many vids are shown, in how many places, during VVC. (i.e., this next bit isn't aimed at you, since you've been, but at people reading who may not realize).

VVC shows vids not just during vidshows (during which you can't read a flyer anyway, since the shows are kept dark and no lights are allowed), but also during panels when mods may use whatever vids they want to illustrate a point; during Karaoke; in the consuite for basically every minute it's open, as random attendees pick random vidshows and vidder DVDs out of the library to play; during pretty much every room party, ditto; and during Vid Review (which is the only time I can see a flyer being truly useful, as the lights are on for most of Vid Review, and only lowered when sections of vids are played to refresh people's memories).

(Note: The vid library contains every vid show that has ever aired at Vividcon, plus individual and collaborative vidder DVDs. It's huge, and it's available to every attendee to play in the consuite or back in their rooms, and there are no warnings on any of it.)

I can't see any way that someone with triggers can truly protect themselves from ever being exposed to vid content that might be triggery for them by means of a warnings flyer, when just walking into the con suite for a brownie could trigger them, or knocking on a door and looking in to see what's shaking in a party.

It seems vastly safer to me to just say across the board that the entire con is Caveat Viewer, and for people to keep that in mind when they decide whether or not this is something they can risk attending, than to lull people into thinking that with a warnings flyer, they can safely make specific choices throughout the con to protect themselves.

That aside, it looks like you're assuming that if it's a case-by-case basis, the majority of vidders will choose to warn or say "this vid has nothing in it that needs to be warned for"; I think that will be true of some vidders, but by no means all. Especially since at least one commenter I've seen somewhere has explained that "choose not to warn" will provide sufficient protection from harm, but choosing to warn but accidentally missing a trigger will mean that the vidder is causing harm.

I would much rather send my vids to a con where the automatic assumption was that every attendee there was willing to risk seeing whatever I made. If I can't have that, I will never put anything but "choose not to warn" on a vid of mine, because I can't see any other safe thing to do for everyone concerned.

on 2010-07-02 10:41 pm (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
Thank you very much for providing this context. It's very helpful to have it here.

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on 2010-07-01 06:55 pm (UTC)
klia: (flowers)
Posted by [personal profile] klia
I've seen comments negatively characterizing the "chooses not to warn" option as doesn't care about anyone else's feelings, so it's already become a lose-lose situation for vidders.

on 2010-07-01 09:39 pm (UTC)
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] cofax7
I've seen comments negatively characterizing the "chooses not to warn" option as doesn't care about anyone else's feelings, so it's already become a lose-lose situation for vidders.

I'm not challenging that you've seen that, but ... I haven't. And the AO3 has been using "Choose not to warn" on the archive for the last year, and so far as I know there hasn't been any adverse commentary about that. (It's possible there was and I missed it.) I think it's a very workable compromise between producers' artistic concerns and reader/viewers' triggering concerns.

I do think that the people who know their triggers will choose to avoid CNTW stories/vids, and they may miss some things they would otherwise like. But if the writer/vidder uses CNTW, that is actually expressing more concern for the reader/viewer than no label at all.

So basically those people who claim CNTW means "don't care about anyone's feeling" are wrong. I'm sorry they're claiming that.

That said, I have seen some people be kind of jerkish about CNTW, but people can be jerkish about anything, after all.

on 2010-07-01 10:35 pm (UTC)
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (hermit)
Posted by [personal profile] arduinna
I'm not challenging that you've seen that, but ... I haven't.

Under this system, "choose not to warn" is itself a warning, not an opt-out. Vidders must necessarily create vids under the AO3 model with the understanding that they will have to either warn or deliberately opt out. It seems that ticking the "choose not to warn" box would be understood as "doesn't care about anyone else's feelings." To be fair, the vidder should still have a choice not to use warning labels.

I'm sorry they're claiming that.

But if they're claiming that because they believe it, does that make it any less valid than your belief that it's not true? It's true for them, and presumably it's true for other people as well. If I submit a vid marked CNTW and you think "yay, a respectful choice" and someone else thinks "wow what an uncaring bitch", are their feelings invalid?

But if the writer/vidder uses CNTW, that is actually expressing more concern for the reader/viewer than no label at all.


That's what the con is doing, pre-emptively putting a CNTW label on every single vid and vidshow, and people are flat-out saying it's not acceptable, it's not enough.

Any individual vidder who wants to can put warnings in their summary for people to read in advance. Any vidder who wants to can put warning cards up in front of their vids. No individual artist is being forbidden to warn in any way, they're just not being *required* to add warnings beyond the con's blanket CNTW label.

And yet clearly, to many people CNTW is already *not* sufficient, because it isn't taking the feelings of viewers who want more explicit warnings into account. So no, I don't think "it's a lose-lose situation" is an inaccurate assessment.

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on 2010-07-01 11:02 pm (UTC)
saraht: "...legwork" (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] saraht
I'm not challenging that you've seen that, but ... I haven't.

Last year, when the warnings debate was last churning, it was stated pretty damn explicitly that people who used a blanket "choose not to warn" policy were supporting rape/abuse culture. I know any side will have people on it saying stupid things, but it isn't an unnatural progression of the pro-warnings ideology.

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on 2010-07-07 06:40 am (UTC)
ljc: (reading (parks))
Posted by [personal profile] ljc
Actually, I still jave an issue with "choose not to warn" because there's no alternative to put a warning on one of my stories that is triggery and involves involves dubcon/power play but there's no actual way to label it so it has a warning other than to use "choose not to warn". The reason it's an issue for me is that the language "choose not to warn" is sorta contrary to my actual intent. In reality I very MUCH want it to have a little red exclamation point precisely so people will read the author's notes to see exactly what I'm trying to warn for--precisely because the story is triggery. I don't want anyone to open it up thinking "yay porny fun!" and instead get completely blindsided by the fucked-up-edness of it. I kinda want people to be able to make an informed choice, rather than be blindsided by it and potentially triggered by it.

I've actually submitted tickets on it, and had discussions, both on my Livejournal and via email with some of the folks on the A03 committee, but last I heard, there was no movement on that front. Every once in a while I go to edit the headers, to see if there is any way I can properly label the story so it's labelled as "warning" but doesn't include the "choose not to warn" header, but so far, no joy. And it's frustrating on many levels, but I want to support the achive and I'm willing to hang in there until a suitable compromise can be found. And I would hope that people aren't just ignoring it hoping I'll go away, but that people meant when they said that my concerns were being taken into consideration. But it's also an issue with what is a quick fix versus what is a major programming change.

But most likely what will happen if there's never going to be a ticky box for "Warning: see author's notes for specific triggers," is I'll simply take it off A03 because in that instance, the archive can't actually provide what I need, vis a vis that story. I don't blame the archive. I don't blame the story. It just means I lsoe that channel of distributuon for that particular work, and people who might have read it there most likely won't.

So, erm... yeah. I realise I'm atypical in fandom, but it's still very much an issue for me as a writer. If I were a vidder more than merely an occasional vidder, I would most likely have the exact same issue with content labelling.
Edited (clarification, and MASSIVE runon sentences. Wow.) on 2010-07-07 06:46 am (UTC)

on 2010-07-03 02:36 am (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] vito_excalibur
At some point you have to decide whether your goal is "never to be criticized by anyone" or "try to reasonably balance own desires with other people's needs".

on 2010-07-01 06:42 pm (UTC)
klia: (flowers)
Posted by [personal profile] klia
Co-signing this, too. Thank you. <3

on 2010-07-02 03:08 am (UTC)
mresundance: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] mresundance
I think you're right on some levels. There is a point where one cannot be 100 % responsible for every audience members' reaction or feelings on a vid. There is a delicate and lovely interplay between vidder <--> audience and it IS two-way, I'm afraid. There is a point where the vidder is no longer in control and the audience takes what the vidder has created and makes it their own on a viewer-level. You can't tell what each and every person will think and feel when they see a given vid. It's impossible, it's improbable. The best you can do is to make broad guesses and hope that you hit most of the notes you hope to hit, but expect to have some misses.

That said, I have done warnings and I do it because some people just don't like certain content. I give warnings so that people are informed about what they will be watching. I think it's only fair. Not because it's censorship, per se, but it's me being aware of my audience and allowing them the choice to watch - or not watch - a vid with content that might upset them.

on 2010-07-03 01:24 am (UTC)
sisabet: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sisabet
We are many - I agree with this statement. I also suppose I didn't state my feeling very clearly -- it is just, vids are not for everyone, right? I still feel kinda low on the fannish hierarchy but maybe that is just my own issue.

Okay, I am not making myself clear and I am not good with words and I need to be done with this whole discussion in order to be able to function tomorrow at work. At this point, I think my feelings are being hurt (not by you) and I just have to step back because further discussion is pointless, at least for me, and is just ending up in hurt all around.

Laura I love you and I can't imagine how exhaustive this is for you, but I am off LJ/DW for the next few months. If you need me, you know where to find me. **hugs**

on 2010-07-03 08:48 am (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
I do not want to cause *harm* to anyone, that is for sure. don't mind when you do, so it's ok you don't warn.

Isn't that hypocritical? Your "I do not want to cause harm" is mostly your attempt to deflect harm. It doesn't mattere that you don't "want to" - you are. And you choose to continue to do it anyway, for what reason, again?

I can't take responsibility for that

You can. Add a warning if it could cause seizures and the like, or for the trigger things. DONE. This will take you less than 1 minute. How hard is it?

on 2010-07-03 09:54 pm (UTC)
sisabet: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sisabet
Who are you and what are you talking about? You don't know me from anyone - I'd direct your attention to my comment further down thread where I explained my extreme anxiety about this all.

I do not want to cause harm and how dare you say I don't mind when I do! I stand by my comment about this discussion turning into attacks about VVC and now? Personal attacks. I stated how I felt - perhaps not as eloquently as most, so why the ire?


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