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 2010-07-03 06:33 pm (UTC)
thingswithwings: dear teevee: I want to crawl inside you (a dude crawls inside a tv) (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] thingswithwings
Okay, VVC hasn't historically offered warnings, and other cons don't tend to offer warnings either - yes, that's accurate. I've submitted vids to several different cons and was never prompted for warnings. But I don't see what that has to do with the issue right now, which is, people are asking for VVC to make a space for vidders to either warn or explicitly choose not to warn. If I went to VidUKcon, I'm sure I would feel as passionately about this issue for that con as I do for this one, but. I go to VVC. And it is my hope that, were VVC to begin a warnings policy, it would encourage other cons to do the same. Just because it hasn't been done before doesn't mean it can't be done.

Last year I didn't notice vids playing in the consuite all the time - I staffed it, I hung out there, I ate the delicious brownies, and I think the only time I saw vids playing in there was when they were mirroring premieres etc. Which isn't to say that it doesn't happen, but rather that one isn't really unable to go in there without seeing vids. Parties and the vid library seem to me like things that an individual is more in control of than what they see at the premieres show - all the vids shown in those places have been shown before, for example, so there is more information available on them (at veni_vidi_vids or places like that) and I was so busy with new vids and things last year (and eventually overstimulated) that I didn't take any dvds out of the vid library - it's not the centrepiece of the con.

No one is arguing that everyone can protect themselves 100% every moment of the con. Just that there are ways that we can make things safer, a little - a little easier, a little better. I think that this part of your comment is rather revealing:

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

Safer for who? Safer in the sense of "exempt from criticism," I suppose, yes, but not safer in the sense of "people who have triggers who do attend can be helped to be a bit safer." Trying to warn for triggers can indeed be a risky business, as I know well from fic warnings - and it takes serious introspection, and empathy, and willingness to see your story or vid from other peoples' perspective. And it's possible to get it wrong; I have, and I have friends who have. But I would rather try, in order to make things more accessible most of the time, than just say "if you have triggers, don't come to the con, or if you do come to the con, don't blame us if you get triggered, because we've laid it out clearly in our terms of service that we cannot be held accountable for any harm you might experience." That latter attitude is not interested in helping, or making more people feel more secure at the con, or giving people resources to make their management of the con easier. Of course things can go wrong or a warning can be insufficient or a person could simply misread a warning - who knows, we're people, things happen. But the concom stated in its policy guidelines that it wanted to be accessible, as accessible as possible, and this is a way to make it more accessible. Perfect accessibility isn't the goal; better accessibility is.

The "risk" that people are taking to see every vid is not the same from person to person - for me, I might get depressed or feel crappy or be angry; that is an easy risk for me to take, personally. Other people are taking much, much bigger risks in order to participate in something that they love, and I want to help them reduce that risk, wherever possible. It may be easier and "safer" for me to not say anything at all, but if I want to make the world safer for them - and not just safer, but more accessible, to enable them to have access to as much of the con as possible (Premieres really is the highlight of the con, is it not? It's the thing I would least like to miss), then this is something that I can do. I can take a little risk on myself to reduce other peoples' risk. People will still be taking a chance - but, less of one.

For me, it comes down to: people have said that warnings would help them navigate the con, even if there were only warnings on some parts of the con and not all. It is not my job to question whether or not that is true; it is my job to say, well, warnings are pretty easily managed, so let's set that up for you. These people are managing their own triggers, and asking for some resources to help with that, and that should be reason enough to put them in place.

eta: oh, actually, my friend has just informed me that Wiscon this year provided a list of trigger warnings for the entire (huge!) vidshow that they put on. In fact, [personal profile] damned_colonial and [personal profile] were_duck personally went through all the vids and listed the trigger warnings for all of them, which I assume was a lot of work. So, even though I don't think precedent is necessary, there is in fact precedent.
Edited on 2010-07-03 06:38 pm (UTC)

on 2010-07-03 11:55 pm (UTC)
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] arduinna
Just because it hasn't been done before doesn't mean it can't be done.

No, of course it doesn't. But equally, just because one part of fandom makes one choice doesn't mean that all other parts of fandom need to make the same choice; it's perfectly valid to have different traditions that are suited to different fannish audiences.

Safer for who? Safer in the sense of "exempt from criticism," I suppose,

No, I sincerely meant safer for people with triggers, in that they will never be lulled into a false sense of security, then whammed with something unexpected that the vidder genuinely didn't realize should be warned for.

I've seen people say that that's the most dangerous thing for them - that when they don't expect warnings, they can be mentally prepared to cope with triggers, but once they're assured they don't need to make those mental preparations, any trigger can hit with intensified force. I don't want the con telling people "don't worry, you can relax on this road, we've put guard rails up" and have them plunge over a cliff because someone mislabeled something, or didn't realize something was dangerous.

I don't ever want to do that personally, either, and so I'll never use anything but "choose not to warn" if I'm forced to stick a label on at all.

I'm getting a little frustrated with people saying, on the one hand, that "choose not to warn" is of course a totally valid, respectful choice, but on the other hand, as you imply so clearly here, that it shows a lack of thought, lack of empathy, narrow-mindedness, and lack of willingness to compromise, and is cowardly to boot.

If you believe that "choose not to warn" is an invalid option, please take it out of the mix of valid options you're talking about. I am feeling hugely bait-and-switched in this conversation.

actually, my friend has just informed me that Wiscon this year provided a list of trigger warnings for the entire (huge!) vidshow that they put on.

No, it didn't. Wiscon doesn't have a vidshow; the word "vid" doesn't even appear anywhere on their website.

Two Wiscon attendees had a huge, unofficial vid party, for which those two individuals apparently provided warnings. There's a huge difference there.

I'm fine with individuals saying whatever they want about my vids, at any time. I am not fine with a convention (either the concom or people representing the con, such as a VJ) applying official warnings or ratings to them (other than a default equivalent of CNTW), or with a convention demanding that I apply specific warnings without the ability to opt out of that process.

I would be equally unhappy with any member of the AO3 team going through all of the CNTW stories on the archive and posting an official, detailed listing of triggers contained in those stories. If someone wants to do that privately as a favor to a friend, fine, no problem. But the AO3 shouldn't be doing that, and neither should cons.

on 2010-07-04 12:42 pm (UTC)
thingswithwings: dear teevee: I want to crawl inside you (a dude crawls inside a tv) (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] thingswithwings
I'm getting a little frustrated with people saying, on the one hand, that "choose not to warn" is of course a totally valid, respectful choice, but on the other hand, as you imply so clearly here, that it shows a lack of thought, lack of empathy, narrow-mindedness, and lack of willingness to compromise, and is cowardly to boot.

Um . . . no? I don't believe that at all. I'm not sure where I implied it, but perhaps you mean in my discussion of how providing warnings can be difficult, but it's a good thing that we can do? When I say 'provide warnings,' I do mean to include CNTW as one of the potential warnings that can be chosen. If I thought it was a cowardly, unempathetic, narrow-minded choice, I would have to kick half the fic writers off my flist. On the contrary, I think it's a great option for when an artist doesn't feel emotionally up to providing a warning, or when they honestly don't know what kind of warning to provide. Some other options that might help with that situation are a text-box option for warnings (so, if you're not sure if your vid contains 'non-con,' you can just say, contains four seconds of very rough sex, or what have you) and asking someone else (the concom, perhaps) to apply a warning to your vid for you. But CNTW is an admirable option that helps to make the warnings system accessible for vidders even as it works as an accessibility tool for viewers.

What I think lacks empathy or consideration is refusing to label at all. When people on my flist write fic and label it with "I don't provide warnings for X Y and Z, enter at your own risk," that still shows care and consideration. "Choose not to warn" as an option chosen by the vidder, rather than a blanket statement made by the con itself, shows care and consideration in a manner that the blanket statement does not.

on 2010-07-04 02:51 am (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
Thank you for this comment. I have watched VVC from the sidelines since its inception, enjoying the vids that come out of it, and celebrating vidding culture. I have refused to attend VVC, not just because of the con's policy on warnings, but that has been one of the factors in my decision. A blanket "choose not to warn" statement coupled with a severely regulated and closed vidding room means no way to leave if I am suddenly exposed to something that will hurt me. I take care of myself by not going to the convention. Statements made by others dismissing comments by those who have not attended make me want to scream: why do you think we haven't attended?

Warning vid-by-vid or else posting "chooses not to warn" per vid gives people the option of ducking out of the room before the trouble starts, and if it is written on a handout, it doesn't impact the viewing experience except for the better. Spoilerphobes can simply choose not to take the paper. Vidders who do not want to suss out the warnings themselves can choose not to warn or ask the con comm to view their vids and put on a warning. The con comm can also list at the outset of specific things which are warned for such as violence or sexual assault or seizure flashes with a note that other triggers such as bugs or bunnies may not be warned for. Communication is all people are requesting.

on 2010-07-04 12:44 pm (UTC)
thingswithwings: dear teevee: I want to crawl inside you (a dude crawls inside a tv) (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] thingswithwings
Statements made by others dismissing comments by those who have not attended make me want to scream: why do you think we haven't attended?

*nodnodnod* yes, exactly! Oh god, I am so sorry for the frustration you must be feeling at this whole debate. <3

And yes, exactly - communication is all that's wanted, just a little of it, just a bit more. I find it almost unbelievable how much resistance there is to the very idea.

on 2010-07-04 07:26 am (UTC)
avendya: blue-green picture of a woman's face (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] avendya
Thank you for this comment -- I'd like to cosign pretty much everything here.

on 2010-07-04 12:44 pm (UTC)
thingswithwings: dear teevee: I want to crawl inside you (a dude crawls inside a tv) (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] thingswithwings
<3

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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)
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