It’s getting harder every day to be a creator in the age of the internet.

It’s never been an easy thing to put your work out in public, at least not for most people I know. Sure, maybe there’s some folks out there, funny humans with indomitable wills and stomachs of iron, who aren’t petrified by the notion of getting their work in front of an audience. Maybe there are some folks who don’t publish a piece of work, or a blog post, and get that tightness in their tummies, that shortness of breath, that little flop sweat that says, “Please, this is my work, don’t judge it too harshly.” Most people I’ve ever spoken to have some degree of anxiety sharing what they’ve created though, and never has it been harder than in the age of the internet.

Over the last few years, however, it seems like more than ever sharing your work with the world has become a minefield. Put something out for public consumption and be prepared for a tidal wave of backlash, ranging from cutting comments and blog posts to threats of violence and rape. Take a moment to process that. A person creating something today needs to be worried about threats of violence ranging from beatings to home invasion, rape to swatting. They can be doxxed and have bomb threats sent against them. We’re a hell of a distance away from someone throwing a rotten tomato.

082c950c-8ef0-436a-8659-6a23913a3aedTake this week’s latest controversy. Avengers: Age of Ultron debuted this past weekend to stellar numbers in the box office. The movie was a huge success financially, but received some critical responses regarding its pacing and the coherence of some parts of the plot. Overwhelmingly, however, the biggest noise about the film has been regarding the treatment of its heroine, Black Widow.

Critics and fans of the film were vocal about the way the MCU’s biggest heroine at the moment was relegated to the role of love interest opposite Bruce Banner in the film as part of her personal subplot. While other members of the Avengers explored complex issues of guilt and past mistakes through flashbacks and interactions with one another, Natasha was given the love plot as her major character development throughout the film and issues with mommyhood instead. When she was also kidnapped by the villain halfway through the film and turned into a damsel in distress (albeit briefly), this raised the eyebrow of some fans. Those criticisms, along with Marvel’s unwillingness to support the women of Marvel with any action figures or merchandise of the women characters in the film, build a solid backbone for a conversation about Marvel’s difficulty understanding or serving its women characters and therefore their fans.

Correct face, Chris Evans. Not funny.

All of these, in my opinion, are valid criticisms. A discussion in my eyes ought to be had about the necessity of these plot points included in the film, and the inherent issue that comes from every film pigeon-holing their main woman character as a love interest or sex object. I think there’s validity to fans getting angry over casual comments by actor Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans when, during an interview about the film, they called Black Widow a “slut” and a “whore.” (Renner later doubled down on the mess after Evans apologized, which was even worse). I think its all indicative of a way that women characters are seen in Hollywood and within comic book films, and that there is a real discussion to be had about how to tackle diversification of roles for women in the action film genre. All of these are thoughts I’ve had, that I support, and I’d love to explore further.

What I do not support is threats. Which is not something I should have to say, it’s kind of obvious.

OUu.1280x720Joss Whedon, director of Age of Ultron, faced a firestorm on Twitter that included threats of beatings and murder for the way he portrayed Black Widow in the film. Though the fact is the film went through revisions based on input from Hollywood execs and worked around Black Widow’s pregnancy, despite the fact that Whedon doesn’t control all the aspects of the film, Whedon became the face of the anger many fans felt over Black Widow’s portrayal, and they got aggressive. Articles published streams of Tweets (many since deleted) aimed at Whedon threatening to “beat his ass” for the direction of the film.

It’s not like this is anything new. We live in a world today when creators can be the targets of the worst kind of hate when consumers disagree with their work. This has become especially true when issues of social justice are involved, or when those creators or speakers are people from marginalized backgrounds. Anita Sarkeesian has received years now of the worst kind of hatred because of her work on Feminist Frequency and her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games web series. Women game developers like Brianna Wu have been targeted by this kind of harassment for the inclusion of more diverse content in their material at the hands of the Gamergate movement. This hate movement has spread to other parts of the geek media world where fiction authors, comic creators, and television creators have received harassment for their work as well.

The list of those affected include those on both sides of issues, from progressives to conservatives. The stances may be different but the tactics are the same. And while I do not believe in the equivalency of ideas (meaning, I do believe that in some arguments one side is more right than the other), I believe that the kind of harassment and bullying creators now face online has got to stop.

Why should it stop? We can start from the top by saying because it’s just wrong!


There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. Harassment of another person, on the internet or otherwise, is just wrong. You can have differences of opinions all you like, but the moment you threaten another person with violence, the moment that you step over the line into belligerent bullying behavior, you are now at best a vulgar nuisance and at worst a criminal. You become part of the screaming mass of people on the internet who believe that anonymity behind a keyboard makes them powerful and drives them to say anything they wish, believing there are no repercussions. Let me say it one more time: Harassment on the internet for any reason is wrongEnd of line, no further discussion needed, period.

But okay, maybe there’s one more reason why this needs to stop. And that’s because of the state of criticism itself in the world.

Quote_Elbert-Hubbard-on-escaping-criticizm_wwwalexlaughlincom_-p1676_US-1The arts and criticism have always had a tense, contentious relationship to begin with. Artists would live in mortal fear of waking up to read bad reviews of their plays or art shows or books. People would sniff and make snide comments about how “those who can’t create become critics.” As someone who is both an artist and a critic, I’ll tell you that’s bullshit. Sure, anyone can sit down behind a computer screen and type out a screed about how they hated a piece of television. But there are people who actively study media, the history and execution and presentation and social context, and who are capable of presenting valid media criticism from a place of education and experience.

I went to school and got my degree in film studies so that I could produce not only better works of art in the future based on knowledge I gleaned from studying film as a medium, but also so I would have context for criticism I provided. True criticism isn’t about simply emotional response but contextual understanding of an art form, of the society in which it is created and the manner by which it is executed. It takes understanding and in depth consideration. It does not, however, require high-brow consumption and snooty reviews. And it certainly doesn’t require threats.

The era of mass threats to creators, however, has begun to drown out real criticism in the field. Creators can’t hear legitimate conversation when inundated with a barrage of hate-filled noise, and that kind of ratio of good critical content to nightmarish abuse can make a person shut down to any input. Criticism serves a purpose, folks: to respond to media, discuss ideas put forward, and help creators learn from their work and perhaps improve or choose differently in the future. It is not meant as an opportunity to abuse those who have put their hearts into their work, no matter how much you dislike or disagree with them. Hate filled terrorizing of creators is counterproductive and shows no respect for them as a producer of content or as human beings. It also defeats the purpose of trying to get yourself heard, because you won’t be. And neither will anyone else.

What suffers alongside our creators at the hands of these hate mobs is our ability to have discourse about anything relevant. Issues of representation, content, or execution are pushed to the wayside, drowned out by the threats of beatings, the instances of doxxings and swattings, and the bomb and death threats. You have creators afraid to put their work forward, for fear of what might happen to them or their loved ones. Their creative cycles are eaten up by the stress of dealing with such hate-filled sound, and their inability to engage with their fans is damaged. And our world becomes just a little less capable of learning from one another in an age when we are so much more capable of reaching one another then ever before.

120893bfb25c634d7aa87123f62826e65d300e4ea6c69f01a7c75e10f3b663beWe are not bystanders in this issue. Everyone who is a fan, who reads or posts commentary online, who engages in social media, is complicit in this ecology of hatefulness, if not as contributors then as witnesses. We say “don’t feed the trolls” or “don’t read the comments,” telling us to keep our heads down, don’t encourage them, and maybe they’ll go away. But the fact is, they don’t, and the silence only encourages a lack of repercussions and an allowance for bad behavior to continue. By staying silent when we see such behavior, we are allowing ourselves to stay safe while our creators twist in the wind and endure these hate-filled tidal waves alone. We don’t want to attract the attention of the mob, so we hope if we ignore it, it’ll go away. It won’t. They won’t.

You may not have the bandwidth in your life to always engage. I’m not saying you should all the time. That’s how burnout occurs, how you get consumed by the hatefulness and negativity that surges around the internet these days. What I’m suggesting is that we must all take little steps, as we see fit, to combat this environment of hatred. We may not agree with the ideas or creations we fight over, but we can at least agree that threats of violence and hate-mobs against someone are wrong. Right folks? Right? I sincerely hope so.

As of right now, I’m celebrating a little victory.

In my last post, I talked about the body shaming that is rampant within the cosplay world. I pointed to several websites that made their bones out of making fun of ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ cosplayers. The whole explosion of blogginess happened because of a Facebook page called Fat Cosplayers, in which some internet troll decided to post up photos of people for the sake of making fun of them. Me and tons of other people on social media went to Facebook to report the page.

Less than twenty-four hours later, that Facebook page is gone.

And in my mind, I’m saying: We won.

I’m celebrating. This is a minor thing in the grand scheme of the universe, but before I go back to my work at grad school or my freelancing today, I had to celebrate. Because that’s one against bullies. That’s one against the insensitivity of the world. We take what we can get.

Today is known as Spirit Day, a day when people speak up about bullying and stand up against such behavior for the future. So let’s have a little story time today about why anti-bullying is important. We’re going to open up and be super, completely honest.

Let’s tell a little story about Shoshana.

That’s my “Yeah, what now?” face.

Hi. This is me. I’m fat. I’ve been this way more than half my life.

I’ve been fat since I was eleven years old. Before that, I was a horsey-limbed little colt of a thing, running around playing sports. Then puberty hit and, wouldn’t you know it, I grew to nearly 5’11” in one year and developed all those women-parts that cause you to suddenly look WAY older than you actually are. I also gained nearly one hundred pounds in a year. It didn’t hurt that I was super depressed that year and took to eating as an answer. Why was I depressed, you ask? Because I was bullied pretty hard. There was a girl in my class who hated me for some reason who made it her business to make my life a living hell. She broke into my locker in school. She slammed a window on my wrist. She called me names. When I spoke about being adopted, something that was very difficult for me, she came out and said: “The reason you can’t ask for money from your folks [for a school trip] is because you’re not their real child.” Years later, this girl swore up and down she didn’t mean anything by any of it. But I remember her. I remember her name, all those years later, and I remember how she would always say her hair was auburn and not red. I can’t forget.

I went through high school being teased. I had no friends. I ended up dropping out of high school and staying home because I was so depressed, I couldn’t walk down the hallways. I got nailed for not being as religious as the kids around me, for feeling uncomfortable with some of the bigoted nonsense in my community. I felt alone in my skin, with nowhere to turn. It didn’t help that I was developing what we later discovered was bi-polar disorder and my mood swings were awful. But I discovered the internet, stayed home and stayed online. Why? Because it was easier than dealing with the terrible things that people would say to me. I ate because I was sad and because, frankly, I didn’t give a damn anymore. I figured there was no reason to take care of myself. I should enjoy what I could because there was no being happy in life. I was depressed, suicidal, and eating to forget. I thank God I never discovered drugs or alcohol during that time period or MAN would there have been issues.

I pulled myself out of it to go to college. And there I discovered a world of diversity. Of people who looked like me. I discovered the world was big, wide, and full of all kinds of folks. Still, I had trouble. You train a person for years that anyone, at any time, can come up and hurt you, you’re going to get someone who doesn’t trust easily. I joined a sorority, tried to have friends, tried to date. And this is where I got some of the most harsh lessons in what it’s like to not be like other people. I was a bi-sexual, bi-polar, terribly sheltered Jewish fat girl. I was like the slow moving gazelle in the herd- easy pickings for bullies and the chronically insensitive.

I still remember the first guy I had a major crush on. His name was David. He liked video game music and was Jewish. His dad went to synagogue with mine. My father thought for sure I’d met someone finally that I might get together with- happily ever after. I thought this guy was hilarious and, during a party at a local bar one night, I asked him out. He was pretty wasted and we were joking around. He turned to me and laughed so hard and said he didn’t think he’d ever go out with me. I asked him why not. He said: “You know how people like certain kinds of porn? I don’t like fat people porn.”

I remember where I was standing when he said that. I remember how cold it was. I never spoke to him again. That was over ten years ago now. I can’t forget.

Me at Stonehenge 2005

I went on in college. I left school to get my life together. I did martial arts as my profession for eighteen months, starved myself on a practically liquid diet in the hopes of losing weight, and always felt awful that I wasn’t in the same shape as other people. I would run in class until I thought I was going to throw up and faint. My martial arts master would always frown at me as though I were a disappointment. I left that school and went back to college. I went overseas and discovered that if you need to buy clothing in London and you’re fat, you are going to have a hard time. I had people on the London Tube say I was too fat to sit on the seat with them. I went to France and had a woman there call me a “fat kike” (a Jewish slur I’d never heard to my face). I ended up in the hospital and nearly died from a stupid gallbladder failure and decided, right then, that I wanted to fix up my life. I made new friends, who I loved and adored. But who would still say things like:

“Sometimes I see the beautiful person trapped inside all that fat.”

“You could become a vegetarian, that would fix all your weight problems.”

“You just need to stop eating all that stuff. I mean, you can’t eat like normal people. You have to try extra hard.” 

I remember every name. I remember every person, what they said, where I was. I can’t forget.

I remember my female friends, who would make mouth noises about being accepting and loving of everyone no matter the body type, look at me sideways when I would say I was into someone. And if I said I was interested in the same person they were, I would watch them shrug that off, as if to say: “It’s not like you have a chance.” I would call them on it, too, and watch them protest. “But that’s not what I was thinking! Of course not! I’m so sorry I made you feel that way!” Yet the next time the issue came up, the exact same thing happened. I was the fat girl, the invisible one. And it was a bitter joy that at least, to them, I was invisible in certain ways and yet acceptable as a friend. At least I wasn’t alone anymore. But I still remember each of those moments, and each of the hurts. They mark a long list of bullying tactics, insensitivity and invisibility that has plagued me all my life.

This is me now, in my LARP costume for Freya at Dystopia Rising 2013.
This is me  in my LARP costume for Freya at Dystopia Rising 2013. Photo by Catie Griffin.

I’m not invisible anymore. I’ve created for myself the life I always wanted, where I have good people around me and the opportunity to create as a way of life. I no longer accept bullying in any forms. I don’t accept ‘it’s just a joke’ as an answer from those who say that they are ‘really nice people’ and ‘would never want to hurt someone else.’ I call it out as I see it. I learn to let things go and to forgive because people aren’t bad, but they can make stupid, apathetic, hurtful decisions.

But I don’t forget. I can’t forget that to some people, I am other because of how I look. That to many, I’m invisible unless I open my mouth and the power of my voice carries me beyond their prejudices to validate me as a human being. I will never forget those sideways looks, the pity in people’s eyes, and the years it took for me to not give in to just bitterness. I won’t forget how hard it has been to hold onto hope.

Hope lives. It lives in every friend who has given me a supportive hand, who has never judged me when I put a fork to my mouth in their company, or who stood up for me when some ‘well meaning’ asshat on the street says how sad it is to see a young woman like me ‘in my condition.’ Hope lives in the lovers who have called me beautiful and made me believe them, and no matter how we parted company, I won’t forget their names either. Hope lives in friends who have commiserated with me, and who have supported me, and treated me like a person who exists and is relevant.

Hope lives and I live because of hope every day.

That’s my message for Spirit Day, folks. Hope lives for those on the receiving end of bullying. And hope even lives for the insensitive, the chronically hurtful, the bullies out there. There’s hope enough for you too. I believe that, I’ll never forget it. I just hope you can find that too.


(Warning: This will not be language safe. Because frankly, this whole argument demands a little bit of four-letter wording).

In one moment, I’m going to show you a video that I saw in a recent Penny Arcade article about the recent Phil Fish / Fez II meltdown that occurred this past week. If you’re not familiar with the situation, let me give a breakdown so you understand what set off this post in the first place. Here’s a little context:

Phil Fish is an indie video game designer who created a game called Fez. He was in development of a sequel to Fez called Fez II when Marcus Beer of the GameTrailers podcast went on his show and verbally ripped Fish fellow indie creator Jonathan Blow a new face. For what reason? I can honestly not pretend to care. It was mostly about the fact that Fish and Blow (who Beer decided to nickname BlowFish) decided not to answer questions about the upcoming indie games offerings on X-Box Live. So Beer decided to target his self-confessed “bitch and moan session” at these creators for not answering questions.

That’s when things went mayhem. Because Fish shot back over Twitter and the two got into a heinous fight over the internet – which as everyone knows, always ends well. And in the end, Phil Fish quit making his game Fez II and who knows what will happen from there. Now, forgetting the fact that this turned into an internet slap fight of epic proportions, let’s step back for  second. A guy who is out there making a thing completely lost his shit because, effectively, he was getting slammed by folks in the media. The response from a lot of people have been, “Big deal. The media hits folks all the time. The internet is an unforgiving place. Don’t read the comments, suck it up, walk it off, get back to work.”

Then I saw this video and read this article from Penny Arcade. The video is Dave Chapelle of course being the bastion of goddamn wisdom that he can be:

Then I sat back and I thought about all the things I’ve been seeing on my own Twitter feed recently. A woman helms a project in England to get Jane Austin, arguably one of England’s greatest female authors, on some currency and receives rape threats on Twitter. She stands up to try to get the people prosecuted for threatening her and sparks a controversy. All this over work she’s done, and it comes in over YouTube. Feminist Frequency’s own Anita Sarkeesian, on the same day, tweets about the fact that she had to report two particularly heinous rape threats and she was curious if Twitter would do anything about it. I watched a YouTube recording of Reza Aslan, a twenty-year religion scholar and author of a new controversial book on Jesus, school the HELL out of a Fox reporter because she couldn’t get over him being Muslim long enough to engage him as a human being over his work and made the mistake of looking at the heinous comments section below. It was enough to make me slightly ill to the stomach.

All of it together has got me wondering: what the hell is wrong with people?

Folks, I am a critic. I am. Part of my job is writing reviews of things. I have reviewed books, television, movies. I’m not as famous perhaps as this Marcus Beer (I have no idea, I had never heard of him until this BS exploded) but I have people who have read my stuff. I’ve even written reviews that were heated and sometimes I’ve gone back and questioned whether or not I was entirely too unfair towards a personality involved. Still. I do not remember where in my undergraduate classes on film and media criticism my professors told me it was okay to blast the shit out of someone in a bitch session. I don’t remember where in my raising since childhood someone told me it was okay to take someone to the woodshed for their creative choices by attacking them personally. I don’t remember that being part of the job.

Now I might not be a big deal reviewer but I know some things. Let’s start with this:

One: Calling people ‘toss-pots’ and ‘fucking hipsters’ for doing their jobs in the indie world is not professional. Its shock jock provocateur behavior at its worst. Its third rate Howard Stern armchair quarterbacking. Its two steps above being that guy on Reddit yelling ‘yur mom’. Because you’re not critiquing the actual work these guys are doing anymore, you’re just taking shots at who they are. You’re that guy chasing the Kardashians for a picture of their belly fat and making up new ways to talk about celebrity nip-slips, only you’re doing it about the gaming industry. I don’t care how hurt your feelings are about not getting the quote or not getting the story you want. Learn to live with disappointments.

Two, here’s my question: where’s your game? Where’s your work? What movie did you make? What have you put out there? And how would you like it if someone went all over the place and called you names? If that sounds a little too touchy-feely and kindergarden teacher to you, that’s because that’s the place where people learn those lessons about how to talk to their fellow human beings – in PRE-SCHOOL. If you’re going out and being a critic, you better do one of two things: be prepared to be a human being about how you critique other people’s work or else you better be able to say ‘I’m a creator too’ when people ask you where your work is, and then you better be ready to take the same slings and arrows. Because if you want to sling, you best put your own hard work out there to be slung at too. And if you don’t care, if you can take that kind of muck-raking and don’t see that it is hurtful, then I don’t understand you. I don’t get where your empathy lies.

Phil Fish put this up on Twitter and it resounded so deeply in me, along with what Dave Chapelle said in that video:


So here’s a guy. He made a thing. He put it out into the world and he gets comments all the time. He gets garbage. And finally, he gets one last straw dumped on him and says he’s done. He’s out. And people are saying that he’s crazy or lost it. Think about what Chapelle said there. Think about how it feels when you get criticized and then imagine what kind of magnification a thousand fold this guy is getting. I’m not looking at what kind of a guy he is or whatnot. I’m looking at the stimulus he has to deal with constantly in his face for the simple sin of trying to be a creator in an industry he likes. He’s the ant under the magnifying glass. Eventually he’s going to burn up. Who wouldn’t?

Now I’m not going to lie. I’ve had shitty interactions with people who are creators when I’m press. Hell, I had a shirty interaction with a comic book writer who is SUPER well known that made me so grouchy that I basically still think he’s a douchebag ages later. But I realized something recently that made me think that maybe, just maybe, I owe that guy an apology: he is not my bitch. Neil Gaiman said that of George RR Martin recently to some folks and it bears repeating. These guys ain’t our bitches, reviewers and interviewers and fans. And treating them that way makes us the bitches. Does it suck when someone is shirty with you? SURE. But get over yourself. They don’t owe you shit, even if you’re media. They don’t.

investigating-harassment-in-the-workplaceThe internet can give you some serious toxic shock if you step out there and try to create, or say a thing, or do a thing. I’ve seen it myself. I’ve had people put up videos calling me names. I’ve had rape threats sent to my inbox because I spoke up against that BS Grope Crew stuff happening on Twitter. I’ve been called names. I’ve had friends called names I wouldn’t call my worst enemy. I’ve seen reporters chase Anne Hathaway through a protest she was attending like a regular person (not a celebrity) shouting at her that she owes him and she’s a bitch for not giving him a quote. I read Wil Wheaton’s recent experience at ComicCon and I start to really think that some folks have lost their ever-loving, self-entitled little minds.

Every time people speak up about this kind of behavior going on, the answers are the same: don’t pay any mind, just let it roll off your back, don’t read the comments. Don’t read the comments? It’s not just in the comments anymore! It’s in the self-entitled disrespectful way people are treating one another on the airwaves, across the internet and in person. The only way to get the hell away from it seems to be to just shut down and get out now or just stop doing anything that gets other people’s attention. At all.

I had to go thru recently to see if I could track down how things got this bad. I think I got it. This is the process:

The internet gives us anonymity to say whatever the hell we want. Then folks step out who aren’t hiding but put themselves out as creators, voices, whatever, and they become targets. They become that way for a billion reasons – either someone has an opinion that differs, or someone is just having a bad day, or someone has some angst they want to vent at another target. They hide it behind things like freedom of speech and ‘this is my opinion’ and ‘you put yourself out there so you want the attention so here it is!’ And then they spew. And the good voices, the people who just come to have decent conversations on the internet or speak their opinions and criticism with respect and humor and community in mind get drowned out by waves of absolutely rancid garbage. Or worse, they get drowned out by voices of critics who use their own self-created voices to spew the same trash, except under the guise of journalism.

The Newsroom this week had a quote come out of the main character Will’s mouth. “I’m against censorship but I’m a big fan of self-censorship.” That means that just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean it SHOULD be said. And when you say it, you have a responsibility to consider what kind of impact it has on another human being. Just because you CAN say something a certain way doesn’t mean you should. It’s a matter of respect and empathy and we as an internet society seem to be fighting an uphill battle against a landslide of poisonous garbage that cuts a path through good people who are just trying to do what they love.

I don’t know Phil Fish. I don’t know a thing about him personally, about his behavior, and I have no opinion one way or another about him as a person. I don’t know Anita Sarkeesian. I don’t know Reza Aslan. But I know folks who have gotten this treatment. I have burst into tears over things said to me in hurtful, hateful internet crap. I’ve had people discount all the writing I might do or anything I’ve said on a panel to slam into me for being ‘a loudmouth bitch’ or ‘fat disgusting slag’. I have looked at my computer with open-mouthed disgust and thought, “Who the hell told you it was okay to say such things?”

And I decided it wasn’t okay. And I decided to try to do better, to be more careful about how I addressed others in my criticisms and treatment. I decided to work on examining people’s actions and output in my criticism rather than who they are as people because glass houses world, glass frickin houses. But I also decided not to keep quiet about the phenomenon. If the trolls and the nasty critics and the hopped-up internet bullies get a voice, so do to the folks who say that this isn’t okay. So I’m going to use that voice and say it loud AGAIN. Because, you know, it seems to need a reminder every five minutes.

This shit is not okay. Not anywhere. I don’t care who the hell you are. Learn to talk respectfully to one another again or put down the microphone because your attitude is not welcome in a community of creators, whomever they may be. I’m not prepared to stand as a creator in a community I’m brand new to and say its okay when creators are bullied and heckled and hurt. Or if that is the way the gaming community works, it best come to realize that not all of us signed up for that – I certainly didn’t – and I won’t stand for it in my interactions. I’m holding others to a higher standard now.

So seriously, come to argue, come to be critical of work, come to discuss. But for the love of everything holy, learn to keep a respectful, civil tongue in your head or count yourself as part of the sea of toxic crap that floats along the media stream. Be quality or be part of the problem.