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jezkemp

jezkemp

Chelmsford, United Kingdom

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Still here (x2) + Pitchforks and torches

It’s been an eventful week. Let’s start with something good.

I recently passed 100 Tshirt designs. Sure, some of them are very similar – the I Love Dinosaurs designs all have duplicate versions in white and black – but I’ve had been quite a productive month or so. Sadly the ideas are still piling up, and I have been neglecting things like sleeping and eating…

Also good, I’m still here, as are all of you – the Rapture did not happen, and I managed to sell a few Rapture Tshirts which was nice. Of course even if it did happen, I’d still be here because I’m a dirty heathen, but I haven’t spotted any molten lava yet. (The volcano in Iceland doesn’t count.) So hurrah for the Notthepocalypse! Apparently we get another one in October, and there’s always the Mayan prediction nonsense for 2012 = me selling more Tshirts. Yay.

I’m still here in another sense – on Redbubble – in spite of the Hipsterhitler furore. As my first journal mentions, I have not been keen on wading into this debate, especially seeing some of the catfights that have broken out. But there has been so much moralising anger and one-sided banner waving that I have felt I should speak out, or at least speak up, in a few instances.

HH posted an extract of a self-written interview explaining what they do and what Hipster Hitler is all about. I won’t say I was swayed overly by it because it was written long ago as a generic article unrelated to RB, and I didn’t want to ban them in the first place. But it was articulate, calm and well-written, which is a lot more than can be said for the frothing hordes trying to have them banned. (I don’t mean to dismiss everyone who has politely raised reasonable concerns over their work – it’s just the people who want them banned who seem to be doing the frothing.) My main comment is there around the 100 mark – best way to find it is probably searching for my username. A lot of people had already said what I wanted to say, but I made a few points and comparisons which I felt hadn’t been raised.

What was reassuring was the number of comments on this journal, and journals and forum comments in general recently, made by reasonable people speaking out in favour of sanity. It has sometimes felt like the only people talking are those who’ve been blinded into loudness by the offence they’ve taken, and there is still a lot of posturing and dramatic statements like “I’m not supporting an actively anti-semitic organisation like Redbubble”. (The mind boggles.) But now there is thankfully some traction behind people who a) don’t think Hipsterhitler should be banned, regardless of their opinion on the designs, and even better b) think everyone should just chill the hell out.

One user has posted a journal calling for a list of those staying, and they have listed the awesome amazing reasons for staying on Redbubble far better than I could or have time for here. I hope they don’t mind me linking it. (Actually it seems they posted this a while ago, but I only found it recently.) This is meant to be a balance against the hysterical proclaimers who have banded together and made lists of people who have left the site in protest. I am a little wary – something I also object to about those grandiose posts is the brash, moral-crusade approach to the issue, which is not to be admired. But if I can add my name to a show of hands, and not a show of strength, then please count this journal.

On the subject of moral panics, another one appears to have broken out: children’s clothing and NSFW images. Well, actually the point being made is about a default setting – but you wouldn’t know if you read some of the feverish journals that are going round. It doesn’t seem to be connected to HH, but the bile, moral outrage and lack of clarity is almost identical.

I’ll try and explain:

  • When you upload a clothing design to RB, there are options for Tshirts, Stickers and Childrens clothing, and these come automatically ticked. So unless you make a deliberate choice, your design will automatically be available on childrens clothing, even if it is sexual/NSFW/etc.

Now, to me that does indeed warrant looking at. Maybe they should have the childrens clothing option unchecked, so you have to deliberately choose to make it available, or maybe they should link up the NSFW checkbox so it’s impossible to check both. Maybe there are other options to explore too.
What it doesn’t warrant is more hysterical shouts of “vile” and “sick” etc. etc. (yawn), which illustrate how it is people’s offence that these designs exist, and not the issue itself, which drives so much of the anger.

Incidentally, some people may be interested to know Redbubble have taken some action on this issue. Yesterday I received an email from Redbubble saying that some of my work had been reported as not being suitable for kids, and that I should review it and uncheck designs which were not suitable. I approve of this email.

Someone had already pointed out that I have a design which is perhaps not suitable for children’s clothing. I assume it was the Honey Badger one anyway – I went through my whole Tshirt collection and struggled to find anything obviously, undoubtedly not for kids. (None of my work is checked as NSFW, so I did have to think.)

My view? Well, firstly I am not forcing anyone to buy them, and I am not forcing anyone to, in turn, force a child to wear a top that says “Honey Badger Don’t Give A Sh-”. People can be responsible for their own actions and adults can exercise their own discretion when looking for kids clothing, especially on swearing which I think is a parental matter. Furthermore there are examples where someone may wish to buy the design on childrens clothing when it is not actually for children. Several people who’ve bought the Honey Badger Tshirt have done so because they know a sports team named after this wonderful animal, and I could easily imagine a teddy bear as a mascot – owned by an adult – wearing this design to cover their furry nakedness. Also, just because these designs are available does not mean Redbubble is promoting them, which is a subtle but important difference.

Anyway. What struck me mostly about this email was the calm, sensible, reasonable and polite tone it had – one which I have come to expect from Redbubble. I have not been forced to remove these designs as childrens clothing – I have been asked nicely, and had the matter explained to me carefully but firmly. I think a lot of people waving pitchforks and torches could learn something from this.

I have emailed back highlighting all of my designs that could possibly be considered inappropriate, outlining why I haven’t unchecked the childrens option on these designs yet, and saying that if RB themselves felt any were unsuitable I would happily remove the kids clothing option. And “yet” is an important word, because I believe this is a choice artists should be able to make themselves, and now this issue has been brought to light I may decide to uncheck that box on some designs all by myself. Best of all there is always the report button without which a site like this would not work, which given this email appears to be working fine.

Anyway.

I think that wraps it up for this journal. I’ve now written a lot about this kind of stuff and I hope not to (have to) write much more. I had intended to make this a mixed journal combining lots of things, good and not-so-good, but I thought it best to split it up and save the good stuff for another one. So, until next time, you guys stay classy and keep it real, or whatever it is the cool kids say.

Jez

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