Athena Experiences Complete Moral Outrage at the Merest Suggestion of Insincerity

Seems that some people believe that the “Athena Vs. the LP” video was staged. Athena, naturally, responds:

There, I think that should settle the question.

More seriously: Come on, people. Athena: Not stupid, and as anyone who spends any time here knows, used to dad pulling out the camera and recording her, perchance to post here on the site. It’s not like I hid the camera in the greenery. So when I start filming her and telling her I want to show her something, it’s possible that she’s aware I’m looking for a reaction, and she might be in the mood to oblige me. In which case two things are simultaneously possible: One, that she actually is holding an LP for the first time and responding to it; two, that she might be doing a little bit of improv. The fact that people seem to be outraged that she’s not acting exactly like an Amazonian tribesman encountering his first iPod seems a bit silly.

People elsewhere also seem somewhat shocked and surprised that I might disable comments over at YouTube, which suggests that people elsewhere might be a little dim. I understand that there are people who believe they have a god-given right to be abusive cretins to a 13-year-old girl, but I’m not one of them, especially when the 13-year-old girl in question is my kid, and I have the ability to turn off the comments. Surprise! I do believe Rebecca Black still has her comments on; they can go bother her if they like.

Anyway, now the world has Athena’s official rebuttal to the critics. I’m sure they will be thrilled.

98 thoughts on “Athena Experiences Complete Moral Outrage at the Merest Suggestion of Insincerity

  1. Haha!! People are terrible. Thanks for the laugh. BTW, dad, your laugh is amazing when she cracks you up. Love the exchange.

  2. Dear Athena:

    I *heart* you and your willingness to indulge your Dad. Also, you have great taste in books!

  3. Those guys on that other website are the moral equivalent of poisoned feces-eating jackals.

    I got no love for adults who make fun of thirteen-year-olds.

  4. Annie:

    Yes, well. To them other people on the Web aren’t real. Which is to say the Internet has an interesting tendency to turn people into sociopaths.

  5. At least one person admitted he wanted to troll, I noticed. It doesn’t redeem him in any way, but there it is.
    I thought the video was cute. I look forward to the day when my daughter comes home and says she learned about 8tracks in History Class.

  6. Athena’s reaction to the LP was just so full of awe at our primitive technology that she either is a great actress or was sincere. I’ll take sincere for $500, Alex.

  7. Glad to see Athena has her father’s sense of humor and hope she’ll blog someday (and write books) as well. BTW – trolls: Really? Get a Life!

  8. You tell ‘em Athena!! I never doubted a smart girl like you was able to carry on an intelligent conversation regarding an artifact from the 1900’s. Don’t have a daughter but if I did I would be proud to have one just like you; I’m sure your parents are.

  9. Ah, a young Amazonian! I enjoy watching children’s faces change as they mature. One year they look like one parent or ancestor, and the next year it’s another. Until finally, they solidify into their own look. I can really see the two of you in her face. She really is a cool kid.

  10. Athena, you rock. Considering your parents, I’m not finding that surprising.

    Also, if you like Twain, you should definitely read “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”, in which he goes off on the Leatherstocking Tales, which were (dare I say it?) his day’s equivalent of the Twilight books.

  11. An excellent rebuttal. :)

    Don’t know if anyone else caught it, but on Wed morning, Bill Leff, the overnight guy on WGN radio mentioned the video and it led to a 45 minute discussion of things that have become obsolete in the last generation.

  12. What a lucky kid, growing up surrounded by so many books.
    Can I raise my kids in your house so they can has books too?

  13. Dramatized for your enjoyment? Yes. Faked? No. So she might have played for a better performance the way that people, that age especially, can play up life.

    Thank you for shutting down Youtube comments. So often I like comments, but never there. Google does evil by not doing something about those boards. (yeah they have the right not to, but that does not make doing nothing about it right.)

  14. “Don’t know if anyone else caught it, but on Wed morning, Bill Leff, the overnight guy on WGN radio mentioned the video and it led to a 45 minute discussion of things that have become obsolete in the last generation.”

    I caught it, Dan Cluley. I don’t think they were too inclined to read the original blog post where the video was.

  15. My eight-year old has a blog, of course under a pseudonym, but I am mortally afraid of nasty intrusions. It is sad when creativity of children has to be clouded by the constant fear of violation. People are weird, especially on the net, and honesty is battered more than rewarded.

    Kudos to you for handling your daughter’s internet presence with elan. I learn from you.

  16. I grew up in a house with lots and lots and lots of books, and looking at that scene I’m jealous. Excellent taste in reading material, too.

    Still, either there’s something odd with the exposure or she should be using more light when she reads.

    PS Re the “was that better”: how many takes were there?

  17. I can fully believe that Athena had heard of an Lp but never seen/held one before. Therefore, it is easy to assume that she wouldn’t automatically know how it worked. IE: There are vehicles with stick shifts yet many people haven’t the slightest idea how to use one. Personally, I had no clue what a 45 was until a bunch were left by a renter I kicked out.

    Sadly, some people seem to only find enjoyment in criticising anything and everything others do. In other words, trolls be trolling. Kudos to you both for standing up for yourselves.

  18. The first time I saw the Athena-meets-LP video,I thought it was faked, but it didn’t really bother me.

    The next day, it occurred to me that what I was experiencing as fakery may be something else entirely. And that something else can be summed up in an old saying my great-great-great-great-grandfather used to say to me: The apple doesn’t fall far from the ham-it-up tree.

    I think what made me realize this was when I really thought about the experience a kid would have growing up in a house where her father recently publicly convinced a rather large number of successful authors to lick and autograph a book.

    That behaviour is sourced by a view of life that is going to land as staged for a large number of stoic, puritan work ethic, Americans.

  19. I laughed hard. Thanks.

    Oh, and I didn’t think it was fake, but I did think maybe she was putting you on a little bit. Quick mind that kid has, and an innate sense of timing.

  20. You have a smart and amusing daughter – just like her dad. I’ve been meaning to read that autobiography myself. She has great taste in books.

  21. Which is to say the Internet has an interesting tendency to turn people into sociopaths.

    Hum… I suspect it’s more that if you’re already the anus of the body politic, the internet isn’t going to make you any more agreeable.

  22. Oh, man. This is my kid in eight years. I can already feel it.

    (She’s gone into a precocious Beatles kick on the basis of seeing “Yellow Submarine.” I’ve explained to her that that stuff was all made long before CDs were invented, let alone iPods. I think I’m turning into that dad in the Onion article whose attempts to be cool result in his daughter having only decades-out-of-date cultural references.)

  23. I think it’s funny how upset people get when you turn off comments (in this case, on a YouTube video). The internet seems to have conditioned people to believe that not only do they have a right to express an opinion about everything posted on it, but that original posters have an obligation to provide a forum for such opinions. Anyway, I completely agree with Edward Brennan: YouTube comment areas are such a cesspool of antisocial behavior, by continuing to provide them in their current form, Google is probably violating its “Don’t be evil” rule.

  24. The use of “Remain in Light” in the photo stings. Stings, I tell you.

    (My kid in fact briefly decided “Once In A Lifetime” was one of her favorite songs around age 3.)

  25. @ John Scalzi

    We’ll see it derail in record time.

    Puntastic! XP for you, sir.

    @ Edward Brennan & CLP

    Thank you for shutting down Youtube comments. So often I like comments, but never there. Google does evil by not doing something about those boards. (yeah they have the right not to, but that does not make doing nothing about it right.)

    On the viewer end, don’t read ‘em. I don’t. On the poster end, users can already block comments on their videos, as Mr. Scalzi aptly demonstrated. There’s no way Google could possibly police every video with open comments, certainly not with anything in the same stellar neighborhood of the personal attention one sees at well-behaved blogs like this or BoingBoing. The only other alternative I can see is to ban comments entirely. I’d rather it be up to the posters. Did either of you have another possible solution in mind. Mind you I agree that YouTube comments are 99.999999999% cesspool. I’m just wondering what solution exists that’s better than letting posters decide if they want to be lambasted by hordes of deh stupid.

    @ LG

    My eight-year old has a blog, of course under a pseudonym, but I am mortally afraid of nasty intrusions. It is sad when creativity of children has to be clouded by the constant fear of violation. People are weird, especially on the net, and honesty is battered more than rewarded.

    I suspect that, not infrequently, adults simply don’t understand how much the internet is a part of life for those that grew up in Web 2.0 – yes, I know that buzzword is a hanging offense nowadays; my only defense is that I’m using to denote a generational gap rather than a nebulous tech concept – and so can’t grok something like Facebook bullying. To many over the age of thirty, Facebook isn’t real life and Facebook “friends” are a quaint fiction. To kids, Facebook is as real as the playgrounds of yesteryear. And to parents, the prospect of a playground where they can’t monitor their kids and shelter them from abuse is terrifying indeed.

    Incidentally, I wonder if the chickens will come home to roost when this generation gets a migraine trying to cope with their kids using Mindbook.

  26. This was touched upon indirectly in previous post but what stood out to me was how incredibly trashed your office appears to have become again….. ;-)

  27. Way to go, Athena! Yes, YouTube commenters are, in general, terrible people.

    BeeTeeDubs, John, my 15 year old daughter, Morgan, think it’s awesome that your daughter is named Athena.

  28. I just want to let you know, I was driving on Ramstein Air Base in Germany yesterday and heard Athena vs the LP on the radio. I thought to myself…”man, I know Scalzi’s daughters name is Athena. That’d be a weird coincidence.” Nope. Just awesomeness. She’s getting airplay around the world!

  29. Gulliver @ 10:39 am: Comments should be an option that has to be explicitly enabled by the poster, rather than enabled by default. Athena is lucky her dad has enough Internet savvy to know YouTube comments are toxic sewage; many people don’t, and allowing them to unwittingly install a sewer pipe into their life is kind of mean.

  30. Seriously, the LP video made the FailBlog? No wonder I don’t check it so often these days.

    Also, I now regret throwing all those old, scratched 78’s away when I cleaned out my mom’s house – I could’ve shipped one across-state, so you could see what Athena thought of such a heavy black object, made (apparently) of glass – at least, that’s what it acted like frisbee’ed into the dumpster… ah, the fun I had that day.

  31. Am I the only one who got jealous of all those books stacked in the background? nearly made me drool, I bet there’s ARC’s and all sorts of stuff in those unruly stacks.

  32. YouTube comments would be less toxic if every user policed their own video threads. if you don’t want to play moderator, don’t enable comments; if you do enable comments, moderate. I have comments on, and I also delete comments I find offensive.

  33. @CLP: I don’t see what’s so hard to grasp about this: You may have a First Amendment right to be an offensive, crass douche-nozzle, but there’s no corresponding First Amendment obligation on anyone else to give you a platform. #notrocketscience

  34. @ CLP

    Comments should be an option that has to be explicitly enabled by the poster, rather than enabled by default. Athena is lucky her dad has enough Internet savvy to know YouTube comments are toxic sewage; many people don’t, and allowing them to unwittingly install a sewer pipe into their life is kind of mean.

    Ah, that’s a suggestion I can get behind. And not just for YouTube. Many a social media site would do well to implement it.

  35. @ Craig Ranapia

    I don’t see what’s so hard to grasp about this: You may have a First Amendment right to be an offensive, crass douche-nozzle, but there’s no corresponding First Amendment obligation on anyone else to give you a platform.

    So that’s why the NYT laughed when I threatened to sue them for not publishing all my conspiracy theories. More seriously, I suspect it’s not that so many people can’t understand that it’s not rocket science, but rather that they don’t want to. People often see things the way the want to; logic need not apply.

  36. I have a few hundred videos of my almost four year old daughter up on youtube, with comments disabled. Nothing quite gives you a squicky feeling like having one video of your daughter meeting thumper the bunny at disneyworld have a couple thousand hits from a furry site.

  37. I’ll admit it: I thought it perhaps seemed a little stagey. But you know what? Even if it was staged, who cares? Because it’s a cute, funny video of a guy and his kid. Honestly, sometimes I think all the internet is good for is taking the natural tendency of some people to suck, and transforming it into a physical thing.

    This is normally where I’d suggest you let Athena know how awesome she is, but I get the feeling you already do that on a regular basis, without prompting. :-)

  38. Does nobody else post their YouTube videos privately, where it’s necessary for someone to already have the link before they view it? That’s certainly the option I use, as do most of my friends.

  39. Dude, come on. You’re not going to fool me. I know that video was totally faked. You see, I’ve dealt with quite a few photoshops in my time, and you can tell her reaction is fake because of the pixels.

    The all-knowing Pixels.

  40. Force those cretins who questioned the general awesomeness and sincerity of Athena to wear “The Cone of Shame”.

  41. So what was the point of even doing it if it was staged? It just becomes meaningless, self-indulgent nonsense.

  42. I know that this reaction is totally wrong.. but as a Mom my first reaction is to find that person and punch them in the throat.

    I told you it’s wrong, but it’d feel SO right. :)

  43. Francisco Lopez:

    Leaving aside that you really don’t seem to be following events at all, just because you don’t like meaningless, self-indulgent nonsense doesn’t mean the rest of us have to live in your drab and boring world.

  44. As I first wrote some years ago about YouTube comments, I really hope that the youtube system isn’t engineered such that someone (or a whole team of someones) does nothing all day but maintain and backup the comments database, carefully making sure the long spew of pointless cursing and random slurs doesn’t get lost and always gets served up to the users. I hope those tasks get mixed in with the rest of the system maintenance. Otherwise I don’t know how the comments people maintain the will to live.

  45. @Gulliver

    As John has pointed out in the past, the Mallet is an important tool. As you point out boing boing is also well moderated. I am not led to believe that you are against using that tool, more against the idea of Google using that tool and that it is cost prohibitive for them to try.

    Google couldn’t put blocks on cuss words? They could adopt a system that uses its users to report abuse? They spend a lot of effort to keep porn and copyrighted content off the site. Sure they are not always successful but they try. They generally keep ads out of the comment streams. Would it cost google money? Yes. Do they not want to spend it- not at this point in time. But if people stopped using the site would they figure it out? yes. Frankly I don’t buy the argument that Google can’t only that they choose not to.

    We seem to agree that at least the poster should have the options to regulate the comment stream as though they are the publisher. Frankly, I don’t think Google see it that way, nor does that really match their terms and conditions. Maybe it should, but it does not. So if it Okay for John to be the editor of his site, and Boing Boing to edit theirs, why is it not okay for Google to edit Youtube? I will point out that they already do in cases of porn and DMCA.

    Frankly a comment system that you and I avoid looking at, and that John disables entirely is not exactly meeting the needs of its users. Could I at the very least see a “report abuse” function, an ability of a poster to moderate the thread, what about giving the poster an ability to opt in to a wider thread management system. Not everyone wants to spend the amount of time and effort that John spends here, so maybe giving them the option to offload that work is a fair option. Maybe it should be an opt out instead of an opt in. It is Google’s site and they can do that if they wish.

  46. The original video reminds me of this little tumblr that went around awhile ago: the relationship between a cassette tape and a pencil, and how our children will NEVER UNDERSTAND.

    http://yellowmeansgo.tumblr.com/post/6507611738/cassette-tape-and-pencil-our-children-will-never

    There are few things that I didn’t pick up through pop culture, though. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen a record on a record player, but I know what they are and more or less how they work. (I’m 28, so this isn’t exactly surprising, timeline-wise.) I imagine the ability of pop culture to transfer the knowledge down the generations diminishes quite a lot over time. As a kid, I knew what a rotary phone was despite having never seen one in person in my life. Also, for some reason, I knew how to use a washboard.

  47. OK, while I sometimes write “LOL” when I see something funny, I very rarely laugh aloud when I’m alone in the room and no one’s on the phone. Laughing is generally social behavior for me, and very few things elicit it in solitude.

    I laughed at this. Really hard. Athena: you’re the greatest. Big fan here.

  48. Also, that other site is now on my “these people are fucking assholes whose downfall calls for schadenfreude pie” list.

  49. Oh, I wasn’t suggesting taking any action, or I’d’ve commented there myself. Just IF their downfall should occur by means of parties unknown, I will bake that pie.

  50. @ Edward Brennan

    I am not led to believe that you are against using that tool, more against the idea of Google using that tool and that it is cost prohibitive for them to try.

    I’m merely skeptical that moderation in detail is a practical goal even for a company such as Google.

    Google couldn’t put blocks on cuss words? They could adopt a system that uses its users to report abuse?

    You can:

    http://www.ehow.com/how_8487427_report-abuse-youtube.html

    Unfortunately, whether because they aren’t throwing enough eyeballs at it, or because they’re overwhelmed with complaints, Google is rather notorious for simply waiting until a YouTube user has however many complaints trip their threshold and then suspending their account and all their videos. One of my favorite channels, that of Zinnia Jones, Queen of Atheism, got shut down twice because enough fundies didn’t like her arguing logically with their religion.

    So if it Okay for John to be the editor of his site, and Boing Boing to edit theirs, why is it not okay for Google to edit Youtube?

    It’s perfectly, 100%, a-OK with me. What I don’t think it is is even remotely practical for them to moderate on anything but the most automated terms. Filtering “dirty” words isn’t going to clean up the abuse, and not just because leet-speaking kids will type in code. Context is the key to meaning. Civilized blogs have in common that their moderators attend to the contexts of the posts, and not just the words. Cuss words are largely arbitrary markers that can convey many disparate meanings depending on how and where they are used.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBpetDxIEMU

    YouTube isn’t like a blog. It’s not strictly analogous John moderating here. A better analogy would be John moderating all the blogs on WordPress and LiveJournal combined. What do you say John, could even a thousand of you keep order over a tenth of the blogosphere?

    I will point out that they already do in cases of porn and DMCA.

    Ineffectively, as you yourself acknowledge. They do better with screening the porn only because more users are willing to report violations. Usually only rights-holders look for their own material being posted, but lots of folks will work to keep nudity off YouTube.

    Could I at the very least see a “report abuse” function, an ability of a poster to moderate the thread, what about giving the poster an ability to opt in to a wider thread management system. Not everyone wants to spend the amount of time and effort that John spends here, so maybe giving them the option to offload that work is a fair option. Maybe it should be an opt out instead of an opt in.

    Those are good suggestions. I’m heartily for anything that empowers the user to control their own channel. And you hit on exactly why I think it would be ill-conceived for Google to take an Automated Mallet to YouTube. It’s not a personal site like a blog or even a group blog; it’s a platform for innumerable video-blogs. I highly doubt most blog-owners would appreciate if their CMS started robo-moderating their blogs for them, and I suspect many would jump ship and find another ride.

    It is Google’s site and they can do that if they wish.

    Absolutely. And my personal dissatisfaction with YouTube has been a major factor in my gradually migrating to Vimeo. What they can do and what they should do are two separate things.

  51. Know what? GOOD FOR HER! Being young does NOT mean you have to take abuse, not from anyone, not for any reason! Still have to listen to your parents, though ;-)

  52. :big dumb grin: There are really only two good replies to this kind of thing. One is the over-the-top, which she did very well; the other is the studied ignoring, not accompanied with a quizzical look (that breaks the ignoring part.)

  53. I’m not going to repeat the comments about trolls on YouTube, but I have noticed that on virtually EVERY site where comments are possible that shows the last few comments the “dialogue” has devolved to crude, brutal, and scatalogical ad hominem screeds. I don’t believe it is possible to have a dialogue on the web without moderation. The scary thing is that there is such a large class of undereducated, highly opinionated, DBs out there engaging in this babble. I’m afraid that the drain in the gene pool make be leaking.

  54. @ Old Leatherneck

    I don’t believe it is possible to have a dialogue on the web without moderation.

    With the exception of small sites where pretty much everyone is a regular a la Cheers, I agree. Of course, those sites are really another category aside from blogs and mass-public sites, though they have the potential to grow to the proportions of sites like this and so become in need of good moderation. What we really need is tireless AI moderators, but I suspect any able to grasp the finer points of human discourse would want to get something out of it for themselves. Or we need something like the Culture Minds that could do it en masse as an afterthought. Or we could just Three Laws ‘em, but that could well end up with it’s own set of problems:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galley_Slave

  55. All I would like to know is: fake, real, who cares? How in the hell did you get her to let you video her in the first place. I cannot get my 15 yr old daughter to let me take any pictures let alone video.
    Dave

  56. I’ve met college students who weren’t quite clear what audiocasettes were meant to do.
    So I did not doubt Athena’s response to being shown an LP.

  57. My medication gives me squirrel brain, so my watching this video went:
    Distracted by the book, not listening to dialogue. The kid’s reading the autobiography of Twain, cool, oh wait, I know that voice, it’s Daughter Having A Dramatic Reaction! Wow look at all the books! I wish I could see the titles, but the daughter’s still being dramatic so John’s following her instead of letting me see the titles clearly. Oh well. Maybe they’re just books people send him, and not books he bought or treasures. Who knows. Oh, the daughter is so cute, I’m so glad mine are all grown and I don’t have to listen to the even worse Full-On Teenage Dramatic Exaggerations anymore. Oh of course it wasn’t faked. She’s just a Dramatic Person.

    I’m also digging the Google discussions.

  58. @CLP:
    Our host has a great post along those lines.

    Yes, another stone cold Scalzi classic of stiletto-sharp snark-flavoured truth. :) And, honestly, it seems to me that “being an abusive cretin to a 13 year old child – and a complete stranger” is pretty high on the list of things people who weren’t raised by weasels shouldn’t need to be told not to do.

    @ Old Leatherneck
    I don’t believe it is possible to have a dialogue on the web without moderation.

    Probably not, but it doesn’t have to be particularly heavy-handed. I contribute to a group blog, and have never had to Mallet anyone beyond the (very) occasional suggestion to chill the discussion a few degrees. That has more to do with the regulars being an arsehole-free, well-socialized bunch of people than any great virtue on my part, but still… “flame on” doesn’t have to be the internet’s default setting.

  59. People actually thought the video was faked? Apparently, I know far too many geek children raised by geek parents. Geek kids raised by non-geek parents have a much higher suspicion factor when faced with an “I want to show you something you haven’t seen before” situation. A geek raised by geeks know, without a shadow of a doubt, that an “I want to show you” leads to fun and adventure. And, possibly, explosions – fire optional.

    I also loved the “don’t vote for my dad” video recommendation that came up after “Athena Experiences Complete Moral Outrage” video.

  60. No doubt it wasn’t faked. The main problem though is handing the kid an artifact and not showing her how it’s used… it was presented in the most alienating way possible to elicit that reaction. If you want a real test, put the record on the turntable!

  61. [Deleted because the poster is the sort of complete sphincterjob who thinks insulting my daughter on my own site is somehow acceptable. Surprise! -- JS]

  62. On the other hand, we just got my 22 year old daughter a turntable for Christmas; apparently they are becoming cool again…

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