Contrapoints: the queen of YouTube
Editors: Leah Goodman and Maria João Tralhão Dolan
Now and then, I feel quite frustrated with the left. Particularly with SJWs that get personally offended as soon as their ideology is questioned and call pretty much anything “racist” or “problematic”. Now don't get me wrong, I fully support SJWs and truly believe that their militant (if at times whiney) voice is important for the betterment of society. But I do find that we, as the left, have some improving to do. And my new favorite person on the internet, Natalie Wynn aka ContraPoints, is the breath of fresh air I for one have been waiting for.
The trans YouTuber based in Baltimore produces witty, insightful and entertaining videos tackling topics such as left and right wing academia, right wing internet phenomena (“Incels” or “Alpha Males”), capitalism, racism, and her home turf: the trans-community. She was on track to get a PhD in Philosophy before deciding that institutionalized academia was too insular for her taste. As someone wishing to explore life's bigger questions, Wynn was frustrated by the requirement to spend years exploring one, super specific topic that had little to no relevance in the “real world”. “Chmess”, Daniel Dennett calls it, implying much of academia is like a super complex version of chess that no one actually plays. Rules and theories simply for the sake of it. She found herself looking for a way in which she could explore the ideas that were of interest to her in a decentralized and non institutional manner. YouTube provided her with the platform that she had been looking for. She is funded by independent patrons via the platform patreon, who are all listed at the end of every video she posts. Her audience has been growing steadily and so, too, has the quality of her videos.
Now let me return to where I started. My annoyance with leftist “snowflakes”, as they are called by some of the right in a desperate attempt to delegitimize them. Wynn has opinions about this, too. She expresses her frustration with much of the left's tendency to invoke feelings as an argument. The way in which the left can, at times, be deeply hypocritical is a further point with which both she and I take issue. An ideological group that explicitly strives to promote tolerance, inclusion and equality should not be exiling people for not being “woke” enough. Yet that is happening. People that are deemed “unwoke” are being excluded from the discussion. This is not the atmosphere of dialog and solidarity that could make the left strong! Wynn makes this point in her video on the Left. We should be confident enough to stand up to those who we find “problematic”, even slimy guys like Jordan Peterson, without getting defensive, aggressive or standoffish. If we truly stand by the arguments we are wishing to make, we shouldn't have to rely on shame based silencing of “unwoke” ideas but rather should engage with them. We need to become “Ice Cold Motherfuckers” to use Wynn's jargon. Confident in what we believe in and willing to stand up to those who disagree.
As the left, we can not ignore the traction that alt-right and far-right movements are gaining. Additionally, we have to recognize that the political centre is really more right than not. It is on us to gain support for the values that we believe in. The left can not be afraid of the Petersons, the TERFs or the liberal reptiles of the world. On the flip side, we can not shroud ourselves in a blanket of moral supremacy either. That behaviour is why people hate vegans. It's not because the vegans or the SJWs are wrong, its because they are pretty damn annoying when they spend their entire day proving that they are a morally superior being. We must stand our ground, without becoming obnoxious, because our values are ones for which it is worth standing. Wynn does just that. Her aesthetic, creative and multilayered videos do not shy away from “problematic” topics. She engages with various political stances on a topic, which are often personified by different characters that she plays such as Tabby, the radical, socially inept antifa girl, Tiffany Tumbles, the trans woman that wants to pass as a woman and thus buys into stereotypical femininity, or Abigail Cockbane, a standoffish TERF. With a solid dose of self-deprecation, dark humour, sarcasm and surrealism, Wynn ventures into those topics, much of the left won't touch. She shares both very personal experiences from her transition, a healthy dose of philosophy and well founded research. The clips, that are between 15 and 30 minutes, are more short films than vlogs, with elaborate costumes, cinematography and sets. If this has not been enough to convince you to go check her out, let me say this: she talks about the female penis, kinks and calls Jordan Peterson “Daddy”. She is the leftist voice we both need and deserve.