deconstructing "authentic" travel & tourism | Internet Analysis
Hello, my dudes! My name is Tiffany, welcome back to my series, Internet Analysis, where I like to research and discuss things relevant to social issues and media. Today's topic is Authentic Travel vs Tourism, and today's video was inspired by a chapter of a book that I read in one of my media classes called 'The Image' by Daniel J. Boorstin. Ever since reading this in college, I've been fascinated by the comparison between authentic travel and manufactured or commercial tourism. Basically, being a 'traveler' is highbrow and being a 'tourist' is lowbrow. Even though 'The Image' was published back in 1962, I still found a lot of Boorstin's critiques and observations to be pretty relevant. Now, I want to make the point, I don't agree with his politics; Boorstin was a very conservative, old white man, which is heavily reflected in his works; but this video is not about him, I just found the chapter, 'the lost art of travel', to be very thought provoking, a little bit of a vintage hot take, and I wanted to use it as a jumping-off point for this conversation.
So, for most people privileged enough to afford it, travel is a great way to break up the mundane, whether you want a little weekend vacation, or a nice week-long holiday somewhere relaxing. Or perhaps you want to explore the world, experience new cultures, expand your worldview, do a little bit of soul searching- or at least that's how it's pitched. For the sake of this topic, I'll be using the sharp contrast between these different ways to see the world: travel versus tourism, though, the reality of any trip is a lot more nuanced than that.
In this video, I'm going to discuss things like tourist traps, or how the tourism industry affects local communities, and the biggest questions: does authentic travel even exist? And does it matter? Adventurous travel versus passive tourism. So, in 'The Image', Boorstin writes about what travel "used to be". Up until the last century or two, most people never really traveled more than a few miles outside of their village or town; traveling was difficult, uncomfortable, dangerous, and expensive.
As he writes, "The experience was an adventure too, simply because so few could afford or would dare its hardships." Generally, Boorstin describes a very romanticized view of the small, elite group of travelers, who were able to travel the world thanks to their privilege and wealth. Basically, for upperclass Western men, traveling the world was equal parts educational and adventurous. Feed the mind, body, soul- a little 'Eat, Pray, Love' action, if you will. Boorstin wrote, "Men who live in a secure, rich, and decent society travel to escape boredom, to elude the familiar, and to discover the exotic." How noble, and yes, I will be cringing every time he uses the word 'exotic'.
Boorstin contrasts the adventurous, dangerous, quote-unquote 'exotic' form of travel, practiced by rich men, to tourism, which he describes as 'passive'. "But while an 'adventure' was originally 'that which happens without design; chance, hap, luck', now in common usage, it is primarily a contrived experience that somebody is trying to sell us." Passive Tourism: "The traveler was active. Now, he became passive. Instead of an athletic exercise, travel became a spectator sport." So, Boorstin basically implies that travel was superior because of the struggle involved, and passive tourism in comparison, was too easy, too comfortable, and too safe.
Travel is only cool if you almost die from scurvy, I guess! There's a lot of very elitist, gatekeepey stuff here in this chapter, and that is why it stuck with me for so long. A lot of the image can be read as a bit pretentious, a lot like Holden and 'Catcher in the Rye'; it's a book about the contrived nature of media, so sometimes it's very "everyone and everything is phony". I still find it a fascinating dichotomy to explore though, because I think this idea is still relevant today. Many travelers are concerned that their trip will be the perfect balance of "relaxing yet authentic", and many young people still do take gap years, or backpack around Asia or Europe, to explore new places, meet exciting people, learn and grow, yada, yada... So let's continue: Boorstin writes, "The modern American tourists now fills his experience with pseudo-events. He has come to expect both more strangeness and more familiarity than the world naturally offers.
He has come to believe that he can have a lifetime of adventure in two weeks, and all the thrills of his life, without any real risk at all. He expects that the exotic and the familiar can be made to order, that a nearby vacation spot can give him 'old world charm', and also that if he chooses the right accommodations, he can have the comforts of home in the heart of Africa." Well yes, I agree that the expectations of tourists can be a bit ridiculous sometimes - and we will talk about that later, is it so bad to want to travel without risk? To Boorstin, it apparently is. He writes, "The old English noun 'travel' (in the sense of a journey) was originally the same word as 'travail' (meaning trouble, work, or torment)... To travel then, was to do something laborious or troublesome.
The traveler was an active man at work... and the tourist was a pleasure-seeker." Is it so bad to seek pleasure, to want to enjoy a safe, relaxing, comfortable trip? Aside from that, Boorstin had beef with the fact that travel had become a commodity; to him, it was lazy to attempt to purchase adventure: "By buying a tour, you could oblige somebody else to make pleasant and interesting things happen to you." And though Boorstin wasn’t a fan of this idea that you could buy travel and adventure, essentially, there were various developments and advancements that led to the democratization of travel.
Thanks to some components of the Industrial Revolution, travel became much more accessible to people, and not just for necessity, but also for leisure. With railroads and ocean steamers, travel was much more safe and comfortable, and could even be, dare I say, pleasurable? Developing all this infrastructure for the railroads and the big old boats, all that new expensive infrastructure required a lot of users, in order to get a good return on investment. Therefore, tickets became more affordable and accessible to the, quote, "...vacationing
middle class, or at least the upper-middle class..." and they became a new consumer target group. Another key factor in the relative democratization of travel was the creation of tour packages. Instead of facing all the unknowns of trying to book a trip by yourself - which, can you even imagine? I mean, these days we have every possible convenience or tool in order to book trips, and it can still be a bit of a struggle, but like, no internet, no cell phones- wow! A humbling thought! "The guided tour itself actually became a commodity.
Adventure would be sold in packages and guaranteed to be consumed without risk." You knew exactly what you were signing up for, an 'authentic experience' on your own terms. Many working class and middle class travelers in the UK and Europe were able to travel for the first time thanks to tours such as the ones created by Thomas Cook. And guess what? The upper class people were not happy to share their favorite travel destinations with the lower classes.
elitist exclusionary attitudes prevail! A major complaint from these supposedly well-meaning elites, was that these trips were watered-down, and not actually 'real travel', saying that vacationers were deprived of the adventure of 'true tours', and that industrialization was making travel 'a little too easy'. "Going by railroad, complained John Ruskin, I do not consider as traveling at all; It is merely being 'sent' to a place, and very little different from becoming a parcel." That one makes me laugh every time. I'm like, honestly, send me like a parcel! Knock me out, put me in a box, wake me up when I get there. But as per usual, these complaints were all red herrings.
The actual reason these elites were upset, was due to, "...the Philistine middle classes... cluttering the continental landscape." "The cities of Italy, he lamented, were now deluged with droves of these creatures, for they never separate, and you see them, 40 in number, pouring along a street with their director- now in front, now at the rear, circling around them like a sheepdog- and really, the process is as like herding as may be." Tell me you hate poor people without telling me you hate poor people! What is authentic travel? So back to the big question, what even is 'authentic' anymore? People "envision traveling to a foreign country and living, eating, and doing the things locals do."
On one hand, I think there's an element of not wanting to look or act like 'those obnoxious tourists'. A traveler really hopes to blend in and be able to absorb the locals and the culture on a deeper level. But as we've kind of seen from Boorstin's examples, both tourism and traveling are things based in individualism and self fulfillment. Let's look at homestays, for example, which are often touted as one of the most authentic travel experiences.
I've included clips from this video about the hillside tribes in Thailand, and I highly recommend watching the whole video, it's very insightful on this topic. "Starting around the 1960s, more adventurous western travelers began setting out into Thailand's hills, yearning to set themselves apart from other tourists by "discovering" remote areas. Turns out, we weren't going to be staying in their actual home, but rather, new huts they built just for their visitors... It's really nice! They've got you situated in a little bamboo hut right next to the river. It's kind of like glamping! They- all this, my Dad built it... Wow, such nice accommodations! And Khun, and her cousin, hiii! And her brother in there and some friends, are preparing dinner for everyone...
But, to make sure her guests can tolerate it, Nicole says she goes easy on the spiciness..." 'Living like the locals' is a common piece of advice in order to travel authentically, but is that even really possible? Maybe if you're visiting a friend or a family member, and you can be really like, brought into their lives, you might have an experience that is authentic to their lifestyle - but that's just one of many. People are not a monolith; there is no single authentic experience for any place or culture. I think many of us still have that sense of elitism, in believing that a more authentic experience is inherently superior to a tourist experience; and again, authentic according to which factors, and to whom? Many still insist that part of the authenticity is the challenge of navigating a foreign culture. But, like the old white men believed, does travel have to involve struggle or discomfort in order to be genuine? I think, just like beauty, authenticity is in the eye of the beholder.
It is largely based on our expectations from media, such as books, movies and TV, social media; if the word 'authentic' refers to the original, or traditional? From this article, for example, if you're visiting Italy, the hard thing is to decide what point in time to define as 'original'. Should it be a two-month grand tour of high culture from the 1700s? Romantic Rome from the 1950s and Roman Holiday? Or something on a Vespa? The 'original way' changes with every generation, at least, so how do we know which one is authentic? Would we choose the oldest hotels, because by definition, they are the most authentic, as they are the most original? Authenticity can sometimes be very straightforward, like, this is an authentic piece of art, but it can also be subjective. I'm going to highlight two types of authenticity from Tourism Theories: You have object related authenticity, an authentic experience depends on whether the original is genuine or not. An example: a folkloric dance may be considered 'real', but when the dancers happen to be from a different region, it is not fully authentic.
Or, symbol-related authenticity, which refers to the authenticity being projected on objects or phenomena, through the tourists themselves, or travel organizations, on the basis of: expectations, preferences, fantasies, beliefs, etc. There are different versions of authenticity for the same object. And I just think this is a very fascinating conflict, because often what is considered 'authentic' in the world of tourism, is more so catering to what the tourist expects, rather than what the locals would describe as most authentic in their own culture. These 'authentic experiences' are sold to tourists, such as: African safaris, Luaus in Hawaii, guided nature tours in, quote-unquote, exotic locations...
And these are all based on things that are culturally relevant, but have been greatly commodified for the tourist experience. One has to realize all the time that what may be authentic in the eyes of a tourist, maybe daily routine for a local. The opposite holds true, too; things that local people feel are special and authentic in their society, may be ignored completely by tourists.
Two visions and two realities play their parts at the same moment. Now, I do want to point out that like, if we were arguing about which is more authentic, who do we trust more for the authenticity: the local, or the tourist? I absolutely believe that the locals have much more say and knowledge on what they believe to be authentic in their culture. But again, it is important to recognize that no culture is monolithic, what is authentic to one person or group isn't necessarily authentic to another. But that doesn't mean that one is more authentic. Basically, cultural authenticity is very complex, and nearly impossible to define.
That's why I'm not using a lot of examples in this video, because it would be too hard for me to even label what is more or less authentic- but, if you would like to leave any examples in the comments of anything from your culture, I would love to hear it! What A Tourist Wants: What a tourist needs! I couldn't help it when I wrote this! Tourism is predictable, scheduled, reliable, and risk-free, plus features the perfect balance of comforts of home, with just enough local atmosphere. I can't really speak for other nationalities, because different cultures have very different standards and behaviors and expectations for travel, but as an American, I can say that it is pretty common for us generally, to expect some of our favorite foods or chains, pretty much wherever we travel. I have, unfortunately, been guilty of craving a Chipotle or a Starbucks while abroad! One of the greatest travel sins. And part of it is craving that comfort of familiarity, something reliable, something you know.
But also, it is quite arrogant to expect that the entire world should cater to uniquely American interests and preferences. On a similar note, many English speakers, particularly Americans, demand service in English wherever they go - whether you're in a tiny Swedish town, or deep in the mountains of Peru... I do think it’s really important to at least put in a bit of effort to learn some of the local language, wherever you’re traveling. And by the way, if learning a new language is on your to-do list this year, that’s good news because… this portion of today’s video is sponsored by Lingoda: An online language school with small group classes, hosted by native speakers. They currently offer courses for: English, German, French and Spanish. So, for those of you who don't know, I've been learning French off and on, for over 10 years.
Wow! But in recent years, I've lost a lot of my skills, because I haven't been practicing or using the language enough. My speaking skills are definitely my weakness, which I feel a bit embarrassed about. I literally sound like Emily in Paris right now, but it's okay.
I signed up for Lingoda's free week trial, to see if I like the format, and I've really enjoyed the classes I've taken so far. I was nervous, of course, but the teachers and other students have been very friendly, and really engaging. One of my teachers said you have to make mistakes, and push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to improve, and that stuck with me; It was just very comforting. In one of my courses, I learned a new vocab word: "veuve", meaning widow, and later that day, my friend brought over some champagne, and she was like, "do you know what 'veuve' means?" And I was like, "actually, yes!" One of those little joyous language learning moments. It has been on my goal list every year to continue practicing my French, and I think the Lingoda system will be perfect for me this year. I love that you sign up for each individual class based on your schedule, which offers a lot of flexibility, and also the accountability to actually show up and commit, which I definitely need! Plus, the classes are on Zoom, which is super convenient.
Lingoda offers different plans, including a monthly subscription, marathon courses, or, if you want an intensive, immersive Language Challenge, go for the Sprint. You take 15 or 30 classes a month for two months, and if you attend all the classes, you can get 50% or 100% cashback, respectively. Make sure to read the terms for details. This method can help you learn and improve a lot in a shorter period of time. So, if you want to start, or continue learning a new language, click the link in my description! Sign up for the Lingoda language sprint, and you can earn up to 100% cashback! Plus, with my link or code, you can get $25 off the deposit. Outdated and Stereotypical Images: When it comes to the attractions or interactions with locals, many tourists have quite stereotypical and outdated expectations for a place and its culture.
Many of the examples are caricatures. Tourists often want or expect the locals to live in some picturesque version of the past, untouched by modernization, especially in post-colonial nations, or developing countries. And by the way I wanted to note, because I hadn’t mentioned this specifically, but when I’m saying “locals” I’m not only referring to the locals who happen to live in an area, but also the indigenous peoples. So keep that in mind throughout the whole video! But unfortunately, especially when it comes to these really harmful stereotypes, these are particularly insidious when directed at indigenous, native communities. In a way, these assumptions and expectations uphold the idea that the world outside the United States or outside the West is completely different, and generally frozen in time. And again, most of the time, these expectations come from a static view of history.
We see this a lot when people travel to the global south, or developing nations. Many of the caricatures and stereotypes that have been promoted in media come from eras of exploration, aka colonization, often from the perspective of the colonizer. In this article, the writer explains, "When I was in Samoa, I was talking to a woman from New Zealand who had been driving around the islands.
She sounded disappointed and a little bit upset that Samoans had television sets. She lamented the destruction of the Samoan lifestyle, and blamed it on Western countries." How absurd that this person's lifestyle doesn't match what I imagined it to be! Essentially, the locals, and the animals and natural environment, must perform in order to meet the tourists expectations.
The weather better be perfect, the sights flawless, and every interaction with a living being must match their preconceived notions. For example, if animal or native life is made to feature in foreign publicity, then as such, it must be ordinarily available to tourists. Like the expectation that, if I go to Australia, I demand to see a koala or kangaroo. If I go to France, people will be wearing berets and smoking cigarettes. "The tourists' appetite for strangeness, thus seems best satisfied when the pictures in his own mind are verified in some foreign country."
Let's get into tourist traps and contrived authenticity. A tourist trap is basically anything designed to cater to tourists, via selling souvenirs or otherwise capitalizing off a tourist's notion of 'local authenticity'. I'm going to say it: tourist traps are kind of genius - from a capitalist perspective, of course. I know they are likely quite inauthentic, in the sense that, you will not see any locals engaging in this activity; but, it delivers exactly what the tourists want: all of the to-do's in one place, and you can buy your mom a fridge magnet! Tourist traps often surround the most famous landmarks of a place, and often, the landmarks themselves can be tourist traps- such as my personal hell on Earth, Time Square! It is just crowds and photos and knockoff character costumes and gift shops and wall-to-wall advertising, nightmare! But every major destination has its tourist center, and ironically, the tourist centers in different places can look very similar. Whether you're in New York or Amsterdam, you can count on seeing Madame Tussauds and a Hard Rock Cafe.
I used to be very anti-tourist trap, probably because I was traveling on a very strict budget, and like, couldn't afford most of the attractions anyway. But now, I will admit, I will enjoy a nice tourist trap, knowing full well that it's not authentic, but I just enjoy it for what it is. You know, it's kind of camp! Like, I will go on one of the tour buses, not because I'm under any illusion that the locals would do that, but just because it's convenient, and can be a cool way to see the city without much effort! Oh wow it’s me again, you’ve been seeing a lot – we’ve been seeing a lot of each other. *laughs* but by the way, I do want to mention, there are annoying, inauthentic tourist traps, and then there are some that do actively cause harm. So anyway, in this section I’m joking about the tacky ones, but I also want to acknowledge that some of these attractions can cause more serious problems. And of course there’s nuance in every situation.
Nuance, baby! Should I do a series where I analyze how harmful each tourist trap is and in what ways? Fun! The 'Must-Sees'... The itinerary for a tourist can be very simple: just do all the must-see attractions. For any location, you can find guides for the top 5 to 10 activities and best photo spots, and I'll admit, I'm a little bit bitter about this kind of like, checklist idea of traveling. Like, people will think, if you went to Paris, and you didn't see the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, then you didn't go to Paris! And I totally understand people wanting to go see the top attractions, or the things that are considered the most 'Parisian', but this idea that you have to complete the checklist and see all the things, to determine whether or not you really saw the place or not, just feels like, a little bit too "I, Spy" for me. You show up to the place, hm, yes, we saw it, take your pic, leave.
Everyone has a different travel philosophy, when you go somewhere new, are you the type to have your day scheduled from dawn to dusk? Do you want to be busy all day? Or are you more of a relaxed type, who doesn't really mind exactly what you see, as long as you have a good time? I am more of a relaxed traveler, which I know has bothered some of my travel companions- sorry! But, that's because I get tired and overwhelmed very easily. For me, if I'm on vacation, I don't want to be waking up very early and exhausting myself, I want to see some things, enjoy the atmosphere, eat good food, go on some walks... To me, that would be a successful trip. And if I happen to miss any of the major must see things, then I'll just save them, and hope that if I visit again in the future, I'll do them, if I want to. Photo ops! Boorstin writes, "People go to see what they already know is there; the only thing to record, the only possible source of surprise, is their own reaction. We go more and more not to see at all, but only to take pictures"...
I will say, even though we all take lots of pictures on vacation, tourist photo spots can be SO annoying. It is somewhat disappointing to visit something like the Mona Lisa or the Grand Canyon, and just to be met with an endless sea of cameras and selfie sticks. It takes away from the experience a little bit. Personally, I of course, like to take a couple pictures, a little video clip, then I like to step back and just look at the thing directly, you know? I swear, sometimes people show up to a spot, take their pictures in front of it, but never actually pay attention to, or appreciate the thing itself.
I've seen it happen! I know I sound like a total Boomer complaining about this, and maybe- again, another part of it is, I hate crowds, so that just naturally makes me feel anxious. But yes, I will pull a- "we should all, um, put your cell phones away." Wow, not not a cell phone in sight... Anyway, this is probably why my Instagram sucks, because I don't care enough about getting the pics! And I know the irony, we're talking about like, the elitism in tourism versus travel, whatever.
I'm not trying to sound like my way is better than anyone, or that I'm better than people, because I take less pictures. But, I just wish part of like, the shared cultural understanding would be, this as a special place, and I wish we could all collectively agree to certain social rules, informal rules, so that we can all enjoy a little bit better. You know what I mean? Next, how catering to foreign tourists can harm locals. Now, moving on to something that we cannot and should not ignore: the Western influence on tourism, especially in post-colonial nations. When foreign tourism is a huge part of a country's GDP, catering to those tourists becomes a necessity, and the significant tourism revenue is typically marketed as something to be celebrated.
"This money is feeding the economy, It's creating jobs" But first of all, often when we believe we are supporting the local economy, the local workers, we're not. Quote- "In theory, well managed tourism is mutually beneficial to both the traveler and the local economy." It should be a symbiotic relationship. "According to 2013 research conducted by the World Trade Organization, just $5 out of every $100 spent in a developing country stayed in that destination. Foreign business owners and investors are able to pick and choose the elements of the country they want to sell for their own financial gain."
In places like many of the Caribbean islands, for example, where 50% or more of their labor force relies on tourism; first of all, we've seen how the pandemic has halted a lot of the travel over the past two years, so tourist destinations like these have been decimated. So that's one factor, that relying too much on one industry can create a pretty precarious economic system. But even in ideal conditions with lots of travel- again, with so much foreign ownership or investors, the locals and the local environment are exploited, while receiving very little of the revenue themselves. "Neocolonialism is the dominance of developed nations over developing nations, by economic and cultural influence; versus traditional colonialism, in which dominance is asserted through direct political control. If tourism wasn't our main industry, and we broke the pattern of subservience, could we sustain our economy without relying on foreign entities?" And the last thing I want to touch on, because this video is getting pretty long, I'm sure, there is a massive power imbalance, between privileged foreign travelers, and the locals who can barely get by. As mentioned in this video, many who work in the tourism industry can only ever dream of being able to travel themselves.
"I set out on two very different hill tribe experiences, and I learned that both types, whether it's putting your culture on display, or opening your home to tourists, are some of the only ways for ethnic minorities to make a decent living in Thailand. So much of this comes down to the global power dynamics, between those who can travel, and those who depend on tourism to survive... Is there anywhere you want to travel to?" "I want to bring my son and go to America, maybe to New York." "Just like the tourists who travel to the beautiful places, some day I want to travel and take pictures like them..." There's a lot more that I originally wanted to include in this video, such as talking about the wealth disparities involved in international, and especially luxury travel.
the passport privilege that white westerners have, or the benefit of having much stronger currencies than the places that you're visiting. There is so much, too much for this one video, but if you are interested in me covering that topic, please let me know. I've got a lot of leftover notes already! Final thoughts: First of all, the question of does it matter whether we travel, quote-unquote, authentically or not? I personally don't think so; I think a lot of that is subjective anyway. I don't like the elitist attitudes of 'authentic travel' being superior to tourism anyway. But my biggest takeaway from this video is more-so, what effects does our travel have on the locals, the people who are graciously letting us into their neighborhoods or their culture? And I, while I was writing this, was wondering, how can we minimize harm when we travel? When it comes to solutions, I don't want to give any like, unintentionally 'greenwashed' advice on how to travel more sustainably, or how to travel more ethically, because often these ideas are much more complicated than simple tips and tricks can say; and honestly, I don't really know. I definitely have more research to do, in terms of things that I can do in my life, in my travel.
So, if you have any recommendations for further resources for me and other people to check out, again, please share in the comments, I would appreciate that a lot. All I can say is, bare minimum, we need to listen to and support the locals wherever we travel. We should, of course, be respectful, especially of local customs. It's always a good idea to learn a little bit at the local language, if you can. And again, whenever possible, try to support local businesses, avoid foreign chains.
I know it can be hard again, to know which businesses are actually owned by locals, versus just kind of marketed as being local, but at least putting in that little bit of extra effort can make a difference. Ultimately, though, it really boils down to deconstructing these neocolonialist systems, which is obviously a big undertaking. And in terms of how we do that? Again, listening to the locals themselves, and empowering locals to have their own autonomy.
I'm sure we all would love to see these local communities thrive and be able to reap the benefits, and manage their own tourism in a way that works with them and their values, rather than continue to see them taken advantage of by these foreign companies or foreign investors, who are exploiting the people, their labor, and the local resources. And honestly that doesn’t even include the fact that, just because someone is a local doesn’t mean that they have the best interests at heart. You can still have the One Percenter, capitalist who’s a local, who’s from the area, who does still intend to exploit their fellow community members for profit, so… *sigh* I’m tired! So, that is today's video, I hope you guys enjoyed it.
and finally, we are getting back into my small channel shoutouts! It’s been months since I did my last shout out, which has been unintentional, but – it does take me time to look through the submissions and watch plenty of content from each person that I’m considering. Sometimes when I’m making a video, this is the last part of it and I’m like ‘ah I don’t have time for this, I have a deadline!’ On that note though, I do have a brand new small channel submission form for this year, so if you want to go nominate yourself, or another small channel that you like – ideally under 10,000 subscribers, and posting, you know, at least once a month. Feel free to do that! You can also go to the community tab on my channel and if you want to promote yourself there, describe a little bit about your content. Or check out other people who have commented there! We love to see it. I love to check out your channels! And I wish I had time to look through every single one, all day long.
There’s no joy like discovering a new small channel that’s just creating wonderful content! So that is what we’re gonna do right now. Today’s first shout out goes to cherry bepsi. Their name is Mandeep, and they do film and tv analysis! I went back and watched their “The Unhinged White Woman Trope, Explained” video which is a really fascinating video essay about the media depictions of white women, in fiction and in real life. “I’m talking about a specific subset of female characters: the unhinged white woman.
Some characters that might come to mind are Glenn Close’s character from Fatal Attraction, or Angelina Jolie from Girl Interrupted. So in a way, I’m grateful for portrayals of the unhinged white woman on screen, particularly Amy Dunne. Her character perfectly encapsulates how a rich white woman could exploit the image of white femininity for her own personal gain, to its fullest, cruelest extent.” And their latest video essay, “Can We Kill the Final Girl Trope Already?” analyzes kind of why different types of female characters are punished in horror films, you know; what sort of characters die first, or die in the most terrible ways, compared to the Final Girl trope, which is very, as cherry bepsi described, like: “They’re virginal and virtuous. They sometimes have a unisex name. Most of the time, they’re brunettes.
I could never access the genderless femininity of a Lauri or a Sally. And I feel like this is the experience of most women of color, and of trans women, more broadly... Forget the Final Girl.
What about the first girl? Aka the girl that dies first in the horror movie? What about the mean girl that gets her skull caved in because she was too busy yelling at the hapless young main character? Is being stupid and mean and hot such a crime?” Shouts out cherry bepsi, please go check out their channel! And today’s second shout out goes to TheLetterFifteen, their name is Théo, perhaps Theo, they write it out both ways, so Théo. Théo makes video essays on topics like internet culture, contemporary media, and queerness. The video, “How We Talk About the YouTube Algorithm” was equal parts informative and hilarious. “I moved to the West Coast recently and I have developed an unfortunate fear of earthquakes. So the algorithm started recommending me videos about building collapses! Great! Thank you for watching my spooky Halloween video. There’s no topic scarier than the youtube algorithm.”
I think Théo has a lot of really interesting takes about internet culture and that’s reflected in a lot of these videos, such as their latest upload, “Answering Questions My 12-Year-Old Self Asked Me” – Théo’s been making videos on YouTube for over ten years, which I love. I also grew up making videos on youtube and it's a very strange experience. Causes a lot of interesting introspection, but also questioning how this has impacted us as people, growing up and performing for the random strangers on the internet who might click on our videos. “I wasn’t trying to make a job out of my videos, they were mostly just for my own amusement, and a handful of internet friends. But still, those early videos that are now so central to my sense of self, were also… Content! I can see the influence of the youtubers I was watching… The videos were public performances for an imagined youtube audience. And I’ve come to see myself through the personas that I crafted.
I think I have a parasocial relationship with myself? I’m my 12 year old self’s biggest fan!” I just find myself smiling through all of Théo’s videos, so I highly recommend checking out this channel: theletterfifteen! My brain every time is like, what? Once again. Thanks to Lingoda for sponsoring this video. Make sure to click the link in the description, if you are interested in learning a new language this year, or improving the skills you have! By the way, thank you to my Patrons, while we are here! Yes, new bangs; I cut these myself, and I'm still getting used to them again. and hello to UwU face, Abby Hayden, Geoff, Jaden, kaesi luck, Mardi Schmeichel, Rebecca Devillier, and VivianOlodun.com.
Okay, thanks, bye!