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The Day Privilege Denying Dude Crowdsourced Our Rage

ATTENTION, EVERYONE:

YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE A MEME. THIS MEME INCORPORATES A PHOTO OF A MODEL. THIS MODEL: HE IS JUST A MODEL! HIS PHOTOGRAPH WAS PURCHASED ON ISTOCKPHOTO. AND HE’S A VERY GOOD MODEL, TOO!

REGARDLESS, HE DOES NOT ENDORSE ANY OF THE STATEMENTS MADE IN THE MEME THAT INCORPORATES HIS PHOTO. OTHER INTERESTING FACTS: CHRISTIAN BALE DOES NOT DRESS UP AS A BAT AND FIGHT CRIME, AND STEVE CARELL DOES NOT WORK AT A PAPER COMPANY IN SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA.

AS FOR OUR USE OF THE PHOTO: IT WOULD APPEAR THAT CRITICISM, COMMENTARY, AND NEWS REPORTING ARE FAIR USE! READ ON, THEREFORE, FOR SOME CRITICISM AND COMMENTARY. AND ENJOY!

Ah, Privilege Denying Dude. Never has a meme captivated my heart so! Never have I figured out how to generate a meme before, Privilege Denying Dude! And yet, it is done. I am yours! All yours! Enraptured in your icy glare, bewitched by the swirl of fluorescent color that surrounds your precious head. When I look back, I think this is the moment that you got me:

Because I am a sucker for food-snobbery jokes, Privilege Denying Dude. I mean: People think that growing your own food is a viable alternative, for poor people who work a lot! Hilarious! You sure are a douche, Guy In This Meme! But wait: There was more of you. Oh, so much more! So many individual iterations of your meme-y presence.

Some were witty!

Some were very literal and specific!

Some stuck to the eternal verities!

And then, the Others came.

And it became impossible to tell the real Privilege Denying Dudes from their parody counterparts!

They came to insist that everybody who made a Privilege Denying Dude meme was white, despite the fact that several people of color were actually visibly credited for their work! They came to insist that nobody was talking about class, despite the fact that memes about class were made, thus fulfilling the “a Marxist-ish white dude will come along to focus on the oppression that doesn’t require him to focus on women or people of color” requirement of all social justice discussions ever! They came to invent a “Feminist Cunt” meme, which wasn’t very funny! But a plan for that was already in place:

And they just kept coming. Somewhere, deep down, all of us thought that we knew exactly what Privilege Denying Dude would say. We’d had that fight; we’d heard that excuse; we’d read that column. We knew Privilege Denying. We saw this dude’s face, and we knew exactly what it would say. But to have it meme-able — to have a lovable little puppet who could re-iterate everything that had ever made us angry, in bold white font denoting its inherent ridiculousness — was a boon we had not foreseen. Because it was stupid. It was quick. It was funny for approximately five seconds, which is as long as it took for us to scroll to the next post. IT WAS INTERNET.

People keep talking about how The Next Wave Of Feminism Is Online Feminism, and honestly, if that is the case? We’re kind of screwed. But this is the actual Internet: Blowing off steam, entertaining us, making us feel better. Causing Very Serious Internet Outrage with things that took us five seconds to type into a box, because you know us: We’re the overemotional take-things-too-seriously permanently outraged harpies who exist on the fringes of society and OH GOD OH GOD NO SOMEONE SAID SOMETHING I LIKE IS PROBLEMATIC YOU THINK I’M A BAD PERSON DON’T YOU DON’T YOU WELL YOU’RE A TOTAL BITCH I KNOW BECAUSE I IMAGINED A DATE WITH YOU AND YOU WERE MEAN AND I WROTE A BLOG POST ABOUT WHAT A BAD LAY YOU’D BE AND NOW TO WRITE AN E-MAIL ABOUT THE MANY FACETS OF WEEZER OR “500 DAYS OF SUMMER” OR WHATEVER ELSE YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THAT YOU HAVE TOTALLY NEGLECTED OR PERHAPS JUST NOT UNDERSTOOD, TO WIT: MY FEELINGS. MY FEELINGS?! MYYYYYYYYYY FEEEEELIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGSSSSSSS. Everybody has an ego, and everybody thinks It’s About Them, and that’s also the Internet, it turns out; I do it, too. It’s just tiresome, the way we’re all progressive feminist-friendly forward-thinkers, until it lands at your doorstep, at which point: Can’t you be nice about it? And understanding? And empathetic? And basically just be the Deanna Troi of this particular Enterprise?

No. Sometimes, the answer is just no. It’s not like there are no problems with Privilege Denying Dude; our tendency to oversimplify ideological opponents is something I’ve spoken at tiresome length about, whilst being treated like an extremist bitch who subsists on a diet of sensitive dudes’ testicles and wants to personally come over to your house and burn everything you love and yell at you until you cry burning hot tears of shame. Some people used it to pile on specific bloggers; some people used it to make points that weren’t so terribly convincing. But at a certain point, you can’t hold enough public symposiums about your inner conflicts and your ideas about responsibility and your intentions. You can’t ever apologize enough; you can’t ever be careful enough; you can’t ever make enough Sympathy Faces and phrase enough statements as questions and say “that’s a reasonable point, but” enough, because there are always people who want to listen until it turns out they’re implicated.

And from this fact springs Privilege Denying Dude. Hundreds of Privilege Denying Dudes, within hours — I went to sleep when there were 37 pages of Privilege Denying Dude on MemeGenerator, and woke up when there were 75. I started this post when there were 75 pages of Privilege Denying Dude, and checked back in when there were 81. This is what we sound like when we’ve given up on getting approval. When we just think it’s funny. When we’re not trying to do anything but vent. And in the midst of all of this, there is a man. A lone, somewhat attractive man, posing one very important question:

You’ll never know, Privilege Denying Dude. That’s why we love you. Long may you fold your arms and wonder.

32 Comments

  1. auktastic wrote:

    For what it’s worth, Sady, your “public symposiums about your inner conflicts” (like this one: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2010/06/22/dirty-girls-and-bad-feminists-a-few-thoughts-on-i-love-dick/), the thought and care and raw honesty that goes into them, along with the fact that you’re absolutely fucking hilarious (see here: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2010/06/08/the-fuck-is-wrong-with-you-people-advice-for-deleted-commenters-from-a-puppy/), are exactly what makes Tiger Beatdown my very favoritest feminist blog. You (and Garland and C.L. and all the other contributors) are awesome. Period.

    Also, that first Privilege Denying Dude meme made me laugh my ass off.

    Monday, November 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink
  2. Kiri wrote:

    I was going to answer with something witty, but I could not, because I am not witty. So! I’m just gonna say that I like this and that I agree with every last word in Auktastic’s comment.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 12:27 am | Permalink
  3. Nora wrote:
    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 3:15 am | Permalink
  4. Nora wrote:

    It ate my img tag, so here is the link:

    http://images2.memegenerator.net/Privilege-Denying-Dude/ImageMacro/3679516/BONERS.jpg

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 3:16 am | Permalink
  5. Helen wrote:

    *splorf*

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 6:22 am | Permalink
  6. Robin wrote:

    Love this post, love the meme, but I can’t stop thinking about that guy in the stock photo. I bet he feels so exploited in a way that only a white man could really understand and explain to us all.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 7:48 am | Permalink
  7. Erin wrote:

    I don’t get the Philadelphia one.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink
  8. Lu wrote:

    Robin, your comment is gold. :D

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  9. Marie wrote:

    Erin:

    http://tinyurl.com/262wsk3

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink
  10. Sady wrote:

    @ERIN: As in, for some POC, people will ask you where you’re “from.” And you say, “Philadelphia!” And they say, “no, but really, where are you FROMMMMM” hoping you will reveal to them the Exotic Lands of Your Origin. When in fact, you are from Philadelphia, born and raised there. (In the playground, is where you spent most of your days there!)

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink
  11. Frank wrote:

    @Robin: ‘like’

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  12. Elise wrote:

    Thank you, Sady, and privilegedenyingdude, for making my day. And opening up a channel for communication with my friends on some issues I didn’t realize they didn’t understand.

    And Robin, you rule.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  13. JfC wrote:

    I very much like this meme, and I think a good offshoot would be maybe a privilege-denying white feminist or at least a privilege denying lady. Bring a bit of self awareness to the social justice community.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
  14. Suzers wrote:

    I started out looking at the page on memegenerator or whatever it was, and then decided I’d stick to the originator’s Tumblr. She’s filtering them to try to keep out the insincere/offensive/clearly triggering ones.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  15. Kiri wrote:

    @JFC: lol, yeah, I wanted to make some Privilege Denying Dude memes that were like, “I don’t have to care about women of color’s experiences! I learned everything I need from Judith Butler!” and shit like that. But I decided that’d be way too advanced and unfitting for a meme about a white cis dude who doesn’t know feminism from a hole in the ground. It really would have to be a new meme to work.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 12:04 am | Permalink
  16. Sady wrote:

    @Kiri: Somebody suggested Gwyneth Paltrow for this. WHICH I WOULD ENJOY. But I am uneducated, graphics-wise.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink
  17. …and then he was gone…

    what do you think happened? PDD has disappeared…

    (I think it may be there were too many ‘spoof’ submissions-my own included as I just found it too funny to take totally seriously.)

    also on a serious note I actually agreed with some of the statements. If something is crowdsourced it wont create a coherent picture of a privileged person and his views. I agreed with a lot of the satires of ‘feminism’ for example as I do have a lot of criticisms of feminism.

    Friday, November 19, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  18. Cassie wrote:

    tumblr recently suspended privilegedenyingdude for extensive copyright violation when it was not violation of copyright – in fact, the creator actually paid for the stock image of the model they used for the meme, and clearly stated this fact on the tumblr page. Please add your voice to this objection by e-mailing support@tumblr.com.

    Friday, November 19, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
  19. Sady wrote:

    @Cassie: The photographer threatened to sue for defamation. I don’t think he had the most solid case in the entire world, but contacting Tumblr won’t do anything; they’re like any company, they don’t want to get sued. I hate this as much as anyone, but it’s the photographer, not Tumblr, that’s at fault.

    Friday, November 19, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Permalink
  20. That photographer could have turned it into a proper marketing tool and been famous for privilege denying dude!

    The fact it was crowdsourced was what made it interesting and very unpredictable though so I can see why he might not have wanted to be associated with it, especially if people were printing off the image and using it in controversial ways.

    (I say he I expect it was a he).

    Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 4:09 am | Permalink
  21. Luis Alvarez wrote:

    Dear Readers,
    I am the owner of the photo. The buyer of the photo, agreed to the Content License Agreement when buying the photo.

    You can view it here: : http://www.istockphoto.com/license.php

    The issue in this case are the following phrases from the Content License Agreement:

    Point 1: From 4.a.6:
    “{…} or that would be reasonably likely to bring any person or property reflected in the Content into disrepute; ”

    The person depicted in the picture should not be brought into disrepute. In the case many people have been insulting the model because they believe the model is endorsing those phrases. You cannot see this anymore because tumblr has already removed the content.

    Point 2: From 4.a.7:
    “{…} use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner (a) that would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavour; or (b) except where accompanied by a statement that indicates that the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the Content is a model, that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, {…}”

    The picture is being used in a manner that any reasonable person would believe that the model depicted personally endorses a specific cause. If you read further this is only allowed in social issues if it is clearly indicated that the person is a model and is not related to the messages being communicated.

    The picture appearing on memegenerator is not being used correctly, since it is being used in relation to social sensitive issues and there is no indication anywhere that the person depicted on the picture is a model.

    For this reason I request that the image, of which I am copyright owner, not be used in this manner.

    Best regards
    Luis

    Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 5:03 am | Permalink
  22. Luis Alvarez wrote:

    Dear Blog Owner,
    I could not find your email to send you a message.

    I would like to inform you that the Privilege Denying Dude is being used in violation of the Content License Agreement of the image agency iStockphoto.com

    The issue is being dealt with by their lawyers.

    As copyright owner I would like to kindly ask you to either remove the content or to state clearly that the person depicted on the pictures is not related in anyway to the comments being associated with him.

    Thank you for helping.

    Best regards,
    Luis Alvarez

    Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 5:12 am | Permalink
  23. snobographer wrote:

    I suspect the photographer is an MRA or something. I’m bummed. I made a bunch of PDDs.

    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

    Women have exceeded men in college enrollment. If anything we live in a matriarchy.

    Male privilege? What about all the men who died on the Titanic?

    Women are too emotional about rape – to discuss it objectively.

    It’s not misogynist. Bill Hicks said it in his stand-up routine.

    Sexual harassment?!?! It was just a harmless prank!

    Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Permalink
  24. Elizabeth wrote:

    The iStockphoto Licensing agreement does not allow for the unlimited remixing of stock photography by people other than the license holder, ie, the creator of the original image.

    Every person who made a PDD meme was using the photo without a license, which iStock is pretty good at tracking down.

    Really? The same Internet who bitched about Cooks Source last week is saying something on the Internet is free because someone else paid for it?

    Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
  25. Sady wrote:

    @Snobographer: I’ve actually talked to the photographer, and he seems like a good guy. The model is apparently not pleased precisely because he DOESN’T like being affiliated with racism, sexism, and other grossness. I have no doubt that the people involved are okay, and the maker of the meme is working on alternatives. As some have already pointed out, what we really need is a dudely feminist ally to volunteer his best Arrogance Face. But there we go.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink
  26. Joe wrote:

    A volunteer would need to understand that his face could be on the internet the rest of his life as the posterchild for wrongheadedness though, with no take-backs. The power of the message unfortunately may come via the personalization to THAT face, THAT expression, which would be diluted by the inevitable necessary disclaimers. Possibly worse, disclaimers (the model doesnt endorse) could eventually fall away thru repetition etc. Not sure its a good idea to use any actual person.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  27. snobographer wrote:

    Would any reasonable person really associate an iStock model or a volunteer ally with the publicly generated sentiments of an internet meme? Does anybody think the guy in the Successful Negro meme believes and says the things in his captions?

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  28. Joe wrote:

    I think maybe some people would associate the message with the face. An employer considering a man for a job pulling up his picture saying racist/sexist things for example. Is it good to ask for a volunteer for something we wouldn’t do ourselves might be a question.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 8:47 am | Permalink
  29. Isn’t the photo a Fair Use?
    It provides for the legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink
  30. Valkyrie607 wrote:

    http://jezebel.com/5696551/the-disturbing-world-of-dickflashcom

    I wonder how the lady whose stock photo is featured on the title page of “Dickflash.com,” an internet gathering place for guys who get their rocks off flashing their dicks at unconsenting, unsuspecting women, feels about her photo being used this way.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 12:34 am | Permalink
  31. Jym Dyer wrote:

    =v= Seems to me that the stock photography image is intended to convey wealth and privilege (hey, nice jacket) while maintaining an edge of hipness (the wild man has no tie). What WOULD be considered a reputable use for this stock photo? Shilling for subprime mortgages, perhaps?

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  32. Caroline wrote:

    @JFC It’s a slightly different thing, but http://twitter.com/whitegrlproblem
    is pretty funny

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink