Tuesday, February 14, 2012

AMERICAN BOB: "Beyond Better"

"American Bob" RETURNS with my (belated) take on "It Gets Better." Summary? I'm a fan and supporter; but I hope it's seen as the beginning of a movement - not the end. There's a long road ahead for equal rights, even still.

I'm glad to be bringing this show back - feels good to be doing the political thing "on it's own," especially given how crazy this election year is already getting.


Fault-Finder said...

You know Bob, great episode, fan of AmericanBob etc... but did you really, REALLY have to take this opportunity to bash the midwest? Being a North Carolinian, I technically fall into your "ok," category, but I recognize a Yankee being an ass when I see it. Sorry, I genuinely like your stuff, and how outspoken you are and so on, and to be fair, I understand that a lot of these issues are worse in areas like mine (though NC is by no means the worst place) but... that's just something I'm not cool with. In keeping with the theme of your video, the emphasis should be on a need for improvement, not damnation. While I understand that's not really relevant to your topic and you've only got so much time, if you weren't going to tackle this issue in any depth, then there was no need to antagonize someone for living somewhere different from you.

Rob said...

Yay! Bob's becoming an atheist?

James said...

Brief reminder: Gary Johnson is the ONLY presidential candidate who supports gay marriage rights. Obama and the GOP candidates are opposed to same-sex marriage.

Anonymous said...

Bob didnt say anything about NC he just talked about opposing bigotry...
where ever it is. And there is a difference between the freedom to choose the way you live and the freedom to insult (in pretty much every form of media with a free pass) and deny a legitimate portion of the human race freedoms that you yourself enjoy. The reason civil rights in the 60's were so powerful was that people; Black and white were outrage at the way their fellow man was being mistreated. Bob is right, If you don't see the injustices carried out upon the homosexual community as injustices upon the entire American people you are fooling yourself

Unknown said...

either you end up happy and social or alone with your interests.

Fault-Finder said...

@Anonymous: As I said, I whole-heartedly agree with Bob on his main point, I just think that the "move to someplace on the coast or the Canadian border," comment was needlessly vindictive. Again, not denying the problem, not denying even that the South/midwest can be the worst place to be (other than, say, Iran or the like) if you're gay at the moment, just saying that he shouldn't make unnecessarily mean off-hand remarks like that, as though the issue of how those places react to this kind of stuff can just be taken as an accepted fact- "they're ALWAYS going to be racists/homophobic/assholes- they're Southern! Of course they're ignorant!" I'm not saying that's what Bob thinks, (not that this is the first instance of implied Southern-bashing) but rather that I wish he and others would actually take a moment to THINK before just making offhand comments like that, as though there are no intelligent people outside of where he thinks there are, or that a given region has an intelligence level that must be maintained, and any rational residents are going to migrate to a "good," area asap.
Also, not that anyone asked, but I'd actually be less interested in some kind of "apology," or whatever for this issue than I would in, say, another episode detailing his genuine opinion(s) relating to the south, differences between states, etc., even if it meant him having a lot more direct and mean things to say about the states I've lived in and loved (NC, SC, TX, etc.). Just sayin' ;)

biomechanical923 said...

I also take issue with Bob's comment about "getting away from your parents / moving to another state, etc etc etc..."
I recognize that he was partially paraphrasing the mission statement of It Gets Better with his own flavor text, but the entire concept is wrong in my book.
Civil Rights movements of the past were not content to relocate to a place where they got the luxury of an echo chamber. If you want to fight bigotry, you need to fight it where it is, not just move to the coasts and fight where you know you can win.

Telling LGBTQ youth that life gets better if they move to the coastal states would be like telling African Americans of the 50s/60s life gets better if you just move north. I'm not saying that every single person needs to fight if they don't want to, but that civil rights won't spread in the south by everybody running away. I'd appreciate hearing Bob say something about this.

Lost said...

I surprisingly agree with much of what Bob said in this video. Activism is the key to any form of cultural or societal change.

I have found that much of the concept of "normal" within society is just a form of societal conformity.


The whole "moving away" position really depends upon the individual. What Bob was addressing was the nihilistic outlook many victimized LGBTQ youth have. One option is to eventually relocate to a far more open-minded area. It doesn’t mean to stop activism in the places that are not. I guess I just did not interpret his comment in the same way you did.

I mostly agree, his comment was a little too generalized and could be taken the wrong way. Especially considering that regions on both coasts have many of the same issues of intolerance. It really is just that there are far more accepting places located in the areas he was addressing.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

I like the whole "It Gets Better" movement. It's hopeful and uplifting and eschews the whole "lets fight bigotry with bigotry" vibe that most LGBT movements have. I hope to see more things like it.

I also like how this video is very likely the first place I've ever seen anyone actually give a source for LGBT suicide rates (the source it self is a bit lacking on giving it's own sources or showing their findings/methodology if they did the research themselves... but, that's not important).

The one complaint I'd give, the same complaint I always give, is that they tend to treat bulling and teen suicide and a strictly LGBT issue, as if straight kids never have to deal with harassment or thoughts of suicide. Having been there myself, I can say that it feels all the more isolating being a bullied suicidal teen who doesn't fall under the particular demographic that people are trying to outreach to.

There needs to be an effort to reach out to troubled teens in general, but that just doesn't seem to be happening.

SirRosser said...

Thought I'd weigh in on this whole "move away from problem areas thing." I've been mulling it over, and I've been back and forth over the idea of posting this or not, but what the hell? Let it not be said that I didn't chime in, or, alternately, let it be said that I'm an outspoken jerk, depending on perception.

I live in a rural southern mountain community. No shock, there have been some anti-gay sentiments. The thing is, they have been WAY fewer than everyone (and I use "everyone" as a completely non quantifiable blanket term) would have me believe. I've grown up being constantly told that I, as a white, southern Christian male, have been the least tolerant dickhole in the history of forever. While this may have been true in certain instances in the past, it is not representative of the whole of my race, my religion, my region, or even my peer group. I'm not just saying this in a butthurt sort of general malaise, but objectively.

You see, I grew up in a small town in the 80's. Hell, a lot of us did. But one thing I remember the most from my formative years was that despite the local bias at the time from community leaders and religious zealots, most of the folks in my peer group got a clear message of "American values mean that everyone is equal despite their race, gender, religion, or sexual preference." I, like many of my contemporaries, grew up just accepting this as a matter of fact, despite our parents or grandparents espousing very different views. I may be wrong about this, but I was under the impression that it is generally accepted in most psychological circles that most people reject the ideals of their previous generation anyway.

Here's where it gets even more complicated.

When I was going to school, in my small, backwater mountain community with a graduating class of about 50 on a GOOD year, you would think that minorities would get more isolated and be more hated. However, this was not the case. In my community, minorities found themselves the object of fascination rather than ridicule. Perhaps it was due to their rarity, or perhaps it was just a simple matter of "Hyuk, hyuk, lookit the brown guy!" I can't really say it was the latter, as there was RARELY ANY ANIMOSITY TOWARDS ANY GROUP during the entirety of my high school days. I do not exaggerate this; nearly everyone got along with each other.

And as far as this went with the gay and lesbian community, the kicker is that NEARLY A THIRD OF THE PEOPLE I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH WERE ADMITTED HOMOSEXUALS. This is not an exaggeration. My numbers may be off on one side or another, but the fact is that a very high number of the kids I went to school with were admittedly gay. And with less than a handful of exceptions, they got exactly zero shit about it from their fellow students. That's right...we, a small-potatos podunk southern Christian town simply didn't give either a rat or its ass what these kids were doing on their own free time.

(to be continued, with extreme apologies to the attention deprived)

SirRosser said...

This seems like an anecdotal, rambling mess o' nothing, but I'm going somewhere with this. I may be a little off-track at this point due to a 30-minute phone call in the middle of my composition, but I'll try to wrap this up.

At the end of the day, I get nothing but animosity for who and what I am. I've spent a metric shit-ton of time and effort making sure that I treat everyone with the respect and dignity that all humans are due. Not only do I do this, but the vast majority of people I associate with are the same way. I'm not just talking about the people who I think are in my "clique" or "circle," even people who I think are total assholes have, in a slim majority, been accepting and tolerant of other creeds and cultures.

I can't speak for everyone, as a pretty substantial portion of my associates are atheists, agnostics, Wiccans, or Vikings, but as a Christian myself, my logic is simply that Jesus wanted us to be good to our fellow man, despite what we may have thought of him. And as far as what we think of him, the default position is SUPPOSED to be "judge not, lest ye be judged." The problem we (Christians) have, I think, is that the VOCAL minority among us are VERY vocal. Not only are we not ALL intolerant jerkasses, but I think that MOST of us are not intolerant jerkasses. Those of us who are are the most likely to be featured on the 6:00 news, giving the rest of us a bad name.

I said I was going to try to wrap this up, but I keep finding myself sidetracked, and for that, I apologize, though knowing the fairly intelligent fan base that reads this blog, I'm sure few will mind.

So, given the "fact" (you just have my word for it, not anything concrete) that myself, most of the people I know, the community at large and the philosophy of the country itself has made not only a concentrated effort to make homosexuals feel accepted, as any human should, but in many cases BENT OVER BACKWARDS to do so...yeah, it gets a little frustrating when people accuse myself, my peers, my region, or what have you of being intolerant.

Bob isn't the first or only one to do this, however.

So here's where I'm gonna piss some people off.

Because I say, if you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, whatever, that's fine. If you're here, you're queer, we're used to it. We really are. But if you're feeling persecuted, and you think the reason is because of all us judgmental hillbilly assholes...then you SHOULD move away to a more "enlightened" state. Just go. I'm tired of being seen as the bad guy, I'm tired of kissing the ass of every minority who feels threatened, and I'm tired of having to pretend I'm not frustrated by the accusations. WE ARE NOT, AS A WHOLE, BAD PEOPLE.

So, yeah, if you're gay, and you wanna hang out, shoot the shit, joke around and generally have a good time, I don't think you'll have a problem here. But if you want to blame everyone for a persecution that some, but not all, are actually perpetrating...then do as the kids are so fond of saying and GTFO.

I'm sorry for ranting so long, and I'm sure I'll feel bad about posting this later, but sometimes it's cathartic to get stuff off my chest. At the end of the day, I still love MovieBob and the Game Overthinker, and no matter what comes of this, I'm still a dedicated fan. Just wanted to weigh in.

Eamonn Glenn said...

Oh man. I really don't want to be "that guy". I hate that guy. He is the worst. But that thing you were talking about, the group for making things better now for the LGBT community. It totally exist. http://www.makeitbetterproject.org
It's a great effort that unfortunately does not get as much recognition as the It get's better project, but the people who do need it (LGBT youth) do seem to know about it.

Ryan said...


It's interesting that you know you're pissing people off but that you don't get why. Here's why:

You don't like it that a minority of the population hears "White Southern Christian Male" and thinks "bigoted asshole", and of course you don't; you're not a bigoted asshole, and why would people make assumptions about you anyway? They don't know you at all!

So now imagine that there were people going on tv and running for President saying that White Southern Christian Males shouldn't be allowed to get married, serve in the armed forces, or sue if someone is openly discriminatory. Stop believing in God, these people would say. Stop talking with that accent! It's a choice, and God hates your choice! Now imagine that, while a big chunk of the country were angry and dismissive about those people, a solid 38% seemed to consistently share those beliefs. Imagine that it got so bad that even some other White Southern Christian Males talked about how you shouldn't ask for your rights so aggressively or so fast, because really people need time to adjust to change or some bullshit. Imagine that the national media took at face value the absurd claims of those who hate you for no good reason at all that the discrimination isn't discrimination at all, it's just about not giving you "special rights". Imagine that people talk about their being "two sides" to the issue.

Think about how paranoid that would make you, then stop being such a dick about the fact that gay people can be a little touchy. They have a right.

biomechanical923 said...

@ SirRosser

"In my community, minorities found themselves the object of fascination rather than ridicule. Perhaps it was due to their rarity, or perhaps it was just a simple matter of "Hyuk, hyuk, lookit the brown guy!""

I can't possible make any judgements on your school, because I've never been there. But there is a pretty big problem with people confusing "tokenism" for acceptance, and it's a bit of a logical fallacy to excuse oneself for perceived beneficence, such as "I'm not racist, I have black friends" etc...

I am in no way saying that's what you or your schoolmates do. I'm just throwing those ideas on the table as something to keep in mind.

SirRosser said...

@biomechanical923 Hmm...I do suppose it could have been tokenism, at that. However, I was trying to imply that it WASN'T a case of the whole "I'm not racist, I have black friends" thing (by another name, of course), and got somewhat sidetracked. There may have been a good deal of that going on, but then again, I don't think there was. I feel like, in my community at least, it was a matter of homosexuals being so commonplace and generally accepted that we didn't see them as minorities at all, but rather as kids who "kept bitching about stuff." I feel sort of bad about putting it that way, but I can't help but feel that a lot of my generation may have been demonized unfairly. At the end of the day, I think a lot of us want to be seen as a victim. I'm no exception, and I just might be guilty of a lot of that myself. But I do feel better since I've put my perspective out there, and if I'm proven wrong, I won't feel angry about it.

Anonymous said...

Fun fact: That humanity at one point believed the earth was flat is a complete and utter myth. Humans always knew that the the earth was round or at the very least roundish. They just weren't always sure what was in the big splashy wet areas around them.

Side note: Bob, are your videos deliberately awful or do you just have no perception of how poorly produced and presented they are? I'm not taking issue with the content, merely the format and presentation. I mean Christ, I just noticed that you used Comic Sans in today's The Big Picture, and I'm beginning to wonder how prevalent these terrible design choices are. Ugly fonts, awful chiptune music, frightening talking heads. Your ideas and thoughts have always been hit and miss with me, but your presentation is just so blisteringly hideous in its entirety.

Your design sensibilities are deeply offensive; I just want you to know that. Of all the complaints, bitching, and criticisms that get leveled against you (or flame wars that are incited from your offerings), no one ever seems to talk about your horrendous style and presentation. I get the whole "retro" thing (to a point), but "retro" doesn't have to be "vomit-inducing." Just... think about it, please? Please consider sprucing up your visual production and font/music/image selections?

Ryan said...

Sirrosser, your desire to claim victim status for white male southern people due to your feeling that gay people just keep "bitching about stuff" suggests that you cannot possibly be proven wrong.

And Bob, your low-rent aesthetic is the shit. Don't change a thing.

Mads said...


Wasn't bobs point exactly that you shouldn't enter an echo chamber? That you needed to come back and destroy the opponents after it got better?

I think he was arguing that moving to another part of the country and getting relief for yourself and then never thinking about it again _wasn't_ the solution?

In the short term, I don't see a problem with troubled youths moving away, I don't think anybody does - not with those suicide rates - but the important bit is what you do when it does get better.

SirRosser said...

@Ryan: Yeah, in retrospect I guess that does seem a bit trollish. My apologies for that.

biomechanical923 said...

If Bob said anything like that, I didn't hear it (although I'm really bad at picking up on implications and "between-the-lines subtext).

Bob's video seemed to give a formula as

Step 1: Move out of Conservative states.
Step 2: ?????????
Step 3: Social Justice!!!

I think Bob (and a lot of people making videos online) would be able to make more convincing arguments if they kept in mind the four questions of Stasis Theory.

Black youth in the 1960s didn't wait until they had a crowd of supporters around to sit at the lunch counters.

I'm not saying every LGBT youth needs to throw themselves in harms way, but I am saying that both violence AND civil rights spark faster in tinderboxes than in rooms full of yes men.

Lost said...


Did I watch the same video? Bobs point with the "move away" comment was tied into the short term "it gets better" philosophy. That the hell that is high school, parents, religion, etc. for some LGBT youth is temporary. That there is a world beyond high school and their home town.

He then goes further to state that while "it gets better" is great in the short term, it is his opinion that the movement should eventually develop a "make it better" is component focusing on activism and working to change society to the point where "it gets better" is no longer needed. At no point does he directly state move away + ????? = profit. He just does not go into great detail about the forms of activism that can be utilized to make it better.

biomechanical923 said...

@ Lost
He just does not go into great detail about the forms of activism that can be utilized to make it better.

That kind of ties in with my point about using Stasis to make an argument.

Saying "somebody should really do something" weakens the argument more than a specific solution would. It made the whole video come off with a sense of diminished authority, and felt like less of a community contribution, and more like whining about the status quo.

I think my complaints are more about the formatting and construction of Bob's argument.

Wendy said...

I'm not into this movement at all. How is being bullied because you're gay worse than being bullied for being fat, or for wearing glasses, or because the bitchy popular girl decided you're her latest target for no fucking reason at all.

It'll get better when ALL bullying is dealt with. The gay community will have to put up with it like I had to put up with it. Gay, fat, skinny, buck-toothed, or because you don't wear clothes from the most expensive outlet store: kids are going to pick other kids apart for whatever reason they can find. Don't expect me to fall over myself making sure the gay kids feel better than I did because they can bitch louder than the other kids.

biomechanical923 said...

@ Wendy
"How is being bullied because you're gay worse than being bullied for being fat, or for wearing glasses, or because the bitchy popular girl decided you're her latest target for no fucking reason at all.
I can understand where you're coming from.
At face value, telling a fat kid "why don't you just stop eating twinkies, fatass" is about as cruel as telling a gay kid "why don't you just stop sucking dicks, homo"

But you need to stop taking things at face value when you realize that this shit doesn't happen in a vacuum.

Sure, lots of kids get bullied. (I got picked on for my acne, weight, and social awkwardness) but the difference for LGBT youth is that the bullying isn't just kids being assholes. It's institutionalized .

In most forms of bullying, the bullies know in some way that their behavior is unacceptable and they need to circumvent authority to do it. Bullies against LGBT youth have an active community of adults, including religious and political leaders telling the bullies that they're morally justified in their bigotry.

Ryan said...


Well said.

SirRosser said...


I didn't see your first response to my tirade until recently. I seem to be having some problems with my messaging and e-mail settings.

Aside from that, however, now that I've seen it, I'd just like to say that, yeah, that makes sense. I never really thought of it that way before.

I felt sort of trolled by Bob's comments in the video, and I went off. I think maybe I went too far, and yeah, I was being a bit of a dick. By trying to compare my situation to that which was presented, I was comparing apples to oranges in an inappropriate manner.

Granted, I still think that my particular demographic is being unfairly blasted most of the time, and it's REALLY hard for me to have sympathy for a group of people that always thinks I'm a bad guy, but I suppose it does go both ways in the end, and I can see why people look at me in the same manner.

So I guess what I'm saying is, I was wrong. I'm sorry. A new perspective on things can help one see a different point of view.

Smashmatt202 said...

Bravo, Bob, Bravo! ;)

Anonymous said...


here's a thought... instead of bitching about the people who are giving you a hard time about being a white southern christian male, why dont you bitch about all those white southern christian males who are giving you a bad name? join the good fight against bigotry instead of the fight against the fight against bigots.

SirRosser said...


But that's just the thing! I've been "fighting the good fight against bigotry" for years, and instead of a pat on the back or an "'Atta boy," it seems all I ever get is a bunch of shit directed at me for the way I was born and the personal beliefs I hold. Which, correct me if I'm wrong, is exactly the sort accusation leveled against bigots in the first place. I'm a very tolerant, very patient person, but the two things that really grind my gears are hypocrisy and Amway salesmen.

Comrade Beric said...

I live in West Texas, my best friend's family is from rural Utah. Suggesting that a teen's life, particularly an LGBT teen's life, might be improved by packing up and leaving isn't offensive to me, it's just accepted fact. These are places whose people who have consistently voiced disapproval for Mitt Romney and many of the other GOP candidates based on the perceived notion that they are not "anti-gay" enough. That's right, even after Mitt Romney promised to make a government panel to investigate occurrences of straight people being bullied by LGBT teens, they still say he isn't anti-gay enough. These are populations that don't just want to deny LGBT rights, they want to roll them back to what they were pre-1960s. I literally heard someone on his cell phone in a bookstore last week loudly bemoaning the fact that "we can never get a Yankee president like Chris Christie. We always get stuck with faggot liberals like Kennedy and Kerry." This is someone who feels absolutely no shame in loudly announcing that opinion because he knows that everyone within earshot either agrees with him or is too scared of the threat of violence against them to oppose him.

Many of you say "Don't leave, change where you are." To you, I can only reply, "It's easy for you to say, you don't live here." I sincerely wish these people's minds could be changed, but the odds of them changing their mind to tolerate LGBT people is about as high as the odds that Texas and Utah will swing for Obama this year. Which is to say, practically nil.