Rape and Death and Batman, OH MY!, by Alyssa Royse

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Rape and Death and Batman, OH MY!, by Alyssa Royse

Postby admin » Fri May 09, 2014 10:17 pm

by alyssaroyse



August 03, 2008

I am a writer, a woman, an entrepreneur and a film buff. So, when I saw (and really hated) The Dark Knight, I couldn't resist writing a funny little piece about how the Dark Knight can serve as a cautionary tale for common mistakes that entrepreneurs make. I wrote it up (granted, not my best writing,) and left for a day with friends on a nearby island. I came back to death threats, vulgar insults and comments the likes of which I've never seen anywhere. The post was read more than 10,000 times (why can I not get that kind of traffic on my real site?) I shook as I started reading the comments. Then I stopped shaking, it was just surreal, a sick joke. Surely people like this don't really exist.

Here are a few comments that were left on my blog yesterday. There are nearly 200 of them, so I've just included about half a dozen (of the nearly 2 dozen that other readers asked me to remove.)

Get a life you two dollar whore blogger, The Dark Knight doesn't suck,
you suck! Don't ever post another blog or unless you want to get ganged
Who let this woman out of the kitchen?
you are clearly retarded, i hope someone shoots then rapes you
alyssa darling, why don't you make yourself useful and go have a baby
I think a certain "author" needs to go back to playing house before she breaks mommy's computer.
I'm sure you'd have no trouble finding a top flight job in either the
housekeeping or food service industries. And please, change your pad.
Thanks! :-)
if you were my wife i would beat you
This is why women are TOO STUPID to think critically and intelligently about film; AND business for that matter.

Holy vitriol Batman. What have I done?

I'm fascinated by this. Really. I don't even really know where to start in processing the fury - and threats - that i have wrought. I should be shot and raped for not liking Batman? Since I disagree with them, I need to change my pad? Because I don't like Batman I have proven that women are too stupid for film and business.

What was most interesting to me, however, was how it felt to be judged so virulently because of ONE thing that I did - in this case, dislike Batman. How it felt to actually feel in danger - jeesh, these people want me raped and shot just for speaking my mind, being myself. OMG. While i would never compare this one blog post to the generations-deeper segregationist vitriol that threatens people of different religion, skin color and sexual orientation, it was an eye-opener for me. A privileged white woman who has never experienced such violent hatred.

But the larger issue for me is the violent hatred that is clearly just under the surface. Who are these anonymous posters? Men, I'm fairly sure. Are they working at the desk next to you? Are they dating your sister your best friend, your mother, your daughter - you?

Not one comment questioned the business ideas presented. They all, instead, referred to my menstrual cycle and clearly retarded intellect. Of nearly 200 comments, maybe 3 didn't mention my gender.

What does this say? Really, what do you think it says about our society, our men, our ability to discuss ideas, the hope we have to work together. For chrissake, all I did was say I didn't like a movie!

Unsure of how to process all of this, I did a quick Google search for stories about other bloggers who have received similar responses on their blogs. Here's a shocker, the first one I found was a woman, who pissed off a bunch of male tech bloggers.

Kathy Sierra, a prominent technology blogger, is considering never posting on her blog again because of the severity of threats she’s received online.

Sierra has been the target of anonymous death threats for the past several weeks, according to the last post on her blog, Creating Passionate Users. The blog is for people "passionate about the brain and metacognition, most especially — how the brain works and how to exploit it for better learning and memory.”

In her latest post, dated Monday, Sierra included graphic written and photographic threats she has endured, as well as her feelings about the threats. “For the last four weeks, I’ve been getting death threat comments on this blog,” she writes. “But that’s not what pushed me over the edge. What finally did it was some disturbing threats of violence and sex posted on two other blogs … blogs authored and/or owned by a group that includes prominent bloggers.”

So I started wondering if maybe we women just aren't supposed to be talking about boy stuff, you know, stuff like business, technology and Batman?

What do you think? Is there a freaky vein that I've tapped in to? A larger lesson to be learned? A way to get out of this kind of dialog and into something more constructive?
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Re: Rape and Death and Batman, OH MY!, by Alyssa Royse

Postby admin » Fri May 09, 2014 10:19 pm

Business Lessons from Batman and The Dark Knight

Start Her Up: For Women Entrepreneurs
A blog for women in Startups – what they do, what they face and why it’s different than men. Told through the eyes of Alyssa Royse, who is running a venture-backed startup of her own.

Posted on August 2, 2008 | By alyssa_royse

You know I hate a movie when I spend the interminable duration of it figuring out ways to lampoon it while using it as a cautionary parable for the mistakes that entrepreneurs make. Those on my Twitter feed (alyssaroyse) got a warning half way through, but here’s the rest of it. The Dark Knight is a study in what happens when a director tries to do more than they can, loses focus, is fake, gets too big a team and misses opportunities. The death knell of both a film and a startup. So, continuing my new tradition of Friday Fluff, allow me to elaborate.

Hot on the heels of a masterful beta test – Batman Begins – Christopher Nolan decided to plow forward in a “bigger is better, more is mo’ betta, I can do it all” disaster of a project.

It was muddled, unfocused, confusing, unclear and lacked any definition whatsoever of either character or plot. Batman begins was a simple film with a singular goal, introduce us to the character of Batman. The Dark Knight was an orgiastic cocktail of chaos and delusion steeped in self-indulgent whining. It tried to do too much: psychoanalyze 4 characters, throw in some international intrigue, and oh, oh, oh, can we blow up a lot of stuff, and oh oh oh, how about that cool tech thing and that cool gadget and….. You can’t do that much in a single film. Just can’t.

The lessen to entrepreneurs: Build on the successes of your beta test, not on your childhood fantasies. Using an extreme example, let’s look at a Seattle Startup that got big, without diluting their brand to the point that they lost focus. Amazon made it big selling books online. They were very successful at that. I don’t know anything at all about Jeff Besoz, but let’s imagine that he started selling books because he loved books and always wanted to be a writer. He did not confuse his success at selling books with some sort of mastery of the literary world. He did not become a publishing house, a writers workshop, an agency. No, his successful test was that he could sell books successfully. The action verb in that sentence is “sell.” So in order to grow, he “sold” more stuff.

As a result of trying to do too much with The Dark Knight, the Batman brand lost focus. As a result of trying to squeeze so much into a single film, I perpetually found my self in places that I didn’t understand. It wasn’t until, for instance, AFTER the two ferry boats were filled with people who were going to be asked to blow each other up that they made it clear one was a boat full of criminals and the other a boat full of ordinary people. HELLO, if you are going to present a major change of focus, you need to warn your market. Otherwise they won’t meet you there, and they won’t care. They may even get pissed.

Let’s use another Seattle startup as an example here. Judy’s Book should have been fabulous. Really. I have never seen anyone build community as quickly and solidly as they did. They built both a brand and a community on the idea that consumers trust each other more than they trust advertisers. People all over the country shared reviews, felt that they knew each other, felt that their opinions mattered. Judy’s Book was masterful in how they did that – no one has done it as well before or since. BUT, they lost focus. They became a deal site. Suddenly – without really warning their constituents, and discussing it with them – reviews were delegated to the back pages while advertisers and sponsor deals were suddenly the only thing that seemed to matter. They lost their users. Users were insulted and confused – angry – and left. They left because they loved and bought into what they had, but were not part of the transition to what Judy’s Book had become. If you lose focus as a startup, it is easy to forget what made you who you are, who you serve and what is working. Judy’s Book closed its covers once and for all shortly thereafter.

Which also brings us to being genuine. This is a short one. Know, I know that Batman has to hide his real identity, I get that, that’s part of the premise and I bought into that when I read all the comic books as a kid and LOVED every single version of Batman that has ever been created. But the voice he used in Dark Knight just made me want to stuff bat poop in my ears, it was so fake and forced and contrived.

As an entrepreneur, if your “voice” doesn’t ring true, you’re toast. The Judy’s Book example is still good here – what they said was, “you and your opinion is what matters.” But what they DID said – “all we really care about is selling you to advertisers.” No can do. Even prior to launch, you need to be sure that the stuff you’re saying rings true. That internal siren that my friend Scott calls “The Bullshit Meter” is easily triggered. “I have the next Google,” for instance. “I am going to replace the US Postal Service.” Uh huh, right. Sound and fury signifying nothing.

I think that one of the biggest problems that Dark Knight had was too much talent and a desire to use it all. It sunk the film. That’s a primary reason whey there were so many ridiculously tangential plot lines and scenes that just should have been cut.

But I see it happen all the time in startups too. People hiring like crazy (moving in to fancy offices) in a way that looks more like trying to put names on letterhead rather than accomplish strategic tasks. Before you hire all those C level execs with fancy names and resumes, ask yourself if they actually help you accomplish your mission. If not, focus on people who can execute. Once you start proving your chops, you will need to build out strategically, with one key C level executive at a time as your specific path to growth is outlined and they can direct your company down that path. Otherwise, they can be a drain on your finances, increase burn immediately without necessarily increasing revenue. Big hiring and growth too soon, in an unfocused way, is a recipe for disaster. To quote Scott again, “startups don’t starve, they drown.” Yup. So do films.

Lastly, missed opportunities because you just don’t see them when you’re trying to do too much. And I will admit outright I’m only bringing this up because I want to say a line that should have been in the film.

So, Batman is trying to catch the bad guy and he uses some cool technology that Lucuis Fox developed for him. When Lucius made it, its purpose was small and singular, sonar technology to track a bad guy in a building. Batman changed it to be able to track the bad guy in an entire city, way more than Lucius had intended. Lucius looks at Batman and scolds him, saying something like “you took my sonar technology and went crazy with it.” Now, how hard, really would it have been for him to say, “You took my sonar technology and went bat-shit with it?” Puh-leeez.

But look, missed opportunities will kill you to. And if you let yourself get mired down in too much self-created chaos, you may miss an opportunity that’s knocking. Whether it’s a potential partner, collaborator, customer….. You always have to step back, look at yourself from the audience and say, “hmmmm, what am I missing, what am I doing too much of, what can I try a different way.”

Okay, I promise, that’s my last silly fluff piece for the week. I’ll write more Friday fluff next week. But really, bat-shit. How hard would that have been?

At least I didn’t get a parking ticket, as the city meters don’t allow for 8 hour movies, no matter how good they’re supposed to be.
I have closed comments on this post because they are largely threats against my physical well-being and vitriolic attacks of my gender and intelligence. That said, I’ve left them here for you to “enjoy.” I have reposted some of the most “telling” comments in a new blog post about the nature of hatred and blog-harassment.
Alyssa Royse is the founder of JUST CAUSE IT and absolutely LOVES comic book super hero bang ‘em up good guy bad guy movies with explosions and fast things. Usually.
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