Monday, February 14, 2011

282 - Grumble, Grumble SPECIAL #3.1 - What A Shitload of STFU

The following is a fictional conversation between myself and an Angry Video Game Nerd fan (referred to as Fanboy). Here we go:

Fanboy: Irate Gamer is a rip-off of AVGN! He plagiarizes James' work!

DTM666: Okay. I've heard this accusation before. I believe there is some merit to it. So what evidence do yo have to support this claim of plagiarism.

Fanboy: Well, in one video, he says "What a shitload of fuck!"

DTM666: Yeah, so?

Fanboy: Well... that's like AVGN's catchphrase.

DTM666: Yeah... and?

Fanboy: Well... AVGN made that phrase up.

DTM666: Are you fucking retarded?

Fanboy: No, I don't think I am. Why do you ask?

DTM666: Because you'd have to be if that's the best evidence you have to offer. Or maybe really drunk. Or stupid. Possibly all three.

The above conversation... never happened. And I did not intend to insult any handicapable people out there. Even they would know better.

Did I get your attention? Good... click for more on this wonderful subject matter.

When I first heard Irate Gamer mention "What a shitload of fuck" in his Mission: Impossible video, I didn't give it a second thought. There was no implications or brainstorms or rage moments. It was just a random, throwaway line. AVGN said it before, but no biggie. Right?

Well, apparently, a bunch of people pulled a fit as a result, using it as evidence of Irate Gamer's alleged plagiarism. (I say alleged because I don't feel like taking sides in the drama. There is truth to the claims - I'll admit that much - but I honestly don't care.) It was such a huge crap-stirring that Chris Bores edited out the line from the video for the DVD release, replacing it with "What a piece of shit." I'm honestly surprised nobody cried about that line and used it as proof of plagiarism. The whole thing, to me, is just fucking absurd and it seemed like I was the only one who thought this.

I remember watching the JoeyDrunko video... which makes nice, concrete comparisons that support the plagiarism accusation. But he pissed away whatever credibility he had going by looping that damn "shitload of fuck" clip over and over and over again. As if that's the strongest evidence he has (it isn't.)

However, I recall reading a blog posting by a former YouTube reviewer called PlayItBogart (his blog and the entry in question can be reached here). He addresses that particular bit, as stated below

First, let's address the "shit load of fuck" issue. The expletive "shit load of crap" has had the word "crap" removed and "fuck" added in it's place. Witty and unique, right? Sure, if you discount the fact that AVGN comes up with these things probably by sticking swear words and other complete randomness into mad libs just to come up with these terms. If I want to say shit load of fuck, I'm saying it. I don't give a shit who else said it before I did.

Another variation of that explanation - and one I prefer - is that a similarly worded explicit phrase "fuckload of shit" has had its two naughty words flipped around and VOILA! New phrase... except it isn't that new. It's just recycled. It's not creative. It's not made-up words. And if James Rolfe or Mike Matei didn't come up with it first, then some four-year-old would have done it. It's not at all creative. And it's not worth making a big deal over.

Some time in late 2009, I came across a blog called Irate Gamer Sucks, which basically summarizes, criticizes, and analyses the various videos made by Chris "Irate Gamer" Bores. Starting in 2010, the blog was revisiting some of the early IG videos and one of these were the video for Mission Impossible for the NES. The blog made a brief mention of the scene in question, as stated below:

2:58 - 3:09: And now, the scene heard around the world.
Bores complains that he has to do everything all over again, and his response to that? “What a shitload of fuck!”
*shakes head* Shameful, just shameful. Now we know why he calls this episode the “direction he wanted to take the series”. Really I can’t say anything else about this scene, a lot of people have talked about it.

So here's the first comment I made. I start off complimenting the game and shaking my head at the video. For the record, I think Mission: Impossible for the NES is a pretty good game that provides a variety of game styles and a good, healthy challenge. Then I made the following exchange in regard to the "shitload of fuck" statement:

I can recall the first time I saw this video and was shaking my head - both at the review and the reaction to the one scene. I had played the game long ago prior to watching the vid and didn't think it was that bad. 

As a matter of fact, I picked up a copy of the game last month and indeed, it brought back great memories. It's a solid game with some problem-solving aspects and some stealth moments, but is crazy difficult. Good solid game overall.

It seems unfortunate and rather sad, though, that of all the evidence in all the videos that could be used to effectively prove IG's plagiarizing ways, the most popular piece of "evidence" is one single utterance of the phrase "What a shitload of fuck." I almost have to sit back and groan in utter annoyance at that deal.

"OOH! He uttered 'What A Shitload of Fuck!' That's an AVGN original! Sacrilege! He's a plagiarist! How dare he say 'What A Shitload of Fuck! That's sacred ground, son!" God, shoot me.

Because that line has never, ever, EVER been said or conceived before in the history of the English language... really lame.

I didn't write that to get a rise out of people. I actually felt that way. Still do. But it did elicit a few responses from the other readers, which I will repost here.

First reply comes from BatDan, the guy who runs the blog. His comment as below (with my annotations in between certain bits):

People seem to equate plagiarism with "reviewing the same game" and "saying the same lines".

Well, the last two recaps proved otherwise. The Where's Waldo video copied two popular bits from The Nerd, and The Goonies II video outright stole the Chronologically Confused segment.

I thought about questioning that bit with the two "popular" segments. Presumably he meant the intro (which is a standard summary of the franchise showing off various bits of merchandising... something that HAS been done before) and the bit where IG makes up his own ending for the Waldo game because the actual ending isn't satisfactory enough... (which was pretty lame even when AVGN did it). I won't dispute the Goonies II note; it does seem a bit coincidental (and equally dumb.)

In fact, other people have said "what a shitload of fuck" in their reviews, like undercoverfilmer (or so I heard). The difference between real reviewers and IG is that most real reviewers do it for fun and the love of the game. IG is only in it for money, no matter who he steps on or steals from.

The difference between real reviewers and IG is that real reviewers actually REVIEW the damn game. IG does comedy skits and bitches about his inability to play the game... much like most angry reviewers, actually. Some of the angry reviewers do know better, though.

My reply as follows:

The Irate Gamer pulling a "Chronologically Confused" about Donkey Kong titles as well as making up his own ending after achieving a mediocre ending are two good examples of bits stolen from AVGN. The bit with the Predator with the exploding head at the end is another example.

On the other hand, the Irate Gamer complaining about a game missing characters or inaccurate from the source material it's based on? The lack of music from a show/movie in a video game? That stuff's all been done before by a whole bunch of people, either in video or written format. The fact that it's been attributed to the Nerd is ridiculous.

I'd like to think that most reviewers (those that are good or at least competent) enjoy reviewing for the sake of reviewing; that is, to point out the pros and cons of a product before reaching a conclusion of whether said product is worth the consumer's time. These guys have spent time on the game, loved or hated it, and want to share their thoughts on it, whether it'd be a YouTube video or a GameFAQs review submission or whatever the case may be. And that's great. It's great to hear thoughts from actual consumers who bought the games and gave them a fair shake.

I just find that the difference between real reviewers and guys like AVGN, IG, or similar "angry reviewers" is that most real reviewers are generally satisfied with giving ACTUAL REVIEWS and not 15 minutes of drunken ramblings, expletives galore, out-of-place special effects, and totally necessary "guest characters" with about five minutes of actual review.

I don't mind fluff or filler in reviews, but if it overpowers the actual review content, then it ceases to be a review and becomes more of a spectacle. Unfortunately, it seems that to be really successful, you'd have to resort to this sort of thing.

Pretty much what I just annotated above.

Another user, Wolfhmeh (sp), replied to my last bit about the line never being mentioned before in the history of communication:

You're completely right, chances are it's a phase thats been in use forever...

However, there's only one documented source for it, and the fact that its following use was by someone in the same context makes it kinda hard to defend, when the mathematics of chance would slap you for even trying.

If that "one documented source" is a random video on YouTube, then it's not a very credible source, now is it? In any case, here's my reply to the above... which may have come off differently than what I intended.

It's also hard to defend that a variation of a common phrase (What a fuckload of shit - with the two expletives flipped) has never been uttered in ANY form or fashion prior to a random YouTube video unless you could confirm that it's never mention in ANY medium or otherwise.

Another commenter, Justin Holmes, had this to say.

Come on. That's as traceable to the AVGN as "What a piece of cowabunga shit." The point isn't who made up what, it's who's trying to take credit for what.

"Yeah, that's right," I thought upon reading that, "Feed me the other stupid piece of evidence that holds little weight."

My reply to him:

Oh please. That's about as traceable to the AVGN as "This game sucks." [If I had more space, I would have also brought up "What were they thinking?" Which seems to be another AVGN phrase that has been around FOREVER...]

Honestly, you'd have to be creatively bankrupt to take credit for "What a shitload of fuck." And James Rolfe doesn't seem like the type of guy who's creatively bankrupt. Chris Bores, on the other hand... eh, I won't give any ideas.

Honestly, I fail to see how "What a piece of cowabunga shit" is plagiarising the AVGN's TMNT rant that began with "Cowa-Fucking-Piece-Of-Dog-Shit." Either I'm missing something or people are reading WAY TOO MUCH into that one line. I honestly believe it's the latter. I'll get back on this tidbit later.

Some time later, Wolfhmeh (sp) replied to my reply:

I agreed with you on that point, did i not? [Indeed you did.]

But the rest of my post makes my argument clear. Let me reiterate with an example! :D [Oh goodie!]

You're a youtube reviewer who reviews awful books in a comedic fashion. you describe 'Twilight' as worse than having your balls smeared in green jelly and having a bag of fire ants poured over them.

An analogy which may have already been uttered, who can say? and who gives a fuck. [Some guy named JoeyDrunko who makes a YouTube video looping the phrase over and over again because he couldn't find more coherent examples... oh wait, I'm jumping ahead.]

But when another Youtube reviewer, who reviews books in a comical fashion, describes The 'Vampire diaries' as far worse than having your balls covered in green jelly... blahblah blah blah.

Is that not a complete copy? yeah, the books different, but is the context not the same?

If a Chef said his wifes cooking was worse than having his balls covered in.. blahblah, then thats NOT a copy. because the context is different, he may not of seen the book review anyway, if he did it makes no difference, because he's not being PAID to comment on his wifes cooking.

Is this clear? :(

Wow... that was a clear cut example that needed reiterating. But here's my counterpoint:

I'll agree that someone uttering the "balls in jelly" analogy after someone else coined it is considered a straight copy because the first guy took the time to come up with that analogy and it's such a specific analogy applicable to a certain set of circumstances. And if, by chance, that analogy was used elsewhere prior in some form or another, it'd be pure coincidence.

But that's the thing. Someone took the time and effort to come up with a rather specific analogy for that context and it was conveniently used by someone else in a similar or dissimilar context. Even with slight alterations, it could be perceived as a copy.

"What a shitload of fuck" isn't a specific analogy nor is it something that took a lot of effort to come up with; it's just a generic phrase that's interchangeable with "What a fuckload of shit" or "What a piece of shit." It's a line that may disputably have one documented source, but could easily something thrown out during a casual conversation without much thought. 

There's nothing creative or analogical about it; it's just something that was tossed out on a whim and strangely made into a catchphrase because of the inability to think of anything better. Like I said, you'd have to be creatively bankrupt if you tried to think up a clever analogy, "What a shitload of fuck" was the best you could come up with, and you decided to push it as if it were some world-changing, pop-culture influencing catchphrase of the next decade.

AVGN has many more specific analogies used where more thought was put into its application. He has specific character traits, such as the drinking of Rolling Rock after a particularly painful moment in a game. If any of those were used by other reviewers in similar context, then I'd agree that it's a straight copy and there'd be sufficient reason to "give a fuck."  [Looking back, there's no reason to give a fuck about this sort of thing.]

A short, interchangeable line with no specific analogical context isn't one of them. Which is why I honestly don't understand the backlash to someone else (who gets paid for his videos) using the same generic term because the other guy (who is ALSO getting paid for his work) allegedly said it first.

Finally, BatDan has had enough of this "Shitload of Fuckness" and posts this final message on the matter.

Okay okay let's stop arguing over this.

Let's just say that certain phrases aren't defined to one person.

Though there's no excuse for Bores saying "What a piece of cowabunga-sheeit" after finishing TMNT on NES.

I reply with "Okay, fair enough." The stupidity of the argument over "shitload of fuck" got a suitable conclusion. However, a bigger part of me wanted to shoot down the cowabunga bit. Told you we'd get back to this.

What I will now include is an excerpt of Grumble, Grumble #3, written last year, covering the two TMNT reviews by AVGN and Irate Gamer. The portion I will specifically bring up is the entirety of the Cowabunga Shit rant thingie, although I'm going to cheat a little and make a few minor tweaks here and there to reflect my current feeling on the matter.

So without further to do:

Cowabunga-something-something v2.0
A bit of controversy here...

After discovering that "you can just walk over it," AVGN calls the game scum, drinks a bit of rolling rock and then goes into what is now referred to as the TMNT rant. And it goes something like this:

"Cowabunga? Cowa fucking piece of dog shit! This game is diarrhea coming out of my dick. This game is as appealing as a fucking oozing fest of dirty fucking sewer rat shit. I've had more fun playing with dog turds. Shredder's my ass and Splinter's my balls. This game is an inside-out asshole regurgitating putrid anal fecal matter. I'd rather fucking yank all the hairs out of my scrotum. I'd rather drink diarrhea vomited out of a
buffalo's anus. It sucking fucks. It fucking sucks. It fucking blows. It's a piece of shit... and I don't like it."

An epic rant that sold me on Rolfe's genius, and despite my admiration for the AVGN product having waned considerably over the years and despite the rest of review being complete and utter shit, it's still one of the funnier bits he's done and it holds up somewhat well. Another source of plagiarism for IG? Well, maybe, but not really.

After IG dies in the seaweed portion of the dam level - he might have fared if he kept out of the seaweed and didn't flail his controller around like a fucking idiot - he pulls the game out of the NES - without turning it off - takes a bite out of it, and then says this inspiring diatrabe:

"What a piece of Cowabunga shit!"

Oh my god. What a rip off. That was blatant thievery. Irate gamer should be burned.

Really? You're using that as proof of IG plagiarizing AVGN? Nerd does a whole rant, IG does, like, one line I could probably fart out in my sleep, and that's considered plagiarism? I understand the concept of plagiarism doesn't limit itself to exact words or situations, but this is a stretch. The guy utters one line versus a rant that lasts one minute... and that's "the same idea" and thus it's "plagiarism?"

I feel people are looking a bit TOO MUCH into this one line.

I mean, sure, it's not original. I'd give you that... but neither was turning Cowabunga into vulgar material. That kind of usage, while not as common or widely documented, has been done before - god knows I've said Cowa-Dunga in regards to crappy TMNT products many times and no doubt have continued to do so in more recent products.

So yeah, changing a long-winded vulgar rant into a single line with only one thing in common? Sorry, but that ain't plagiarism. It's people reading too much into a line looking for things to hate about the Irate Gamer.

That's like telling me NC17 plagiarizes AVGN's drinking of Rolling Rock by drinking Coke... which is actually a dumber comparison because NOBODY has EVER DRANK DURING THEIR VIDEO GAMES PRIOR TO THE FUCKING NERD?! SERIOUSLY...

Right... thanks, brain, for that wonderful insight.

Of course, the Nerd didn't come up with beer and video games. That belongs to the original Game Room, the 1999-2000 predecessor webshow to the current Classic Game Room empire. Not the same thing, but a similar idea.

So I guess the Nerd plagiarized Mark Bussler and Dave Crosson, huh? SACRILEGE!

But seriously... I honestly don't get it.

I don't get that. And I don't get the big deal over "What A Shitload of Fuck."


Irate Gamer Sucks - Redux Repost: This Post Will Self-Destruct In ZZZZZZ"
PIBlog - Looks Like It's Time To Get Involved [Re: IrateGamer]
Twisted Blog of DTM - Grumble, Grumble #3 - TMNT Reviews

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