Victoria Fringe Festival 2017 – Monica vs. The Internet (Tales of a Social Justice Warrior)
Review by Niko Mumford – Showbill.ca Staff Writer
August 31, 2017
Content Warning: This production mentions sexual assault, anti-Asian sentiment, PTSD, and colonial violence
Monica vs. The Internet (Tales of a Social Justice Warrior) is a funny, yet hard-hitting testament to navigating the often violent online world as a Filipina social justice vlogger. Performed and created by Monica Ogden, creator of YouTube’s Fistful of Feminism, and Ann-Bernice Thomas, 2016 Victoria Youth Poet Laureate, the show provides in-depth reflections on the real life struggles of an intersectional feminist with an online persona.
Through R-Rated sing-alongs, video, and real comments from her YouTube channel, Monica provides frank and accessible analysis on the intersecting oppressions of race, gender, and ability. By adopting a conversational tone whilst addressing the audience, and encouraging audience participation, a feeling of safety is developed between audience and performer, creating a unique space for raw discussions on violence and privilege.
An astonishing accomplishment of the show is the balance between intensely personal storytelling and the exploration of oppression within online and theatre communities. Speaking directly to her own experience, Monica challenges white supremacy and the ongoing colonization of Indigenous material within the Victoria theatre community. Using online comments as a starting point, Monica also explores the effects of hate speech on the internet, calling upon her own struggles with PTSD, anti-Asian sentiment, and sexual assault. Refreshingly, Monica acknowledges her own privilege throughout these discussions, making it clear that the stories of some oppressed people are not fair game for any artist who has been oppressed. Through this perspective, Monica analyzes problematic facets of white feminism, including the refusal to acknowledge colonization and racism within feminist communities.
Monica’s effectiveness as a social justice activist is evident throughout the piece, although arguably the most powerful aspect of her exploration is accepting the genuine struggle of facing daily violence online. She reflects upon the hateful push back online and in real life against her activism and comfort in identity, producing an honest claim to the struggle of continuing to be vocal in the face of racist and misogynistic threats. Through such a raw exploration, Monica reclaims the title of Social Justice Warrior, speaking directly to the battle being fought daily as an oppressed individual speaking frankly on her experience. The result of such exploration is a hilariously honest, heartbreaking account of how online hatred affects the often oppressed individuals pushing against it.
Monica vs. The Internet succeeds in exploring the challenging reality of existing as an intersectional feminist online and in real life. Through quirky music, hard-hitting humour, and raw personal accounts, the show leaves its audience not only informed, but invigorated and passionate, renewing the rage within the activists in attendance. It would be a true shame to miss the opportunity to hear the testimony of this talented, unapologetic warrior.
Created by Monica Ogden & Ann-Bernice Thomas
Victoria Fringe Festival
Venue 2 (Downtown Community Centre)
- Sept 1 @ 9:00pm
- Sept 2 @ 4:15pm