I’m tired. Exhausted in fact. I’m a vocal opponent of douchebaggery and I make no bones about my hatred of people being absolute arses to each other. When I feel the offense is great enough, I speak up when someone does something I find unacceptable. Normally it takes the shape of a barrage of shouty tweets, a FB rant, or perhaps a long winded blog. (You’re outta luck pal, you scored the latter.) When someone is offended by the Shitstorm Du Jour, the formula usually goes like this:
Complaint: “Whoa, I’m offended by that” or even sometimes “I’m offended by that because X and Y”
Response: “Pfff, no you’re not” or “That’s a dumb thing to get upset over, be quiet”.
I’m of the camp that people’s grievances should be heard. If you’re hurting, you should be met with a hug instead of an inquisition into your pain or reasons why it doesn’t really hurt that bad.
So when I heard people were upset about this Polygon documentary, I had my huggin’ arms at the ready. I started by watching the documentary trailer.
I watched it again, really trying hard to see what was so horrible about it. I turned the volume up. I looked for offensive pictures in the backgrounds. I scoured for signs we might be being Punk’d. I found nothing. Not a twang. So I started reading articles people were writing about their grievances, to get a better idea (read: any idea) of what they were upset about.
“Pompous, self-aggrandizing, and utterly without perspective”
A vanity exercise.
Wait, I thought. Where are the hard-done-by people? Who are Vox Media hurting here?
Then the anger started to rise.
Are you FUCKING kidding me?!
Like I mentioned before, I’m not in the business of deciding what people are “allowed” to be upset about. If you’re genuinely upset by the presence of a documentary based on its trailer then A) Go for it, and B) Maybe don’t watch the film when it comes out.
I’m just really, really disappointed in you. And not in a way that attempts to shame you, or elevate me as some purveyor of moral righteousness. I just need you to understand that watching you expend energy bitching about something that doesn’t actually hurt anyone is a slap in the face. Seeing people shrug at misogyny but rail against game journalists journaling their experiences is like a burn that keeps throbbing and aching after the initial injury.
Where were you when we needed you? Where was your anger when it could do something constructive? We needed this anger when Anita Sarkeesian was being attacked, both in character and in effigy. We needed this anger when Jennifer Hepler was being harrassed. Or Jade Raymond. Or Miranda Pakozdi. We needed this anger when dickwolves. We needed this anger when three of our country’s best female games writers all said that shit was really uncomfortable for them sometimes.
We needed you to direct this anger to when someone is being a dick towards someone else. For when someone is being excluded. Made to feel less-than, not welcome, or worse, hated, just because they wanted to fucking play.
What you’re saying to me is that displaying any kind of ego or vanity are far more serious offenses than discrimination and exclusion. That taking yourself seriously is bad. That it’s “silly” not to be silly. That wanting better is not acceptable. That games journalists are insulting you personally when they say they want to try something new, sans the dumbassery and immaturity we see a lot of in this culture. What you’re saying is that in a time where journalism is changing, where the once-giant Fairfax has posted a $2.7 billion dollar loss, when advertising models are in complete flux, and online bloggers working for free are putting a strain on paid journalists, that trying something new is to be discouraged at all costs. You want a fucking hug for that?
Take your hug, shove it nice and deep into your privilege (might want to use gloves), and go back to discouraging creatives from trying new things, acting like wanting better is a bad thing, and flailing wildly about how games “can’t cure cancer” so they can’t do anything positive at all. Because that’s worked great for us in the past.
I’ll be over where the cool shit is happening and the new things are being tried. Because we haven’t perfected it yet.