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As always, you can also go to the dedicated Al’Rashad site.
Over at Torontoist, I am writing the captions and blurbs which go along with our photo galleries for the Toronto International Film Festival and they basically let me do whatever I want, so maybe it entertains you? I dunno.
I’ve been struck recently by how the “Gamergate” schmucks – and make no mistake, you are schmucks – seem determined to use absolutely irrelevant arguments to try and advance their stupid, frivolous cause.
(And it is a stupid, frivolous cause. Game reviews do not merit a “-gate,” because they have been fundamentally crap for decades – it is open knowledge that better than ninety percent of them are bought-and-sold marketing pap, they are mostly pointless recitations of the game’s technical specifications anyway, and if a reviewer tries to get substantive, gamer nerds will start with the death threats because they didn’t give a perfect score to the game they wanted to be perfect. So anybody saying that this is the hill they have to die on is an idiot. But I digress.)
I am reminded, frankly, of what happened with conservatives who decided that Darren Wilson had to be defended when he shot Michael Brown to death, and how they began harping on whether Brown had shoplifted just prior – which was irrelevant, because the police admitted the shopkeeper had not reported the theft and Wilson had no idea about it. Then they harped on how Michael Brown’s autopsy showed he had marijuana in his system – which was irrelevant because so what, you can have pot in your system for weeks after smoking it, and more to the point pot doesn’t turn you into a savage monster who needs to be shot to death last time I checked. Then they started complaining about how all those black people were rioting, which A) was mostly not true and B) didn’t have anything to do with Michael Brown because he was dead and therefore could not riot so much. Right now they’re harping about releasing his juvenile record, which is not relevant because who gives a shit about his juvenile record.
The point of all of these irrelevancies is to try and cast blame for other incidents to muddy the waters, to try and make Michael Brown look like he deserved to be shot, when in context there was really no cause for him to be shot. (The context in this case of course being the multiple eyewitnesses who didn’t know each other and who all gave basically the same story – of Wilson executing Brown – within hours of Brown’s death, but conservatives decided that they didn’t count because, well, all the eyewitnesses were black and you know how black people are.)
Which brings me to Zoe Quinn and Lamergate. Gamergate. Whatever.
It is not relevant if Zoe Quinn and Eron Gjoni had a bad relationship (which, clearly, they did) to the issue of “was it right for Gjoni to post private message logs on Tumblr.” Because it’s not: it’s simply gross, shaming behaviour. If Gjoni wanted to rant about his ex, he could have anonymized the details and nobody would have said that was inappropriate. (Self-pitying wank, maybe, but not inappropriate.)
(To the jackasses on John’s post claiming that Quinn was gaslighting Gjoni: jesus christ do you even realize that gaslighting is a power/control mechanism and breaking up with someone repeatedly – as happened with Quinn and Gjoni, by Gjoni’s own admission – kind of invalidates the entire point of gaslighting, which is to seclude and isolate the target. I know you read somewhere that gaslighting was bad but yeesh read past the first sentence sometime.)
It is not relevant if Quinn cheated on Gjoni to the issue of “is it appropriate for some anon 4chan loser to post nude pictures of Quinn.” It is not relevant if Quinn slept with a Kotaku reviewer to the issue of “is it appropriate for Quinn to receive death threats.” Frankly, it isn’t even relevant if Quinn slept with a Kotaku reviewer to the issue of “did Quinn get a good review because of sex” because Quinn isn’t the reviewer and the moral onus for writing an unbiased article falls on the journalist, not the subject – never mind that there is precisely zero evidence whatsoever that said Kotaku reviewer ever influenced any writing at Kotaku about Quinn’s work.
It is not relevant if Quinn is an awful human being (I don’t know and I don’t care, although I expect she is like most twentysomethings: generally well-meaning, but confused and self-interested) because Quinn’s private life simply does not impact, in any way, the pathetic sad lives of the 4chan assholes who have harassed her.
(And yes, I don’t believe 4chan either, because why the hell would you believe anything emanating from a community which, inherent in its site design, encourages irresponsibility for one’s words and actions through anonymity? I mean, let’s go back to Michael Brown for a second: have we all forgotten that 4chan encouraged the Darren Wilson fundraiser for laughs? It’s a poison place filled with poison people; it makes Reddit look like a circumspect garden party by comparison, and that is indeed the very point of the site, to allow people to wallow in this sort of thing anonymously with no consequences. Why would you ever trust their word?)
In short: I have not seen one complaint about Quinn that is relevant to the issue of the horrible things that have been visited upon her. I have seen whining and piteous, pathetic wank, most of it either obfuscating the basic truth that this is about looking for excuses to attack Zoe Quinn for her gender, or alternately proclaiming that “this is bigger than Zoe Quinn” because some have at least enough insight to realize that maybe the wildly sexist assault is counterproductive, but they don’t want to apologize really so they jump straight to “we need to move on and address the REAL issues.” As if death threats were some kind of amusing sidenote.
And if you take offense with that – hey, go over to Davis Aurini’s Youtube page and start commenting there. I’m sure he can swirl his glass of whisky and cluck his tongue in such a way as to make you feel at home.
My weekly TV column is up at Torontoist.
I’ve also written a thing about Fan Expo 2014 and a profile of Toronto Ward 7 council candidate Keegan Henry-Mathieu (another profile of fellow Ward 7 candidate Nick Di Nizio will be up later today, because someone had to drive out to goddamn Islington and Finch to get it done).
(sorry for the delay – last week was supposed to be my vacation, but I was doing all this instead, so I took Labour Day off to do no labouring, and then Tuesday I came back to work and BAM look at all the things that needed catch-up).
There’s a lot of stuff flying around the Internet right now about “Gamergate”, a supposed scandal at the supposed heart of supposed gaming that supposed gamers are supposedly crusading against. As you may be able to guess from all the “supposed”s, there’s a lot of bullshit out there. So first, I’ll sum up what “Gamergate” is.
It started with Zoe Quinn, an independent game developer. She had an ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, and the break-up was ugly. Gjoni started airing their dirty laundry online,
specifically on 4Chan, starting on a blog he created specifically to do so, posting evidence that she’d cheated on him. Naturally, people were extremely upset that he’d apparently hacked into her private chat logs that she’d cheated on him that she was sleeping with game journalists. Yes, that’s what they’re all upset about! The slight against gaming journalism! Because it’s their ethical responsibility to avoid conflicts of interest because it’s her responsibility to avoid forcing them into conflicts of interest with her sexy ladyparts.
Quinn responded by pointing out that a) her bad break-up is none of the Internet’s business, b) her ex-boyfriend is not an unbiased source for discussions of her behavior, and c) none of the game journalists ever did anything unethical as a result of these relationships. 4Chan responded, as all reasonable Internet gaming enthusiasts do, with doxxing, death threats, and slut shaming. Followed by calling Quinn a liar for accusing them of doxxing, death threats and slut shaming. Oh, and they also insisted that they couldn’t be misogynists, because they prominently backed a group of female gaming developers who weren’t Quinn (called the Fine Young Capitalists). While discussing on their boards how nobody could accuse them of misogyny if they backed a group of female gaming developers who weren’t Quinn, so they should do it as another way of getting back at her.
The Internet then exploded a bit, with several prominent gaming websites and several celebrities (including Joss Whedon, who gets special mention in all this because Joss Whedon is one of the patron saints of the Internet) pointing out that this is all a huge shitshow that gives gamers a terrible reputation. This led to a bunch of people a) claiming that this wasn’t about feminism and they weren’t misogynists, it was about journalistic ethics and they were merely concerned about the clear ethical issues involved; and b) Quinn was a lying (insert gendered slur here) who had it coming and by the way her lies and sluttiness are also a reason for Anita Sarkeesian to shut up too because they both have ladyparts so they’re in on it together!
This, in turn, led to a lot of people being banned from comments sections as trolls. At which point the cry of “FREEZE PEACH!” went out across the land, and the trolls insisted they weren’t being banned for being trolls, they were being banned because journalists hated being called out on their clear pro-sexy-ladyparts bias. Which led to Kotaku telling their journalists they couldn’t contribute money to games they wanted to see made, because hey sure why not.
At this point, there are a number of people out there saying, “You know what? If this is what being a ‘gamer’ is associated with, fuck gamers everywhere. I’d rather see that particular label die in a fire.” And people coming back with long, defensive posts that can all be tl;dr’d down to “#notallgamers”. Oh, and Anita Sarkeesian had to move out of her home because she’s getting death threats from people who know her address over her latest video about women and video games, which isn’t actually related to any of the stuff with Zoe Quinn but should help you understand why people are calling gamers an entitled culture of creepy fucked up sociopaths right now.
So now that you know what’s going on, what do I have to say about it? Apart from all the opinions that I not-too-subtly encoded into the above summary, of course. Well…
1) Zoe Quinn is not responsible for this shit. Whatever went on between her and Eron Gjoni is none of my business, your business, or literally anyone’s business in the world except for her, Eron, and the other people directly involved in the break-up. I am not their relationship counselor, and am not going to pass judgment on anything either one did to cause the break-up, because I don’t know about it and neither do you, even if you read Gjoni’s posts on the subject because it is not a particularly great leap of logic to suggest that someone upset enough to hack into other people’s private communications and post them online a) may have some other relationship issues, and b) may not be self-aware enough to admit to them in public.
Either way, Gjoni’s posts are plain and simple an attempt to make his ex’s life miserable by airing dirty laundry online. This is not a “journalistic scandal” that needs to be exposed by public-minded gamers for the good of the industry, it’s an ugly break-up that some assholes have taken as a chance to pile onto a woman they already didn’t like that much due to her twin decisions to make games and be female. You know how you can tell? Simple. The gaming journalists involved are getting a free pass. They made the decision to sleep with someone involved in the industry, despite knowing that this could be viewed as a conflict of interest, and they have not suffered any consequences from their employers or from the gamers involved. If this was anything other than slut-shaming, they’d be getting fired or at the least suspended, and they’re not. Primarily because they didn’t slant their coverage to be pro-Quinn one little bit. If anyone tells you that Quinn’s bad behavior is responsible for her current position, they are either lying to you or to themselves.
2) I don’t believe 4Chan when they say they didn’t do it, and I don’t fucking care. It does need to be mentioned at this point that 4Chan insists that Quinn is faking all the harassment she’s receiving, and using them as a convenient target to make herself look good because she knows that nobody will believe them due to 4Chan’s reputation as a hivemind of vicious, unrepentant shitbags who love making people’s lives miserable. To which I point out: Hey, maybe you would be more likely to be believed if you weren’t a hivemind of vicious, unrepentant shitbags who love making people’s lives miserable. It is just as easy to fabricate evidence that other people are fabricating their evidence (“we have undoctored screenshots proving that their screenshots are doctored!”) and 4Chan explaining that they didn’t do anything wrong this time is a bit like the Joker pleading ‘Not Guilty’. (And this also goes for anyone claiming Sarkeesian, or Phil Fish, or anyone else involved is faking evidence of harassment. The claims are weak, and frankly if you default to believing the harassers over the harassed, then that should indicate that you need to sit down and have a long, hard think about what that says about you.)
3) If gamers want people to stop talking about “the death of gamers”, they need to do more than just point to all the people who aren’t harassing women. Look, I like video games as much as the next person. I like games in general as much as the next person. But the fact of the matter is, when someone is getting death threats for suggesting that video games and the people who play them have issues with women, it makes me not want to be associated with public enthusiasm for video games. Because that is the face of the brand right now. “Gamer” = “maladjusted manchild who can’t take criticism and endlessly harasses anyone who disagrees with them”. It is going to take a stronger response than “Hey, I didn’t do that!” to counteract that. It is going to take pushback. It is going to take calling out the bad behavior in no uncertain terms. If you’re concerned that you’re being rude to a fellow gamer, or that you’re not giving a fellow gamer a chance, or that gamers need to stick together? This is a good time to fall for the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. People who do this shit aren’t really gamers. They’re assholes who play video games.
4) The Famous Young Capitalists need to be careful about who they’re getting involved with. On the one hand, I feel tremendous sympathy for them in all this. They’re pretty much just innocent bystanders who are being used as props, and they do seem to have some legitimate beefs with Quinn (that are also not anybody’s business, really, unless you’re interested in the minutiae of professional gaming development). But on the other hand, just like gamers in general, the FYC do need to realize that one of the strategies that unreasonable people use to avoid being called to account for their actions is to count on them being reasonable. They count on people saying, “Well, I believe in the principle of free speech and free association, so I don’t want to flat-out tell these people to fuck off, because shutting down conversation is the kind of thing unreasonable people like them do.” But that’s the whole point–the other side is not arguing in good faith. They are only keeping the lines of communication open to allow them more opportunities to harass. They are using the Fine Young Capitalists to make themselves look reasonable in order to continue making women’s lives miserable through threats and intimidation. And so while I won’t tell the FYC that they have to stop, I will ask them: Do you enjoy being used like that? Is whatever you’re getting out of this in money and publicity worth it?
5) Joss Whedon is not actually the patron saint of the Internet. I love his work, I think he’s a great guy, and he should legitimately be proud of himself for having spoken up in defense of Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, because the people who are being assholes about this are making a good effort to harass and assault everyone who stands up for them in order to isolate them and silence them. (I’ll admit to a tiny, marginal amount of worry about posting this entry. But the more people that speak up, the less time and effort they can devote to any one of us. The remedy to isolation is unity.) But people like Joss Whedon are not the heroes, here. Just being a celebrity who’s willing to call himself a feminist doesn’t make him special. The people who are special are people like Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian who get motherfucking death threats and go on with it anyway, because they’re not going to be silenced when they’re doing the right thing. They’re the heroes. Joss Whedon is the sidekick.
(UPDATE: Edited to correct a factual error–Gjoni did not go straight to 4Chan, they picked up on it all on their own. This makes him look marginally better and them look marginally worse.)
So recently there has been a kerfuffle of sorts, because WWE announced they were bringing the WWE Network to Canada. Now, this should have been a slam dunk, no-miss proposition. Canada has always been a hotbed of wrestling fandom: obvious easy market, obvious profit. Right?
Except that the WWE Network has partnered with Rogers Canada, one of the biggest cable providers in the country, and literally removed every single thing that was good about the Network from the Canadian version. To wit:
|ASPECT||ORIGINAL AMERICAN VERSION||INFERIOR CANADIAN VERSION|
|Cost||$9.99 per month||$11.99 per month|
|Method of delivery||Over-the-top via internet to computers/XBoxen/Rokus/etc.||Premium on-demand cable channel|
|Availability||Anybody who can pay for it||Rogers subscribers only (which means MORE THAN HALF THE COUNTRY can't get it and those who can have to sign up with a specific cable company to do so)|
|How one can watch||Computer/TV/Tablet/phone||TV only|
|Back catalog||Every pay-per-view ever and thousands of hours of TV footage||Literally only eight pay-per-views at launch|
I’m not kidding about the lack of back content either. Take a look at this:
Here is how the archive is labelled – looks like a total rush job, I expected stripped down version but this is low pic.twitter.com/REXz71VO4P
— Live Audio Wrestling (@LAWradio) August 12, 2014
(The full list of launch content, incidentally: SummerSlam 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2005, Great American Bash 1989, Bash at the Beach 1994, 1996 and 1998, ECW Heatwave 1998 and 1999, and ECW One Night Stand 2005.)
So it’s a horrible botch job and Canadians who want the proper WWE Network will just have to not use the American service via a VPN because that would be wrong, but really, we can’t reasonably blame WWE for this, because Rogers owns the TV rights to WWE in Canada and because of that you had to know that, from the get-go, they would come in and ruin the Network for Canadians because it’s Rogers.
See, thanks to the way the Canadian telecommunications industry is regulated and operated, Rogers literally does not have to give a damn. Rogers is one of three companies – the others being Bell and Shaw – that dominates 90% of internet provision in Canada. It is also one of three companies (the others being Bell and Shaw) that dominates television in Canada. Out of the 60 or so channels that make up most “basic premium cable” packages in Canada, the Big Three own thirty-two of them. (Another twelve are American-owned, eight are owned by a corporation called Corus Entertainment, and eight others are either publicly operated or independently owned.) While we’re at it, Bell and Rogers control about 65% of the mobile phone market in Canada (a third company, Telus, controls about another 25%).
These companies don’t have to worry about somebody out-competing them because they have completely regulatory-captured the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission). If you want a mobile phone? There’s no such thing as Bell, Rogers or Telus offering a better rate than the other; down the line, their rates and services are virtually identical. They all have budget carrier brands as well: those match up just the same too. TV services? Barely any measurable difference between the 2-3 options you have anywhere in Canada (usually one of Rogers and Shaw, plus Bell). Internet? Same shit, different day. Most of the “independent” ISPs in Canada are actually re-sellers who buy bandwidth from Bell or Rogers at cost (the big guys are legally forced to offer pipe at cost for resale otherwise they wouldn’t do it) so even if you have an indie ISP like Teksavvy, Bell and Rogers are still getting your money.
The net result of all of this is that internet/TV/wireless in Canada is a bad joke, has been for basically ever, and barring a major sea change in regulatory attitudes it’s never going to change – heck, right now Bell and Rogers are running ads on their own TV and radio stations under the guise of a “consumer advocacy group” that additional competition in their marketplace would “kill Canadian jobs” so they’re loading the deck as we speak. It’s ridiculous and awful and everybody knows it’s ridiculous and awful, but no politician is ever going to campaign on it because did I mention that Bell and Rogers own all those TV channels? Including multiple news channels? Amazing how that works.
So the WWE Network in Canada was always going to suck. Because we can’t have nice things here, not in the telecom sense.