I decided to title this with the term “narrative” in there because it’s a term that Sargon of Akkad has been finding so infuriatingly despicable, and because it fits so well. (I wrote this all two weeks ago and was delayed by life in posting, so undoubtedly there are new revelations – also when I say “a few days” that also means a couple weeks.)
HotAir linked to an Ezra Klein story a few days ago titled “Gamergate and the politicization of absolutely everything” that is a wonderfully spun narrative. It is quite the story, and a story that, like most other mainstream reporting on Gamergate, leaves out very relevant facts and instead hangs around on others.
1. If you want to understand why Gamergate has blown up, you could start with … (ST: edited for space – 7 points about politics that are totally irrelevant to Gamergate)
8. This is the result of the incredible rise in political polarization in recent decades. It used to be that both the Republican and Democratic parties included both liberals and conservatives. Since parties contained ideological multitudes, it was hard for them to be the basis of strong, personal identities. A liberal Democrat in New Jersey didn’t have a lot in common with a conservative Democrat in Alabama. But now that’s changed. The parties are sharply sorted by ideology. What were once fractious coalitions have become unified tribes.
No. Not at all. Klein is telling the story he wants you to hear.
That graphic was pulled from a Gamergate site (reposted on KYM) where some datacrunching gamers went through a pile of prominent Gamergaters’ publicly posted answers to the political compass quiz, then put them all on the same grid to show the distribution. Having tried the quiz myself, I found there were many questions that would require an answer of “situation dictates” that moderated my answers into a much more shallow right-libertarian than I’ve seen on other quizzes where it’s much easier to commit to an answer. It’s still representative, and it gives us data for a conclusion.
Gamergate is much more left than right.
And that’s where Ezra Klein’s chosen politicized narrative falls apart from the start.
10. This isn’t a world in which we should be surprised that video games have been politicized. This is a world in which it was only a matter of time until video games were politicized. This is a world in which, sooner or later, most everything will get politicized.
I’m reminded of a quote oft-used by pro-Gamergaters when countering the anti-GG: “That which can be proven without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” But just to help destroy the narrative, I provided evidence.
To someone who’s clueless about Gamergate, Ezra Klein already has a convenient yarn for his narrative about how not all Gamergaters are hardcore right-wingers, and not all hardcore right-wingers are Gamergaters:
Funny thing is that first link goes to a random hard-left zealot on reddit who announces himself as this without a hint of irony: “devout lib/rad/prog and i’ve always taken the position that “reality has a liberal bias”… that the liberal world view is simply rational and true“. lulz & trololol, buddy. Based on the videos, interviews, discussions, forum and group postings I’ve seen, he’s not representative of the left in Gamergate.
The second link goes to lefty Slate to talk to Tea Partiers who don’t want to be identified with Gamergate… “We are offended by any attacks on women, be it in videos, be it in rap lyrics,” he (Niger Ennis) added. “Last time I checked there are not a bunch of rappers that are Tea Partiers, yet they use the same kind of misogynistic themes that go on in these video games.” I’d bet Niger Ennis hasn’t spent much time on 8chan, and that the dicussion was more of Slate telling him “there are misogynist assholes who are like you,” which prompts him to respond no I’m not a misogynist and they’re not like me.
But it all fits with the narrative.
Now, I’ve already gone a ways into this, but there’s no mention in Ezra Klein’s article about GameJournoPros. GameJournoPros was a secret mailing list of bloggers, writers, and games journalists that functioned to set a narrative and push an agenda. A month after it was revealed, and after a month of “gamers are dead” articles, one member of GameJournoPros started trying to explain everything away according to the “Gamergate is all misogynist ragenerds” narrative… which was a rather dubious claim dissected by folks who know more about the bigger players than I do.
There’s a reason why Ezra Klein would leave out GameJournoPros’ existence. He was the creator of JournoList.
For those who missed it, JournoList was a secret mailing list of bloggers, writers, and journalists that funcitoned to set a narrative and push an agenda. Their agenda was a little more mainstream, with the objective to protect Barack Obama from difficult questions by suppressing the difficult topics that would lead to those questions.
Ezra Klein is in ideological agreement with the narrative-telling propagandists and charlatans masquerading as journalists against Gamergate – because he’s done the exact same thing.
Now, back to Klein weaving a fictional narrative:
The conservative site Breitbart has been a leading source for Gamergaters convinced there’s a media conspiracy against them.
Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.
This is coordinated enemy action:
And keep in mind that with Ezra Klein, you’re dealing with a man who orchestrated a group of like-minded people to work behind the scenes to accomplish an objective surreptitiously… who’s now dismissing the exact same thing as a paranoid conspiracy theory. I guess it must’ve worked for him to dismiss JournoList, so now he’s doing it with GameJournoPros and the corruption in games media.
Finishing his point, he adds this selective-reality point for his “it’s all silly politics” handwaving narrative:
Christina Hoff Sommers, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has become the movement’s protector against claims that it’s anti-woman.
That’s a small fraction of the truth. Based Mom is one woman who heard about Gamergate and took the time to look into it. She works at AEI, but is a feminist first. But there are a whole lot of other women who were already aware of Gamergate and came down for Gamergate. There are also a lot of minorities, and a lot of people with their own views on gender and sexuality that makes them not the traditional straight white male demographic.
12. On the other side, liberal opinion is in lockstep against Gamergate. Outlets ranging from Salon (“#Gamergate is really about terrorism: Why Bill Maher should be vilifying the gaming community, too“) to Gawker (“#Gamergate Trolls Aren’t Ethics Crusaders; They’re a Hate Group“) to the Colbert Report have slammed the movement. The last, in particular, has created something of a cultural crisis within Gamergate, as the kinds of mostly young, mostly male, reasonably webby people who like Gamergate also like Colbert, and his rejection of them stings.
Here’s where you’re wrong again, Klein. Liberal media opinion is in lockstep against Gamergate. As shown above, folks who identify with the left are the ones who primarily support Gamergate – they just happen to be anti-authoritarian left.
As somebody who’s on the right side of the spectrum, I find Colbert’s (and Stewart’s) mocking schtick much more divisive and destructive, since it’s pretty much only pointed one way. They have their agenda and they push it. If they’re faced with someone who seriously could shut down their argument or offer a counterpoint that defuses them, they put the clown nose on for defense and make fun of it claiming to be comedians.
And from that right side of the spectrum, there’s also a very brief pang of schadenfreude as some folks find out their heroes in media really don’t care about them – that Colbert really isn’t their friend – and that the media will lie about them, too.
Welcome to the party, pal!
The David Mamet-style liberals in Gamergate who are having that illusion shattered are getting some perspective. I’ve got some empathy for them, as we’ve all had folks we look up to in the media and in culture and entertainment not live up to the image at some point. For some of them it’s a whole worldview change. Those on the right who’ve found the media stands against them and uses the same deceptive tactics on almost every issue don’t really find it surprising, though.
At least Gamergater’s know The Hero of Canton is on their side. (Irony abounds in the actor who played a fake hero being a real supporter and giving voice to gamers.)
13. What’s telling about the constellation of forces here is that none of them actually care much about video games. Prior to Gamergate, Sommers did not traffic in critical analyses of video gaming. Prior to Gamergate, Salon did not spend a lot of time writing about video games. Prior to Gamergate, the Colbert Report did not regularly cover gaming news. Rather, these are outlets and players that specialize in political conflict. And Gamergate has become a political conflict. Video games, at this point, are an excuse for that conflict.
Klein’s wrong again. He’s trying to shift Gamergate into a realm of politics and into a paradigm it doesn’t quite belong in. Sommers is reapplying her critical analysis to video games. Salon, Colbert, and Klein are covering it because of politics and because of their political position when it comes to culture, which I’ll tie together in a few more points.
14. It’s worth stopping for a moment to say that Gamergate, as well as the reaction against it, isn’t any one thing. It includes horrifying, probably criminal, harassment against pretty much any women who dare oppose it.
Narrative-weaving. Some of the women involved in the anti-Gamergate side are pretty well known to profit from saying they’re threatened – claim harassment, set up a donation page, financial gain – but that stuff is worth of it’s own post. There’s also never any mention of the Gamergate supporters who have been targeted for harassment – including getting syringes mailed to them.
To be fair, his point #15 isn’t all wrong, but it’s still told as part of his political narrative, and to turn this into “everyone’s misunderstood and it’s all miscommunication”, when that is not the case.
16. Within Gamergate, there’s a deep sense of conspiracy — the belief is that the reaction to their campaign has been so unfair and so overwhelming that the only possible explanation is a wide-ranging conspiracy. Much of the subreddit Kotaku In Action is dedicated to try to untangle this sinister web. This has led to some…odd theories. …
And this is where 15 leads – Gamergaters are confused and believe in conspiracies of people out to get them who really aren’t there. What a wonderfully crafted narrative. It starts off by saying how groups are fighting over nothing, politics have been infused into it (rather than Gamergate relating to politics) and people are fighting just to fight because they’re different people (his irrelevant 1-8 points), and that really, Gamergaters are just poor, confused people who can’t understand that they’re wrong and so they get paranoid about nothing because no one’s out to get them.
If it weren’t for the glaring omission of SJW-oriented GameJournoPros and the fact that it was written by the same guy who organized the leftist political equivalent in JournoList, one might almost think he believes it. And then you remember the “who” is involved is critical to the “what” they’re doing.
17. All this, too, is common within political conflict in polarized times: the two sides segregate into completely separate information loops. Politicized media outlets and activist information sources have incentives to cover the worst of the other side, and to play to the fear, anger and even paranoia of their own side. Structurally, each side only becomes familiar with the most extreme members and interpretations of the other side — and so comes to loathe and fear them even more.
This would be the corrupting, enticing idea that “can’t we all just get along?” In this case, the answer happens to be “no”. Gamergate is a wildly diverse group that due to its nature includes folks well across the conventional political spectrum. Many of them are folks I’d doubtless disagree with on other issues (though we’d have some common ground now for a lot of discussions). Gamergate is not the problem.
The media, both games journalism and broader journalism, has taken a side – the side of their chosen culture – which I’ll tie together soon.
18. The point here is not that both sides are equal, or equivalent. It’s not even obvious that there are two sides here, so much as there are two coalitions, each with multiple sides and competing interests. And no one should dismiss the very real, very dangerous harassment that’s happening under Gamergate’s banner.
One side is a loose coalition of individuals. The “very real, very dangerous harassment” is a tiny minority – even the discussion about those who are claiming harassment is a tiny minority.
The point here is that the Gamergate fight is now being partly driven by forces that have nothing to do with the video gaming industry, or even with gamers. Forces that are very good at making these kinds of conflicts worse and deeper.
Yes, the point is the mainstream media has taken the position their dominant left culture demands: anti-Gamergate.
The few folks on the right who’ve picked it up see it for what it is, and for what the David Mamet-style liberal gamers are learning that it is. It’s a manifestation of hard left culture. It’s part of the long march through society by cultural Marxists.
21. Broad media coverage of Gamergate doesn’t focus on the debates about how video games should be reviewed and by whom because the media doesn’t much care about video game reviews. They care, on the right, about political correctness and speech policing, and on the left, about sexism and online harassment. Gamergate happens to be about video games but it could be about anything. Video games are the excuse for this fight, not the cause of it.
And here’s the narrative again. The right cares about political correctness and censorship because it’s anathema to free people. American conservative means conserving founding American virtues – and that means free speech. The right cares about it because it’s the same kind of censorship used by the leftist media elsewhere, with the same tricks.
The left cares about sexism and claimed harassment as a vehicle to enforce political correctness and dictating culture. They are the ones pushing for the forcible changes in video games. Video games are a massive media enterprise, with people spending hours and hours in immersive environments and every little push by cultural Marxists is another step they can take to push their own agendas, make themselves relevant, and make themselves financially well-off.
Corruption within game reviews isn’t the same as commentary and criticism of video game culture. You don’t write 20 plus articles that say “gamers are dead” if this is only a discussion about how to make sure there’s no nepotism in games media. That’s the leftist culture-war component that’s advancing into the game industry. Their vehicle is through games journalism.
Gamergate is a matter of the hard left SJW crowd pushing into a media format that causes people who don’t normally pay attention to politics suddenly have to pay attention.
22. Some of the tactics that Gamergaters have innovated are going to be turned around with even more force. I agree with Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff, who thinks it’s a chilling innovation to focus activism campaigns on the technology companies that run the ad platforms rather than the advertisers themselves. But Gamergate isn’t going to convince Amazon or Google to yank web services from anyone. Gamergate doesn’t have the cultural capital to do that; being against Gamergate isn’t socially dangerous in San Francisco or Seattle.
And there it is.
Buried in part 22, unknowingly, Ezra Klein, propagator of JournoList, has shown what no small part of the issue really is, deep down. The political culture in those regions, and within specific industries in those regions, have become the stomping ground of the hard left. To them, it’s no big deal – they don’t know anyone who voted for Reagan. To them, sleeping with the subject of your writing is acceptable amirite? To them, this is just the natural progression of their own cultural movement.
To them, the ends justify the means – and the ends are to keep marching their hard leftism into society, whether we like it or not. The hard left SJWs get involved in games journalism not because they enjoy games – some even specifically say they don’t – but they go into them to have an outlet to spread their politics.
Those of us on the right see the culture war part a lot more, but now those on the left who just wanted to play video games are wondering how they’ve become monsters in the media – and it’s because they’ve found out that they were the next group to be put up against the wall.
Sargon of Akkad, who I referenced much earlier, has been looking into a lot of these ties to the San Francisco bay area progressive movements and their move into the gaming world.
It’s quite enlightening.
May as well finish up Klein’s piece.
23. But being against, say, marriage equality really can be dangerous right now. Remember when the CEO of Mozilla was driven from his job because he donated, as a private citizen, to a campaign against gay marriage? It’s easy to imagine a reverse Gamergate that’s much more effective in tearing revenue from rightwing media outlets that place themselves on the wrong side of a social justice fight. In the long-run, that would be a disaster for the media as a whole. My hope — and my guess — is that advertisers and web services will quickly acclimate to this new climate and these new organizing tactics, just as they have in the past. But ugly stuff can happen in transition.
No, there won’t be a reverse Gamergate, for the same reason there won’t be a reverse Tea Party. The movements are both organically occurring. They’re loosely structured, and they’re based on personal interaction. They’re also symptomatic of culture – in a good way.
Gamergate is anti-authoritarian but mostly left. The Tea Party is anti-authoritarian but mostly right. Both demand things from the people who claim to represent them but aren’t. They have specific grievances, varied grievances, and shared grievances. Gamergate is mad because the gaming journalists who claim to represent them and are paid to represent them are horribly corrupt, incestuous, and so manaical in their agenda that they seek to destroy all gamers because their hard-left worldview paints them as the new enemies of social justice. The Tea Party is mad because the government who claims to represent them and is paid to represent them is so horribly corrupt, self-serving, and manaical in its agenda to destroy people who oppose even greater government that will engage in even more corruption.
There are differences on social issues, but those are a result of the people involved and their respective beliefs as to what works best in society. But their main foci are opposition to corrupt authority, to authority that claims to represent them while disrespecting and resenting them, and to demanding better from those who claim to represent them.
Klein is wishing there would be a hard left-wing Gamergate, an uprising of the SJW crowd to tear down “right wing media outlets on the wrong side of a social justice fight”. He doesn’t think it would be bad. He’s saying “wouldn’t that be terrible” in the way a mob racketeer tells someone they should buy fire insurance “cuz wouldn’t that be terrible if your place burned down”.
His own writing belies where he stands: “the wrong side of a social justice fight”. The “wrong side” is already anywhere against the hard left media. Those on the right are not strangers to this. We’re already fighting against people who buy ink by the barrel.
Gamergate has picked up and learned this in the span of a couple months. They’re fighting the whole of the media on this.
24. Gamergate is going to happen again. As polarization proceeds, our political identities become powerful enough to drive our other identities. As Washington locks up, the political outlets that normally spend their time covering fights in Congress need to find fights that will engage their audience elsewhere. As cultural mores change ever more rapidly, the battles over what’s acceptable to say and do will become even fiercer.
No, the political outlets won’t. It took them months before they noticed Gamergate.
Cultural mores are only changing rapidly because they’re being forced to change by the SJW crowd. The battles over what’s acceptable to say and do are coming from the hard left belligerents dictating that everyone must comply to their crybaby demands, and that they must have government force to crush those who oppose their new rules.
25. The result will be a cycle we’ll soon come to recognize: glancingly political fights will attract coverage from professionally politicized outlets and quickly be turned into deeply politicized wars. Once political identities are activated, these fights will spread far beyond their natural constituencies — in the Gamergate case, people who care about video games — and become part of the ongoing conflict between the red and blue tribes. Expect more Gamergates.
No, this isn’t something that became politicized afterwards. This was a fight that was started by the hard left SJW crowd that moved into a medium that’s normally pretty neutral, a medium that due to its very nature is a color-gender-race-blind meritocracy based solely on how or how well the gamer plays the game.
This “political identity” stuff doesn’t hold with Gamergate – it’s an anti-authoritarian left-leaning movement rebelling against authoritarian hard left dictating to it.
The right’s involved because the right has seen it before. Libertarians have seen it before. Conservatives have seen it before. Video gamers saw it before in the form of the authoritarian moralist Jack Thompson (I missed most of his censorship shenanigans of the early 2000s because I was busy fighting for freedom elsewhere).
The hard left has never seen it because the forces they’re fighting aren’t people who demand boots on people’s necks. They have been the powerful authoritarians in academia and media for decades now, demanding censorship and demanding people who don’t conform to their worldview be shut down. The hard left can’t understand they’re in a fight against people who just want to be free.
The whole piece is narrative-writing at its finest. It’s a whole tale woven to express just enough sympathy for the misguided, think-they’re-oppressed-but-they-aren’t people in Gamergate who are now just reactionary tools of the right wing – just enough as to make them look pathetic, ignorant, and with just enough application of the truth that the glaring omissions that tell the whole story aren’t quite noticed, and that the origins of this are ignored.
The hard left are SJWs and vice versa. They pushed for this, they stomped on people who put up with their politically correct crap because it wasn’t a huge bother. Gamers didn’t mind for a long time, enough of them leaned left, they figured that was good enough. They didn’t expect to be painted as counterrevolutionary reactionary misogynerd shitlord pissbabies who are worse than ISIS and need to gassed and beaten to death. That’s what the left pushed for.
That’s who started this fight.