Popehat's #Gamergate rants

Former federal prosecutor, free speech advocate and generally smart dude Ken "Popehat" White has posted "ten short rants" about #Gamergate, which, surprisingly, contain nuance and gloss I haven't yet encountered in the verbiage devoted to the subject elsewhere.

3. People Are Going To Say Things You Disagree With, And You Need To Get A Fucking Grip About It.

I've been saying for a while that talking about harassment in "geek culture" triggers disproportionate outrage.

Critiques of games and game culture also seem to provoke bizarre, disproportionate outrage. I find it very difficult to take that outrage seriously.

Take Anita Sarkeesian. Anita Sarkeesian offers gender-focused criticism of video games. This causes some people to completely lose their shit.

This is inexplicable, even in a subculture that already has people who are rendered unaccountably twitchy by bad reviews.2 I've viewed Sarkeesian's videos, and I've read the criticisms of her: that she's not a gamer, that she doesn't truly know her subject, that she uses unfair examples and ignores counter-examples, that she has an agenda, that she generalizes, and so forth. I think some of these criticisms are apt and others aren't. But my reaction to all of them is the same: Judas Priest, have you never encountered any form of cultural or literary criticism before? That's what it's like. Whether it's people saying that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft or other people saying that the Lord of the Rings is a racist allegory or Dan Quayle saying that a fictional character's fictional life choices disrespect American fatherhood, cultural and literary criticism is often stuffed taut with bullshit, no matter who produces it or what it's about. When it's good, it's provocative, and when it's bad, it's that essay you threw together through your hangover at three in the morning on the due date about what Shakespeare thought about Jews, writ large.3 Seriously. If Sarkeesian enrages you, don't let anyone show you Foucault or Derrida or you're going to have an aneurysm. And please don't come back with "but Sarkeesian fooled people into giving her money for her videos." Jack and Jill made $150 million, motherfuckers. People pay hundreds of dollars to see Nickleback in Temecula. Why are you freaking out over how people spent their money this time?

People are going to say things about your favorite parts of the culture. Some of these things will be stupid or wrong. It is swell to use more speech to disagree with, criticize, or ridicule the criticism. But when you become completely and tragicomically unbalanced by the existence of cultural criticism, or let it send you into a buffoonish spiral of resentful defensiveness, people may not take you seriously.4 Rule of thumb: a reasoned rebuttal of wrong-headed cultural criticism mostly likely won't require you to use the word "cunt."

I anticipate a response to this point: aren't cultural critics (for instance, people who offer gender-related criticism of videogames) also losing their shit and overreacting to stuff? No doubt some are. Let's make fun of them, as we would anyone else being silly. But for the most part cultural critics of games are complaining about things like how women are portrayed in games and how women are treated in the industry, not having a cow about being disagreed with or having their hobby critiqued. When cultural critics do pitch a fit about their views being disagreed with — say, for instance, Amanda Marcotte flaming out because people disagreed with her nasty totalitarian rumbling about the Duke lacrosse case — then by all means, mock away.

Ten Short Rants About #GamerGate [Ken White/Popehat]