Yesterday, I wrote about Vox Day’s extravagantly evasive — yet highly revealing — interview with David Pakman. But the interview also featured a few striking moments of candor. One of these came when Day — a sometime gave developer as well as the biggest asshole in Sci Fi — offered his answer to the question: “What is Gamergate really about?”
Suggesting that the issue of “corruption in game journalism” was little more than “the spark that set the whole thing off,” Day declared that
what Gamergate is fundamentally about is the right of people to design, develop and play games that they want to design, develop and play without being criticized for it.
Which is an. er, interesting perspective, as there is in fact no “right” to be immune from criticism.
If you write a book, if you make a movie, if you post a comment on the internet — you should be ready for it to be criticized. Because that’s how free speech works. That’s how art works. And that’s how ideas work.
Criticism — whether it is positive or negative — helps to sharpen ideas and make art less self-indulgent; it pushes creators to hone their craft and expand their vision of the world. And it helps the consumers of art not only to look at art with a more critical eye but also to appreciate it more fully, by helping to draw out the more subtle meanings of this art and to put it in a broader cultural (social, political) perspective.
Of course, neither the artists nor the consumers of art are required to listen to this criticism, but they have no right to demand that such criticism be eliminated.
But Vox is right in one sense: the elimination of criticism is in fact is what #Gamergate has been about all along — or at least the elimination of criticism aimed in their direction. Indeed, that’s what most #Gamergaters mean when they talk about fighting “corruption in game journalism” — shutting down those writers and publications that have dared to critique the prejudices of a backward portion of the gaming universe that is hostile to any challenges to the status quo ante — particularly from women with opinions different from theirs. That’s what drove the outrage over the “death of gamer” articles last Fall. And that’s what has driven “critics” of Anita Sarkeesian from the start.
Speaking of which: If you want to see how testy Gamergate types get when the criticism they lob at others gets turned back in their direction, even in jest, take a look at Jordan Owen’s new video responding to a post I wrote a few days ago gently mocking Owen’s recent plea for more money to fund The Sarkeesian Effect, the alleged “film” he and far-right Anton LaVey impersonator Davis Aurini are allegedly putting together.
Owen has devoted much of his life over the past several years to attacking Sarkeesian, a woman whose main “crimes” in the eyes of her detractors have been that 1) she raised more money than she asked for to produce a series of videos looking at sexist tropes in video games, and 2) that she’s taken longer than originally planned to put out these videos (which is largely because the extra money she raised has allowed her to research these videos more thoroughly and increase her production values, but never mind).
Yet Owen is outraged that anyone would even gently tweak him and his partner Aurini for going over budget and missing deadlines on their own film. Of course, Owen and Aurini are planning on charging their Patreon supporters more money at the end of the month unless these supporters specifically opt out; Sarkeesian herself never even requested any of the additional money she received.
In his video, Owen also compared me with Bill Donohue of the Catholic League which is, er, weird. But hey, it’s his right to criticize me, no matter how ineptly.
Here’s the video, if you’re interested. Alas, he did not film it in his famous bathtub.