Dear Misandraste’s Herald,
This letter is not intended to enrage you, to insult you, to belittle your opinion or otherwise attack you or anyone mentioned. This letter is intended as a full response to a question you recently asked me on Twitter regarding the recent Obsidian debacle. If this goes anything like my previous attempts at extending an olive branch and having an actual discussion, it won’t go well (either because I suck at extending olive branches or because you’re not interested), but hey, gotta make the effort.
For those of you who don’t know, here’s a brief summary: a Twitter user by the name of @icequeenerika (Erika Imperial) found a tombstone in Obsidian’s game Pillars of Eternity that had a quick couplet about the deceased, written by a backer of the project. It basically said that the man had sex with someone, then committed suicide when they found out the person they slept with was a man. She declared this to be ‘transmisogynist’ (that’s a new one >.>) and demanded it be removed from the game, calling on her followers (and presumably anyone who agreed with her) to put pressure on Obsidian to remove it.
(EDIT: The poem in question, because i forgot the first time like an idiot:
“Here lies Firedorn, a hero in bed
He once was alive, but now he is dead
The last woman he bedded, turned out a man
And crying in shame, off a cliff he ran”)
Here’s relevant screencaps, in no particular order:
I got into a discussion with Herald over this, and he asked why #GamerGate was so upset about the poem’s removal. After all, he reasoned, GG is supposedly pro-consumer, right? They should be applauding this on the basis that the customers got what they wanted, right?
Ha ha ha…
Mate, this isn’t pro-consumer, not even close.
Let’s start with the most basic fact about this: The poem was put into the game by a backer, as admitted by Erika Imperial. I’ve been told that the stretch goal that allowed you to do this was $500. The man paid to have this poem put into the game, he’s a consumer, and now because of social pressure his poem was removed from the game.
“But the makers have the right to police their own content, right?”
Yes, but that’s not what happened here: the game was policed by a twitter user who was offended by the poem (I haven’t played the game myself due to lack of income, but apparently this sort of thing fits in perfectly with the world – there’s a tree with children impaled on it) and blatantly bullied the company until they had it removed.
Further, #GamerGate is also about allowing developers to create their own content without being bullied by the media or by other consumers (hence, #LetDevsSpeak). The fact that a group of developers are being silenced is more important than the fact that they produced content you found offensive, especially since the world the game was created in is extremely ‘offensive’.
Again, this is all second-hand, as I haven’t actually played the game, but apparently there is actual murder of gays and lesbians just for being gays and lesbians in Pillars of Eternity. I don’t see how a 2 couplet poem is any worse than that.
“It’s not just about being offended. It’s about reinforcing and making light of a system that murders trans people daily.” -Herald
1) There is a difference between depicting something, and supporting something. This was clearly the former. I also thought that the joke was pretty plainly on the man killing himself over it.
2) That’s a very serious accusation that I’m going to instinctively call bullcrap on. Why? Because you led up to it by saying:
“The same justification (“I found out she lied to me about her genitals!”) is used to murder trans folks in real life.”
“And that’s legal. The ‘Trans panic’ defence is actually a thing that exists and can be used in court.”
From the sound of it (‘trans PANIC’) this is similar to a murder of passion defense, wherein a killer’s emotions override their reason. Murders of passion are still crimes, but they can be used as a defense in court to get a lighter sentence on the basis that something spurred them to action. Does that mean that the courts encourage murder of passion? No, they don’t.(And for the record, while I don’t condone murdering someone because they’re trans, I do think a trans person should disclose that they’re trans before a relationship gets seriously started, or at the very least before sex. Banging someone under false pretenses is a form of rape, and it could easily be argued that that is the case here) But that’s another conversation – you asked why GG is opposed to removing the poem. I’ll assume that you rebutted this concern succinctly and with well-documented sources that I can find no fault in (unlikely, since this is the internet, but whatever. Moving on)
That said, do you remember when fundamentalist religious nutjobs (this is coming from a Christian, btw) declared back in the 80s/90s that Dungeons and Dragons was a game designed to lure children into satanic rituals? Remember how insane that sounded? Or how crazy it was when they said the same or Rock-and-Roll and Elvis’ pelvis?
I don’t, I wasn’t born till 1991. But I did find some old websites claiming such and laughed hard at them.
That’s because media does not have the power to radically alter your previous beliefs just because they depict something or make a joke (at the expense of the transphobe and not the transexual, i might add). Otherwise, the fact that almost all music is about love would actually mean something. No amount of violent or disgusting media is going to destroy your ability to understand the difference between right and wrong unless you’re already mentally unstable, and at that point… well…Charles Manson claimed to be inspired by a Beatles song. You can’t predict what a sick mind is going to do with information you throw at it.
“It’s offensive to trans people!”
So? The statue David is offensive to me because the man’s penis is in full view and I swore to never look at pornographic images for longer than it took to cover my eyes. I’m also offended by the Birthday song because it’s what was used to bully me when I was in middle school (don’t ask, you don’t wanna know and I don’t wanna talk about it) until I was willing to punch my own dad in the face for singing it on my actual birthday.
(Edit: Oh, and homophobes were offended that Dorian was gay in DA:I.)
Here’s the thing: nobody cares if you’re offended, especially not when it comes to art and free expression. If you can’t prove that it actively incites people to commit transphobic actions (you won’t and can’t prove that, btw) then you can’t make a case that it needs to go away. Therefore, removing the poem is NOT pro-consumer. It’s anti-developer and opposes freedom of speech/expression.
This isn’t the first time anti-GG and SJWs have reacted in this manner to artwork, either. Remember the now-infamous Foaming Jugs tweet? Or the alternate Batgirl cover? #GamerGate has shown itself repeatedly to be against censorship, even self-censorship. Especially when pressure is applied to do so from an outside force.Look, trans people get a bad rap and need to be helped, I will freely admit that – any demographic that has a 49% suicide rate needs help badly. But I see no evidence of transphobia from anyone except a man who committed suicide, and even that’s a stretch. (ftr, It is perfectly arguable that having sex with someone without disclosing that you’re trans – sex under false pretenses – is rape. If you’re not ready to tell your partner, fine, don’t have sex until you are. No one’s forcing you)
In brief summary: GamerGate is upset because removing the image is anti-consumer, it is censorship in every way that matters, and because Obsidian is only the latest to be bullied into removing content by the loud, vocal minority we’ve come to call Anti-#GamerGate and/or SJWs. GG is pro-consumer, but that has little bearing on this particular case.
“Anti-#GamerGate isn’t a movement.”
spacekatgal is Briana Wu:
Okay… like my last open letter, that was a bit off the cuff. There’s probably some poor wording or misspelling here and there, but I hope this gives you a perspective on why GG is upset by this.
All the best,
EDIT: TB brings up a good point here, too:
… Come to think of it, he realized the person he slept with was a man the moment he woke up. So yeah, this is probably what happened.