Anita Sarkeesian Was On “The Colbert Report” And GamerGate Is, Of Course, Outraged

So, I’ll let everyone else talk about what it means that Anita Sarkeesian was on “The Colbert Report” to talk about GamerGate last night, because while I think it’s a newsworthy topic and she’s certainly the most reputable person to talk to about it, I just can’t with GamerGate anymore.

Here’s why. The most interesting reaction that I’ve seen to Sarkeesian’s Colbert Report appearance is this:

Viacom owns Comedy Central, Colbert’s network, in case you were wondering. Read that a few times. “Viacom is finished, stay tuned for my YouTube on how to crush them.” How to crush Viacom.

How to crush VIACOM.

Just for a minute, don’t pay attention to the fact that this person wants Viacom “crushed” because one of the shows on one of their networks dared to have a feminist who researches video games professionally and has been targeted by GamerGate speak about GamerGate. Push that aside for a second.

Let’s talk about the fact that this person actually thinks it’s feasible to “crush” Viacom. And to enter into that subject, let’s talk about who this person is. That picture is a stock photo, as one response to that tweet points out. A “sockpuppet” account is an account created with a false identity with the specific purpose of upping the number of mentions of GamerGate — a way for one pro-GamerGater to have more than one account in order to inflate the pro-GamerGate presence. That account was created in the beginning of September, right after GamerGate started. Here’s another tweet from that account:

The Ello ban on GamerGate is a hoax. In case you’re wondering what “DARPA psyops” means in this context, it’s a conspiracy theory about the US military doing mind control experiments. It’s not that DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) doesn’t do psyops (psychological operations), it’s that it’s ridiculous to claim that if anyone is denying that Ello is banning discussion about GamerGate, it means that they are involved with DARPA psyops.

I’m just using this one account as an example. There are other wacky GamerGate-related conspiracies out there. And GamerGate has been criticized for the sockpuppet accounts that are in all likelihood created by white guys who want to make it seem like the hashtag has more support from women and minorities than it actually does. Sure, there are women who support it. But the anti-GamerGate crowd doesn’t need to manufacture that support with stock photo accounts. But that’s not really the point, anyway.

The point is that there’s an inflated sense of importance about this issue for the pro-GamerGate crowd and the stakes keep rising, the theories keep getting more insane, as time goes on. The widespread GamerGate idea that there’s “collusion” with Gawker across the media is as ridiculous as the less-popular DARPA claim, mainly because the idea that the whole news media and gaming industry is orbiting around Gawker is a fantasy. Gawker ranked 44th for digital media properties on ComScore’s rankings for September 2014. It’s just not this giant, evil corporation GamerGate is making it out to be. It is possible that a lot of people in the media just happen to see a lot to criticize in GamerGate, not that there’s “collusion.”

But this “We’re going to crush Viacom” thing — what? Viacom is owned by CBS. CBS controls the broadcasting and production of Viacom’s network shows. Both of them are huge corporations (of the type, of course, that Gawker isn’t). Just the idea that it could be taken down by GamerGate makes me want to quit the conversation because we’re now dealing in an alternate reality, and I don’t have time for that. GamerGate seems to forget that it is a very small subset in a vast ocean of an American public that doesn’t give a shit about GamerGate and just wants to watch TV. Y’all go ahead and try to take down Viacom. I’ll be sitting here with this lemonade, watching. This is me going, “We don’t believe you, you need more people.”

Do I think this crazy is representative of all of GamerGate? No, absolutely not. But it says a lot about the self-important tenor of the conversation. The fact that this is ostensibly a reaction to some journalistic sloppiness, game reviewers having opinions, and women wanting to talk about how female game characters are presented and how that contributes to our culture and our attitudes toward women, proves in itself that GamerGate doesn’t really have a leg to stand on. That “Let’s talk about how games treat women” gets the response of “Collusion! Take down Viacom!” says it all.

And what it’s saying is: This is fucking crazy. This whole conversation is fucking crazy. And the crazier it gets, the more feminists and professionals are just going to start ignoring GamerGate and move on.

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