The Wreck Of The S.S. Censorship (Or, “How Writers Steer Their Careers Into The Rocks”)
Cause? Meet effect.
So, a couple days ago a video games freelancer, Ryan Perez, said some things on Twitter about delightful geek super-goddess (said without irony or sarcasm, as I am indeed a fan) Felicia Day.
Does Felicia Day matter at all? I mean does she actually contribute anything useful to this industry, besides retaining a geek persona?
— Ryan Perez (@PissedOffRyno) June 30, 2012
@feliciaday, could you be considered nothing more than a glorified booth babe? You don’t seem to add anything creative to the medium.
— Ryan Perez (@PissedOffRyno) June 30, 2012
Worth noting: by this point, Ryan Perez had about… ohh, 50 followers. I don’t know much about the dude, but it seems he’s fairly new to games journalism, and was writing for the site Destructoid at the time.
One wonders if he were tweeting to the relative vacuum of those 50 followers only, he wouldn’t have violently overturned the dinner table on which his food was waiting — ahh, but he tweeted directly to Miss Day, and therein dumped a Gatorade bucket of his own waste over top his own fool head. Because his misogynistic, dismissive opinion of her (and, apparently, drunken) got a fabulously epic signal boost in the form of Wil Wheaton via Veronica Belmont. (Here we are given an image of a schlubby mortal man, sitting on a throne made of his own emptied Pabst Blue Ribbon cans, shouting incessant invective and surly epithets at not the Greek Gods above but rather, the Geek Gods, and lo and behold one of them heard and oh shit she has friends and now they’re gonna tear open your breastbone and breathe fire and awesomeness and d20s upon your stupid drunken dipshit heart. VOOOOOOOOSH.)
(Sidenote, I now want to see art depicting a pantheon of current Geek Gods. SOMEBODY DO THAT.)
Wil called out Ryan’s current employer — Destructoid — and Destructoid said, basically, “Hey, everyone, be cool,” and that was just pee on top of poop because no, really, people weren’t going to be cool.
And so began the slow motion boat crash of Ryan Perez’s freelance career. At least, in the short term. I can’t speak for what will happen to him in the long run, as I am not an oracle — sure, sure, I like to play with pigeon guts and goat bones but that’s purely recreational quit lookin’ at me. For all I know Fox News will swoop in and hire the guy (“You speak for us!”), but for now, what happened is that a freelance writer who, I suspect, didn’t have a whole lotta career behind him now may not have a whole lotta career ahead of him because social media can give very big ripples to one poorly-thrown pebble.
Destructoid fired him, of course.
Now, this has an imperfect mirror in a situation that unfolded a little while ago about a dude not in the video games industry but rather the pen-and-paper games industry where said dude made some link-bait, button-pushing commentary about how rape is a wonderful plot device and how it’s okay because women have rape fantasies and — well, whatever. Point is, he was then surprised that his link-bait took and the buttons he pushed were actually hooked up to something (like, say, The Internet), and when the rain of shit was just a drizzle he found no shelter and instead kept pushing buttons. The shit-rain fell harder and harder until a petition arose to get him canned from one of his publishers. At that point said game-writer dude dug his heels in even deeper and then made some comments about the very real rape-threats against the petition-writer that were ill-advised, and, lo and behold, he got canned from his publisher, oops.
There’s more to that story, just as there is and will be more to the Perez story, but that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post isn’t even, “Don’t be a jizz-bag,” or, “The gaming industry has a deep, deep problem with puerile ass-hearted butt-trolls treating women like second-class citizens at best and doe-eyed sex-objects at worst.” Those things are, of course, true.
But that’s not my point. I’ve made those points already. You know that stuff already.
No, here the point is, writers? You can steer your career into the rocks with shenanigans like this. Now, you may assume that I’m telling writers to — eep, watch what they say, button up that language, don’t rock the boat with your opinions, be soft and moist and colorless like a pre-chewed glob of cardboard, but believe me, that’s not what I’m suggesting. Look at me: I’ve been a freelance writer for close to a decade-and-a-half now, and I could probably write a blog post with nothing but the word COCK-WAFFLE written a thousand times, each time in an incrementally-larger font-size, and no one would fire me. I could and have offered opinions about religion and politics, about health care and food politics, and I remain un-shitcanned.
You may also assume I’m saying, “Don’t piss off your employers,” AKA, “Don’t poop into the hand that feeds you,” but that’s not exactly it, either. That’s part of it, yes, but the heart of what I’m saying is, you need to watch out for the audience. The audience is mighty. The audience is all-seeing. The audience doesn’t want to stand for your tweaked and twisted opinion when it comes from a place of (real or imagined) hate. You turn on the audience and they will turn on you. This isn’t just about turning on a geek icon, about spitting in the eye of one of the Geek Gods. It’s about how one dude misread who his audience is — one assumes he thought the audience was just a bunch of high-fiving bro-heims like himself, when really, uh-oh, the audience has women in it, too. Women who matter. Women who will shank your ass in the shower for looking down on them and treating them like lessers when they’re an equal and awesome part of what we do and who we are as an army of gaming and geek and pop culture.
Ryan Perez took a bite out of Felicia Day.
The audience — not just women but all who recognize that they’re part of our tribe — bit back.
You can call it censorship if you like — and it is, in the sense that the audience will not stand for your bullshit anymore and would much rather see your mouth taped shut with tape and your body dumped in the trunk of an Oldsmobile swiftly sinking into the waters of a forgotten lake. But this isn’t legal censorship. This is the censorship of an angry audience. This is a vote-with-your-dollars-and-your-voice type of censorship. Natural and normal and part of the system.
Matt Wallace tweeted the very-true:
To all my TLC students: read @PissedOffRyno‘s feed for an example of how not to be a freelance writer. This is a free lesson. That is all.
— Matt Wallace (@MattFnWallace) July 1, 2012
And then, of course, Perez doubled-down (as they usually do) with:
@MattFnWallace It was a Twitter feed, not a column in the local paper. Dickhead.
— Ryan Perez (@PissedOffRyno) July 1, 2012
That is the sound of a boat crashing into the rocks, by the way. Remember it. Why do you think Perez has over 1000 followers, now? They’re rubber-necking. They want to see the body pulled out of the fire.
Writers, cut it with the hurtful and hateful crap.
The audience is listening.
P.S., Don’t be a jizz-bag.
P.P.S., We need more women in gaming, so, uhh, somebody make that happen.
P.P.P.S., Seriously, GEEK PANTHEON, someone get on that.
P.P.P.P.S., Yes, this is posting on a Sunday but it counts as my Monday post NO YOU SHUT UP.