Literally one of the first things I did when The Mary Sue had a real posting backend to work with was make this category: If We Got Angry About This Kind of Thing We’d Be Angry All The Time. It was in intended to be used in two situations:
1. For all those times when you realize the subtle problems of the current fandom you’re experiencing, but you just can’t summon the energy to confront them, or you just want to keep playing World of Warcraft (in spite of jokingly effeminate male dragon bosses) or watching Battlestar Galactica (where a very culturally diverse, gender equal, and sexually liberated universe has exactly two gay people in it and then only if you watch the show’s supplemental material) and enjoying it. Because it’s your entertainment and we’re all human beings who just want to like the things that are presented to us.
2. For when what you just saw was actually truly wrongheaded through and through, but, as so often happens on the internet, getting angry about it will have little to no effect on anyone who was responsible for it, and, in fact, may actually encourage them do to more of the same thing.
I feel like Jim Sterling‘s recent vlog for The Escapist (brought to my attention by reader Sarah and another anonymous tipster) on sexism in gaming falls squarely in the second category.
I’d like to make it clear that I’m not making excuses for Jimquisition: Solving the Sexism Situation in this post, so it’s probably best if you read this whole article and imagine that my expression and tone matches with the Look of Disapproval up there. That said: when Jim Sterling self describes himself as “gaming’s biggest douchebag” and then posts a video about how to fix sexism in gaming, you should probably guess that you’re in for something poorly thought out.
And it is. I don’t think Sterling’s video is intended as anything other than trolling. He mentions two of the more recent controversial moments in gaming culture (Duke Nukem Forever‘s Capture the Babe, the Penny Arcade Dickwolves controversy) but completely sidesteps the actual problems that rational people had with them in order to posit a solution to sexism where we simply objectify and offend everyone. Of course: women are not looking for proper representation in games, we’re just looking to cockblock every man who finds females in chain-mail bikinis attractive. He also assumes that all women are attracted to men and all men are attracted to women throughout his argument.
Sterling trots out the evolutionary argument (games objectify women because men are hardwired to look at tits!) for sexism, and his evidence for “sex sells to women” is DeviantArt, which you can access for… free. This is not serioustimes, people.
This is “gaming’s biggest douchebag” looking to get a rise out of everybody.
I don’t even care whether Jim Sterling actually believes in his own message. If he’s smart enough to figure out that declaring the message will get him tons of traffic, comments, and views, he’s probably smart enough to know that what he’s saying isn’t rhetorically defensible. He’s also smart enough to know that regardless of the rhetorical coherence of his argument, a large portion of his audience will find that it aligns enough with the opinions they already hold that they will defend him to his detractors. As they already are, to his many detractors, in the comments on The Escapist.
If you would like to watch his video, and thereby unavoidably contribute to its success, you can find it here.