Unlightenment

So someone linked me the following video on Twitter and asked me if I would write a rebuttal.

For those too lazy to view it, it’s a video by Gavin McInnes—cofounder of Vice Media—addressing the whole GamerGate shitshow by excoriating in turns people who play video games, people who read comics, people who watch anything animated, and even manages to slip in a passive aggressive dig at people who deign to read fiction.

Yes, surely that is the root of a massive and ongoing campaign to harass and threaten every woman who dares even flirt with the periphery of the video gaming sphere:  Society’s sick fixation on the literary abomination known as the novel.

Given the nature of both my more prominent work and other relevant interests, this video was something of a broadside against a great deal of the things I find entertaining in life.  Still, my first impulse was to not write anything about it at all; I’m already way late to the party on this one, and going by the YouTube voting system (fallible though it may be), I’d say he was already fairly well repudiated. I don’t use \Superdickery to editorialize much (or at all, really), and it’s not as though my unaffiliated blog here gets even a fraction of that audience. Anything I had to say on the matter was empty air.

But my second impulse was that I just can’t not point out this: McInnes’s central premise of this rant that “video games are for little kids” (and also comics, cartoons, etc.) is just fucking objectively wrong.

Like every medium of expression–and regardless of its level of sophistication relative to other forms, video games are just that–games are audience agnostic. The content is the determining factor, and the fact that it would even be necessary to point this out is incomprehensible to me. You may as well relegate all artists who work in watercolors as being “for kids” because you can get a set of Crayola paints for two bucks on Amazon, devalue chess because checkers exists, etcetera. The analogy carries to literally almost every form of media that even exists.

And it’s not even a case of something people loved as a kid carrying on into their adulthood, video games have always had an adult audience. The very first Pong prototype was installed in a bar, for god’s sake, to say nothing of the countless arcade machines that had the cocktail form factor. Video games began as games of skill in achieving high scores, the evolution of pinball, darts, pool, and all that came before. It was an adult activity that’s market expanded to include children, but certainly not to the exclusion of anyone else.

The same could be said about most of the other objects of McInnes’s expressed ire; Loony Tunes, for instance, was an adult franchise that had to be edited to be deemed appropriate for children. The first arguable comic book involved a plot arc where the protagonist tried to kill himself repeatedly, loses his eye, and drowns a kid in the river. Again, mediums that expanded to include children in their audience, not ones that began and remained exclusive to them.

Then I came around to a third way of thinking. McInne’s claims are so bald-faced in their outlandishness that it’s easier to believe that this is some basal trolling attempt to get a rise out of people. Which it did, so I guess mission accomplished? Only it doesn’t take too much digging into McInne’s history and body of work to realize that no, this is actually what he thinks. Unless he’s been pulling a twenty plus years-long con, in which case bra-fucking-vo for maintaining character for such a prolonged length of time.

But in the final analysis, I’m still not going to bother to do a direct rebuttal. Not for any of the reasons stated above, but rather because I have come to the conclusion that I just don’t fucking know how to meaningfully communicate with someone like that. Someone who’s frame of reference is so far divorced from anything I can even remotely relate to that they may as well be speaking another language entirely. Or be from another planet, for that matter. At least I can find some fucking commonality with people who don’t speak the same language so long as they don’t have some pathological hatred of all forms of escapism.

I can’t comprehend McInne’s position, which is fine, because he obviously has a great deal of difficulty comprehending a whole lot of people’s positions. So instead of wasting any more energy contemplating his inane ranting, I’m just going to go back to playing video games. Or reading a comic book. Or watching a cartoon.

Or maybe I’ll just read a goddamned novel.

–Mike