I love the internet. I really do. Actually, no. I love strangers. I can feed them whatever story I please about myself. A stranger represents an opportunity to weave a fantastic but not implausible narrative. By virtue of anonymity, the internet is full of strangers. You can invent entirely new personas with a new face and new handle.
If one can invent a new persona on the internet, what does it say about the individuals motives when no attempt is made to cover their tracks or abstain themselves from counterattack? What does it say about the establishment who will happily report whose words are the rantings of a nobody?
Say hello to Mateus Prado Sousa, which I guess is like Sosa from Scarface. This is a name that I hadn’t heard much about and apparently he’s been a menace to Anita Sarkeesian, according to Jason Schreier’s article. It’s a rather long one, so I’ll give you a moment to read it. No, please. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Notice anything strange about the story? I certainly did. That’s without contemplating whether any of it is true. Truth has seven levels, Dusty.
After reading through a few other articles about Mateus, I decided to do some research of my own. I wanted to discover a motive behind all this hot air. The initial hypothesis was that he is a puppet paid to incite the anti-gamergate crowd and tarnish the gamergate cause.
After all, Gawker and the rest of the rags seem to be bringing every gun they can against it. Paying a lone journalist to post whatever tripe he can seems like a small price to pay if it’ll justify their spin. That hypothesis seemed almost true, given the fairly rudimentary information available.
SEO Data Retreived: 11/15/2014
The most important information here is the SEO data – which gives us a glimpse at how long backlinks have been referring to the site. August. The month gamergate began.
As we look to the Facebook page, there is at this time of writing only 55 likes for the page. Curiously, the page was created in October of 2012 then remained dormant for two years until September of 2014.
Then, using the few tools available to sort search data by date, I searched for the earliest data for Mateus (results which I won’t post here) to see if he even exists. Surprisingly, he seemingly does exist, in the non-embellished sense.
If this image is also to be believed, he doesn’t align himself as part of gamergate:
Source: Pastebin from anonymous uploader
Yet, in spite of my efforts to narrow down a definitive motive for this character, I have failed.
Well, unless you accept spite as a reason;
So What’s The Truth?
The truth is irrelevant here, Dusty. There are too many levels of truth at play for today. The question you should be asking is…
Why is Kotaku reporting about a kooky guy from Brazil whose reach is no greater than a handful of users and seems to have dubious motives?
The reason why you won’t see this question being asked by the outlets who reported this incident is the same reason why Jason Schreier was happy to throw the pro-gamergate users that came to him with good intentions under the bus.
Instead of calling a spade a spade and outing Mateus Prado Sousa as a nut job in Brazil that no one should pay much attention to, Mr. Schreier wrote this;
So here we are. Is Sousa the person who sent death threats to Sarkeesian, or just an obsessive video-maker? Is he working by himself? With a group of fans? Just why does he hate Anita Sarkeesian so much? Does he just want attention? Should we pity him? Why is he doing this?
Irrelevant questions about an irrelevant character.
Kotaku is happy to publish this because it provides another platform to take pot shots against gamergate—“See, this nut case is against Anita, and he must be part of gamergate. We’ve gotta shut down Gamergate”—and paint the anti-gamergate side as victims.
Case in point:
Yet at the same time, some Gamergaters have used Twitter to facilitate a culture of fear, where speaking out against the hashtag or even just drawing their attention can lead to a flood of unwanted attention and notifications. For anyone in gaming who uses Twitter to network, promote their work, and interact with friends, it can be exhausting and demoralizing to find oneself on the receiving end of what has become Twitter’s Eye of Sauron.
I guess it must be hard for anyone to accept any criticism when their mind will filter out anything that hurts feelings, and therefore feel no need to address criticism with any kind of grace. Unless you count hiding among sympathetic circles to be a response. Hey, we’re the irrational, mean ones and they’re the enlightened ones in a world where truth is a matter of perspective, so that gives Jason a free-pass to use whatever weasel logic he likes. Again, madness.
The Power Of Framing
So if the truth is elusive and logic is a kangaroo court, what should we be looking at? The words themselves.
Though many Gamergate supporters had publicly denounced that sort of activity, the movement’s anonymity and lack of leadership has made it impossible to hold the entity called “Gamergate” accountable for anything. Anyone in the world can declare themselves part of Gamergate. As mainstream media from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone drew links between Gamergate and death threats, the movement’s outspoken supporters complained that they were being misrepresented, and that in fact they denounced all forms of harassment. But those who have been harassed see the campaign as the culprit — when Sarkeesian cancelled a planned university speech following a terror threat, she pinned the blame on Gamergate.
If you accept Jason’s logic here, you are accepting the form of the question; that gamergate is a metaphysical establishment which is capable of having a leadership that can be held accountable to the actions done in the name of it.
Of course, it isn’t, by virtue of its foundation, but Jason is happy to play this card anyway. It’s two clicks away from comparing gamergate to Al Qaeda. It wasn’t hard to convince the public that they’re the boogie man behind international and domestic terrorism, was it? Play a quick game of mad libs – replace gamergate with Al Qaeda.
My point here is that Jason is being intellectually dishonest by framing the narrative to say that anyone whom affiliates themselves with gamergate cannot discredit the rantings of a loony. Even if that loony is on the other side of the continent and possesses dubious motivations, because a movement seemingly must have centralized leadership to be considered legitimate. Madness.
However, this is gamergate’s strength. Which is why the anti-gamergate crowd will jump through whatever mental gymnastics it must to excoriate it. If the movement is consolidated around an idea, and not vested with an individual, it is impervious to the typical mob tactics and kangaroo court logic.
This is the equation Jason wants in your head. No leadership = everything can be done and blame placed into gamergate’s name (even if it’s blamed on gamergate without explicit proof) = gamergaters are evil = we’re getting rid of gamergate = even if you discredit a loony, you’re still bad because… Well, gamergate!
False Cause fallacy– eat your heart out.
Reframe The Past
Jason Schreier has framed the narrative to the point that he felt no need to address the cognitive dissonance inherent in this gem;
“He had a high amount of activity towards me around the release of GTA V,” Alexander said, showing me an email that Sousa sent her last year, in response to a satirical review she wrote about Rockstar’s open-world game:
You call GTA V Misogynistic. In a game where killing is normal, sexism is nothing, this is a dark humour game after all. Based on male crime vision. GTA is a satire, dark humour! It is sarcastic. The irony is the point of radio station of gta v. Sorry, you should work for Human Rights or some feminist group instead. For you GTA is a celebration of killing too?? Or a celebration of human traffic, because in GTA 4 they sell babies in a box. GTA is all about bizarre things, it so bad that you, a game journalist dont know that. Murdering, Stealing, Drugs, but misogyny is the problem?
This sort of rhetoric — a common response to progressive critiques of video games — actually echoes the opinions of many Gamergate supporters who have spoken out against the inclusion of feminist criticism in game reviews.
Wait? What? This is what counts as progressive critique of video games? An allegedly satirical review of a game the writer didn’t even play?
Sousa’s critique, for all it’s somewhat broken English, can be swept under the rug because he’s clearly a misogynist ideologue railing against feminist critique such as this;
Instead of only playing as one gross man who commits crimes and swears a lot, you get to play as three different ones. My press kit says this is a narrative innovation. You can’t be a woman. I could be lazy and say this is because women do not commit crimes or swear and nor should they want to, but instead I’m going to come right out and say it’s misogynistic. What, you want to leave me death threats? Go for it! Games are about feeling powerful, and about you getting your way!
Oh, you were being lazy, Ms. Alexander. That’s precisely what you were being and in more ways than one.
One Level Of Truth
By now, it should be clear that the issue at the heart of this incident is not whether Mr. Sousa is a soldier in a perceived online army, or a rogue agent. It’s not even about whether Anita deserves the barrage Mr. Sousa is seemingly leveling toward her.
This is a case study to highlight the intellectually dishonest methods that Kotaku and other outlets have used and continue to use in the current climate of gaming journalism against gamergate. Mateus Prado Sousa is the red herring used here to manipulate the narrative.
Ironically, Kotaku has only helped to justify what began the gamergate movement. There is a need to address the lack of journalistic integrity within the video game media outlets, and from what I hear, the emperor is getting a little chilly.