A few months ago I discovered an incredibly well done Super Mario fan comic. I was so impressed with its professional level quality I got in touch with the creator Daniel Barnes and even had him come on my Youtube channel to talk about it. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Daniel online quite a bit and began to develop a friendship with him. And then the possibly friendship ending topic of Anita Sarkeesian came up.
Daniel was a defender of Ms. Sarkeesian, but we had a polite back and forth on it and I urged him to give her a more in depth look. He did and was not pleased with what he found out about her. I thought it would be worth talking with him for Reaxxion about how and why he changed his mind for a few reasons. First, being able to take an honest look at the facts and admit you’re wrong is sadly all too rare these days, and he deserves credit for that. Second, to remind those of us on this side of the debate that many on the other side are not malicious but have simply been deceived. And lastly because I think it’s a pretty harsh indictment on Sarkeesian that even someone who’s largely sympathetic to her stated concerns recoils in disgust when they get a good honest look at this conartist.
Daniel I want to thank you for taking the time to answer some questions here. To start out could you tell me what your initial impressions of Anita Sarkeesian and the controversy surrounding her was. And then what sources did you check out after I prompted you to give her a closer look and what did you find out?
Initially, I had watched some of Sarkeesian’s videos on YouTube and, while I may not have agreed with everything she was saying, thought that she made a few fair points, and that her whole crusade was for a noble cause. I thought she was a gamer, just like you and me, and that she was part of a minority whose voice wasn’t heard quite as much as others and, being a black male myself, could feel a sort of relatablity with that.
I later learned, however, that Sarkeesian was not a genuine gamer, and that her motives weren’t as sincere as I had originally thought. My sources were many and I can’t really remember them all (a YouTube video showing actual footage of her candidly stating that she “wasn’t a gamer and doesn’t know anything about video games” immediately sticks out in my mind). But, anyone who’s willing to do a little leg-work on Google can easily dig up the truth behind her actions. It’s no secret.
Why do you think so many medial sources, both geek and video game related as well as more mainstream ones, have accepted her and her assertions so unquestionably? When, as you said, simple Googleing can discover obvious and major lies she’s been caught in.
Feminism is a very forward-thinking and progressive concept, and I think most medial sources want to be viewed in that same light. They want to openly be in favor of what’s trendy, as far as their primary consumer is concerned. And, at first glance, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, in just was in this given situation. Supporting feminism and gender equality is awesome. But (and I really have to choose my words carefully here), at what point does this go from “supporting a noble cause” to just “jumping on a bandwagon”?
I don’t mean to make it sound like feminism is some sort of fad or something because, again, equality amongst all races and genders is something we should all be fighting for. But, when exactly did Anita Sarkeesian become the all-knowing voice of every single female gamer in America? I mean, the woman isn’t even an actual gamer herself…. Does making popular videos on YouTube that discuss a few video game character tropes somehow make her a gamer? I don’t think it does.
But, hey, she’s popular and controversial, so I guess that’s good enough for mainstream media, right?
Anita and her supporters have worked very hard to make sure she is not questioned. All criticism is either ignored or labeled misogynistic trolling. Are you worried you might face backlash for your criticism of her, moderate though it is? Many of her more prominent supporters would label you a misogynist merely for talking to a site like ours. Also, what is your over all opinion of how she handles dissent and debate? Things like blocking comments and ratings?
If I have to face backlash for stating my honest opinion, then so be it. My beliefs are my own, and no one’s going to bully or shame me into changing them. I know I’m not a misogynist. You know I’m not a misogynist. And any reasonable person reading this can tell I’m not a misogynist. So, what’s there to really worry about?
As far as how she handles dissent is concerned, I think it just serves as more evidence as to how disingenuous her actions really are. She’s not truly what she’s claiming to be, and she’s fully aware of it. Why else would she deal with opposing viewpoints in the manner that she does? If she was truly honest about who she is and really believed that she was doing the right thing, then why silence her detractors? If anything, openly debating her stance would serve to further show the world where she’s coming from and prove how knowledgeable she is on the given subject. I don’t know… It all smacks of someone trying to hide something, to me…
Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know you have largely not commented on the GamerGate controversy and have remained neutral. Has looking into Anita changed your opinion regarding either GamerGate or the various media outlets and figures complicit in Anita’s deceptions?
I’ve never been much of a fan of GamerGate. I don’t like how they conduct themselves, and I think it’s pretty clear that they (or, if not, a large contingent of them) are, in fact, hostily harassing women online (not just Sarkeesian) and trying to frame it as something noble or wholesome. I may not care for Sarkeesian and how she’s going about things, but I can say the same thing about GG as well. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
If anything, I think those within GamerGate who are sending the personal attacks and death threats are only making things worse, and playing right into Anita’s hands. It’s only giving her and her followers the fuel they need to gain the general public’s sympathy. All it’s doing is turning her into martyr, which only serves to further her goals.
If people want to come together to reveal the truth behind this whole matter, then I think that’s totally fine. But, you still have to go about it in a cordial, non-destructive way. Just because your opposition is playing dirty doesn’t give you the right to do the same.
What would I like to ask Anita? How about: “What makes you any different than Jack Thompson? That guy attacked the gaming industry and deemed video games as the root cause of violence among youths, and everyone was able to agree on that being complete bullshit… So, if video games don’t cause violence, how can they cause misogyny…?”