When I heard that Law & Order: SVU was dedicating an episode to gamergate, the approach that it was going to take was very predictable. The Law & Order series have always propped up reactionary liberal and progressive strawmen to ham-fistedly attack, ranging from talk radio to anime (remember the episode where issues of “Rapeman” were entered into evidence? I do.), and SVU in many ways is the worst of them; it is a pandering, almost pornographic exploitation of sexual violence against women (and very occasionally men) sold as entertainment while being made “okay” because it is empowering and because watching it is somehow doing your part in taking a stand against sex crimes. When ripping its subjects from the headlines, it is a burlesque that fancies itself high art.
Law & Order tends to paint social issues not with a fine brush, or even a roller, but more in the manner of Jackson Pollock, and now gaming media is upset that they’ve been splashed on. Several major games media outlets have spent six months (a million years in internet time) saying that games are sexist and misogynist and have turned gamers into violent gangs of roving techno-rapists, so when Law & Order picks it up, games and all of their trappings, INCLUDING KOTAKU!, are the problem.
The ludicrous portrayal of gamers and gaming culture has backfired against those who wanted people to think gamers are terrorists; by having people act out on a screen what the media narrative has been, viewers can see just how ridiculous that portrayal is. Even the people who crafted the narrative are forced to admit how ridiculous it is. Dick Wolf didn’t have a dog in the fight, but he’ll take any stupid straw man he can turn into an episode all the way to the bank no matter who gets smeared.
I’m a big fan of Oliver Campbell, largely because of his calm, rational and well-spoken manner, but boy did this set him off.
He’s right. The narrative has blown up in the faces of those who were trying to control it, in no small part because of how terrible Law & Order actually is.
What if everything the gaming press says is true? What if Dick Wolf just threw gasoline on the fire and now the users at Redchan.it decide to retaliate? HOW IRRESPONSIBLE!
None of this ever had to happen. But much like how network journalists rallied around Dan Rather in the wake of his fabricated stories by giving him an award banquet, game journalists circled the wagons to protect one of their own rather their integrity. Maybe Brian Williams will be the turning point? Probably not. Eventually even the most corrupt media will be forced to cut their losses. Or not.
I just… I don’t know anymore. For the last decade, we’ve been so far through the looking glass I don’t think we’ll ever find our way back.