I have the day off today (Canadian Holiday!) and I so wanted it to be about playing video games, and maybe finally getting to Thor. Instead, I made the mistake of reading Twitter this morning which put me in a serious funk. I’m hoping writing about this will help me shake it out a bit.
My “in case you missed it” section on Twitter had a bunch of people arguing back and forth about bigotry and whether someone is trans-phobic or not. I followed the tweets to the originator and this is what I read:
My heart sank. I don’t know “Avalanche” Jared from a hole in the ground but I do watch his videos on YouTube when the subject matter tickles my fancy. I consider him to be someone who I may not always agree with, but his opinions are well thought-out. So it was odd to see him refer to another human being as “this”. I needed context.
After going down a mini internet rabbit hole, this is what I found out. The photo is of a writer for the geek-culture/heavy-on-the-video-games website Kotaku, named Heather Alexander. Heather wrote an article about the original Earthworm Jim, a Sega Genesis platform game that came out 23 years ago.
It’s a pretty standard “click bait” Kotaku article where a younger writer will write about their personal experience with a retro game. Rose-colored glasses and nostalgia do not play a factor in the writer’s view, and the post’s title is designed to rev up a majority of Kotaku readers who hold these games up on a pedestal. I’m a fan of Earthworm Jim and I read the post. I didn’t agree with a lot of the criticism, but it was fair and the opinion of only one person. Nothing to get worked up about.
I know most adults on the internet can handle a disagreement with maturity and it pains me to say that Earthworm Jim‘s creator, Doug TenNapel, is not one of them. His response to Heather’s Twitter post for her article was disappointing :
“You’re a good man”. Some jumped to TenNapel’s defense from the get go saying it was a mistake despite Heather’s feminine name and Twitter handle identifying her as trans. Sadly it was not an error. TenNapel’s follow up tweets confirm that the insult was intended. Gross. So, not only did Jared’s tweet suck, the creator of Earthworm Jim does too.
First thing I did after was let Jared know what I thought of his tweet:
I see it as awful not because he might be defending what (at the time) might have been a possible mistake, but for the complete dismissal of the person TenNapel attacked. Imagine if someone kept referring to your wife, mom, or sister as a man. Would that not piss you off? Wouldn’t you take “offense” because you would know how hurtful it would be to someone you care about? Why is it not okay to do this to a straight person, but it is “justifiable” when the person is transgender?
At this point I shouldn’t have to give you context as to why this has my “panties all up in a bunch”. I should be justified in pointing out how gross someone’s take is on a situation when it is gross. Unfortunately, it is not reality.
There are too many now who troll the internet with an air of superiority, looking to pick fights with people on social media with despicable opinions about race and sexism, only so they can feel good about how they “took the moral high ground”. They are known as the Social Justice Warrior or SJW for short. They spend their time labeling those on the other side of the keyboard as bigots or sexists doing little to sway them. It is all garbage and a waste of time.
Meanwhile, the people who are living through it get dismissed among the SJWs. As a white male just hitting 40 and married to the super sexy blogger extraordinaire, Sarca Sim, I am in a very lucky situation. My marriage has the benefit of being socially acceptable since it became uncool for men to club women over the head and drag them into a cave to start a family. So, it would be very unlikely that I would know the pain, stress, anxiety, social pressure, and family strain someone with a gender identity crisis or change is going through, but I do. Someone very close to me is going through this right now and it isn’t easy. I missed a month of recording Retro Fandango because of it 18 months ago and it is still working itself out.
So now that you have an idea of my situation maybe you’ll understand better why I will speak out against garbage like what Jared tweeted out. His take on the situation stinks, and for the people who joked around with/defended him – not your finest moment either.
I might not be able to make the hardship better for the person I know and love, but I will speak out when I see harmful behavior aimed at making it worse. Dismiss me as a SJW if you wish, but that will not stop me to continue to point out when you are being awful. I know how deeply it can hurt.