The Internet has made the way we access information unrecognisable from even a decade ago. It’s just a shame that people’s attitudes haven’t evolved along with it. Yes, I’ve railed against morons in comments threads before, but today’s events demand another take on the same subject.
In fetid corners of the Internet lies the most vile racism and homophobia imaginable. You’d expect revolting husks of humanity with these extreme views to find places to congregate together, so the fact that such activity exists on the Web is unsurprising. What I find more shocking is how neanderthilic attitudes can pierce the mainstream. The slow rise of the BNP is one such example, but the stubborn refusal of sexism to do the decent thing and piss off, is another. This latter slice of intolerance was blaring all over Eurogamer today after its review of Xbox 360 biggie, Alan Wake, for the following reasons: Ellie Gibson wrote the review. And she has breasts.
Ellie is one of the UK’s best videogame reviewers. She’s almost certainly the funniest. But the level of blatant sexism on display when she didn’t give Alan Wake the mark that some people wanted, was off the charts (warning: may contain the kind of incorrect apostrophe usage that should be punishable by death):
“Eurogamer you stupid monkeys let a casual gamer review one of the most important games this year.”
“its sad cause shes just doing this to make a name for herself since shes been regulated to only shitty games…”
“Kinda proves one of my points amongst with others thinking that Ellie was just wrong to review this. She should stick with Viva Pinata…”
“really Ellie… Stick with your “funny” interviews please and leave important tittles to the rest of the EG stuff. Thank you in advance…”
“Almost 100 years ago, women protested so they could have the same rights as men. Some sacrificed their lives for the cause. Because of their suffering, subsequent generations of women earned the right to vote and even work. Some women are even employed as games reviewers…. Doh.”
“I usually put a lot of faith in EG reviews, but as soon as I see Ellie Gibson’s name at the top, I know its going to be a complete waste of bandwidth.”
“I honestly felt as if I had my ex bitching about something cause thats all I was seeing Ellie do in this ‘review’ as she calls it instead of letting me feel whats actually going on with the game.”
“And if there’s two things I hate more than ignorant sexist teenage gamers, its drooling protective teenage gamers and female reviewers who can’t stop the HUGE chip on their shoulder from getting into their reviews.”
“Perhaps EG should hire my wife to write reviews, she hates games too!”
“Ellie has been relegated to reviewing the crap left over casual titles and the stuff no one wanted to touch. She somehow managed to get this game as a review and sadly all shes doing is trying to make a name for herself… so fucking sad.”
“I know the game is good, and nothing at all like the abortion of a review Ellie hacked together.”
When any reviewer decides that much-anticipated-game-x isn’t the second coming, there’s always an element of console fanboyism that either gloats or wails, depending on the set of blinkers. But bringing misogyny into it – the suggestion that Ellie can’t possibly know what she’s talking about, because she’s a woman – is really raising the bar of twatdom. Last time I looked, we were in 2010, and Anchorman wasn’t real.
It would be easy to dismiss all this with the usual jibes about gamers in darkened bedrooms, still living with their parents, not having a job, etc etc. However, I fear that many of these buffoons are in relationships and have jobs and have moved out of home. The comments directed at Ellie are just another symptom of the tribalism I’ve been pointing out in my blog entries since the election campaign started, but in this example it’s notable how the offenders have gone straight for what they see as a weak spot, and exposed their ugly Cro-Magnon Man prejudices as a result.
Oh, for a change in attitudes so that the kind of behaviour outlined above becomes completely socially unacceptable. Do the commenters act in real life the same way they do on the Internet? Unlikely. As the Net creeps ever further into our lives, it would be nice to think that the same value systems we cherish when we step away from our PCs will fully establish themselves online given a bit of time. Many of us already conduct ourselves online as we do offline, and this must became the norm.
The alternative is for myself and others to continue to be embarrassed about being videogame fans whenever we read the sort of moronic garbage we were subjected to today. Ellie’s aren’t the tits we should be worrying about.