Recently Arin Hanson of Game Grumps was addressed by a viewer calling him out on a transphobic joke in his Shovel Knight series. It’s understandable and the joke was legitimately not cool. Hanson went through a very common series of responses…
- He said the joke was not intended to be malicious. Understandable. Arin has never come off as meanspirited. But ultimately intentions are meaningless if they’re still hurting people.
- Then adding that he has always supported the Trans* community. That’s very good, but again, it doesn’t matter.
- In the end he apologized for offending the viewer and vowed to consider his comments more in the future. <– This one is the main course. He really only needed to say this part. I’m sorry, I’ll do better. The end. That should have been the end of that communication.
But here’s where the problem started. The commenter continued to lecture him endlessly, once they realized they had his attention, they ran the entire conversation into the ground.
@indiegrimes no, it makes you a person with an opinion. I wouldn’t treat black women as subhuman if I weren’t attracted to them.
— Arin Hanson (@egoraptor) August 6, 2014
(Of all people to get belligerent with, it had to be the guy who responds like this.
Let me be clear, I made an entire video about Game Grumps, JonTron and the reason rape jokes aren’t funny. I don’t believe that popularity should shield people from criticism. And I’m behind the original intention of this commenter. But one must learn to say your peace and let it go. Especially if the person has been receptive.
This reminds me of a person who struts confidently through a busy street shouting, “I’m a pedestrian! I have the right of way!” yes, technically you do. But if a car hits you you’re still dead. Imagine that the pedestrian is a social justice activist and the car is just… reality.
Because let me ask you something: is your brand of social justice about wanting real change, or is it just a fashion accessory? If it’s the former, than you can drop your comment about “tone police” and listen up.
I understand getting frustrated. I understanding getting so pissed off at the way things are that you want to scream. And I definitely understand being inundated by internet backwash who think it’s okay to threaten and harass you. It certainly doesn’t help one’s perspective of the world. But even when your anger is justified, that doesn’t mean it’s helpful.
This isn’t about being nice, it’s about learning how to maneuver around people’s defenses. It’s about being conscious of how the public sees you and your community. Because even when you’re right, and in this case they absolutely were, you can actually do more harm than good by fulfilling a stereotype.
In Hanson’s case, he’s always made an effort to be inclusive. That effort has not always been successful, but he’s receptive when people correct him. By screaming at him incessantly, you run the risk of alienating someone who was on your side in the first place. Not to mention the fact that this is all public, and for those who are less knowledgeable about social justice issues you simply come off like a nagging jerk with no self control. You can also change how he and others respond to criticism in the future. Is responding to this person going to lead down another rabbit hole where your apology is never enough? There’s no way of knowing.
Now it’s unfair to lump all the responsibility on the commenter. People should know better, and yet they don’t. They shouldn’t take your actions to be representative of an entire community, but they do. Anita Sarkeesian doesn’t speak for all feminists and such. That’s also reality (a dirty word on the internet, I know.) people judge you based on unfair stereotypes.
So I ask again, what’s this really about? Is it about you and your never ending quest to be the special special? Or is it about changing minds and making a real difference? Be mindful of what you say and how you say it.