So a couple of weeks ago, the newest well-received redesign article popped up in the world, this time from a website called Svampriket, which looks like a Swedish Kotaku. The article, dubbed “Makeover Friday!” which I’ve helpfully linked in translated form, has been linked in a few places as a positive piece, with authors linking the piece and proclaiming the redesigns as a good thing, because of course they are. Interestingly, though, I discovered this thing not through the normal gaming rounds, but through a link that took me to “The Spideygirl Blog,” specifically a post discussing (among other things) this makeover, a recent character addition to Overwatch that came about due to fan objections to female designs, and some general discussions on why the writer thinks the recent discussions in general are kind of shitty. This sort of argument, as well as this one here which talks about why character agency is a stupid argument*, is nothing new, but what interested me was that the source was, by admission, a lesbian female, and the argument itself was less the typical “I LIKE BOOBS RAWR” we expect and more “People want to drag down sexy, large breasted women,” which is an… interesting approach to take, I’ll say that much**. The one thing I read within the post that I did like quite a bit, though, was this:
“This is my problem with the so called criticisms about female portrayals in video games. The people who love to complain about it seem to be inherently sex negative and puritanical. It isn’t so much that there are women who AREN’T busty and sexualized, it’s that there are women who are portrayed as such. And no matter what, apparently, those kinds of characters shouldn’t exist.”
I rather like that argument, actually, because it kind of undercuts a problem with the current discussions that are going on right now: even as someone who supports and fully believes in the idea that we need more equality in gaming, we’re going to solve that by motivating developers to make good characters, not by shaming them into putting pants on Lara Croft.
So here’s the exact moment where I realized that Cracked has basically become fucking Tumblr:
In case you’re not interested in watching the video (or can’t see Youtube right now), it’s basically a video made for Cracked that takes shots at Macklemore’s “One Love” song (at least a year too late), pointing out that a handful of the lyrics aren’t especially sympathetic to homosexuals (when taken entirely out of context), and that Macklemore is apparently a hack who rips off other people, I guess. The skit was written by Cody Johnston, the worst writer on Cracked not named Felix Clay*, and while I’m absolutely not at all a fan of this piece, it kind of exemplifies two important issues I have, one with Cracked, and one with social and civil progress dialogue. The issue with Cracked isn’t really a big one, and can be summed up as, “Cracked spends entirely too much time talking about social issues considering it’s a comedy site staffed with people who probably aren’t qualified to be having that discussion,”** but the progress dialogue is the more interesting discussion (relatively), so that’s the one we’ll focus on for a bit.
So if you haven’t heard yet, let me get you up to speed: as a Superbowl stunt, Coke created a Twitter bot that had one basic purpose: if you tweeted something with the Hashtag “#MakeItHappy,” the bot would then pick it up and convert into Ascii art. It’s an incredibly simple concept, and one that should, by all rights, work quite easily. It’s also easily exploited; even if you have something in place to automatically discard profane tweets, someone, somewhere, is going to figure out a way to exploit the concept and fuck around with it in a way that makes it do something awful. That’s essentially an expectation at this point, and right about now you’d be expecting me to follow up with an assessment about how Anonymous or 4chan figured out how to make it reblog Ascii shitting dick nipples* or something.
What you probably weren’t expecting is that the trolls this time around were Gawker.