Watch this video (it’s short and you can skip some parts) and then read the excerpts from my book (Dangerous Gamers) that I will quote below.
Something easily forgotten in current cultural debates is the fact that the whole discussion is very meta. As Gavin McInnes notes (and it’s one of the first time I see a popular commentator mention it) the whole endeavor of inserting PC content (not to mention interpretations) is about the imagined reaction of part of the audience. It’s about what some creators think other people will think about what they are doing.
But as with all things “meta” and too cognitive, there is the risk of fighting in a world that has no real existence beyond the confines of your mind. After all, PC crazes don’t coincide with periods of extreme conservatism (something that would legitimize their actions as a “reactions” or even a “defense”) but at the height of their power and social prestige. Basically, it’s an old story: witch hunters can only exist in a society that believes and is terrified of witches. It’s, however, very usual for people engaged in these struggles to believe otherwise, that they are at the lowest point of power (which may be true for them, as individuals, but not for their movement,) so their brutal tactics are perfectly valid or even moral. It’s not a coincidence that these ideological onslaughts occur when their side is in power (from my book) since then engaging in useful political criticism is… problematic:
“during the second half of Obama’s presidency, attacking “The Man” (which is how progressive commentators make a name for themselves) was impossible. The Man was their guy –and one that represented their best hopes and aspirations. Therefore, many ambitious young names who believed it was now their turn to be the figureheads of progress realized that the only way to be noticed in the one-upmanship game of socio-political commentaries was to present themselves as people fighting The Man… in other new areas of culture. They started their own moral panic in the arena of (politicized) cultural and entertainment, far away from politics proper but still talking as if they had never left that field of battle.”
People who want to be noticed by the higher-ups in some ideological tribe (and Hollywood is an ideological tribe) need to signal like madmen:
“What is decried as “political correctness run amok” is a kind of runaway selection process. […] when this process is cut off from its social function and becomes a performance in signaling attractive (but useless) traits, things are going to start breaking down soon. Those traits may have begun in a somewhat benign form, but at a certain moment, they retreated into themselves. They became self-referential, and any other criteria that could signal utility […] And this is how, among other things, you end up giving literary awards to people according to how many oppressed LGTB characters they add in their stories. Consciously or unconsciously, artists realize that, if they want to be awarded, they have to play the game, and a feedback loop of artistic crappiness –an ouroboros of garbage– kicks in.”
Of course, because this is an ideological movement, not merely a cultural one, these performances are done against something. This ideological tribe believes in a primordial enemy, a Devil that justifies their shitty tactics, their crap art, and their retarded commentaries. It’s impossible to understand why movies, games, or books are suddenly filled with progressive characters without understanding that the artists are fighting an imaginary war against an imaginary enemy inside their heads:
“current ‘political’ entertainment becomes empty without referencing the current Struggle. In fact, some of those works don’t even make sense without that reference. The creators of those works have problems describing their characters without referencing their status in the Struggle against whom their works are aimed (protip: rednecks.) Since that Struggle is nowadays an identitarian one, that means they always describe their characters not by their personalities, temperament, desires, goals, or handicaps but by their skin color, gender, and sexuality.
Traits that are defined in competition to their (mostly imaginary) enemy, their binary opposition: whiteness, heterosexuality, CIS-genderism, etc.
“Even if it doesn’t happen, it’s hard not to imagine the creative minds behind these [character] replacements cackling and patting themselves on the back after deciding to change a decades-old superhero into a teenage Muslim girl, saying “Yes! That will teach those rednecks!”
[…] As with claims of ‘media effects,’ calls for diverse representation cannot be accepted without admitting that there is something wrong with how that representation is now. […] When artists and their orbitting commentators spend a good chunk of their time decrying the current racist social system and, as as solution, they propose ‘diverse’ characters, the rebuke is obvious. […] the basic idea here is that there was somethign morally wrong with what you have been enjoying all your life and that enjoyment had negative social repercussions (and you profited from them.)”
“But when what is done is to change someone’s race, gender, or sexual identity like one changes clothes, the message is obvious: our readers are so dumb, so morally retarded, that the only thing that keeps them in the mire of antiquated prejudices is that their heroes aren’t gay or female. Now that we have changed the sexual orientation and race of their heroes for no reason at all –so the argument goes– they will leave those prejudices behind. And if they don’t, we can always accuse them of being angry reactionaries and rednecks. ‘Hahaha! Aren’t we enlightened and progressive?’ you can almost hear them say.
“Readers of comic books, movie-goers, and gamers know, at the gut level, that many of these creators and commentators harbor a deep contempt for them [or what they imagine they are] It’s even worse because one cannot but think that they are playing with us since such public performances seem to have been designed with the desire to create a backlash. ‘See, see how those nerds are a bunch of rednecks! Their anger only proves the rectitude of our beliefs!'”
It’s even worse, of course, because they say there is a backlash even if there isn’t one. You just write the article or write your hot takes as if it had happened anyway, just half an hour after the “controversial” announcement:
tl.dr. version: Culture is now in the hands of retarded paranoids who are fighting witches that exist mostly inside their heads.
You can buy my book, Dangerous Gamers: The Commentariat and their War against video games, imagination, and fun on Amazon (click the image.)