Cultural Marxism Spotlight: Obesity Edition

The ongoing cultural siege against video games by politically correct activists has been going on for years, and GDC is a great opportunity for them to take up the cause once more. It’s becoming a tradition for Social Justice Warrior-types to square off against mocking comment sections at various gaming events throughout the year, with no major changes happening to the industry either way. The speakers may not have the cultural relevance they once did, but the intellectual territory they have claimed still does. Thanks to the rise of free speech activists and cultural libertarians this territory is shrinking and being reclaimed for the free market. Understanding the true nature and roots of “SJW” culture will help speed this process.

At this year’s Game Developer Conference we have a self-described “egomaniac” giving a 30 minute talk to a room of game industry people on the hurtful nature of how video games have portrayed fat people. The speaker himself, Todd Harper, has a PhD in “Media Studies” from Ohio University, and describes his methodology as being “qualitative” (ie. subjective observations, not quantifiable studies). He says on his website “I also have a strong secondary interest in both e-sports/competitive cultures and representations of gender and sexuality in games and gaming culture.” I’d like to assume Todd is a great guy and that his intentions are pure, but when somebody advocates for a corrupt cause its hard to know where the institutional programming ends and the personal agenda begins. The nature of Cultural Marxism is that it masks itself as progress while actually being harmful to a free and healthy society. Todd may not realize that, but we should.

Todd cares so much about the topic of problems in gaming culture that he wrote a book about it in 2013 called The Culture of Digital Fighting Games which you can buy off Amazon for $120 if you want a hardcover. Looking at the reviews, we see a predictably polarized outcome, with five people giving a 5-star review, and nine people giving a 1-star review, and nothing in the middle. Even more interestingly: none of them are verified purchases, and all of them claim to own the most expensive version — the hardcover version — which is the default version when you visit the page. Fake reviews as a tool in a cultural war is nothing new. But whether the reviews are from actual customers or not, the official blurb for the book says that the material of the book was “Informed by observations made at one of the biggest fighting game events in the world – the Evolution Series tournament, or ‘EVO’,” meaning that he watched an EVO tournament and then wrote a book about the fighting game community and its problematic tendencies. When you have a PhD in Media Studies and a qualitative methodology I’m sure you’ve got all the intellectual mustard you need to draw conclusions so quickly without being biased.

Here are the questions explored by Todd’s important research according to his own site:

  • How do cultures of play develop around games and gameplay?
  • How do games reflect and contribute to cultural discourse?
  • In what ways can the diversity of representation in games be improved?
  • How can the unique qualities of games be leveraged to represent queer lives?

I took the opportunity to read one of Todd’s blog posts, in which he laments the practice of “queerbaiting” in media, and found it interesting. Todd explains that queerbaiting is when a character’s sexuality is left ambiguous in order to tease and taunt the gay audience into believing that their favorite character’s might end up together. As an example of what can go wrong in these situations, he pointed to the hit show Sherlock, where the creators of the show were swarmed with speculation about the possibility of Holmes and Watson ending up gay for each other. Apparently the team had been dealing with this nonstop fanfiction hype since the beginning of the show, which derails the actual mysteries of the show and ultimately led to death threats against the gay husband of one of the show’s creators when he downplayed how interesting being queer would be as a plot twist on social media. The writers got fed up and finally complained about this speculation, directly shutting down the warped, morbid obsession at a convention by promising that the two fictional characters would never end up in a romantic relationship. According to Todd, this was apparently the grand snafu. He calls the straight-talk answer from the frustrated queer creator “the most obnoxious and insulting way possible” to handle the controversy. He does not explain why it’s obnoxious or insulting. Setting the record straight after having your husband’s life threatened by lunatics only because he tried to deflate the pointless mania of fans regarding something he knew was never going to happen may have even justified the outrage, we can deduce.

He argues that shows like Sherlock and even games like Pokemon bait queers into dreaming up gay relationships/pairings and then exploit this audience without ever having the decency to make it official in the show/game, which is a cruel thing to do! It allows straight people to assume the characters are straight, and queer people to hope that certain characters are gay for each other, but leaves the queers hanging in the wind when these sizzling fanfiction relationships never blossom. Yes, this even includes straight characters like John Watson, who actively pursues women in the show, since I’m now learning that queer people believe all straight men are one heterosexual heartbreak away from turning gay for their best friends, so anything is possible! Creators should therefore explicitly make every gay character openly and actively gay so that gay people don’t drive themselves crazy and threaten to murder the show creator’s gay husband for saying that making straight characters gay for the sake of satisfying the queer audience would be boring. Advanced media studies, folks.

Here’s a description of the talk Todd gave at GDC about fat people:

…. Todd Harper gives you the not-so-skinny on how games portray fatness and characters of size. What are our harmful, pervasive societal ideas about being fat and in what ways do fat characters in games, and the way they play, reinforce them? …. How does being fat sometimes cross over with things like gender? Probably most importantly: what are the things designers can do to make players of all body types feel good playing their work? [emphasis mine]

Here we go again. Using the wonders of academic “qualitative methodology” we are not supposed to ask whether anything is true or not, only whether they are “harmful”. Harmful how? That also is not quantifiable. We are only dealing with the qualitative realm of feelings. We’re told that the ideas explored about fat people are “pervasive” and “societal”, which grants Todd’s observations a lot more weight (heh) than if there were “incidental” and “localized” to certain time periods, subcultures, or even individuals at various game design companies around the world. The important question of how to make players of all body types feel good is real problem we need to solve, not a simple matter of demographics and market forces playing out naturally. Rather than providing an alternative for people to buy (and thus create a measurable market that others may want to tap into, and proving whether its viable to take his advice) he prefers to use his academic position to “educate” the ignorant game developers about how they should handle their own games with no economic evidence to back it up. As you should know by now, Cultural Marxists do not care about the economic viability of any idea, they only want to shape and control culture.

The talk starts with the mandatory “trigger warning” section, where he cautions his sensitive listeners that he will be citing examples of fat-shaming along the way. The issues he’s going to be discussing are “universal”, he says. How that’s even possible considering the prominence of liberal institutions, such as academia and liberal media, and events like GDC where he was invited to give a talk about these exact issues, escapes me. His examples are drawn from his experiences as a “white, cis[gendered], able bodied person who identifies as a gay man.” Perfect. Oh wait, we can’t forget: then, in order to not tread on people’s feelings by daring to make observations about his own life and apply them to society (thus implying that his experiences supersede and negate those of everyone else in the world) he also makes sure to acknowledge that other people with different identities on the various spectrums of reality may have other experiences. You can never have enough disclaimers in a liberal safe space.

He then clarifies that by “fat” he actually means “obese”. In case you weren’t sure, let’s just make something clear up front: obesity is scientifically defined as a level of fatness that is physically harmful to one’s health and wellbeing. Obesity = unhealthy, by definition.

Todd shows this slide, which gets to the moral of the story. What a champ. I greatly appreciate this kind of upfront honesty. Isn’t it such a sweet and noble idea he’s proposing? Who in their right mind could possibly disagree? Only a monster, that’s who. Monsters who shouldn’t be listened to under any circumstance. Sure, this “spoiler” could also be seen as a way to prevent people from drawing their own conclusions about what he’s really propositioning, but hey… why do you want to question a man who just barely gave you such helpful trigger warnings and declared himself to be an adorable egomaniac already? It’s just a happy accident that this summary of his serves to limit the acceptable interpretations of his argument. It invalidates anyone who might see it in a different light and detect ulterior motives. Spoilers: I’m a great guy!

For example, here’s how some people may interpret Todd’s talk differently:

Let’s dig into the meat of the talk (or should I say, the blubber?) on Page Two!

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