Satire Is Dead…Long Live Satire

Here’s a hot tip: if you explain that what you’re doing is satire…then it ceases to be satire. Why would you do that to yourself? How insulting do you need to be to your audience to essentially say, “Hey, all of this was SATIRE!”

Who is to blame for this apparently sudden turn of Satire-Not-Satire that has plagued denizens of The Internets?

It’s not only satire that has taken a turn for the awful; it’s this constant need for people to button anything they say with a criticism “shield” of sorts. Such as, “I don’t want to hear in the comments ‘X’” or “People are allowed to disagree about stuff” or any other beta-ass mealy-mouth nonsense that is supposed to act as butt hurt insulation against arguments or disagreement that arises from said comment.

How about you just say the stupid thing you’re going to say and deal with the consequences?

Nevertheless, back to the topic at hand. What happened to satire?

str1

In the great democratization of The Internets, it appears that satire has befallen the same sort of homogenization that apparently every single thing has fallen to. You can’t be Coke or Pepsi anymore, you have to be San Pellegrino Blood Orange Flavored Carbonated Beverage or Organic Cruelty Free Protein Smoothie with Kale, this micro-niche tribalism is fast getting out of hand. The absurd need to be an “individual” is nearing an apex and instead of “people”, we have singular “republics of me”.

Look, I’m all about “doing you” or whatever that means, but that doesn’t mean you get to eschew the rules to fit the ever-sliding scale of covering your ass or not appearing to convey something you are conveying.

Satire is not saying something you know is inflammatory and pretending you were just kidding, just as you get in to increasingly hot water with the public at large. Once the marketplace of ideals has soundly rejected your “satire” that is not the time to suddenly say “Oh, just kidding! Satire…you know!”

str2

Satirists like Jonathan Swift and Ambrose Bierce didn’t append their works with a page of “you know…this is all satire”. The need to clarify if something satirical is completely antithetical to the nature of satire.

Perhaps there is confusion because people are generally ignorant and don’t understand that instead of satire they’re just partaking in hyperbole. That could necessitate the need to explain it when the need arises. Instead of using satire as some sort of shitty catchall for your general lack of understanding satire, perhaps say, “Hey, I’m just being hyperbolic to make a point!”

Herein lies the rub, hyperbole is a tool of satire, but there is more to satire than just being outrageous. Hence, the clarification that saying something inflammatory then going “JK” is not satire. Yelling “Fire!” in a crowded room and then telling the authorities you were just being satirical isn’t going to absolve your ass from being arrested.

It’s with much effort that I have avoided simply posting the definition of satire and then “breaking it down” in this article. I think this tactic, while informative, has also ruined by The Internets, especially by “activist” YouTubers milling about in e-drama.
str4
This subject hits especially close to home because the sudden “subjective” definition of satire is the entire reason this site exists in the first place. I had someone describe the article “What I Didn’t Learn From All These ‘What I Learned From’ Articles” as “over the top” and essentially outlined the literal definition of satire as they rejected it’s satirical nature and that it wasn’t humorous. Which is also in and of itself subjective.

It was in this exchange then over the past few months of exploring what satire means and what it has become these days that I learned that satire had become infinitely more subjective.

Many things don’t offend me, but high on my list of things to find offensive is humorlessness. Moreover, to find so many self-appointed gatekeepers of what “is” and “isn’t” has become intolerable.

Not content to just infect satire, we suddenly find what “is” and “isn’t” humorous under fire. Stand-up comedy has long had it’s battles with political correctness, but to have people who know absolutely nothing about joke telling or humor try to break down and analyze comedy is…again…absurd. You don’t find something funny? That’s fine…it’s just not for you, find those things you find funny and enjoy them.
str3
It’s in this constant policing of everything that we find ourselves accidentally mired in the culture wars that exist on the peripheries on any given topic. You go to defend your favorite comedian from a bunch of internet asshole SJWs…or hell just say that you enjoy said comedian…and now you’re a Rush Limbaugh listening, Reagan loving, right-wing asshole! Discussion over…you’ve been labeled.

As someone who likes to think of themselves as a satirist, I find the lack of humor disturbing. We can’t be taking ourselves so seriously as to not enjoy the humor to be found in rigidity of any ideal or construct.

More to the point, if you need to take a timeout and explain to your audience you’re “participating” in satire then you’re not only doing a disservice to your audience but also the great legacy of satire. You should probably stick to just being “for real” outraged or “telling it like it is” and bloviating in that safe space echo chamber with your ditto head idiot followers.

Buy Now Button

Satire Is Dead…Long Live Satire

The Kotaku Conundrum (or #FucKotaku)

In the vain attempt to “wait it out” I may have waited too long, turning in to one of those people who opine the never was or too late to have anything cogent to say. On this series of tubes called “The Internets” it’s a death wish to those who wish to make any sort of career having an opinion on things.

Who was I kidding anyways? The games press at large wasn’t going to talk about the tantrum-as-editorial screed from Kotaku Editor-in-Chief Stephen Totilo outlining the sites “blacklisting” via game companies Ubisoft and Bethesda over the last couple of years. Not from an apparent fear of being “blacklisted” themselves mind you…more a general apathy they share at any news that involves them in any way.

It’s the same sort of apathy that struck “AAA game developers” in the haughty afterglow of #GamerGate last year. SJW’s howled that they come out and “take a stand”…against the very people that buy their software. Of course no game developer that was interested in making money was going to go anywhere near that, and so followed the majority of the games press.

I too am struck by my raging apathy at this “news”. I tend to be anti-corporation in general, but when it comes to the “Kotaku vs. Giant Games Corporation”, I can’t help but hold up a teeny-tiny “Go Giant Games Corporation!” pennant.

ktuftrd

Kotaku has been the carbuncle on the ass of the games industry for over a decade, and their crimes (both perceived and factual) have rightfully put them in the rueful place they currently reside. Loved by few, hated by some, tolerated by all.

Unpacking the whole Kotaku “blacklisting” debacle is an arduous task. I think it’s reductive to go the “soft target loving pro-consumer” route and take the Kotaku element out of the topic. Of course blacklisting isn’t cool, but it’s because it’s Kotaku that makes the “blacklisting” a topic worth discussing in full.

To say “Blacklisting is bad for everyone” and “Think of the small guy…the underdog” is lazy and just what a “soft target loving pro-consumer” advocate would say. It’s essentially talking a lot…but not really saying anything.

As someone who’s predominantly worked for the “small guy” websites on the internet that attempt to have some sort of “gaming” wing, I find it laughable that any game developer “blacklisting” Kotaku would be bad for me. Ol’ “pro-consumer advocate” guy hasn’t had to expend any real effort getting review copies of any games for quite some time.

That’s kind of the point of being popular on The Internets and having a nominal following, the game companies want you to say something about their games, move some units…etc. And who are they kidding, at this point “pro-consumer advocate” guy is just as mainstream as the rest of the game press, hipster welfare free agency be damned!

ktu2
Some seeming fly-by-night gaming “website” with less than a million visitors isn’t going to blow up a “AAA game developers” skirt, and more often than not, they pass. Hell, most of the times they don’t even reply to inquiries, so no a “blacklisting” of Kotaku isn’t going to affect any other gaming sites “access”.

When Stephen Totilo writes about Kotaku I always feel like he’s describing an alternate universe version of his website that isn’t an infected, cesspit asshole of the games industry. That alternate universe Kotaku is actually run with some degree of journalistic integrity and competency. On top of this, the staff is intelligent, well-informed and understand ethical practices.

Sad thing is alternate universe Kotaku doesn’t let Stephen Totilo access their side of the Fargate, so he can only tearfully watch from this side, and constantly shave that ever-present evil goatee that perpetually grows on his face.

I’m sure Stephen Totilo wishes he had a better staff of writers. I don’t think Kotaku is necessarily evil…I believe they hire “cost effective” (sub par) writers and that in it’s entirety Kotaku is essentially pieced together in a shit eating Voltron resembling a “gaming” website.

Kotaku writers treat the term “games journalism” like a switch that you can just turn “ON” or “OFF” as the need arises. Several of the sites writers proclaim to be “journalists” and therefore needn’t worry about things like “ethics” and “professionalism” and they being journalists would truly know!

ktu1
And don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with the click-bait nature of these video game related websites, it’s the unfortunate truth and reality of the modern day. But when you’re the editor-in-chief you make the call as to whether to run click-bait tripe or not.

There is nothing about either of the leaks that may have led to Kotaku’s “blacklisting” that merited their release on the grounds of “journalism”. This notion that this information just had to be known by gamers and therefore the journalist side of Kotaku deemed them worth of publishing is horseshit. This isn’t Watergate or some redacted information that was being withheld from the masses. Kotaku wasn’t doing anybody but themselves any favors.

They chose to run the leaks, bathe in the click-bait money, and now they’re paying the consequences for those decisions via being “blacklisted”. Apparently waiting a couple of years and trying to leverage your readership to rabble-rouse is the only way to correct this “error”. Except, no one cares enough because…well…it’s Kotaku!

The more disturbing element to all this is the circling of the wagons within the games press around Kotaku and it’s “blacklisting”. Does Kotaku have blackmail material on some people? What gives with this perpetual defending of nogoodniks in the games press? With Kotaku, it’s not just a one time “Oops!”, this is repeat offenses! Not only to game developers, but gamers as well! They burn all the bridges that matter in the games industry and the only defense you can muster is that it’s bad for everyone if we stop putting up with Kotaku’s nonsense?

Nothing sums up my thoughts on all of this better than Penny Arcade. To be fair, I am long-windingly writing “Meh.” all up in this piece. It’s worth noting that it’s hard to parse the argument of general blacklisting and the very real notion that Kotaku, and other game press outlets that insist on propelling an ideological agenda in their coverage, are painting themselves in to a corner and have no one to blame but themselves for the increased marginalization in their own medium.

Do we as a consumer base just roll our eyes and wait for the “ideological” elements to ooze out of our respective games press? Like some SJW national anthem that you respectfully endure so you can get to the meat of a review or Podcast?

ktu4

In the Fallout 4 episode of Polygon’s Quality Control Podcast the first few moments are filled with reviewer Arthur Gies stating that the games radio soundtrack had more female singers in it…presumably this was a great thing? There’s an awkward pause before the host delves in to the Podcast proper and it’s seemingly so excisable that you wonder why it wasn’t edited out. Really, that’s what was holding you back from enjoying previous Fallout games, lack of female singer on the soundtrack diversity?

It’s the kind of stuff, on top of the whole antagonistic attitude to gamers, which I submit that game developers and publishers eschew the games press at large and focus on Youtubers and “social media presences”. Of course, this will mean that much of the video game pundit class will continue to enjoy their stations seeing as they’re viewed as “pro-consumer” and if they have any real beefs they will keep it in the safe “soft target” arena and be non-offensive in their banality.

While it still works, this whole notion of using press outlets to get over excited and build up a hype train over a games release has been a large part of the problem. The games press lords all of its “access” and has been essentially “blacklisting” gamers with it for years now. It’s given sites like Kotaku this authoritarian bent that’s become increasingly intolerant and agenda driven to thoughts and ideas perceived as counter to it, slowly eroding the very notion of any “journalistic” integrity.

It’s time for developers and publishers to take their work to the people that actually matter: gamers. This need for a middle man in the games press is antiquated at best. It has to be infinitely more cost effective to give review copies of games to people that will actually enjoy them and, shockingly, may play through the entire game when they review it? Instead of that one spike during the games initial release, how about the slow, grassroots word-of-mouth buildup from people that will actually play your game for days and months to come, and not this whole “Well, I only have so much time to play this game…I have to compile a “best of” list” or some other bullshit.

With The Internets being what they are, and the very real notion that the games press isn’t really catering to gamers any more, why not just empower the gamers?

Buy Now Button

The Kotaku Conundrum (or #FucKotaku)