George Will Versus the Modern Conservative Frankenstein’s Monster

George Will, who never met a toupee he didn’t like, is one of a few old white men that I would really enjoy not having to listen to or read. Why can’t he be like his compatriot Thomas Sowell, and just go away already? I mean, I wouldn’t mind him showing up, in his ridiculous toupee and pomposity, in a Ken Burns documentary, hashing out warmed-over historical facts or baseball nonsense.

As a pundit George Will hasn’t been relevant in decades, yet for some reason, since he’s been a beltway insider for those same decades, he’s foisted up on some “republican intellectual” pedestal along with resident ghoul Charles Krauthammer and evangelical clown Cal Thomas.

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All of these beltway intellectuals weren’t the biggest Trump supporters, and don’t look to change their minds any time soon. But there is a reason for this disconnect, and not only because they’re out of touch with society at large. George Will surmises this reason is because “real” conservatism was “[…]soiled by scowling primitives whose irritable gestures lack mental ingredients.” He also calls them “vulgarians”, my stars!

Curiously, he then adds that conservatism was “susceptible” to hijacking. Which is odd considering the previous sentence in which conservatism was “soiled” by said primitive vulgarians? This may just be a semantic quibble on my part, but it’s worth noting, nonetheless.

Though it is worth noting that he didn’t imply that Republicanism was soiled or hijacked, merely conservatism.

It is after the opening condemnation of modern conservatism that Mr. Will dusts of the corpse of William F. Buckley for a history lesson on the founding of “modern” conservatism.
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But what’s odd in this retelling is that you soon realize how little conservatism and the Republican political beast have changed in the near seven decades since Buckley’s grand gift of conservatism.

To say that modern conservatism has been “soiled” by primitives and vulgarians is absurd. They are merely the latest, most recent chaff that was scooped up to keep the Republican Party relevant in the modern era. Last time it was TEA Party-er’s, Evangelicals, Religious Right, White People…wait this list is redundant. This has been the same lot of wedge issue voters that has been tapped, and yet now it is seen as unpleasant?

George Will need not look very far within his own sphere to see that the vast majority of the conservative pundits were more concerned with “winning” no matter the cost than actually believing the ideology taking hold and sprouting grand political fortunes. I’ve yet to read that Trump shook the United States to its core with the core principles of conservatism and that is what led him to victory. No, it was the tired whore of populism that won him the day. The ennui laden pendulum of the electorate wearily mumbling “Well, we gave a Democrat a turn at the wheel, why not the Republican”. How many election campaigns have been run on the notion of changing how things are run in Washington D.C. or making America great again? This is not a new concept by far.

To Will, Buckley infused “[…] conservatism with brio, bringing elegance to its advocacy and altering the nation’s trajectory while having a grand time.” Which is where conservatism has largely stayed in the past seventy years? Fox News is essentially just that quote writ large.
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Along with that brio came the eventually dimming of the bulb as “Buckley’s conservatism” tried to impart the greatness of the robber baron ideology to the unwashed, under-educated masses. How can George Will then be surprised that in the constant grasp of populism and shoveling of a smaller and smaller pile of political chaff wouldn’t lead to the rise of Trump and the primitive vulgarians?

This is more amusing when you realize that Will played a part in the hastening of this rise with his support for Ronald Reagan, who approaches sainthood status amongst conservatives on a near constant basis. Who better represents the conservative populism more than the Reagan administration?

To say nothing of the tenants of “Buckley’s conservatism” that has remained unchanged since their inception. Will wants to act as though the ideology has moved on from some of the more…problematic…elements, but that would be false. Modern conservatism is still just a racist, nationalistic, sectarian and puritanical as it was when it was infused with Buckley’s hot tightrope walk between elitism and populism. Which is where I supposed George Will thinks himself to be as well? To cool to be called a racist? He’s pondering on the greater thoughts of the day?

Are these faux conservatives that have soiled and hijacked conservatism any less because they tore of the mask of populism and elitism and just let the core tenants hang out in the open? Why mask your hatred with stuffy words and philosophizing on the current state of things? How many ways can you say that “the other” is taking and taking from them and then be upset when they connect the dots then do something about it come election time. For good or ill, it doesn’t matter to the vast Republican Party, they just want to win, and ideology be damned.

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Funnily, Will has plenty of blame to throw around, even going so far as to credit a Buckley autobiographer Whittaker Chambers, for using the book to infuse conservatism “[…]with a sour, whiney, complaining, crybaby populism. It is the screechy and dominant tone of the loutish faux conservatism.

Doesn’t George Will’s entire column read like that though? Pissing and moaning like a giant baby about Buckley’s conservatism’s loss of innocence to a puerile orange political monster that he helped create? That if only modern conservatives were high-minded we wouldn’t be in this situation.

This article reads more like a conclusion came to in search of reasons as to the “Why?” when it is so readily apparent how modern conservatism go to this point. At the very least it is an example of the failure of the ideology’s supposed intellectuals, like George Will, to disseminate the virtues of Buckley conservatism. But instead, the ideology is lost to the notion of winning at all costs, so don’t expect a return to that “infectious cheerfulness and unapologetic embrace of high culture” that Will kept alluding to.

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George Will Versus the Modern Conservative Frankenstein’s Monster

Get Your “Politics” Out of My Games

On a recent Sunday evening, I’m reading my latest edition of Game Informer, in my glorious porcelain library, and I come across the “opinion” section of the magazine. What’s great about this section is the apparent “hot take” on display that’s been sitting on the snail mail timetable windowsill that is a physical magazine these days.

What’s more, these “opinions” are largely from the same Jim Sterling-esque grab bag of topics that have rolled around in the video games culture since…probably the early 90’s? And oddly enough, there’s still this refrain that “video games (and gamers) need to “grow up?” Why? We still haven’t settled the dispute if girls can actually be gamers?!

Elise Favis, as punishment for being recently hired I guess, pens the June issues “opinion” article “Get Your Politics Into My Games”. Oddly, the title of the article was changed to “Video Games Should Embrace Politics” when it was published online, the authoritarian title does the following text no favors.

If you’ve been a gamer for any length of time, you know what this article is about without even reading it. You know that there’s at least one BioShock reference, and a heavy leaning on social justices favorite game of 2016: Mafia III, as some sort of “politics” being in games, and how that’s good. Really really good!

It’s why I’ve been backing away from the “games are art” nonsense over the last few years. I don’t even believe in the notion that “Art is politics” as quoted by Firewatch writer Sean Vanaman.

To be fair, according to the definition of art, anything that is expressed IS, in fact, art. Which is why it’s being bludgeoned to death by social justice ideological blowhards in video games culture? It goes hand-in-hand with this continuing notion that “gamers must grow up”, but why?

Far be it for me to actually research this, but has any other medium had to deal with a small clique of assholes constantly demanding that it do something akin to growth or…else? Were there people in the early 20th century demanding these talkies “grow up” and start having something to say? Alternatively, some powdered wig sect of French assholes telling composers to put more politics in to their music so that it could maintain some form legitimacy as an art form?

Why do video games seem to be so besieged by such ridiculousness?

It may be more telling that the “gamers need to grow up” fascination is coming from older “gamers” who may be feeling the sting of being in to a hobby largely aimed at and sold to children.

This idea came to me in the wake of Ian Bogost’s think piece about games not needing stories and the cries and fierce faintings from vapors that besieged the self-proclaimed video games press “intelligentsia”…like our good friends over at Waypoint.

You’d think a topic like “storytelling in games” would be right up the alley of the “intellectual” and “cerebral” denizens of a site like Waypoint. This is, after all, supposed to be their sole function in a crowded field of similarly minded shaved apes that react to flashing colors and loud noises known as the modern games press. These apes can wear clothes and bi-focals, they’ve read books recently.

Maybe because he’s writing a young-adult novel, Austin Walker took maximum umbrage with notion that the best storytelling video games have on offer is nigh YA at best. Even going so far as to call Mr. Bogost a “gadfly” for his click bait article trying to pass as philosophically tinged think piece on the strengths and weaknesses inherent to video games as a storytelling medium. What’s next, breaking out the powdered gloves and slapping each other about the face with them hurling insults at one another till one cries?

Mr. Bogost was on to something, another branch of this “gamers must grow up” tree, if it were. Video games are wholly known for their interactive nature, why then are they chasing Hollywood in terms of production? Why is there this graphical arms race for games that look so good, when repeatedly what really sells is gameplay?

He even mocks the notion that every time a “great story” and “video game” share a sentence it’s with the same tired fistful of examples. Chief among them is always BioShock, which wouldn’t you know Elise Favis namedrops in her “opinion” piece.

Look, BioShock is a great game…because of its gameplay…the story…it’s okay. What makes BioShock great is everything BUT its story. Which is somewhat how it should be when it comes to games? You want a great story, there are near endless ways of getting it elsewhere without the need to learn how to grapple with the various mechanics of a video game. What BioShock did so awesomely was weave a core mechanic of the game, completing mission objectives, into its plot of mindlessly doing as told without ever questioning as to the “Why?” The Ayn Rand bullshit…it’s in there, but as a tent pole for world building, atmosphere and slightly jabbing at her notions, but gameplay is what’s the order of the day.

Ms. Favis goes on to trot out last years Mafia III and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided as games that tried to put politics in to their games. For some reason Mankind Divided is given the cudgel for not trying hard enough with it’s politics, when it could easily be argued that Mafia III does the same thing.

I’ll never understand the social justice obsession with Mafia III and its “politically charged” narrative from last year. You can see how much impact it actually had when you peruse the end of year lists from various games press outlets. Very few, if any, felt compelled to hold Mafia III high in the air as some sort of game changing piece of art. Sure, the story was mildly political, but that is largely dropped about a fourth of the way into the game as it becomes yet another also ran Grand Theft Auto clone.

Nevertheless, don’t let that stop assholes like Ms. Favis from painting some grand picture of what playing Mafia III is like, “As you roam though the world of Mafia III, you are constantly aware of the color of Lincoln Clay’s skin.” Well, yeah…he’s black. “Walking down the street, people stare at him warily,” Perhaps this is anecdotal, but I didn’t really get much of that in my play through of the game. I don’t have a giant television, so maybe some of that nuance was lost on me. “Upon entering segregated stores, shop owners order him to leave.” This too happened maybe once in my playthough, but for me it wasn’t a store, but a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. There’s really no need to go in to any stores, gameplay wise…aside from robbing it for tiny amounts of money, and even then the shop owner runs off, wasn’t present or in one case pulled a shotgun on me. Foolish! I shot him immediately…and the cops never showed up.

There are mechanics in Mafia III that lend to this idea of what it’s apparently like to be a black man in the late 1960’s south. When the cops get near you see a blue reticule pop up. They’re totally watching you. In the uppity white people part of town, there’s more dialogue about Lincoln being a black…but that’s it, and if you’ve played ANY open world game, the background vocals kind of blend in to ALL the noise, so you don’t really make out anything being said. You have to try really hard to find the stuff that Ms. Favis is getting on about. Because, again, it doesn’t really matter. It’s background elements, nothing more, nothing less.

None of this really matters because Ms. Favis has a tired thesis to propel. “The industry is quickly maturing along with the medium, and it’s time we did too.” To which I do the tired The Internets thing of saying “citation needed”!

If politics has taught us anything over the last few months…or ever, is that it’s a horrible signifier of what maturation is. If anything, it’s more a parallel to what people like Ms. Favis think gaming and gamers are, what with a Republican debate last year couching various people’s dick sizes. These were supposedly adult men, and yet even they were found to be base enough to vaguely note that they indeed had a larger dick than the other guy on the debate stage.

It’s frustrating that on top of this need for video games to “grow up” there are never any solutions, just vague examples and the constant propulsion of the desperate need to do so. For the sake of what exactly? That video games can be viewed as a legitimate art form?

If that’s the case, then I return to my constant refrain that the games press does not possess the capability of being critics of the medium. They lack the intelligence and nuance to be critical about an artistic expression, regardless of their protestations otherwise.

Ms. Favis argues that the idea of video games remaining superficial and shying away from political themes is ludicrous is itself ludicrous. She argues it’s because the two are always interconnected. Which beggars the question of just how far back she’s talking, because video games and politics have not always been interconnected? At least, how she’s phrasing it.

I don’t wholly disagree with what Ms. Favis is trying to get at; I’ve never been one to argue that discussing social issues is forbidden in any realm. However, it has to be done intelligently, and that has yet to occur in video games culture. Too often, you have social justice ideologues desperately trying to root out messages in video games with which to yank at and scream about from the highest of soapboxes. As if some profound element of a video games story will legitimize what they do for a living, or make it seem to the outside world they do something other than just play video games all day.

Sadly, there’s still a stigma to being a gamer, and trotting one of the few topics in the grab bag of tired topics to push against for the nth time isn’t expediting anything. Video games will mature in its own time, or maybe it won’t. Hell, it’s been around for many decades doing its video game thing, and nothing but the cold hard smell of money has driven it any real direction. Admonishing gamers to do something beyond their control isn’t going to lead to a maturation of the culture.

Get Your “Politics” Out of My Games

Clicks: What a Troll Wants, What a Troll Needs

In a recent episode of Rebel FM, co-host Arthur Gies discussed how he has anxiety every single time he posts a review. Knowing the consequences of his actions if he should be found wanting. This was all couched in the further ludicrous notion that his employer, Polygon, pays him to essentially live on social media and have to contend, daily, with the slings and arrows of trolls and haters. Because he also uses social media to keep in contact with friends and colleagues, he literally has not other choice.

To which I say: Good. The anxiety part. I don’t really care that Mr. Gies has an addiction to being triggered on social media over the stupid things he writers.

One of the great things to happen in the gaming community over the recent years is the audience not falling line and doing as told when it comes to the games press. I love that there is now push-back to stupid notions that wander in to a review or preview that have no real place there. That games punditry, for good for ill, is taking hold with more and more games press standing up and speaking for themselves, not hiding behind some authoritarian “we” nonsense.

With all of that newfound freedom, should also be a generous dose of fear of a mass audience rejecting opinions and notions laid bare before it. Mr. Gies has long been a profiteer of click bait reviews with slip sliding scores, hamfisted editorials, and a ridiculous Twitter feed full of hyperbolic nonsense that has to be seen to be believed.

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It’s in that spirit that we turn our attention to the recent “controversy” of everyone’s favorite “consumer advocate” Jim Sterling giving The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a 7!

It’s been a while since I’ve covered “consumer advocate” Jim Sterling, mostly because I don’t want to turn in to a Jim Sterling type: doggedly covering the same four topics repeatedly, ad nauseum with an occasional “controversy” being stirred up so he can get attention. You’d think with all of his lawsuit shenanigans he’d learn to take a break from all the attention whoring, but a girls got to eat I suppose.

You notice I didn’t say “clicks” because Jim Sterling loves to state that he is a pure “consumer advocate” and doesn’t make any money from ads on YouTube or his website! Which is true, and all well and good, but that’s not the real point here. He does LOVE the attention and it sure as shit didn’t hurt his Patreon numbers, garnering him a lot more donation money for his continued “advocacy”.

If the giving Breath of the Wild a 7 and inducing nerd rage sounds a bit stale and familiar you’re not wrong. Something similar happened when Jim Sterling reviewed No Man’s Sky last year and pretty much the same thing happened. Except, No Man’s Sky was indeed an average game deserving of it’s 5/10, in a review that read like a game that was a 5/10.

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Breath of the Wild, well, not so much. Unlike a fair amount of Nintendo fanboys that raged so hard at Jim Sterling, I in fact read the review to see what all the fuss was about. That proved to be a bit of a problem as his website had been toppled by a pure Zelda nerd hate fueled rampage. Nevertheless, with time, I was able to read it and really look to see if the text matched the score, as you’re wont to do in these situations.

Because far be it to notice that the review was coming in close to two weeks after the game was released. Before the dark times wrought by the 7/10, Breath of the Wild’s Metacritic score was a glorious 98 and all was well with the world with near universal acclaim. This was predominantly because he didn’t have a copy of the game to review, Nintendo having stopped working with him long ago due to his constant need to badger and provoke Nintendo fanboys. More probably, because he’s Jim Sterling…why would anyone work with him?

But whom are we kidding here; this is what Jim Sterling really does for a living: he trolls gamers and video game culture for clicks and views. The only differentiating factor between him and your run-of-the-mill YouTube whore is that he has a foot in a games press past. However, he has always behaved this way. Drumming up “controversy” and driving traffic to whatever website decided to avail his “consumer advocate” services in the past.

Now, I don’t expect readers to be familiar with the Sterlingverse, but on his podcast, the gag inducing titled “Podquisition”, it was readily apparent in the wake of Breath of the Wild’s release that he was leaning on whatever his co-host Laura K was saying about the game and immediately had a visceral reaction to the weapon degradation elements. This is on top of his open derision to anything open world related, with the Ubisoftification of open world games being a prime target. Already, things weren’t looking good for Breath of the Wild getting a stellar review from Jim Sterling.

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The thing is, the world would’ve have kept turning had Jim Sterling not even bothered to review the game. Nothing in his review would lead anyone to believe he played enough of it to fully form an opinion outside of the one he had long before ever getting his hands on it. In fact, the review reads more like a firm 8/10. The review takes a turn at the end as if he, or someone helping him edit the review, noticed that it didn’t read like a 7/10 or more sinisterly, that an 8/10 wouldn’t lower the Metacritic score, but a 7/10 would.

So insert a bunch of paragraphs knocking the game for nonsense that Jim Sterling personally doesn’t care for, but aren’t actually issues with the game proper and some facsimile of a 7/10 review score appears. Additionally, what glorious trolling it would be to lambaste this most perfect Zelda game ever created? The Nintendo fanboys would lose their fucking minds! And up went the review.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to even bother defending Nintendo fanboys and legitimize what they said and did in the wake of Jim Sterling’s review. Those people are monsters of the first order, something even I wouldn’t have believed until a few months ago.

In the lead up to the Nintendo Switch launch, I found myself watching videos on YouTube by some of the most ardent Nintendo fans lavishing love and adulation for the company and everything they did. I had heard legend of these fanboys, and how voracious they could be. In fact, to this day they are still giving Jeff Gerstmann shit for his review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, awarding it with an “8.8”. Yeah, that’s not a bad score at all. Yet Nintendo fanboys are still up his ass about it over a decade later!

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Jim Sterling is no stranger to this Nintendo fanboy rage either, yet he seems to keep drawing their ire. To the point of wondering why someone would keep fucking a beehive then complain about being stung?  He’s gleefully done this for clicks and attention for years, yet he expects they will just grouse on social media and forums and leave him be?

There is no sympathy to be found for Jim Sterling because he knew what he was doing. He knew that giving Breath of the Wild a 7/10 was going to enrage Nintendo fanboys and that they were going to come for him. Now, is this mob attack mentality gross? Of course, it is, but as will all things The Interents, there is a teachable moment to the people who use to make a living. You don’t stick your dick in a beehive.

As the video games culture grows and moves ever more mainstream, the hope is that these self-appointed pundits will actually have something of value to offer new gamers. The sad old whoring days of purposely giving a stellar game a low score for attention should be derided for the pathetic gesture it is. Regardless of fanboy malfeasance, gamers must move past those of the games press that hold on to a antiquated view of gaming culture and lack due respect for their audience and their intelligence. No matter how lacking it may appear at times.

Clicks: What a Troll Wants, What a Troll Needs

It’s Real Time For Bill Maher To Move On

For years, I have been sitting on an article about the continuing erosion of Bill Maher’s relevance in politics and pop culture in general. On the right-wing liberal boogeyman Mt. Rushmore his face resides amongst Michael Moore, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Jimmy Carter…wait this analogy is getting out of hand…still, Maher is that “Go-To” Liberal that conservatives love to hate. Boo-hiss and all that!

It wasn’t until The AV Club published the article “Bill Maher isn’t just politically incorrect — he’s politically irrelevant”  that elucidated my newfound notion and this post too outlines much of what I think as well. Bill Maher is white knuckling his relevancy in the face of old age and being sent packing.

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At 61 years old, Maher will soon be hearing more and more people suggest he hit the dusty trail along with his other late night compatriots David Letterman and Jay Leno, both of whom fucked off from the late night grind at around six decades on this earth. Unlike Leno and Letterman, however, Maher hasn’t had nearly the platform or impact that I assume he thinks he deserves and increasingly is trying to raise his profile to justify HBO keeping him on the air for a few more years.

There is plenty of younger, more relevant comedians champing at the bit to host a show not too dissimilar to Real Time, and would have no issues filling seats for the panel. It’s not as if any of Maher’s guests are “big gets’ and it took him Obama’s entire presidency to get him to do a sit down interview. He gave the man a million dollars in his 2008 re-election bid and Obama couldn’t even bother to cast a shadow on the Real Time set? Maher had to truck to D.C. and do some ball washing, limp interview that clearly wasn’t worth the million dollars.

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Funnily enough the current season of Real Time has been given a new overall, new set and new intro song with the salvo of “We’re still here.” said smugly by a smirking Bill Maher mugging the camera/audience for a laugh break. Which is another current issue with Real Time: the forced laughter?

You could just set a laugh track from Maher’s opening monologue, and the viewer at home wouldn’t know a difference. Better yet, it would mask the bevy of bombs that seem to inhabit the stale opening moments of the show where Maher insists on the antiquated “hot takes of the week” monologue. Last weeks episode included a bomb so heavy that Bill Maher insisted “Laugh.” after the punch line died of loneliness. His next guest, Republican Darrel Issa, even made a joke about it (at 4m14s) in his segment.

AND he got to fire off another topical Caitlyn Jenner punchline! Hooray! At least it wasn’t a Sarah Palin joke…so relevant!

This antiquated “Late Night” comedic vibe is what makes the show such a nonstarter anymore. A nearly an hour the show is a ten pound bag of shit trying to squeeze in to a five pound bag. If there ever are a panel of quests that start having a compelling conversation on the weeks topic, it is most assuredly ground down so that Maher can insert a dick joke or move on to a bit that is essentially “Republicans are dumb!” or “Religion is dumb!”

The AV Club talks a bit about Maher giving right-wing firebrands a platform with which to spew their frothy shit with little pushback, and that is indeed the case for the most part. He recently had to admonish his audience to “be nice” when introducing Ann Coulter recently, so she could crow about calling the Trump presidency, on top of a bunch of other racist bullshit that Maher just didn’t even bother pushing back on. This rhetorical trick of letting “sunshine be the best disinfectant” only works if your audience is smart enough to understand how ridiculous people like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos are!

To conservatives, they see those two on a platform such as Real Time and that legitimizes the crazy bullshit that froth out of them. If they weren’t full of baloney, why would they be allowed such a “great” platform as Bill Maher offers?

This idea of “sunlight is the best disinfectant” only works if any sun actually shows up. In these kid glove interviews, Maher essentially takes a back seat and states that the person is indeed crazy, but so much fun o have on and offers no real push-back to anything. That the bulk of right-wing ideologues never grace the panel stage is proof enough to this. Why get contested on your silly bullshit when you can have ten minutes (or so) of uninterrupted frothing bullshit lies masked as truth and facts while Maher preens and mugs to the audience?

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The panel segment itself isn’t so bad when the right alchemy of guests is there, but for the most part, it never is. Moreover, why should there be compelling guests and discussion when they’re hurried through so many topics that wind up with one or two panelists trying their damnedest to spew political rhetoric and not actually discuss the issues. There was a sliver of a time where Maher would do post-show fact checks of the more erroneous guests, then quickly realized that the bulk of his republican guests were just making shit up. You cannot bring them back on if you call them out, so it was quietly dropped.

This to me is endemic of the more galling nature of Real Time not really offering of substance to a viewer; sure, if you’re a young college liberal atheist, then there is plenty on offer for you. Nevertheless, as one surely ages and gains real ideological knowledge, Bill Maher loses a lot of his liberal folksy charm. He offers no real solutions outside the purview of what Maher is really in to: weed, no religion…Caitlyn Jenner?

Maher’s problem is more a general problem that has ensnared the left wing in the nigh decade of cool president Obama. Liberals just got lazy, and since they couldn’t rail against the president for fear of looking uncool…or racist…they let shit slide and stop worrying about facts, graphs and figures and started leaning on emotional arguments masked as “common sense solutions” to problems that demanded much more nuance and thought than that.

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I don’t agree that Maher is being reckless with his platform, as the AV Club and others suggest, he’s just trying to stay relevant in a time that has already left him behind. Perhaps it’s time he rolls one last fatty in the Real Time studio and say his goodbyes while he’s still smugly self appointedly on top.

It’s Real Time For Bill Maher To Move On

Mediocracy: How the Democratization of The Internets is Ruining Entertainment

If I ever get a hold of a time machine, the first thing I’m going to do…or more like near the top of my list of “’Things To Do’(if I get a hold of a time machine)” is go back to 2007. I will find and slap that me who thought that the democratization of The Internets was going to be a great thing. Then tell 2007 Me to start a YouTube channel. It doesn’t have to be of any quality, just know that in a decade I will be able to make a living off it.

I would return to present day and make thrones of all the YouTube cash!

I didn’t start treating YouTube like an entertainment vehicle until very recently. I started in earnest back in 2014, in the wake of #gamergate, when this seemed to be one of the few outlets where you could find any real information on the topic. Sure, you could read what had floated up to the mainstream: a bunch of sad, lonely, neck bearded goony men were harassing women, or you could browse a few YouTube videos that broke down the real reasons, and perhaps a little guiding light as to what to do next.

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As it is well known, #gamergate became a punch line and shorthand in the games press, and “we” all moved on.

The YouTubers I started following changed course or discovered, as I had, that there was a lot more going on outside of the games realm when it came to social justice. To say nothing of how the games press was failing to do its job, it then proffered the notion that the mainstream press itself wasn’t doing anything either! Instead of investigating something like a #gamergate, the mainstream press looked to the games press and just copy/pasted their words and moved on.

With The Internets being a content machine that constantly needs to be fed, of course these YouTubers I was following weren’t going to cut it. Doubly, you can only listen to the same rhetoric of “Look at these silly SJWs” before you move on. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the YouTuber. No, unlike other media, internet based entertainers aren’t given the heave-ho when their numbers start lagging. Sure, there is less ad revenue, should they choose to partake, and that may lead them to find greener pastures. However, for a LOT of them, it’s a hobby or a side project. For a few, it’s a living that they procure from crowd funding, which is where the current problem is bubbling up.

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There was time, not so long ago, and maybe it is still true, that not every single person gets to follow their dreams. The world couldn’t handle so many ballerinas! But now that modern society has allowed adolescence to extend in to the late 20’s…we’re seeing a lot of people still out there trying to hash a dream out of being a YouTube star!

In my “research” for this article, I’ve just been scrapping the bottom or YouTube and iTunes trying to find hidden nuggets and gems of entertainment. Like a lot of you, I’ve become tired of the same grip of people sitting around “ranting” or “critiquing” the content of others. The “Hot Take” culture fits certain things well: sports, news, and entertainment. However, “Hot Takes” do not work so well for video games and fellow YouTubers. I’m sure some of the internet drama that crops up on YouTube rings that lizard brain bell need for “entertainment”, but it is not nearly as compelling as a finely crafted and edited reality show. That these internets beefs can stretch on for years is amazing to behold.

However, my problem doesn’t really lie in that. It’s the dreamers that need to get a job and stop clogging YouTube with their bullshit that have my ire.

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It’s times like the news of PewDiePie being “literally a Nazi” that the dark underside of YouTube rears up. That so many “content creators” suddenly felt compelled to lodge a PiewDiePie in to their video titles and deliver their staid “Hot Take” on it. Just how many of those are actually a unique take on the subject? Very few, sadly.

YouTube fosters a cult of personality complex in people that really shouldn’t be anywhere near it. People that actively proclaim to have social anxiety and other mental health issues somehow find comfort in participating in a digital striptease for the few voyeurs curious enough to click on a picture and a link. They will then try to leverage a fan base via crowd funding to further some goal that needn’t be bothered with, especially considering how little support they often wind up with.

The cult of personality eventual tickles out those who hide behind “characters”. Oftentimes, I enjoy just a static image and someone just talking over it about a topic I like. In fact, a lot YouTubers do something along those lines, then one day…they hit a threshold or come to some understanding and then *BAM* I click on a video and get to watch a fat neck beards chins flap around as they stare blankly in to a the camera and do their thing.

Some people just don’t need to be seen!

Better yet…why? Even when a homunculus shrinks themselves down in to a corner of the frame, it’s still ridiculous to watch them bloviate over a static image of their topic. In a video that runs over ten minutes! Boring!

Perhaps treating YouTube like an educational entertainment channel isn’t the best mind set, but more often than not, I’ve found myself pining for the days of yore when we had a few gatekeepers that we trusted and nothing more. Sure, you had that one guy that would be your go-to for whatever they specialized in. For example, I’m the “movie guy” at work and amongst friends. But now every single one of those guys has this compulsion to plaster their nasty asses in front of green screen and jiggle over whether a piece of pop culture is shit or not.

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They don’t even have to be subjectively “good” at their “jobs” either! At least in ye olden days there was some level of expertise and knowledge within a critical circle. Thanks to the democratization of The Internets, some fan boy carries just as much “intellectual” heft, and he doesn’t even know what he’s talking about outside whether a movie gave him a chubby or not. Every single bit of his output is a mile wide and an inch deep in terms of critical analysis.

In fact, a lot of depth and nuance is being lost to YouTubers and The Internets collective hyper-attention deficit. This goes further with the thumbs “up” and “down” system of I suppose letting the content producer know how a particular video is doing? YouTube doesn’t seem to care one way or the other, as they can sells ads on every single bit of content on its service, which in turn facilitates people who should have no business doing so making content for “entertainment”.

To be fair, this “entertainment” isn’t being foisted on to me. I am punishing myself by scraping this said barrel and trying to discover the secret sauce as to why someone would go through the hassle of trying to hack it at the business of being a marginal YouTube celebrity. Maybe that’s it, those vaunted fifteen minutes of fame, but on somewhat your “own terms” of not leaving your house.

Perhaps the day will come when equilibrium of sorts will take hold and the vaunted gatekeepers of yore will reappear much like the four horseman of the apocalypse and lay waste to these less than charlatans that disguise themselves as critics. I’m highly doubtful, but doesn’t something have to give a some point?

Mediocracy: How the Democratization of The Internets is Ruining Entertainment

How the SJW Mindset Propelled Trump to Victory

Look, there were a lot of reasons why Hilary Clinton lost, but I thought I’d focus on one pet theory of mine and run with it. You can go everywhere else and find myriad reasons, both true and hyperbolic as to the “how’s” and “whys” of the 2016 election. Nevertheless, here, you will only find one.

SJWs propelled Trump to glorious victory!

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“But Chad,” You may be asking. “How is that possible? Trump is literally the antithesis to the SJW hive mind.” Moreover, this is true. SJWs helped build a giant asshole fumed filled bubble and trapped many left-wingers, millennials, young women and fooled them in to thinking that there was just no way Trump could win! I mean, the polls literally said so!

The SJW mindset permeated deep in to the Hilary supporter and brought a host of problems to a political campaign. Namely, tertiary and duodenary bullshit “problematic issues” that needed to be addressed that, frankly, no sane person actually gives a shit about.

For instance, the false notion of a woman making 77 cents compared to a man making $1. The SJW mindset dictates that the Hilary campaign focuses and harp on that point. Women are being taken advantage of and being held under the heavy stifling yoke of the patriarchy! When Joe Sixpack, who has been largely underemployed or unemployed for an interminable amount of time, looks at this, he sees that he’s making zero cents to anyone’s money. This not only alienates him, it makes him angry, and when Donald Trump says he’s going to “fix it”, Mr. Sixpack is more than happy to support that.

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Instead of that, Hilary could’ve focused on the universal umbrella of something approaching a higher minimum wage. Everyone’s wage would go up, there would be better paying jobs that Joe Sixpack could possibly get a chance at. Ideally, women could possibly make more under the idea, seeing as they purportedly work the majority of the minimum wage jobs in the first place. Perhaps it wouldn’t quell the white-hot misogynistic anger that resides deep inside Mr. Sixpack (next to his nigh constant urge to rape), but it would go further to not out-and-out alienate him from a Hilary presidency.

The vast majority of Trump supporters, “old white people”, actually vote. Speaking Anecdotally, I heard so many first time voters call in to the local (right-wing) talk radio station on Nov. 9. Men in their mid-to-late 30’s feeling compelled to vote for the first time. It wasn’t outwardly said, but they’ve been under attack from SJWs for a good many years and found this election as an opportunity to “correct” a perceived “wrong” by putting anyone but Hilary in to the presidential office.

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Repeatedly I would hear that it was more a refutation of her than an implicit support of him.

Oddly enough, the “old white people” voter contingent has largely been unchanged. The same numbers that voted for Trump in 2016 also voted for Romney in 2012. Hilary lost the youth vote because of the SJW mindset.

Outside of a “yokel” like Joe Sixpack, several white millennial men were left hanging by a Hilary campaign that actively coddled SJW feminists and dickless doods. Who actively told the white men that they’re refusal to support Hilary was because of their suddenly exposed misogyny, sexism and bigotry. “All politicians have faults, it’s time for a white woman to run things…you’ve had your turn for, like, centuries…YEILD!” Moreover, this somehow wasn’t going to alienate millions of male voters somehow?

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As I’ve stated before, the SJW mindset doesn’t have any notions of the long game. They naively believe that things can be done in an instant and that everyone will fall in line because…well who’s totally AGAINST social justice, right?

They have no problem selfishly pushing for single-minded agendas that inevitably alienate more people than help in the long run. On top of this, even the mere suggestion of tapping the brakes is met with instant ire and accusations ending in “ist”. Makes you really  want to get behind a candidate that would seemingly support this, right?

This goes hand in hand in the election aftermath witnessing as the butt hurt and salt flows freely from SJWs that declare bigotry, misogyny and sexism were the main driving force of a Trump victory. There is no self-reflection, no need to check the volume on the rhetoric and hyperbole or tacit support of a shitty presidential candidate. Just the absolute need to alienate as many people that “aren’t like them” as possible. Which sadly still means white men.

There’s a litany of other reasons Hilary lost this election, but you cannot deny that SJWs and their mindset cost her dearly with a plethora of the sane voting bloc. You cannot even begin to approach the notion of unity when the bulk of your supporters are busying themselves “othering” people that dare have a different opinion than them. There’s no discussion or debate, they shout “You’re wrong AND a bigot AND a sexist!” and move on, leaving nothing but scorched earth behind them.

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How the SJW Mindset Propelled Trump to Victory

Taking Your Review Ball And Going Home With The Games Press

What’s a games press to do when all of the sudden they’re not privy to early access to an upcoming video game to review? Especially from a publisher that has already started anti-games press things like “blackballing” certain outlets, and by “outlets” just Kotaku and not releasing early review copies of the most excellent DOOM earlier this year.

Bethesda Softworks, creators of such fine video games in the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series announced a couple of weeks ago  that they were essentially doing away with day and date reviews for their games. Citing the previously mentioned DOOM and its glorious reception from both gamer and games press alike, it has decided to forego sending out review copies of games of Skyrim: Special Edition and Dishonored 2 well in advance of their release.

Not to toot my own horn, but I have been calling for this for a long time now. I even wrote about why the written review was a useless endeavor for games publishers.
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Of course, this doesn’t mean the utter and complete end of the games press, and I wholeheartedly disagree with Forbes’ Erik Kain that certain gamers shouldn’t be gloating about the games press being declared “dead”. Nevertheless, this does portend a growing trend of their needlessness in general. Perhaps a culling of the apes is in order.

More damning, in that all of the articles and podcast “hot takes” I found no real compelling reason from the games press as to why this was a bad thing. Instead a near universal din of this move being “anti-consumer”. How much this would make a reviewer’s life more unbearable by being forced to marathon a game review in order to beat competitors to be first.

Ideally, this only affects maybe 25 people. Moreover, that’s a games press the world over.

Last year when I quoted the ESA report on video game buying habits, “Written Product Reviews in Video Game Magazine and Websites” polled at an anemic 3% of influencing purchase power. It’s not even referenced this year, instead it seems to have been absorbed in to an all encompassing “Other” of about 22%, or maybe it’s finally fallen of to be statistically a 0%?

Aside from the hot takes, there seemed to be this assertion from many in the games press that this really didn’t matter, as there’s been a shift from “day and date ”to a more long view“ games criticism take on games. There is no need to feed the content monster when you can clog it up with such hard-hitting pieces of playing a ten-year-old PS2 game in 2016 and shaking your head at all the misogyny and general Japany-nonsense all up in it!

More to the point, it’s apparently another way for the games press to pooh-pooh the video game focused Youtubers who once again come out on top in all of this.
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Anecdotally, I’ve always used reviews as a validation device. I buy most video games I want to buy day-and-date, and then I’ll go read the reviews from a few select sites. It’s usually not until the following week that actual discussion and breakdown of a game occurs anyways. So why is there such an apparent “pro-consumer” need for a day-and-date review? Aside from competing websites trying to be the first one and therefore getting the most clicks.

Barring that, most video game websites have a plethora of gamed related “content” surrounding almost every major release, so that regardless of an actual review on the site itself there’s a spike in interest for the game. The game gets some sort of coverage, and with the games press being another de facto wing of the marketing department these days, that’s about as good as you can ask for.

Video is king now. People are more interested in seeing the game in action, getting some form of “hot take” on the video game. Personally, I find this lacking, as most video games are hour’s long endeavors at best, and a quick hot take just cannot do most games justice. I mean how many times have your cemented an opinion on a video game in the first few hours. The only thing you can really comment on is how ubiquitous the tutorials are…at best.
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I’ve always been of the mind that video game publishers are wasting precious resources trying to get video game websites to cover a game. It’s not that’s there’s literally too many  games to play, but the games press is getting smaller and leaner, and becoming more pointed in their coverage. In addition, the average games press member is a chubby white guy in his late 30’s…he’s tired. He cannot stay up all weekend trying to marathon a game for review. Hell, he cannot even bother to write a review in anything approaching a timely manner.

Youtubers, for lack of a better word are what the games press should be now: young. There’s this jaundiced, cynical, chubby staleness to the current games press that can no longer be ignored. There’s a lack of enthusiasm for video games, and it’s gotten palpable to publishers.

What sells games better? “Meh, here’s another one of these.” or “Hey, this just came out and it. Is. Awesome!”

To readers that listen to video game podcasts, how many times have you heard the hosts not even bother playing the games that are currently out, or they’ve only played a few hours to “get a feel” for a game of the year discussion to happen later or to deliver some sort of “hot take”?

More publishers need to follow Bethesda’s example and eschew the games press and just take it to the gamers. Have giveaways on social media for early copies. Get the word of mouth out on a game. That’s what really worked for DOOM, early adopters started playing the game, found it to be awesome and spread the word!
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Of course, it’s not going to work in all cases, a new Elder Scrolls game or Dishonored 2 doesn’t need reviews. It’s going to sell a boatload of copies just on name and previous excellence alone.

Gamers are much more informed than they were in the past, and day-and-date reviews are a more recent development. There were literal decades as a gamer you didn’t know the quality of a game until you played it. If you were really itching for an opinion, you could wait for a magazine to say something….a month later. Typically, word of mouth, previous games in the franchise, or the publisher dictated purchasing a game.

This whole notion of the move away from review copies being “anti-consumer” is absurd. The games press has long proven itself more “anti-consumer” than anything a publisher could do. Taking the message directly to your fans, who actually want what you’re selling, is an infinitely better business move than shoveling your games at a disinterested chubby shaved ape that might not even play your game. In the post, Bethesda even acknowledges that if you are so desperate for a review, just wait for it, then make up your mind.

Nintendo has long proven the uselessness of a games press and many, many year’s later publisher like Bethesda are coming around to this idea. The games press is not your audience, the games press is dead.

Taking Your Review Ball And Going Home With The Games Press